Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ms. Taylor

On Saturday morning, running late as usual, we rushed to get dressed in church-appropriate clothes and, unable to find any dress shoes that fit the girls, decided that flip flops would have to do.

M's teacher - a wonderful, enthusiastic and kind lady - was getting married at 11:00 on this beautiful, picture-perfect September day, and had thoughtfully invited her students to attend the ceremony. She'd spent much of the first quarter of school talking about her fiancee, weaving her own experiences into her writing lessons, and the class had even thrown a small party for her before track-out. We'd decided weeks before that it would be something special for the girls to attend and so on we went, getting out of the house at a respectable 10:20 - plenty of time, I assured my husband, to get downtown and park.

At 10:45 we found a space, parked, and walked across the street to the stone, Catholic church where other guests were waiting. One of Morgan's school friends was there with her mother. A woman in a pale yellow dress approached us and asked us if we were there for the wedding, to which we cheerfully replied "yes!" ... and were then met with the saddest news I have truly ever heard.

By now, many people may have heard about the Raleigh groom who was killed hours before his wedding. After all, it made national news. It is the kind of story that makes us all stop and shake our heads for the sheer senselessness of it.

Sadly, M's teacher was the bride.

How do you explain to a four- and a six-year-old who, just moments before were expecting to attend a wedding, that it was not to be? How does anyone react to this unbelievable, unthinkable news?

My husband, upon seeing that poor Ms. Taylor was there outside the church, took the girls around the corner to try to explain to them what had happened. He did not want them to see Ms. T, to say anything upsetting, or to remember her so sad. I attempted to compose myself, for all of us were crying now, to make some sense of what we had just been told, and at some point, found Ms. T and hugged her tightly, and then again. I will never forget the look on her face, the shock, the disbelief.

There was to be a memorial service, in place of the wedding ceremony. We learned later that Ms. T. had gallantly managed to speak to the crowd. We did not attend for the sake of the girls, for the sake of Ms. T. I recall seeing the teachers from school on the sidewalk in the distance - M's kindergarten teacher was there, as was the other track 1 first grade teacher who had the classroom right next door. And then they were gone, disappeared inside the church, and we walked back across the street to our car, numb from the sadness we all felt and still feel.

It is easy to dismiss the tabloidish headline news that CNN regularly posts to its site - the twice-convicted criminal whose bad deeds finally caught up with him, or the elderly person whose time had come in due course.

But it is nearly impossible to understand the terrible things that happen to the best people, and to continue to have faith. Our own faith has been tested many times through the years - family members that have met with tragic circumstances, good people left to deal with unfair things. It is the hardest thing about becoming an adult - learning that bad things happen to anyone, that none of us are immune.

My thoughts and, yes, my prayers, go out to Ms. T., and to her family, and her groom's family. I hope she heals, that this doesn't break her spirit. I hope God truly does have a plan, even in His apparent randomness. Perhaps it's in the lessons brought after the fact - the outpouring of human kindness from one person's sacrifice, for her story has touched so many of us here in the community, and has brought so many of us closer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NC Museum of Art and Other Rainy Day Things

The last two days have been rainy. Heck, this whole spring season has been rainy. I dare Greg Fischel or any of the other local weather people to utter the word 'drought'!"

Anyway, what to do with two kids on a rainy day to keep a mom from losing her mind?

Yesterday, we visited Triangle Town Center, wandering around the nearly deserted mall trying to keep occupied. We went to Cinnabon and shared a treat, then headed down to the Verizon kiosk so I could check out the phones and try for a second round of deciding which one I wanted to get. On to Claire's to check out their earrings (all Chinese-made and therefore nixed by me as an option), the fountain to throw pennies and make wishes, and finally, to Barnes and Noble to peruse the kids' books. Nothing exciting, but it kept the kids away from the television for a while and kept another hair on my head from turning gray.

Today, we had an eye appointment for M - she has 20/20 vision and a dark spot on her eyeball that is of little concern. Then to Michael's to pick up craft supplies for Father's Day, McDonald's for lunch, and on to the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Now, on Wednesdays, the art museum features a special event in the auditorium at 1:00 and although the website recommends buying tickets in advance, I did not do so, and paid the consequences - the show was sold out.

Add to this the mess that is the art museum grounds right now, and the scarcity of artwork and sculptures right now and I'd have to rate this option a solid D.

