Why I Marched My 12 Year Old Into the Police Station

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

I know that in writing this that there will certainly be those who disagree with my decision and I’m okay with that because parenting choices are one of those things that people have strong opinions about, which is understandable. Those who don’t disagree with my decision may still disagree with me choosing to share it in such a public forum and I have to admit that I am on the fence with that one myself.

I am always looking to find that balance between helping other families and protecting the privacy of my kids. In this case, I happen to have two sons who are the same age which provides a small layer of anonymity since there is a 50/50 chance I’m talking about the other one! In the vein of putting my kids’ first, I am also going to gloss over some details. If you are, or have ever been, the mother of a 12 year old child, I assume that you will be able to read between the lines somewhat!

Why I Marched My 12 Year Old Son Into the Police Station (or knowing when something is a mountain and when it is a molehill)Image Copyright: jgroup / 123RF Stock Photo

It was a Tuesday. He was having a day where he was attempting to assert his independence more boldly than usual. For a 12 year old boy, trying to find the edges of those lines is not uncommon.

On this particular day, we had an appointment for his sister that we were running late for. He didn’t want to come, but I was going to be gone most of the day and him staying home was not an option. Things went rather downhill from there.

There were refusals; there were words. We were very late for the appointment. It was downtown in the city nearest to us.

Following the appointment, there was a 20 minute standoff in a parking lot because he refused to put his seatbelt on and I refused to drive without him buckled in. Eventually, he let out a big sigh and I heard the click.

Just a few short blocks from there in heavy traffic, the kind that you only see in cities in rush hour or anytime in construction season (where we live, anytime there isn’t snow on the ground is construction season), there was almost an accident in front of me and I had to slam down hard on the brakes.

Unbeknownst to me, this same son of mine had unbuckled his seat belt the minute I had taken my eyes off of him. Unrestrained, he flew forward and hit the seat in front of him with such force that the following day, he had a large scrape and bump on the upper bridge of his nose.

I explained again the importance of his wearing his seatbelt and pointed out that not only was he risking his own life, he was also endangering others because if we were to be in an accident, he could essentially become a projectile, a potential problem especially for the brother seated directly in front of him.

There were eye rolls and tone and grumbles but the was buckle was clicked in once again. Until…I wasn’t paying attention to him and was instead paying attention to the road when he unbuckled it again. And again. And again.

I try to be a “yes” mom. I choose my battles. I know better than to lock horns over trivial things. I know a molehill and I know a mountain. This was a mountain.

I know a molehill and I know a mountain. This was a mountain. Click to Tweet

I calmly explained to him that not wearing a seatbelt was against the law and that if he took it off again, I was going to have to involve the police. He took me up on my offer.

I had five kids with me and a list of errands that had to be done a page long and we had company coming over for supper that evening and I knew the house was still a mess. Since we were already running behind because of being so late for that first appointment and the 20 minute seat-belt-standoff in that parking lot, I didn’t have time for an extra stop that day. I did not WANT to turn around and drive to the police station. But I did.

When we arrived, said son did not want to get out of the van to go in. I stated that it was his choice but that either way, I was going to go in and ask for an officer to speak to him. I suggested that if an officer had to come out to the parking lot to talk to him because of his refusal to go in, they might be more frustrated. He chose to come in.

I think all of my kids were shocked that I was following through with my threat. When we got inside and took a number, reality set in for him and he started begging me not to go through with it.

“Mommy, I’ll wear my seatbelt. I promise. We can leave now.”

There were 5 people in front of us so it was a substantial wait, but I stood my ground. When our number was called, I walked up (I was shaking inside and super nervous but tried not to let the kids see that) and apologized for coming in for something that was wasting their valuable time. I explained that my 12 year old son refuses to wear his seatbelt and that it is unsafe for me to drive with the distraction of having to check his seatbelt status every few minutes, not to mention that it is illegal and risks his life.

There was a bit of a process, but eventually an officer came out to speak with him. She told him that she had been to car accidents where those who were wearing seatbelts walked away and the one who wasn’t was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. She explained that if she were the officer to pull us over because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, she would have to issue me a ticket but she would expect for him to have to pay it. She also said that the next time he takes his seatbelt off while I’m driving, she suggests that I should pull over and make him walk home.

He was embarrassed and unbelievably angry with me, but he has worn his seatbelt without a word of protest since.

So why did I march my 12 year old into the police station for something that some would say is not that big of a deal?

