A few weeks ago we had a snow day. My daughter went over to her friend’s house next door at about 10:30 in the morning, and I told her to come home at 1PM for lunch. We didn’t have anything going on, but I felt like after 2.5 hours of hanging out with her friend, she could come home, check in, eat, and we’d figure out the rest of the day from there.
At 1:07 her friend texted me asking if B could stay a little longer.
Man, was that a bad move.
I replied that B needed to talk to me directly and was told (very respectfully, B’s friend did nothing wrong at all), that B’s iPod was dead so she couldn’t text me. So B texted me using her friend’s phone.
I made B come home. Right then. She was mad, she was put out, she felt as though I were overreacting and there was no reason she couldn’t stay.
I disagree, and here’s why:
She is ten years old and has both a watch and an iPod to help her stay aware of the time.
I told her to be home AT 1PM. She didn’t even get in touch with me until AFTER she was already supposed to be home. And then, she didn’t even do it herself, she had her friend text me.
If B had texted me at 12:50 and asked to stay longer, I would probably have said yes—there was no reason she needed to come home. But she didn’t.
Then when she finally did get here, at about 1:20, she made excuses for why she didn’t come home—she didn’t know what time it was, they were rearranging her friend’s room and got carried away, her iPod had died so she couldn’t text me. I hate excuses. There are certainly valid reasons why someone might be late or lose track of time, but none of those were valid reasons. She lost track of time because it wasn’t important enough to her.
In truth, seven minutes is NOT a big deal at all. I know this seems like an overreaction on my part, but I’m sticking to my guns here. I am hoping that if we set the standard now that she MUST be on time when we tell her to come home, that will be so ingrained by the time she’s a teenager and out with her friends and a much later curfew, that she won’t ever think twice about it. She’ll know that she has to be home when we say she has to be home. Not ten or twenty minutes later.
A few days ago, B was at her friend’s house again after school. I told her to be home at 5:30 for dinner. At 5:20 she texted me to ask if she could stay at her friend’s for dinner and come home afterwards. In her text, she pointed out that it was 10 minutes before she was due home and she’d made sure to ask early. I let her stay. I’m hoping it was a sign that she’s learning from her mistakes.
I don’t know if I did the right thing or not, in either situation really, but I’m hopeful. I should have a better idea of how it’s going in about…6-10 years.