The museum grounds, including parking lots, are all sorts of torn up. They are building a new facility, started in 2006 and slated for completion in late 2009, open to the public in 2010. When it's done, it promises to be fabulous, with all sorts of great natural light to better showcase the museum's collections. But from the looks of it right now, it's a big mess. The only new buidings visible are some sort of boxy structures that look like large PODS storage cubes. And it seems that the museum has put away many of its exhibits as their just seemed to be nearly nothing on display. The American, Judaic, African, and Ancient American Galleries are closed, and only a small part of the Egyptian collection is on display.

The only saving grace was an arts and crafts area set up outside of the sold out auditorium. The girls enjoyed making south american breastplates out of construction paper, feathers, and beads, an idea meant to accompany today's presentation on birds of the rainforest.

Had the weather been dry, I would have let the girls explore the museum grounds on the other side of the building (the part NOT under construction), but it just wasn't an option this time around.

Though I'm sure the final version of the museum will eventually be fantastic, and I give credit to the folks over there for attempting to make the best of an unfortunate situation, it is simply not worth the drive all the way from Wake Forest (unless, of course, you are smart enough to buy tickets to the show in advance!)

So back home here in what is beginning to feel like Seattle, I am enjoying a cup of coffee and some toothpicks to prop my eyes open, the girls are watching - you guessed it - tv, and I am hoping, praying, for some sun tomorrow.

Now, if only that darned pool would finally open ...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fishing at Falls Lake

Went to the Rolling View recreational area at Falls Lake today with the girls. My husband and I had been out there last week while the girls were at their grandparents. We wanted to discover whether there were actually any fish to be caught, before bringing M and G.

There were, and so we went today, buckets of worms in hand, two old surf rods, and one pink and blue Barbie rod. (There should have been two, but one has disappeared into the abyss otherwise known as our yard, leading to a rather frustrated lesson on responsibility that should be a subject for another post).

There are many recreational spots along Falls Lake, near Raleigh, in which to fish, swim, or boat. I am not much of a lake swimmer (prefer the ocean, thanks!) and we don't own a boat, but the fishing is pretty good so there's that. Rolling View is up off of Highway 98 toward Durham, offers camping sites, a little marina, and hiking trails. We paid our $5 entrance fee and made our way to the fishing pier we'd found before - a nice little spot with a pretty view of the lake.

Upon arriving, we discovered the girls had failed to put on shoes before leaving the house. That's what you get for giving your kids a little leeway in the planning department. Luckily, we hadn't planned on hiking and so barefoot they went down to the fishing pier. We ate our picnic lunch, baited the slimy worms on the hooks, and proceeded to catch many, many fish! G was first, and the size of the fish got bigger the more she talked about it.

All in all, we caught probably 15 or 20 little bluegills before deciding to call it a day. Still can't decide if the fishing or the Chips Ahoy cookies were the bigger attraction. Nevertheless, the girls finally got to fish, something they'd been begging for since they got their rods at Christmas. And though I hate how fast time goes by, there's something to be said for having them be a little bit older - they can easily handle this sort of activity now. No one got hooked, no rods ended up in the water, no kids ended up in the water.

Who knows. Perhaps with a little more practice, they'll be ready to do some offshore angling in the future!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Free Range Kids

Some time ago, a woman made national news headlines when she wrote about allowing her nine-year-old son to ride the New York subway alone. Lenore Skenazy, a writer, gave her son a map, some cash, and some subway tokens, dropped him off some distance away, and challenged him to find his way home on his own. It was something her son had been wanting to try, and she felt something he would be able to handle. He made it home fine, by the way.

Her philosophy is this - kids today have far less freedom than kids who grew up pre-1990, and it's creating a generation of people who are incapable of the simplest tasks, incapable of figuring out on their own how to solve a problem. She blames an overabundance of national news that makes it seem as though our world is far more dangerous place now, and the 24-hour news cycle that bombards us with all sorts of horrible things that are happening to people around the world.

In reality, she says, crime statistics point to a crime rate that is as low now as it was in 1970. We are as safe now as we were then, despite all of the horrors we hear about daily!

It's an interesting movement, one that I am apt to subscribe to. I believe our job as parents is to prepare our children for the world, little by little. How else to do this than by giving them increasing amounts of freedom concurrent with their proving they can handle it, and with our teaching them how to handle various situations as well.

