Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Carrots and Sticks: Mommyland Discipline

It has come to my attention that my kids require both more and more creative discipline than they've been getting.  Because it is now mid-summer and the fighting, bickering and not cleaning of the rooms is totally out of hand.  Time outs just don't work anymore.  I hate yelling at them because I find myself feeling like sicko Joan Crawford/Kate Gosselin hybrid.  Then I feel worse.  Besides, my mean mommy voice is tuckered out.  I count to three.  Then five.  I glare.  I discuss.  I create charts and reward systems that work their effective magic for days.  I do all these things on four hours of sleep per night.  And still, the naughtiness persists.

So I have decided upon a carrots and sticks approach, at least for the big kids.  Except in this case - the carrot and the stick are the sameMwah Ha Ha! That was an evil laugh.  Because I am so diabolical.  I pick the one thing the each child responds to the most and either provide or withhold that item to get them to do my bidding. 

Kate has worked her magic well because Thumbelina (age 7) will do anything in the world for shoes.  I held up a new pair of flip-flops from the Target clearance rack ($3.99) and she kept her room spotless for a week.  When she tried to carry her baby sister down the hardwood stairs upside down, she lost her sparkle-toe sneakers for two days.  She cried over that loss as if she has just been told the sun would never shine again.  Maybe I shouldn't blame Kate, I was just reminded by my husband that Thumbelina potty trained herself in one week when she was promised a snazzy blue bikini.

So apparently, this is what I have to look forward to:

Hawk (age 5) will do anything in order to play Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.  He is a man obsessed.  He loves Star Wars with the sort of passion depicted on the covers of romance novels.  It is the Bella to his Edward.  And he will not be denied his Wii time.  If he does something naughty and learns that he has lost 20 minutes of playing time, he responds in much the same manner as Luke Skywalker learning that Darth Vader is his father.  Except, imagine it being more dramatic and whiny (yes, it is possible) and involving copious amounts of mucous.

Then we have the exception...  Mini-Mini-Me doesn't have a carrot or a stick.  Mommy is both.  The baby is at a really tough age for discipline (20 months) as she remains an adorable, precious, squishy little cupcake baked by the devil. She could set fire to a swimming pool. She could accidentally create a dirty bomb using discarded diapers and Miracle Grow.  She seems simultaneously unnervingly brilliant and completely dense. In the way that my dog used to be able to do long division if you held a piece of bacon in front of him but would sometimes look bewildered when you asked to him to sit.

Sit? What is this 'sit'? I know not of this word...

She can wash her own hands, brush her teeth, go get her own shoes, grab a clean diaper (after she strips off in the middle of Starbucks), find mommy's phone, ask for juice or milk when she's thirsty... But she can't quite grasp that tipping over the kitchen trash can and playing in the garbage is not OK. So she has to sit on the step. And she hates to do that.  She gets all dejected and sad...

Against all of this silly background, I still don't think the Cap'n fully knows or appreciates what it takes to train his lil' terror suspects.   He comes home after a long day at work to greet the tired crew who for the past few weeks, are so happy to see him (and are so sick of me) that they suddenly change personalities into well-behaved 1950's television children.   So the Cap'n has a somewhat different picture of his little ones, and I have a feeling that it's in black & white and sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes.  Lucky Cap'n.

The End.

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