A few days ago Mira went out to play with a little girl from the neighborhood named Aya. Mira was playing so nicely with Aya. The day passed and as the sun was setting I was wondering about Mira's whereabouts. I asked Hassan and right before he took a nap he said "I'll go look for her in a few minutes." Well, a few minutes turned out to be at least an hour later. I wasn't worried about her safety because we have outstanding security where we live and everyone pretty much knows each other and children will come to your door if something is wrong with your child. I decided to go downstairs into the garden area and find out for myself what Mira was doing.
I found Mira sitting on the curb of the parking lot (gasp) with children she's not supposed to play with (double gasp). I asked Mira where her bicycle was and she said "I don't know." She gave me this look like she never owned a bicycle before in her life. One of the children that she's not supposed to be playing with, Zacharia said "My brother Mohamed is riding her bike." I just about blew a gasket. I said "You go find your brother right now and bring him back here. He is not allowed to ride Mira's bike." Eventually I found Mohamed and I said in a loud stern voice "You get off Mira's bike right now. You are never allowed to ride Mira's bike again because you broke it too many times. If you want a bicycle, ask your parents to buy you one." He just said "OK."
I took Mira upstairs, and told her she is punished from riding her bike for one week. Then I asked her to surrender the key to her bicycle lock, which she did. I told her, for the next few days she is grounded from playing with children. She is never allowed to play with Zacharia, Mohamed and their little sisters again. Mira JUST DIDN'T GET IT!! So we went back and forth for several hours of her crying and carrying on "Nobody loves me." "You don't love me." Unfortunately, she has no idea what kind of child I was because she met her match when I became her mother. I know every trick in the book, backwards, forwards, sideways and upside down. As my Mom used to say "Don't pull that crap with me."
Mira is the only child in the neighborhood who plays with these children. They trash all the toys; call kids really bad names and throw rocks at people. We've told Mira before not to play with these kids but we got soft on them for some reason. Never again.
So Mira went to bed that night with her eyes red and swollen from crying, hyperventilating one too many times (another old trick of mine). Usually we lay in bed and say "OK 5 minutes of quiet starting now." We rarely go beyond 5 minutes. We used to say "Eyes closed." Now Mira says "Eyes optionable." Oh, how can I be angry at a child who wants to use such a big word as "optional" and instead replaces it with "optionable." We love her so much and realize that she is growing too quickly for us to hold onto, but it doesn't mean that we stop correcting her and punishing her. It's all a part of love and wanting to raise her with a sense of responsibility and accountability; something I really didn't understand until I turned 29, but there's always hope for Mira.