I have personally witnessed the degradation of freedom afforded to kids during this time in our history. Many of the people who commented on Ms. Skenazy's website have said that they, as kids, had all sorts of freedom, from taking public transit all over the large cities in which they lived, to flying alone across country to see relatives. They all consider themselves stronger, more independent people as a result. They cite hours spent exploring with friends, getting into and out of trouble, learning by experience. To be sure, some of them commented on predators they encountered along the way but most seemed to feel that they were able to handle those situations better and with some common sense because of the independence they'd been given from an early age. They learned to rely on their instincts and they knew what to do.

As a kid, I rode my bike all over my neighborhood in suburban Maryland. I was out of the house from morning until night, playing with my friends in various yards. We had tremendous freedom and lots of time and imagination. None of the parents I knew had the time or desire to personally supervise us. When I was very young, we lived in an apartment complex just outside of Washington, D.C. and my mother often sent me down the street to collect the mail or take the rent check to the office. My sister and I knew how to walk to the High's store and buy milk if our mom needed it. To be sure, she watched us from the balcony of the apartment, and she always knew roughly where we were. But for kids, It is independence that is unheard of today.

Today, I know people who have a twelve-year-old son who wasn't allowed to ride his bike out of their cul-de-sac until a year ago. I know many, many people who won't allow their kids to play alone in their own yard unsupervised, or take the bus for fear of putting their kids' safety in someone else's hands. In the context of how we lived years ago, this seems crazy! Yet somehow we've gotten to this point where helicopter parenting has so gradually become the norm, that we don't even realize it might be a bad thing.

And the problem, too, is, even if I allow my kids to play freely, to ride their bikes out of my sight when they get a bit older, who will they play with? Because no one I know would ever allow their kids to do the same. And what about law enforcement, which doesn't seem to know quite what to do with a kid found wandering by themselves, since it's so unheard of anymore? Are we headed toward a time when we aren't allowed to let our kids have any freedom, or when legislators decide to enact laws determining an appropriate legal age? It's not out of the realm. A law is making its way through the NC legislature right now that dictates when it is and is not okay to leave your child in a car unsupervised. In many ways, legislators are acting like the helicopter parents that this movement ultimately targets - it doesn't trust us as individuals to make the right decision and so it attempts, more and more, to limit our freedom.

As I said, it's an interesting movement, one I plan on following in the coming weeks and months in an effort to, as always, do the best I can to prepare my kids for the world. I'm not saying I'm completely on board with it - the idea of letting young kids go makes me as nervous as any parent, and I would never forgive myself if anything bad were to happen. But as Dory said to Marlin in the incredibly popular Finding Nemo (that I've seen too many times to count), it's a funny thing to not want to let anything happen to your kids. You can't foresee every bad thing that could happen and there's no way you can protect against all of the possibilities. Besides, If nothing ever happened, what fun would that be anyway?

For more information, you can visit the blog at http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

Friday, April 3, 2009

School Fundraisers or If I Wanted My Kid to Work in a Sweatshop, I'd Move to a Third World Country!

When our oldest daughter started preschool three years ago, we expected the occasional fundraiser. It was, after all, a Catholic-based school affiliated with our parish and, well, those Catholics are good at asking for money. I dutifully contributed a few dollars here and there, or donated items for the spring basket fundraiser as necessary - nothing too much to break the bank but enough to help out over and above the monthly tuition we paid.

I was ill-prepared, however, for the onslaught of fundraising opportunities at her publicly funded elementary school that started within a week or two of the beginning of the school year and has not ended yet.

Let me first state that I am all for supporting our school. I don't believe the funds that the public education system receives by way of our tax dollars are properly managed, and I don't believe enough of the money makes its way to the front lines. I understand the need for individual schools to raise money and their struggle to find innovative ways of doing so.

That being said, I also don't approve of school children as young as five-years-old being who have no clue about politics, school budgetary needs, etc., being encouraged during the school day to peddle all sorts of junk to friends and family members with the promise that they'll receive some great prize for their efforts. Further, I REALLY don't like that the school is now having students work on these fundraising projects during the normal course of the school day and that time is being taken from their learning to do so.

