Monday, March 1, 2010

In the Criminal Justice System Known As My House...

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids shouldn't watch more than 2 hours of TV per day.


I mean, on the surface, it's a great recommendation. It's also a joke. We all know that when the AAP gets home and their IHPs are bouncing off walls and exploring the hidden crevices of the kitchen cabinets and putting boogers on each other, the AAP hollers "That IS enough! If I turn on SpongeBob, will you shut up for the love of Pete??!?" And then they go to work the next day and say "Wow, our recommendations are crap."

So, let's say that I agree with these recommendations? There's just one teensy thing I need clarification on - does Law & Order count?
  • Because I'm pretty sure that if we cut out our daily L&O allotment, we'd be like 27 hours in the hole on our TV watching. TNT would go belly up. And, let's face it, L&O isn't just entertainment. It's an education.
How do I know? May I enter exhibits A through G into evidence:
  • Exhibit A: Heresay - The IHPs know that I'm not usually willing to punish someone based solely on the other one ratting them out (exemption: See Exhibit G). Unless, of course, they are willing to incriminate themselves in the crime as well. Then they plead for leniency. Once McGee came in to tattle that Lefty had knocked her over on her bike with a bat (he copped to it) but when I went outside to get my Lennie Briscoe on, Lefty, i.e. Little Clarence Darrow, came flying down the sidewalk screaming "HERESAY! HERESAY!" Our across the street neighbor later asked me if he was yelling "HERESY!" I said yes, we play Spanish Inquisition. All. the. time.

  • Exhibit B: Dead Guy - We actually will play L&O. For the first half of the game, you get to be Lennie, the Bad Guy, or the Dead Guy. Happy always plays Lennie's partner. But the best role is the Dead Guy, because you have to come up with a way to be dead, and Lennie has to figure it out. We've had death by eating Star Wars Figures, death by dryer (McGee was curled up in the machine with Bounce sheets shoved in her mouth - it was AWESOME!) and death by Lima Beans (slipping, not eating) but I swear Lefty did that so he could dump them on the floor and not have to eat them for dinner. Whoever gets to be Bad Guy has to decide if they want to confess, or ask for a lawyer or do a line-up (with stuffed animals) Once Bad Guy made a run for it and Lennie had to shoot him. That was a good game. I was Bad Guy. But Lt. Happy always gets to make the arrest. His favorite part is smacking you upside the head after he cuffs you and saying "Shaddap. Get in the car." It's so so so so awesome.
[Sidebar: When all three of the IHPs were born, I matched their nursing schedule to when L&O was on TV. Between TNT, NBC and A&E, you could watch an episode every four hours. Twenty-four hours a day...even on weekends. It was fantastic. So now, whenever my kids hear the dun-dun music, they are instantly hungry. Well done, Pavlov.]
  • Exhibit C: Here Come Da Judge - This is the second half of the L&O game. In the Order half, you get to be either Jack, the defense attorney, or the Judge. And whoever gets the Judge gets to be Arthur, too. He's not critical, he just gets to say random stuff. Lefty will memorize Arthur moments and write them down for the next time he gets to be Judge/Arthur. His favorite: "Maybe an elf will pop out of my desk and spit cider in my ear?" And he says it EVERY TIME he plays Arthur. Though I don't remember Arthur spitting milk out of his nose when he said it. If you're Jack, you stomp and huff and do crazy things with your eyebrows, but you know you always win. If you draw the Defense Attorney, you get to spend a lot of your time saying "Your Honor. Please. They have no evidence." And, for the Judge/Arthur person, after you say your Arthur-funny, you get the gavel. Which usually means you're the Bad Guy in the next game, for knocking someone else in the noggin. Their favorite cause of death is blunt force trauma. We've convicted the judge from the last game a lot.

  • Exhibit D: Tainted Evidence - The Rule of Understanding in my house is that, lacking Prior Consent, no one goes into someone else's room without asking or knocking. Therefore, any incriminating evidence is part of an illegal search. McGee once made off with Lefty's favorite Red Sox hat, and denied taking it. He searched her room, found it and wanted her punished. Immediately. McGee put on her best defense face and said "Mom, fruit of the poisonous tree." Lefty threw an apple at her. Which, while totally poetic, got him sentenced to 30 minutes in the penalty box for assault with an edible weapon. McGee got her door taken off its hinges.
[Editor's Note: We really do have a penalty box. It's one of those really HARD cardboard boxes that are basically indestructible - it held pineapple or something. When the IHPs are evil, they have to sit in the box. No time out in my house. You. Go. Sit. In. The. Box. And McLovin will do sports hand gestures and assign punishments. "Lefty, illegal use of the baseball bat. (hands held over right shoulder and swung down to left hip) Ten Minutes. (two hands up showing ten fingers spread) Penalty Box (both hands point, a la flight attendant indicating the exits, toward the box)" It sits on the mantle in front of the fireplace. You'd think they would have figured out how. to. push. it. into. a. fire. But, no. -Kate]

  • Exhibit E: Pro Se - Defending oneself. Little Clarence Darrow is WAY too good at this. "I may have taken Happy's Bakugan, but did he say that he told me I could only take the blue one? Or, was it maybe the red? We should ask him." But, Happy's three. He won't remember. "He's your witness, Mom." I think McGee is going to put him on retainer soon.


  • Exhibit G: Quid Pro Quo - This is the exemption to the Heresay Rule. I used to be able to cut a deal with one kid - say a special movie or privilege - to rat on the other kid and tell what they knew, like who took the last brownie. Problem is, they've figured out if they cut a deal with each other FIRST, my deal isn't worth anything. They keep their yaps shut; I can't punish anyone. I'm thinking of adding a charge of conspiracy, but they've learned, because we use this ALL the time in the game, that you can't charge conspiracy without charging the other crime.

I walked in the door this afternoon to find my FAVORITE pair of shoes out of the box and buckled to the tightest setting. Evidence leads to one of the IHPs. Assuming it's the girl is not a valid rationalization in my house, as one can't be sure they were used as footwear. Coulda been a weapon.

I opt for the "first one to confess gets the other kids' desserts." Lefty whispers [Editor's Note: He's a terrible whisperer. -Kate] "If no one says anything, we all still get dessert." I stare and them. They stare back, innocently.

McGee? "Sorry, Mom. I just don't know who it was..."

Lefty? "I got nuthin."

Happy? My sweet, little adorable Happy. You'll tell Mommy, right? "Shaddap. Get in the car."

I'd love to punish them all, but Law & Order is on. Dun-Dun.

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