I sent my daughter to bed without supper last week.

I never thought I'd be the kind of parent to do this.

If this child has one main Issue, with a capital "I" in school, it's her behavior. She comes home with perfect grades on every paper she brings home from school, but she also comes home most days with a reprimand for talking too much and not following directions.

We'd been doing well in the behavior department and things had been getting better until the school board decided that we needed two days off in a row to celebrate a holiday that most people don't get off and then just for good measure, celebrate a non-holiday by telling the teachers they didn't have to work. Since the beginning of the year, there have been only three full weeks of five-days-a-week school. And guess what? During those three full weeks, her behavior was exemplary. I mentioned this to her teacher in our parent-teacher conference last week and she thought for a moment and said, "Hmmmm.... now that you mention it, I think all the kids were better behaved during those three weeks."

The problem is, I have to teach her that even when her routine is shattered, good behavior is still required of her, regardless of the circumstances. I've tried reward systems, I've tried explaining, I've resorted to yelling, and finally I told that school is only going to get harder and if she doesn't learn to control her mouth now, well, the consequences are much bigger as years go by and if she doesn't learn how to get along in the world now, she might as well prepare herself for a life of holding the SLOW sign by the side of the road. And when I said that, I the voice of every parent who ever lived and said those exact same words to their kids rang in my head like the shot that was heard 'round the world.

Thirteen things I have actually said in a serious, non-sarcastic type of way since I became a mother:

  1. I will stop this car right now!
  2. If you don't love your sister now, you're not going to be friends when you grow up and you will regret it.
  3. If you can't put your toys away properly, maybe you don't need so many toys.
  4. Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.
  5. If you're going to through a fit, go through it in your room so I can hear the TV.
  6. If you can't say anything nice to your sister, don't speak to her at all.
  7. If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right.
  8. A place for everything and everything in it's place.
  9. If you don't put your seat belt on, the police will come and send us all to jail.
  10. If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?
  11. If you don't eat your vegetables, you won't grow up big and tall.
  12. One day, you'll thank me.
  13. Because I said so!