For example, several months ago, the school did a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. I believe some of the money raised would go to the school as well. They spent at least two gym classes, over a period of two weeks, practicing jumping rope and being encouraged by the phys-ed teacher who told them about all the great things they could win. M was extremely upset with me when I burst her bubble by telling her that she was not going to be winning any of those things because we weren't participating. So I have a school teacher egging kids on and applying peer pressure in an effort to get them to participate and me ending up as the bad guy because I had to find a way to explain to M that it wasn't gonna happen.

Most recently, M came home with a drawing she had colored, and a magnet on which the drawing had been reproduced. The literature, from a company called Art to Remember, let us know that the magnet was not ours to keep but was merely a sample of the types of things on which we could have our children's art reproduced. We would need to either pay $5 for the magnet, or send it back in. Right. Send it back in after my daughter has already seen it and is excited by it.

After pressing M about this latest scam, I found out that they'd worked on this in art class, and that they were told what to draw by way of a template that they basically colored in. So they'd basically spent an hour's worth of learning time working on an item designed to make money for the school. Am I the only person who sees something inherently wrong with this?

I realize these types of things have been going on for many years in one form or another. We all know about the months spent preparing for the high school plays in which the final performances were by paid admission. But there's a difference, isn't there? Those are high school kids who are spending a lot of time learning about drama and who may be seriously pursuing the performing arts after high school.

While my five-year-old daughter likes to draw and paint more than anything, I haven't seen much creativity come home this year from her art class, and I don't see how a pre-fabricated piece of art that only needed to be copied and colored, is teaching her anything. I don't like that my kindergarten daughter is being used for school fundraising. And further, how is it that the school system sees fit to make kindergarten an all-day affair so that kids can learn more earlier and be more competitive, have snow make-up days on Saturdays to meet the state-mandated requirements for the number of instructional days in a year, and test kids to death with EOG's starting in third grade, but sees nothing wrong with taking a little time out of the instructional day to have them produce products for a fundraiser? What, exactly, am I sending my kid to school for again?

And that's to say nothing of the unfair obligation laid on friends and family who are supposed to buy over-priced, poor quality items that are peddled at the beginning of every school year. I've been on the receiving end of the fundraising effort. How do you turn down the neighbor's kid standing at your door with a catalog and an order form and a mother at the bottom of the stairs supervising? I've bought more $7 rolls of wrapping paper than I ever care to think about, and have wasted good money on poor-quality Chinese-made ceramic items that have never made it through one cycle in the dishwasher. I, for one, will not subject my friends and family to this annual display of begging.

As for the magnet, I will be keeping it, and sending a note in lieu of a check for $5, letting the school know that I consider the magnet to be payment for my daughter's time. I will most certainly submit a personal monetary donation to the PTA at a later time, and will be more than happy to volunteer my time toward school fundraising events like the upcoming Spring Fling.

I will explain to my daughter, when she's a bit older and can understand the concept, about the virtue of giving some of her extracurricular time toward helping the school or a cause of her choice, and I will help her to understand that we do not do so in order to win a super-deluxe green plastic frisbee that she would have gotten if she'd sold a few rolls of wrapping paper.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dirty Words

As we were sitting at the dinner table last night, my oldest daughter informed us that there were some dirty words that they weren't allowed to say at school.

This was a relief to me since, if my daughter is going to be saying dirty words, I want to be the one to benefit from them, not school!

My husband politely asked which words those might be. M said there was the "S" word and the "H" word.

We nodded knowingly. Certainly, those would be bad words to say. But who in the world were the miscreants in her kindergarten class that would have used those words in the first place?!

Just to be sure, and never wanting to miss the opportunity to bestow a lesson, we asked her to clarify what the "S" word and the "H" word were. To which she very seriously replied, "'Stupid,' and 'hate,'" of course!

We looked at each other and smiled, then told her those were pretty bad words, indeed. Guess we'll deal with the big dogs later!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Track Out

This week is the beginning of M's latest track-out. For those neophytes that know little about year-round schools, a track-out is a short, three-four week break that happens every two months. It takes place of the traditional 10 week summer vacation many of us are so familiar with.

Anyway, track-out time has become a big business here in the Raleigh, NC area. There is no shortage of weeklong camps for everything from horseback riding, to swimming, to ice-skating, to art. And while they are a wonderful opportunity to fill in the extracurricular activities that the public school system does not offer, and a necessity for dual income families, I have the luxury of staying home with my girls and so wrestle with the choice to participate fully, a little, or not at all.