Why I Marched My 12 Year Old Son Into the Police StationIt’s very simple. A seatbelt can make the difference between living and dying and if my son isn’t going to listen to me on a life and death issue, I’m going to make darn sure that he understands that there are consequences to that.

Because the next time I’m trying to talk to my son about something that is a life and death issue, it may be about drugs or about drinking and driving or about gangs and I want him to know that I am serious.

But my biggest reason is this: I want him to know that his life is valuable to me. It might not be valuable to him at the moment (whether that is because of his trauma related issues or because he is young and he thinks he’s invincible because his frontal lobe hasn’t fully developed), but I need him to know that it matters to me.

His life matters more than getting my groceries on 15% off day or getting the house clean for company or even getting supper made on time (it was ready an hour and a half after they arrived incidentally, but everyone survived). His life matters more than my own embarrassment or my concern about what others are going to think of me.

I need him to know, really know, especially going into the critical teen years, that I will drop everything else in those crucial moments. I need him to know the difference between a molehill and a mountain and to know that to me, his life is a mountain.

I need him to know the difference between a molehill and a mountain and I need him to know that to… Click to Tweet

If you are looking for more parenting thoughts or truths, you may be interested in following my Parenting board on Pinterest or signing up for my email newsletter.

Follow Sharla Kostelyk’s board Parenting on Pinterest.

Should Utensils Face Down or Up in the Dishwasher?

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser. The opinions and text are my own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

I have a bit of a thing for my dishwasher. You see, while I may not have anything else figured out when it comes to housework, I KNOW dishes! I know which dishes should be hand-washed only and which ones can be put in the dishwasher. I’m a bit obsessive in fact about ensuring that they are sterilized, so I feel better about them if I can put them in the dishwasher. I rinse wash everything before I put it in the dishwasher and I feel confident that no one will ever eat off a dirty dish in my house. 

Should Utensils Face Up or Down in the Dishwasher?Those who know me well know that even when the rest of my house is a disaster, my dishes are done and they are done perfectly! They also know that while I will gladly accept help when it comes to clearing a table or putting leftovers away in the fridge, nobody touches my dishes but me. It’s borderline obsessive and I know it, but we all have our quirks and clean dishes isn’t the worst one I could have!

By the way, you can currently get:

As a (self-proclaimed) dishwasher loading expert, I have a very passionate opinion about whether the cutlery should point down or up. I know that others feel passionately about this question as well because when I asked it many months ago on my Facebook page, the plethora of responses were definitive.

the dishwasher question

I will weigh in on my opinion of this issue later, but before I do, I thought I would list some of the main arguments for each side.

Pros for Utensils pointing down:

      • No clean ends being touched by potentially germy hands when unloading.
      • No sharp ends such as fork tines or knives poking or cutting the person emptying.
      • No danger to children.
      • Handles are easier to grab when putting dishes away.
      • No chance of serious injury or death. *

*While this worst case scenario may seem unlikely, there have been at least 3 deaths attributed to people falling onto a knife in an open dishwasher that was in the process of being unloaded so caution may not be a bad idea.

Pros for Utensils pointing up:

        • The pointy ends don’t get stuck in the bottom of the compartment.
        • Food washes away and does not settle into bottom of silverware holder.
        • It is less crowded for the ends of the cutlery and they get cleaner.

Then there are some in the camp of mixing (sharp forks and knives pointed down, spoons up). They could arguably be viewed as the Switzerland of this controversial topic!

I am squeamish, so I am squarely in the down camp. My kids unload the dishwasher and even though I teach them to wash their hands beforehand, I know they sometimes don’t. Between the yard and our pets and well, just life, those hands are dirty! I cannot deal with the thought of those dirty hands having grabbed the part that is going to go in my mouth!

While the question of whether the utensils should face up or down remains a hotly debated one, one thing I think everyone can agree on is that they should be clean. For this reason, I’m picky about the type of dishwasher detergent I use and the rinse aid (because what’s the point of clean if there are still visible spots?!).

preparing the dishwasherPersonally, I use Finish® and Finish® Jet Dry®. They have never left me with dishes that are less than perfectly clean! I find that the best prices on Finish® products are at WalMart. I purchased there most recently last week.

Should Your Cutlery Point Up or Down in the Dishwasher?Remember that you can combine the regular low prices at WalMart with the Ibotta offers for Finish® Max-in-One and  Finish® Jet Dry® to maximize your savings.

