Tough Love. Or just tough.

Glamorous's picture

Week two in her new school, High Schooler managed to miss the school bus to school.

On Sundays in our house, we have a standing plan that we catch up on chores. Laundry gets done and outfits get pulled for the week. Doesn't have to be anything fancy. Pants, tops, underwear and socks dumped unfolded into a bottom drawer or plastic bin is fine, as long as one can reach in there and extract someting to wear to school. If she wants to go wrinkled or mismatched, fine. Just get ready and go.

Every time I saw her that day she was watching movies, on the phone, or playing. I'd say to her "Is your laundry finished?" to which she'd reply with rolled eyes and annoyance. I'd tell her to shut off the TV or get off the phone or put down the video controller and get the laundry done. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. Ten minutes before bus time, she is walking around barefoot, hair wet, eating instant oatmeal. "Shoes on. Coat on. The bus will be here in ten minutes."


"Then go out there!"

"You don't have to treat me like a little kid!"

"I shouldn't have to treat you like a little kid, that's true. Now go outside."

We repeated this three times, each time with her getting more annoyed with ME. I went into her room to see why the heck she was still not outside, as we were two minutes to bus arrival.

She was digging through a basket of unfolded clean laundry. The basket yielded no socks. Turns out she'd not bothered to finish her laundry and all of her socks were in the washer, wet. How she expected to get dressed if she hadn't dried any socks is a mystery to me.

I threw her a pair of mine and screamed "GO! Now! Carry your coat, shoes and socks and finish at the end of the driveway!"

The bus roared by as I yelled.

New school. New chance to catch up. Fresh start. Damn.

What to do? Providing a ride sends the message that she can skip preparing for school, ignore my requirements, and as a result, get a ride to the door. If I refuse the ride, I am allowing her a day off as a reward for her lack of preparation and for her belief that she has options when I give direct instruction.

I drove her, with the admonition that she would not get another ride. Miss the bus again, and you walk. You will not stay at home. If it takes you all day to walk there, too bad. You will go to school one way or another, I told her. Since school is nine miles away, I suggested that she take the free transportation that comes right to our door.

Next morning...dawdle...dawdle. I told her to go out and wait ten minutes before bus time. "Yeah, I know".

She went into the kitchen and started leisurely putting a yogurt and spoon into her bag. Not until the bus was visible did she try to run for it.

The door was locked or stuck, we never figured out which. She flipped the locks, but that unlocked one and locked the other. She pulled again, shouting "I can't get the door open!". She flipped one lock. The door opened as the bus roared on by in a cloud of dust.

She sat down.

I got out the ski pants and insulated jacket.

"What's that for?" she asked.

"You're walking."

"It's too far!"

"The bus was a hundred feet away. You refused to go wait for it. Now you can walk. I suggest doubling up on the socks."

"I couldn't get the door open!"

"If you had gone to the bus stop ten minutes early as you were told, you'd have had plenty of time to figure out the locks and still make the bus. Instead, you decided to gamble ten more minutes in the house against walking to school. I will not spend a penny's worth of gasoline taking you to school because you squandered the free ride. Walk."

Wailing and sobbing, she put on the hated ski clothes. She kept telling me that there was no way she could have made that bus. I threw her a pair of insulated gloves, but said nothing. She slammed out of the house.

The incident wasn't mentioned when she arrived after school. She stormed up to her room and threw the ski clothes onto the floor.

Then she finished her damned laundry. Then did her homework. Then went to bed. Early. After putting her coat and bookbag by the front door.

This morning, she was fully dressed, lunch packed, and out at the bus stop ten minutes before the bus was due to arrive. She made and ate breakfast before leaving. Peeking unnoticed from the bathroom window, I breathed a sigh of relief as the bus eased to a stop at the end of the driveway. She boarded calmly without rush, drama, or a backward glance.

Maybe they really can learn from their mistakes.


SunnyVirgo's picture
Submitted by SunnyVirgo on

Love this! It is inspiration to do what I know parents should do to help their children learn responsibility. You didn't cave in and give her a ride (like I probably would have)! You are my hero!

sam's picture
Submitted by sam on

Wow mama. Inspiring. I second Madame Filth. I missed ya. You turn the everyday into art with your writing. Gorgeous.

rease's picture
Submitted by rease on

Way to go-raising teenage girls sounds like a living hell sometimes from what I hear. I know I wasn't easy. Yea I don't get that lasse faire thing they do, what is it about? Is it because were their parents or what? They don't do that with their friends. I have this problem with my seven year old getting ready for school. No matter what kinds of systems, rewards, agreements and well calculated plans we come up with-I'm baffled at how he can still be pulling the same sock on ten minutes after I have come back down the stairs, no breakfast has been eaten, no teeth brushed- and he's been awake for half an hour. I suppose it another ten years of this for me huh?

Glamorous's picture
Submitted by Glamorous on

She's made the bus, fully dressed, every day. Thank you to everybody for the support. I can't tell you how uncomfortable it was to NOT cave in and drive her.


Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food. ~Austin O'Malley