I don’t have the easiest life, emotionally speaking. There are a lot of, let’s just say, “issues” spread out among the eight people who call our house a home. I find myself quite often complaining about some of the things I have to deal with to the people closest to me. Most of the time, I get a very sympathetic ear and some commiseration and some advice if anyone has any for me. But one friend in particular, if I am whining about something that’s really insignificant in the Big Picture of my life, will very lovingly tell me to “Suck it Up, Buttercup”.
At first, this may seem like a rude thing to say to a good friend, but I appreciate it for what it is – a reminder to learn to deal with and let go of the smaller things and focus on what is really important. Lately, I find this expression echoing in my head quite a bit while I am talking to my children. Please keep in mind that my children are no longer small – they are all pre-teens to straight out adults at this point. So if two of them get in a typical sibling squabble, for example, I am not going to run in and break it up right away as they need to learn to interact in a peaceful way without a referee. They are all at a point where I can leave them alone in the house and not worry about them burning it down or wandering off and getting lost.
In recent weeks and months, I find that my children have developed a very negative attitude about a lot of things. Now I know that children this age are, by nature, self-centered beings who are trying to push their limits and discover who they are. The world does, in fact, revolve around them in their own minds, and that is completely normal. But the persistent complaining and whining and generally hostile attitude they have developed for some reason has made our home a hard place to live.
Recently, one of my children put our dog into another child’s room without her permission. Why he did this I have no idea, but my daughter freaked out about it and was demanding that I punish him for it. I told her it wasn’t a big deal and she needed to let it go. She, of course, took the attitude of “Oh, so the parents in this house aren’t going to discipline kids anymore, huh?” I informed her that, as a parent, I used my judgement to impart negative consequences only when I deemed them truly necessary. When she persisted, I told her, “Ok, then I guess I need to punish you for going in and using my shower when I told you not to, or for going behind my back to Dad when I had already told you no to something and I let those things go.” While her grumbling continued a bit, she eventually moved on.
I don’t have much sympathy for my children when they get in trouble at school most of the time either. I can’t count the number of times I have heard how horrible and mean a teacher is because she gave them an infraction or other consequence for not turning in homework, or not following directions, or talking in class. Really? It’s the teacher’s fault that you aren’t responsible or you chose to break a rule? Yes, of course your teacher is out to get you because you aren’t studying for tests or doing your homework on time and you get called out for it. It couldn’t possibly be something you need to work on and not your teacher. I constantly have to remind my children that throughout their lives, they may not like every rule but they still need to follow them or face the consequences.
One of my children is going through a rather materialistic phase lately (at least I HOPE it’s a phase!) She wants all the name brands and has aspirations to someday have what she calls “Mansion Money”. Now, I am not one to stifle my children’s aspirations, so we have talked about what kinds of jobs she may be able to pursue that give her the opportunity to earn a pretty substantial living. The problem is, most of them require you to actually work hard in school, and go to college and probably graduate school, and you have to actually get good grades and put in a lot of time and energy to get those careers. Well, she thinks that just isn’t fair. She doesn’t want to have to work that hard or keep her grades up or go to school that long, she wants a high paying job just handed to her because she wants it and feels like she deserves it. Well, honey, that’s not the way the world works, like it or not.
It’s all the little things that happen each day too. “Why do we have to do so many chores! Why won’t you just buy me what I want? I shouldn’t have to actually go to bed at a decent hour at my age. So-and-so is looking at me / is touching me / is touching my stuff (yes, we still get those). Well, kids, I have something to say to all of you. Suck it up, Buttercup. Focus on the truly tough things in life and people will be glad to help you through them, but whining because you aren’t the king of the world and no one is bowing down to your glory will get you nowhere. Now stop looking at your sister, get your homework done, and get some sleep, whether you like it or not.