Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Being responsible

Sometimes being the grown-up isn't fun.  It means that you have to make the not-fun decisions; the decisions that  aren't glamorous, but are important.  Sometimes being the grown-up makes you unpopular, even with yourself.  In general, I try to portray adulthood to my children as something positive and something to look forward to.  I think we do a disservice to our children if we make adulthood out to be all worry, bills, and drudgery.  It is difficult enough to grow-up without adding a whole host of negative connotations to it.  Being an adult does come with some perks.  We do get to choose our own bedtime, what we watch for entertainment and when, what we do with our friends, where we go and how we spend our money, and we generally have access to a lot more resources than children.

But being an actual grown-up, as opposed to a physically mature child, means taking responsibility and making choices based on what is best and not what is immediately enjoyable.  This is very true in parenting.  There have been times when we have been out and I have been enjoying what we are doing, but a child has behaved in a way that has been unacceptable.  If I have told that child we're going home, as a warning for the behavior, then home we go if it happens again.  Even if I don't want to.  Or you say no to something an older child has asked to do because you have real reservations about it, even though you know it will not make your popular with that child and there will be some unpleasant moments ahead.  Being a grown-up parent means you make decisions on what is best in the long term and not on popularity.

Responsibly choices also play out in the area of money.  It's that whole delayed gratification-thing.  Not fun, but necessary.  I do find it easier to make responsible choices whenever I stop and look back at all the poor choices I have made.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time.  Whatever it was, I really, really wanted it. Wanted it so much that I was able to justify the expense even though it really didn't fit in the budget.  Whatever that thing was, it was going to make my life better, calmer, more fulfilling.  I was sure of it.  And then it didn't.  Because I owned this new thing, my life wasn't instantly transformed, but perhaps was slightly more stressful because of the expense.  I am a slow learner, because I have done this more times than I care to admit.  And I still have to battle temptation to not think this way.

Take my most recent responsible decision.  You know those iPads?  They're pretty cool, and once I realized they served a purpose other than playing games I haven't heard of, I decided I needed one.  (Notice the verb.  Be careful once it switches from 'want' to 'need'.)  There's this great speech therapy app that at least one of my children could make us of, plus there is an app for non-verbal children which uses pictures, so they can communicate.  I thought this would be perfect to use with H.  It would give her a way to communicate with us while she was learning English.  And it would be cool.  Did I mention that?  And then I started to realistically look at my checkbook.  Yes, I could pay for it, but then that money would be spent and couldn't be used for anything else.  (Don't you hate that?)  And then I started thinking about all the other things I might want that money for.  Things such as Typhoid vaccines... money to pay bills in advance for while we're gone... money to give to our friends to help out with the extra costs of taking care of our children.  Suddenly, these things seemed much more important.  And I thought about how cool that iPad would look when I couldn't figure out how to pay for the things we really needed after I had spent the money on something that we really didn't.  It became a very easy decision after that.

And even though I won't have the cool, fun technology to facilitate communication with H., that doesn't mean I can't still use the idea.  Taking a ring of photo cards that I will make will fill the same purpose and be lighter to lug around.  I don't anticipate needing to use them for very long.  Besides, I own a laminator...

1 comment:

LawMommy said...

The year that Dave and I lived in Japan, I had a laminated card that my mother had found in a bookstore somewhere. I have never seen anything quite like it, but it was ingenious - it had cartoonish pictures of things travelers would need - a toilet, a bank, a post office, a hospital, a little cartoon chicken sitting next to a plate of chicken legs, a cartoon cow next to a plate of steak, and so on (so that we could indicate whether we wanted chicken or beef or pork to a waiter in a restaurant.) It was INCREDIBLY useful and we used it all the time. It would be easy to make one if you had a bunch of creative children and laminator. :-)

The closest thing I can find on amazon is this:

or maybe this:

Neither of them are precisely what we had, but you get the idea.

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