Actually, that's not entirely true. In reality, in this economy, it's not feasible for me to spend several hundred dollars for a one week camp, and philosophically, I believe that kids get these breaks for a reason - to relax. They spend full six-hour days being shuffled off to school, going to one class or another, working. I don't like the idea of continuing to shuffle them off to camp when they're supposed to be having a mental break.

I realize in this competitive era, many would say I'm missing out on the chance to create a well-rounded kid who's had lots of experiences. But I'm a traditionalist, and my kids are still pretty young, and so I'd rather they spend their days traipsing around the yard, exploring, imagining, and having fun on their own. It's also an opportunity for me to spend time with M, who I just don't see as often now that she's in school.

It's not that we don't have plenty of ideas planned. Today, we went to Duke Gardens to run around outside for a few hours, feed the ducks (and the catfish) and enjoy the early spring blooms. The girls climbed trees, smelled the flowers, and had an awesome time.

Too, M and I have a mosaic flower pot project we haven't gotten to yet, and a painting lesson as well. We have some weekend trips planned, and some museums we may get to.

In the meantime, she's enjoying the chance to wake up in the morning, hang around in her pj's for a while, and generally take her time with her day, a nice break from the usual rush to dress, eat breakfast, and jump on the bus. She gets to play with her sister, have lunch with her Dad at work, and be outside barefoot in the middle of the day. She gets to have some one-on-one time with me during our regular trip to the mall for Cinnabon and browsing at Barnes and Noble.

As she gets older, I may plan a few more organized activities, but if I do it will only be for one week out of three. I hope she will grow up being able to have both the extracurricular experiences and the free time. We need more dreamers in this world, more people who appreciate the virtues of stopping to smell the flowers, laying on your back and watching the clouds go by, daydreaming. Isn't that, after all, where all the great ideas come from?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spilled Milk

My youngest daughter is a high-energy, needy, attention-hound. It's not her fault - it's just part of her personality. She cannot entertain herself and will deliberately do something to garner my attention if I don't happen to be giving enough of it to her.

Often she will walk into the room, sigh dramatically, and ask "what can I do???" To which I am often likely to respond, "I don't know, what do I look like - Julie McCoy???" I mean really, I don't get paid to be the cruise director here, kid. Unfortunately, parenting guides advise against the use of sarcasm with young kids. Apparently it can come off sounding mean. So I try to limit such comments to once a day at the most.

The problem is, I really love my kids, but I really don't enjoy playing Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. If they catch me in the morning, somewhere after I've had my first two cups of coffee and read the paper, but before lunchtime rolls around, I just might be in the mood to get down on the floor with them and play.

But by mid afternoon, the mom weariness begins to kick in. I've only gotten half-way through my to-do list, I have the energy of a sloth, and I'm a mere two hours away from having to think about dinner. I still have to attempt some writing, find the bottle of laundry detergent that I sat down somewhere in this house, and, oh, clean up the milk that she just spilled all over the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in an attempt to get my attention. Mission accompished - four-year-old, one point, mom, zero.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Teaching Respect and Drawing the Line Between Kids and Adults

I was reminded recently that my job as a parent is not to be my child's friend, but rather to teach them the rules of life so they can be good people as adults.

There are, in my opinion, too many young adults today who jump out of college and into the world expecting that they are owed something, not realizing that there is a place for respect and a time to earn their own. Watch any reality show on tv, deal with young clerks at the local mall, or just walk into a restaurant or bar that twenty-somethings frequent and I think this statement rings true. There is a big contingency of self-important, delusional people who have been taught through their lives that they are all-important and screw everyone else.

I want my kids to be better, for I feel that the young adults who were taught respect, who were taught that the community around them is more important than the individual, are the ones who will ultimately be the most successful in this world.

It is hard, though, when you are around your kids 24/7, to not fall into some sort of complacency once in a while, to the point that you occasionally get snapped back to reality and realize that somewhere along the line, you lost control.

My oldest, M, has periodically been having attention span issues in school. Every so often, she has been sent home with a note indicating that she has failed to follow directions, or is not listening to the teacher.

Pre-children, had I heard of such behavior, I would have adamantly insisted that the kid in question needed to be reminded who was the boss in the situation (the teacher), and deserved a stern reprimand and lecture on respect.

