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My 14-year-old neighbor baby-sits for me once in awhile. One day she asked to use my 1-year-old son as a model for her home-economics class. She made an outfit for him and took a picture of it. A week later she brought the outfit over, gave it to me, and told me that $15.00 would cover the pattern and the material. I paid her. Two weeks later, she came over with another outfit, and I paid her again, telling her I didn’t want any more clothes. Yesterday she came over with another outfit, and I didn’t pay for it. Later her mother called and said I hurt the girl’s feelings. Should I just buy the outfit?
You are under no obligation to buy the outfit. In fact, you shouldn’t have paid for the first one, and certainly not for the second one. The neighbor girl made the outfit as part of a classroom assignment, and her parents should have covered the cost. In any case, you never promised to buy it. Stopping this at the outset probably would have been less difficult. But better late than never.
If you normally get along well with the girl’s mother, talk to her about the situation. Let the woman know that you never asked for the outfits, and that after the second one, you specifically requested that her daughter not make you any more. Given your existing relationship with the woman, you should explain the situation from the beginning, because it is possible that the teen-age girl didn’t tell her mother the whole story.
If you don’t consider the girl’s mother a friend, you probably have little to gain by addressing the issue any further. Parents tend to become defensive about their children, and unless you’re fairly close to the woman, you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose this fight. So don’t pick it.
Just find another sitter.
Is it bad for a mom not to notice that her 10-year-old son has not eaten for a whole day?
It’s probably not a good thing, but it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a bad mother. At that age, a lot of children do their own hunting and gathering in the refrigerator. If both of you are busy and don’t sit down to a meal together, the child’s lack of eating could easily go unnoticed.
That said, in the future you should probably try to spend a little more time with the boy and eat at least one or two meals a day with him. If you failed to notice that he wasn’t eating, think of the other things you might have missed.
Sometimes after I get home from my 8-to-4 job, I have no juice left. I just want to sit on the couch and let my son play with toys or watch TV. I feel like I’m a bad mom when I don’t have the energy to play or read five books to my son, but sometimes I’m just not up to it. Am I a bad mother?
As long as you don’t make a habit of leaving the TV in charge of your son, no, you’re not a bad mother. We all have rough days. Sometimes we can gut it out and make time for the children. But every parent has run into this problem. No vigor, no impetus to act. The parental instinct is strong, but sometimes it isn’t quite powerful enough to offset our own inertia, particularly after an argument with the boss and a series of paper jams. It’s also possible that you’re short of sleep, vitamins, or exercise.
When you simply don’t have anything left to give, sprawl on the couch, invite the boy to sit next to you, and grab a book. It doesn’t take much energy to read a book. Prepare for those times when your son must entertain himself by ensuring he has some educational toys and limiting his TV access to a select group of shows you know are suitable.
I will end with a word of warning. While a lot of us get tired, most of us bounce back fairly quickly once we get home. In other words, don’t let the fact that you’re whipped at 4:30 keep you on the couch at 5:30. The line between restfulness and laziness can be quite thin.
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