Last night as I was saying goodnight to Noelani, I said, "Honey, we only have two days left of the summertime before you switch back to dad's." My custody schedule has her with me most of the summer, and with him most of the school year, with once weekly plus every-other-weekend visitations by the other parent.
I drew her to me. "Noelani, could those two days please be days where I don't have to beg you or yell at you to do your chores?"
She looked up at me and nodded dutifully, but she looked like she wanted to cry. I thought I knew why, and smiled sympathetically. "Were you hoping I was going to say you didn't have to do any chores for the last two days?"
"No. I was hoping you were going to say you wanted to spend more time with me, not talk about chores."
The girl really knows how to drive a stake right through her mother's heart. She's gonna be quite a woman. I can just see her sucker-punching some boyfriend like that in a fight. Damn.
I replied honestly that I'd like to spend more time with her, too, but that the chore situation had me so upset that it was hard to want to. And it's true. She was quite good about chores at the beginning of the summer when we first assigned them, but since then it's gotten more and more difficult to get her to do them. On a good day I might have to remind her only 12-20 times for them to get done. On a bad day they never get all the way done. I get so tired of telling her, and reminding her, and dealing with her attitude.
I'm sure this is what she wants. Gabriel and several friends have told me they can see in her face when my back is turned that she is certainly capable of manipulating me. Now I wish we could do the whole summer over and I could lay down the law better, but I'm just learning how to do this. I feel disappointed in myself that I have been unable to create an environment with firm boundaries in which she did what was expected of her and we were both happy. At this point we're both unhappy, and I'm not sure how to fix it. But I know that setting boundaries is something she expects, even unconsciously, of me, and I didn't live up to it.