Apparently I am the worst mother ever. That is what my daughter told me after I confiscated her mobile phone for a week. She is behaving like a junkie going cold turkey and it is not a pretty sight.
My husband thinks I am being too harsh and he could be right, but I have started now, so I have to finish.
Having spent a few days in bed staring at her phone, my daughter was due to come to the theatre with us – to see a show she had asked me to book no less. However, when the time came, she said she wasn’t coming. She had revision to do. Plus she said that going to the theatre makes her feel anxious, although there was no sign of this when I forked out a few hundred pounds for Hamilton tickets on her birthday two months ago.
Anyhow, I explained that I’d paid good money for the tickets. The show was two hours long and local, which would allow for plenty of revision time. If she felt anxious or hated the play, she could walk out, no questions asked. Still she refused. I wanted to go bat shit crazy, but took a deep breath and bit my lip. My husband and I tried to reason with her calmly like seasoned hostage negotiators, but we failed miserably. We even sent child three in for backup to no avail.
Unable to face the idea of her spending yet another day glued to the phone, I spelt it out. ‘Either come to the theatre with us’ or ‘I take your phone for 7 days.’
She opted for the latter and I know why. I’ve been rubbish at rationing phone time, largely because I know that merry hell will break out if they are separated from their screens for a nanosecond. She thought I would cave in. It’s been 36 hours and the phone is still in quarantine.
Her reaction is terrifying. She looks like that girl from The Exorcist whose head span round 360° before she hurled green vomit about the place. She’s used foul language, told me she hates me and that I need help – I do, but not the sort she is suggesting.
I’ve explained that this doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I’ve suggested it might actually be of benefit to go without the phone. I offered her a page turner of a novel and she looked at me as if I’d tried to feed her a spoonful of shit.
I am struggling, but reckon I need to continue to withhold the phone in a loving way and by that, I mean not rising to the bait every time she spits four letter words at me, slams a door in my face or screams that I am the worst mother EVER.
My husband said last night that this has happened because we have never parented before. I think that is a bit extreme, but there is something in what he says. My second child has always been an achiever and not much trouble. When there has been a need to discipline her, I’ve chosen options that bode for a quiet life. Now I am paying the price. It’s going to be a tough week.
Today, I am the best mother I can be.