Sunday, February 27, 2011

Planet Punished

The kids were off all week.  "Mid-Winter Break" is an unfamiliar vacation for us.  It isn't the "Holiday Break" that they get in December and it isn't Spring Break. They get that too.  But despite feeling peeved about their cushy academic schedule, I fully embraced this week off.  We decided to camp out at my parents house where the babysitting is free, the food and wine are five-star, and the kids act like I'm taking them to Disney.

The day we left for Grammy and Grampy's house (aka free Disney), I gave the kids a garbage bag and sent them to the car to fill it with all the trash and miscellaneous junk that they could find.  It really was out of hand in there.  To my surprise, they successfully cleaned the car,  but not without some conflict.  Johnny came inside sobbing because GJ bit him.  Yes, you read correctly.  My eight-year old bit my six-year old.  This has never happened before.  I was completely shocked.  I wasn't out there in the garage so I'll never know exactly how it happened, but Johnny had bite marks on his arm and GJ did not deny having put them there.  I will spare you the meager details that I was able to get out of the boys.  It was clear that GJ had to be punished and it had to be bigger than a slap on the wrist.  It would have to make an impression. 

Hubby and I fought about our options.  I wasn't sure I had the heart to leave GJ out of the joys of Grammy's house.  He'd been looking forward to them and had so enthusiastically helped pack and clean the car.  I already felt sorry for him.  Hubby and I couldn't agree on what to take away -- junk food? trips to the toy store? new books? outings to museums and movies? unrestricted TV and electronics?  There were so many joys to consider withholding.  We settled on electronics and all outings.  In case you glossed over the options list above, that basically left him with food.  So we prepared to be miserable, because when GJ is unhappy, we're all unhappy.

The whole drive to my parents, I silently hemmed and hawed over this punishment.  I felt sorry for G.  He was so sad and pathetic in the back seat and I really, really wanted to tell him never to bite again and toss out the punishment.  But I resolved to stick with the punishment.  It was going to be a long week.  

Tonight, I can say that we had the best week ever.  GJ was his best self, every day, all day.  The punishment worked like magic on him.  He was sweet to his brother and sister.  He took "no" for an answer for a change.  He even decided that he'd rather read than watch TV. And because he is the leader of the sibling set, Johnny and Sofia were angelic, and they too decided that reading, Legos, and all sorts of imaginary games are more fun than TV. 

I feel like I spent this past week parenting on another planet.  Not only did I like my children better on Planet Punished, I liked myself better too.  I didn't yell.  I listened better, and I was more fun.  I think my parents would say they felt the same way.  There was an extra does of all-family fun this visit.  And on top of all that, I feel like my son actually learned a lesson. Imagine that. 

3 comments:

  1. Way to stay strong Mommy V! I find it is the hemming and hawing that bother my kids...when I set a punishment and do not relent, they actually feel better because they understand the framework of their world.

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  2. I'm telling you it's the electronics or lack there of. I love Em when she isn't connected to her DS. The withdrawal from the games and TV is too much sometimes.

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  3. I think that spending the week unplugged did play a huge role in our blissful week on planet punished. I am tempted to throw out the Wii.

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