My 9 year old is a perfectionist. He is so hard on himself when he doesn’t do well, actually when things are not PERFECT. Abe wanted to buy a chocolate from a friend who was selling at a school fundraiser. I didn’t have $3 on me so I said no. Instantly his face turned. He wanted that chocolate and I was in his way. He walked off and didn’t say another word, but I could tell he was upset. You see my son strives in everything to be perfect. He’s exceptional at math because nothing can stop him from excelling, he WANTS to get the grade and he gets it. He learned to play Oh Canada! on his recorder without notes because he WANTED to make his music teacher proud-nothing was going to stop him. He’s in competitive soccer and he is determined to be the best on his team- nothing will stop him.
The next day after school he came home and it sounds kind-of-funny but he ‘reeked’ of chocolate! I asked him if he had chocolate and he said yes. “Alice said she would buy me one so I accepted and I’ll pay her back on Tuesday” he said. “Ummm with what money??” I asked (I swallowed my anger and tried to calm myself). “With my money! I have money in my account remember?” ‘Hmmm, and you think you can just spend that as you like? On anything?’ Abe had a guilty look on his face. You could suddenly see the ‘oops’ on his face – he knew that his ‘my way or the highway’ was kicking in again, but this time..it looked like trouble! yikes! I sent him to his room to think and write me a note explaining why he thought his actions would upset me, because I was upset. I needed a good 15 minutes to collect myself. So many things were running through my head: ‘how dare he? he’s my son! he can’t just do whatever he likes! why don’t we just eat ice-cream for every meal and finish with it? then reason started to slowly creep in (thank goodness) after a few sips of my green tea with mint. Okay so why did he do that? Well because I said no and to him: no means no, with no questions asked. He still wanted that chocolate so bad that because of his ‘all or nothing’ attitude he had to get it! Why didn’t he ask me again? Abe never nags, he never tells me HOW MUCH he really wants something (unlike my daughter, that one…oh she’ll remind me 20 times a day!). So he’s quiet and I assume that because he’s quiet that he forgot about his demand; that he’s seen my reason and he doesn’t want it so much anymore. WRONG! He’ll find his way to get it! AHA!
I walked close to Abe’s door and found a yellow sticky note on the floor. ‘I’m sooo sorry” it read on the outside. “Dear Mom, I know that I took money from Alice but I really wanted the chocolate. You are mad because you said no and I did it anyway. I am sorry and I won’t do it again.” Okay now I felt like poop, but was also excited and proud that I figured this out , without having a temper tantrum. I walked in, gave him a hug and said: ‘Abe, I want you to nag’. He looked at me with his curious eyes big brown eyes and said “What? Nag?” I said ‘yes, sometimes I don’t know how much you really want something and if you give me a nudge or nag I’ll know a little better. I might change my mind you know because sometimes you have asked at a busy time. I want to know what is important to you and how important because I never want you to feel you need to go anywhere else but here. I also want you to trust my judgment because I love you and want to guide you until you are old enough to make your own decisions. I gave him the ‘too much sugar’ lecture but still confirmed that I want him to NAG, Abe gave a big smile, almost of relief. ‘Okay!’ he said.
Later on that evening he asked: ‘Hey mom, can I Skype Dad cause I want to show him my ‘A’ on my math test’. Imagine I had forgotten about the ‘nag’ request be he certainly didn’t. ‘Not right now Abe, I have to take your sister to art.’ It only hit me when we got to the parking lot outside art class Abe jumped in front of me and asked: ‘hey mom, can I Skype Dad?’ It was almost a shock for me to hear him ask for something twice..it had just never happened before. I THEN remembered…he was NAGGING! ‘Yes..yes you can, let Skype him right now.’
I learned that sometimes we just have to ask once and it will happen , sometimes we need to keep asking for it to eventually happen and sometimes its just best to let it be and move on but always have the courage to ask for what you really want.