Ummm, it’s early. Too early for me to wake up, since it is not my turn to drive carpool. But someone is tapping me…..
“What is it honey? Are you ready to go? Carpool should be here soon.”
“Mommy, can you get up? I need to show you something. I, um, I did something last night….”
As I roll in the semidarkness, dreading the fact that I have to get up on the ONE day that I get to sleep in, I begin to process the last statement I heard. You DID something? What exactly did you DO? I manage to open my eyes only to see my adorable 8-year-old daughter standing at my bedside. What my dear did you DO that is so important that you need to wake me up to tell me about it?
“Mommy look. No, you have to open your eyes to see.”
In the darkness of my room, I have no idea what she is talking about. I reach over to turn on the lights, only to be confronted by a sight that makes me want to yell and laugh at the same time. Take a deep breath I tell myself and pretend like it is no big deal. Just act like this is a normal site for a mother to wake up to. Remain calm, and take deep breaths. Have her tell you the “story” of how she did this.
“Well, last night……..while you and Daddy were out…….. I decided I didn’t like my uni-brow.”
UNI-BROW???!!! What the hell does an 8 year old know about a UNI-BROW??? (Oh yah, calm down, deep breaths).
“So I decided to get rid of it. I used your razor to shave off my uni-brow. Except that it was uneven, so I had to shave off a little more on the right. But then it was more uneven, so I shaved off a little more on the left. And I was having a hard time getting it to even out, so…well….ummmm, I don’t’ think I did a good job and…do I have to go to school like this.”
Uni-brow, razors, uneven, carpool will be here soon, forget sleeping in!!!
My once delightful 8-year-old daughter is standing in front of me with ¾ of her eyebrows shaved off!!! And she has done this to herself!!! Intentionally!!!
OK, think quickly. What do I say to her…..
“OK my love, why don’t you go have breakfast while I think about this a minute.”
Clearly this is not one I have an answered prepared for. I really need a minute to think this through. I can either berate her for making a bad choice and yell at her for going through my stuff and finding a razor. Or, I can figure out what the basis for this decision was and then figure out an appropriate response. Clearly she has done what she has done, and all the yelling in the world won’t make her eyebrows grow back. But I do recall an infomercial for growing thicker eyebrows…no focus!
I can punish her by making her stay home or miss her friend’s upcoming birthday, but neither of those punishments seems related to the action at hand. The consequence for her action needs to be directly related to and a natural reaction to her behavior.
When she finishes breakfast and makes her way back to my room, I can tell she is not happy about what she has done. She already knows she made a bad choice and living with that choice seems to be sinking in. We talk a while, carpool honks and I let them know to go on without her. We chat, and I let her know that she can always come to me if there is something about her appearance that makes her feel insecure. Uni-brows are easy to fix (frankly I didn’t even think hers was drastic enough just yet. Better Google “wax salons” when I get a free minute). Of course she cries and refuses to ever leave the house again. My heart aches for her and wants to let her stay home until they grow back. But I know that wouldn’t solve anything. It’s important for her to know that I can’t run in and rescue her all the time. This is one she is just going to have to live with. Fortunately, it is not permanent and in the meantime we agree that she can wear a hat and I will fill them in with powder.
I drop her off and know that she is sad and a little unsure. But I realize that any punishment I could have come up with would not have been as affective as letting her live with the choice she made. Ultimately, that is the life lesson I want my children to learn. Your choices are yours to make, just be sure that you are willing to live with them.