Here’s the thing about disciplining kids, especially as they get a little older. I find that they rarely do just one outrageous thing that lands them in the dog house. Instead they chip, chip, chip away. Slowly but surely you realize that you’ve been repeating yourself like a broken record for half the day.
“Don’t leave your shoes right there.”
“Why are your shoes still in the same spot.”
“Show me that you are a responsible kid, let’s put your shoes where they belong.”
“Did I REALLY just trip over these same shoes?”
“(Insert Child’s Name Here) GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW AND PICK UP THESE SHOES. AND LET THIS BE THE LAST TIME I AM ASKING OR YOU WILL NO LONGER HAVE SHOES.”
It’s a slow build. It’s a silent way of being disobedient and disrespectful and if you’re busy and moving through the day, you can forget that repetition is just as obnoxious and rude as overt disobedience.
Last night, I snapped.
It had been one of those days where the girls would play and then chaos would erupt, then we’d settle back down to peace and chaos would quickly erupt again, the tears, the drama, the fighting. These are things that can break your soul on a tired day, right?
By dinner time, I’d had enough. One grabbed herself a popsicle from the freezer, the other deliberately butt-bumped the younger one on the way to refill something by the sink and suddenly there were about half a dozen popsicles from the freezer on the floor.
Me: Pick up the popsicles and put them in the freezer
Child 1: I didn’t do it, she did it.
Child 2: Ignoring it all completely.
Me: Turning away and saying something to their dad because I naively assume one of them will pick up the popsicles they love so much. Surely they wouldn’t want them to melt. Note: popsicles fall out of the freezer pretty much daily and I am regularly asking them to pick them up and put them away. You see where we are headed.
Let’s just put the above scenario on repeat multiple times over the next few minutes. The children alternating pointing blame at who is responsible for the popsicles on the floor yet neither one of them PICKING THEM UP.
My annoyance rising.
Mr. WM’s annoyance rising.
Then I bark at them to pick them up if anyone actually wants a popsicle and they ignore me.
What happens next, friends? Quite possibly sheer genius. See, in parenting, genius often happens in a flash. You can’t plan for these things, you can’t possibly know how you will react in the moment.
I said “If you don’t pick those popsicle’s up right now, I will take all the popsicle from the floor and the freezer and put them in the trash.”
They both stood there and just stared at me.
And suddenly, I thought, “Holy shit, that is brilliant. OBVIOUSLY I am going to do that” because I am THAT MAD. Frankly, I wondered, why hadn’t this occurred to me sooner??
Sure enough, I stood up, tossed all the ones from the floor in the trash, dramatically opened the freezer, grabbed another handful of popsicles, theatrically tossed those and then for my final act….my final stroke of strong-point-making-without-yelling, I grabbed the popsicle from the table that my 4-year-old had just removed the wrapper from, and tossed that one in the trash.
I was like the Grinch stealing the last crumb from Cindy Lou Hoo. My heart might have been two sizes too small last night but let me tell you, it was so empowering. It was cathartic, really. And it was my children who shrank my heart slowly but surely throughout the day.
HAPPY SUNDAY FAMILY DINNER KIDS.
Then I sent them to their rooms.
They were stunned silent.
Another remarkable feat achieved by moi that I never thought possible…SILENCE.
Sure, the tears erupted eventually once they realized it wasn’t a joke and I meant it.
Here’s the deep question. Whenever I choose to purchase some new popsicles, which might take me a bit, depends on my mood, we know the first time they drop them on the floor, they will pick them back up. But how many times after that before they repeat the cycle and ignore me?
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