In one of the many instances when teaching and parenting are similar, sometimes you have to be the bad guy.
I hate being the bad guy. In fact, I pretty much loathe being the bad guy. I'd love nothing more than to be the laid back teacher who never has to correct her kids. The teacher that they all flock to and love and can't get enough of. If you're a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Parenting is all fun and games when you're building forts or drawing on the sidewalk, but when your kid does something wrong, you have to correct them. And then they get that look. The eyes roll to the side and their lips pout ever so slightly. It's downright adorable.
Well, not for teenagers. Teenagers might start out with that look, but sometimes they get snotty or yell once they are being corrected. The point is, they are now mad at you.
I'm going to tell you a secret. Deep down - and I mean really deep down for some - kids like structure and rules. It's nice to know the outcome of a particular action. It's nice to have stability. The hard part is that they don't know that they like it, so you're going to catch some grief when you impart your discipline.
Today, I had to follow through on a couple of my favorite kids and I hate every second of it. I just couldn't let them know that I hated it. Don't get me wrong, I didn't laugh gleefully and pretend to love it, but I was firm and strong in my convictions. And that's when I heard the words "I hate you." Yeah, you hate me right now, but you'll come back around. They always do. It's the rare child that holds a lifelong grudge against a decent and fair teacher.
Despite how I disliked hearing the words, I kept my face calm and said "I'm sorry you feel that way." I don't know how I'll respond when my son utters those words so many children have thrown at the adults who care for them. Hopefully I'll be as calm and even when he tries the verbal assault maneuver.
Sometimes it stinks being the bad guy, but it's always necessary to follow through with consequences. Especially for your favorites.