So what do you think? Should utensils point up or down in the dishwasher?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser. The opinions and text are all mine.

Homemade Pudding Pops

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

When I was growing up, pudding pops were a memorable summer treat. I of course wanted to pass on the tradition and make them for my own kids. They are so easy to make and there are a lot of ways to make them even more fun!

Homemade Pudding Pops that are simple to make and can be tailored to any occasionInstead of using popsicle holders, I made mine in Dixie cups. I put sprinkles in the bottom of each cup. Since I was making them for our Canada Day BBQ, I used red and white maple leaf sprinkles. You can use whatever sprinkles match the theme of the event or party you are making them for.

After adding sprinkles to the cups, I poured in pudding batter and let them set for a few minutes on the counter. Once they had begun to set, I added a popsicle stick to each of them. I then set the cups inside a muffin tin tray and put the tray in the freezer for them to freeze.

Easy Pudding PopsI assume that like most appliances, freezing times may vary, but it took about six hours for our pudding pops to freeze. When they are ready, you only need to peel the Dixie cup off them and eat!

Homemade Pudding Pops Recipe:

  • sprinkles (optional)
  • 2 packages of instant vanilla oatmeal (4 servings size)
  • milk (amount according to package directions)
  • 12 Dixie cups (give or take depending on how high you fill them)
  • 12 wooden popsicle sticks

Put sprinkles into the bottoms of Dixie cups. Make pudding according to package directions. Pour pudding mixture into cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Let set for around 2 minutes and then insert a popsicle stick into each cup.

process for making homemade pudding popsSet the cups onto a cookie tray with a rim or in a muffin tin tray and put in the freezer until completely frozen. Peel off the Dixie cup. Enjoy!

Other easy cooking for/with kids recipes:

Mini Pita Pizzas

100 Gluten Free Snack Ideas

Healthy Lego Snack

10 Super Easy Family Meals

Fun Frog Sandwiches

You can follow my Cooking with Kids board on Pinterest for lots of easy and fun ideas or subscribe to my email newsletters where I share family friendly recipes, tips and activities.

Follow Sharla Kostelyk’s board Cooking with Kids on Pinterest.

My Biggest Homeschool Mistake

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

What is your biggest homeschool mistake?

There are so many things that I wish I could go back and do differently with my oldest. When I first started out homeschooling, I very much had the idea of school-at-home in my mind, so he basically sat at his desk doing workbooks. It makes me feel sad to remember that little boy so full of energy and ideas being stifled in that chair.

Reflecting on my biggest homeschool mistake and what I do differently nowI’d like to go back and tailor the teaching to his unique learning style and tailor the topics to his interests and strengths. I would do less book-work with him and spend more time enjoying him and getting to know who God created him to be.

That little boy is all grown up and he is a plumber now which he really enjoys, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes what would have happened if I had worried less about what he was learning and more about teaching him to love learning.

Worry less about WHAT they're learning and more about teaching them to love learning. Click to Tweet

Back then, he gave me signs that what I was doing wasn’t working for him but I was so stuck in the mindset that school could only be done one way that I persevered and pushed him to do book reports and workbooks and repetitive math worksheets. This was back when he was just five and six years old.

I wish I had played board games with him for ‘math’, snuggled him on my lap and read to him more and let him run in the yard and climb trees for Phys. Ed. instead of the structured class I enrolled him in.

I am so thankful that I learned from my mistakes and over the years have added more hands-on learning, more fun and more joy into our homeschool days.

My younger kids have had the benefit of me being a mom with more experience. This has allowed them to be taught in the ways that each of them needed to be, including more sensory ‘work’, more playtime, more interest-led learning and less workbooks. We do more reading together and exploring together and discovering.

My Biggest Homeschooling MistakeOnce I allowed myself to think of homeschooling as something different than replicating a brick and mortar school, a new world opened itself up to us!

I’ve written about what I would tell a new homeschool mom. I hope that others can learn from some of my many early mistakes. I’m still learning, but I think that my younger kids are getting the benefit of how much homeschooling has stretched me as a person and caused me to grow.

You can read about what we’re going to be learning this year in our homeschool. I am especially looking forward to our unit studies and field trips.

If you’re looking for homeschool ideas, you may be interested in following my Homeschooling board on Pinterest or signing up for my email newsletter.

Follow Sharla Kostelyk’s board Homeschooling on Pinterest.