When I was doing my master’s degree, one of my professors talked about power of positive manipulation. Instead of telling your child “Don’t run”, say ” please walk” and you will see the difference in their attitude to your command ! I also made a conscious effort not to say “no” all the time and explained why they can’t do what they are about to do.
This was all well, till my children became teenagers and started to question every single decision I made. When I tell them why they can’t do something, they ask me ” why not?”
End of last year, Yaya came to me and said “mom, Avicii ( http://youtu.be/6Cp6mKbRTQY) is coming to Brisbane, May I please go?”
My first reaction was ‘No, effing way, you are too young’. Yaya is a teenager wired like a dynamite that goes off without much provocation from my part and if I told her what my first reaction was, we could have easily started the next world war. I was pretty sure most concerts have an age limit and since she is 15, I was hoping that I won’t have to say No, instead the concert promoter would say No on my behalf. So I asked her. Any age restrictions? for which sadly ( for me) she replied “open to all ages”. I am a firm believer of if one door closes, try the next one. “Anyone else is going from your class” She recited the names of all her friends. “Do you have money for the ticket?” I asked again hoping that she won’t have any and I can use our impending trip to US as a trump card to say why I can’t foot the bill.. ” Yep” She replied.
Since there were no other doors left for me to open, I asked myself, Why she shouldn’t go for the concert. The question she was sure to ask me if I said No and I needed valid reasons. I couldn’t say, I am your mother and I said so..My reasons were 1. She is my baby girl, I don’t want anything to happen to her. And I tried and tried to think of other reasons, there were none. Then I thought to myself, in 2 years, she will go to college and will have to make all these decisions on her own. She is going with her friends and I was sure she will be safe.
So I said “yes, you can for the concert”. Don’t get me wrong, I was not at all happy to let her go.
On the day of the concert, she and her friends decided to take the public transport to the venue. ( Another sign of independence). Yaya wore a dress and high heels and I asked her “Are you planning to dance tonight?” “Of course”, she said. So I suggested “Wear your boots, after standing/dancing on high heels for a few hours, you will curse the day you chose to wear them, besides, don’t forget there will be other girls wearing high heels and your feet will be sore when people in high heels dance and start to stomp on your toes..” I also told her to take a plastic bottle of water and gave her money to buy more water. ( Most concert venues do not allow you to take bottled water with their caps on ( which can act as a missile when thrown on to the age) and I didn’t want to buy a new water bottle if the security tossed the cap of Yaya’s water bottle. Very rarely my children and I use disposable plastic water bottles)
Then I spend the rest of the day twiddling my thumb and being cranky. I expected disasters. I sat next to my phone, so I won’t miss my daughter’s desperate call for help.
Her friend’s father dropped her home at 11.50 pm. As soon as she came inside the house, she gave me a hug and spoke to me in a very hoarse voice ( she lost her voice after screaming for 4 hours! ) ” Thank you for letting me go Mom, I had such a good time and thank you for telling me to wear the boots”
I didn’t tell her how I scared and terrified I was while she was at the concert. She will not understand now..but one day when she becomes a mother and her daughter goes for her first music concert she will know..
I also did better than my mother. I was doing my internship and stood in the line for hours to get the ticket for Jethro Tull’s concert ( Feb 1994) and Amma told me ” You can’t go”. She didn’t have any valid reasons why I shouldn’t go, but created so much drama and to keep the peace, I didn’t go.