Post-children, I found myself inexplicably trying to figure out all of the reasons M might have been acting up. Was she tired? Bored? Too young to be in kindergarten just yet? Were other kids creating the problem? Was the teacher the problem?

I even had a talk with the teacher to try to determine exactly what was going on (a move I still consider to be a valid one- there is not a lot of communication that goes on between schools and parents and sometimes, this is the only way to get a handle on what really goes on in class).

Well, the bottom line is, perhaps none or all of these things were going on. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that M was not showing respect to the teacher. She was not listening to her. She was not following directions. She had placed herself above an adult, a person in position of authority, and once we woke the hell up and realized this simple fact, we made sure we corrected it. M was sent to her room, had tv privileges removed, and was reminded in no uncertain terms of what was expected of her. She has not come home with a note since.

Still, I hate doing these things, hate being the bad guy. I question myself all the time about whether I overreacted, whether my punishment was knee-jerk and cruel, and how my actions will affect my children down the road. But as my mother (and husband) reminded me recently, her generation did not obsess over these things. They did what they felt was right, they corrected the situation, they moved on. My sister and I are not in therapy these days, she correctly pointed out. It was the splash in the face that I need every once in a while to keep me from becoming an overindulgent, not-my-child kind of mother.

The Hard Headed Child

My four-year-old has been confined to her bedroom for an all-morning time out. She is might ticked about it. Over the course of the last three hours, she has screamed, cried, kicked the door, and asked to come down more than once. I am standing my ground because I am mighty ticked, too!

G has, for at least the past two years, interfered with her older sister's sleep in one capacity or another, to the point of driving me insane. G is not a kid who needs a lot of sleep. M is just the opposite - 12 hours might be enough for her. But given the opportunity to play with her little sister, M will forgo sleep until she falls face forward on the floor.

They used to share a bedroom. But night after night, my husband and I found ourselves irritably stomping up and down the stairs, telling them to get back into bed and go to sleep. A 7:30 bedtime is all fine and good, but when your youngest is keeping your oldest riled up, and at 10:30 they are still not asleep, it's a problem. No amount of threatening, punishing, or wringing of the hands seemed to matter. So when M was about to start kindergarten, we decided the only reasonable solution was to separate them.

So a month later, M was in her new room, the walls painted a cheery pink, with her own space and an opportunity to get more sleep. G was alone in her room. Bedtime playtime was over and they were both asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed. Problem solved!

Until G, the ever-resourceful hard-headed child that she is, decided that the morning hours worked just as well for play. Being deprived of her sister at night was something she had to deal with, but by morning, she could generally wait no longer. So now, at 6 a.m., she was there, knocking on her sister's door to see if she wanted to play. M, who would not otherwise be awake, would then drag herself out of bed, get her wits about her, and then proceed to play full force with her sister.

And we, now downstairs, were also awakened early by what sounded like a heard of elephants about to come through the ceiling.

This new situation has been going on since last summer. Again, no amount of punishment, warnings, or outright threats have dissuaded G from waking her sister.

I suppose I should be grateful I don't have the problem many parents do - that of my kids coming into my bed at varying times of the night to sleep. My children, thankfully, have never been interested in spending time in our bedroom. But this waking the sister up issue has become my Everest. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I mind the two of them playing together. I don't. In fact, I'm very grateful they get along so well. I want them to be close. And I'm not trying to exercise heavy-handed total control over my kids. But M goes to school at 8:15 and doesn't get home 'til 4:15 - a really long day for a five-year-old kid who is on the young-side of the students in her class.

And so, this is why G is in her room. Previous punishments that included removal of privileges haven't worked. I simply don't know what else to do to get through to her. She certainly doesn't like being confined there, so I would check it off as a yes in terms of effectiveness. I know I will probably have to repeat numerous times until she gets the message. Hopefully she will, eventually, get that message and the fun involved will not be worth the punishment involved.

Given her personality, though, I know this is only one of many such battles I will fight with her. G is simply the type of kid for whom the reward is usually going to be well worth the risk and some day, she will be tasked with making her own decisions about what is worth it, and what is not. I know this will serve her well in life. But I hope my actions now will at least teach her later that her choices, all choices, involve the possibility of both a favorable and an unfavorable outcome and I hope she always considers both.