It has been so difficult, we've been searching for a respite provider to take Danielle for the bulk of the December holidays. We just don't see how we can make the vacation work, since she'll have time off, and we might not. Idle hands are the devil's workshop.
But then, just like that, yesterday she decided to change things up. It actually started the day before, when FosterEema went to the grocery store. Danielle tagged along, and while they were there she asked if FosterEema would buy her a couple of deli sandwiches so she wouldn't have to make her own lunch.
FosterEema decided to use this as an opportunity for negotiation. She agreed to buy Danielle the sandwiches in exchange for an equal dollar amount of chores. They came to an accord, and Danielle agreed to a specific task.
When Danielle came home from school yesterday, I had an errand to run. As soon as she came in the door, I headed out. While I was gone, Danielle did every single one of her chores without hassle or prompting. By the time I came home, everything was done, and she did some extra work, helping me with a small outside task after dark.
Danielle's behavior was amazingly good. She was polite, obedient, and helpful. She was attentive, she listened, and she paid attention. She did what she was told, when she was told, without comment or argument.
I was impressed. I found myself thinking that it was a real shame that we couldn't have this kid around more.
When dinner rolled around, instead of complaining about our dinner selection or boycotting the meal, she sat down and ate with us.
This was the kind of evening every family should enjoy once in a while.
But, it soon became clear why Danielle was behaving the way she was. She wanted something. Several somethings, in fact. It turns out, she wanted to have a sit-down discussion to see if it would be possible for her to have the following things:
- A cell phone.
- Permission to set up an account on a popular social media site.
- Permission to date.
Do I want my kid to have a cell phone? Not really. The last time we gave her one, we ended up confiscating it more than she had it because of bad behavior on her part. In the end, it died a sad little electronic death because she dropped it on our concrete driveway one too many times. Even though it's been quite some time since she's had a phone, there really hasn't been a need for her to have one. She never goes anywhere by herself, and when she does go on an outing with friends, there's usually an adult or another teen with a phone available.
What she really wants is an Internet-enabled phone so she can surf the web and get on her favorite social media site.
I'm not exactly enthusiastic about letting her on the social media sites, either. We've caught her several times setting up fake accounts where she lied about her age, and I'm not sure that it's really all that good of an idea. Given that she did not follow our rules, boundaries and limitations when it came to her old cell phone, I'm not convinced that she'll obey with respect to social media sites, either.
As for dating, I'm not too keen on the idea. Given her impulsive nature, I think allowing her to date solo is a recipe for disaster. Not only is there the possibility of unplanned pregnancy or an STD, there's also the real possibility for a guy to take emotional advantage of her as well. Last summer, she carved the name of a boy she was crushing on into her skin, even though she wasn't allowed to date and didn't have a relationship with him outside of school. It should come as no surprise to anyone that by the following Fall, he'd broken up with her, saying some incredibly cruel things in the process.
I think what Danielle said earlier this week is absolutely true. She's not going to behave unless she wants to, and that will last only as long as it takes to get what she wants.