Monday, April 12, 2010

Throwing Away the Textbook

I had looked forward to this past week for at least a month, anxious for a change in routine and a reprieve from the pressures of every day life; however, our Spring Break ended up being anything but spring or a break. Between the icy cold temperatures and snow of Wyoming storms and dealing with the flu bug half the week, by mid-week my expectations were not being met in any sense of the word. On top of that, my children decided to veto bedtime, and I found myself spending over an hour getting my children to bed on more than one evening, resulting in frustration and impatience on my part.

When we finally returned home, I was ready for our regular routine. The last couple of days in Wyoming proved a little sunny and relaxing, but I looked forward to normal bedtimes and a schedule that keeps my children busy and happy. I guess I'm a bit of an optimist because we've now been home for three days and I'm still waiting for the no-hassle bedtimes, the productive busyness and the happiness.

Last night was the final straw. My two youngest had been in bed and asleep for two hours, but my oldest child was determined to stay up as long as possible. Knowing school awaited the next morning, I was adamant that she retire early enough to get plenty of rest. Unfortunately, she did not see things the same way. She kept insisting she wasn't tired as she followed me around the house. Finally, I realized I had to take some serious action.

"If I have to tell you to go to bed one more time, you're going to lose your privileges," I warned.

"What privileges?"

Okay. She's smarter than I thought. She's going to weigh her options. I'd better come up with something good. "Television. No TV this week," I said, naively waiting for her to hop right up and head to bed.

After thinking it over for a few seconds, she said, "Okay. No TV this week."

This was not going well. I knew I had to come up with a privilege that meant more to her, so I said, "Friends. No friends, either." I immediately knew that was a rather ridiculous punishment since she rarely plays with friends anyway.

"Okay," she said.

Now I was floundering. "Your Ipod. I'm taking away your Ipod."

"I don't have an Ipod." Darn it! This is not looking good. She's outsmarting me at every turn.

"Okay, well, whatever it is you have, I'm taking it away." Knowing I was sounding completely desperate, my frenzied mind struggled to come up with a punishment that would mean something to her. Finally I had it.

"Food. You're grounded from food," I said. It was the only thing I thought she would really miss.

At this, we both looked at each other and burst into the giggles. We laughed so hard we were rolling on the floor. What kind of mother threatens to starve her child if she doesn't go to bed on time? Certainly not a sane one.

At least the tension had been broken, and somehow the absurd threat worked because my clever daughter finally picked herself up off the floor and mozied into bed. We were both still giggling as I kissed her goodnight.

This morning as the kids were getting ready for school, I heard her tell her brother that I had grounded her from food. Her "I think Mom's pretty much crazy" tone was not lost on me, but I decided I'd rather have my children think me a little loony than think me hard-nosed and unapproachable. So, although my parenting skills are far from textbook (As soon as I said it I knew I had broken Rule #436 in Parenting 101--Never threaten to take away something you can't follow through with), I just have to say, sometimes as a mom you just have to throw the textbook out the window and go with your gut instinct. And if your gut instinct is telling you to discipline your child in a somewhat ridiculous manner, go for it. You never know when your sense of humor will pay off. And if you're having a hard time knowing how to discipline a particular child who doesn't seem to be fanatical about anything you can use as leverage, may I suggest taking away . . .



Abby said...

Lori, you're my hero! This made me laugh, too! Thank goodness for humor, or we'd just cry all the time!

Brian and Rebecca Nate said...

Sorry your Spring Break turned into such a bummer. It was really great to see you guys and have the kids around. I had more "girl chats" than I've had in months! I will have to remember the no food technique, see if it works on Kamille! Take care.

Glitzy Glass Stars said...

That naughty girl. I am so excited for future fun.

The Martinez Fam said...

At the beginning of the story I was a little curious as to what her currency would be. She seems to be able to take or leave pretty much everything!!:) Loved this story. Thanks for sharing.