Crime and Punishment
In my heedy BC (before child) days when I knew how to parent and what not to do - I had children who never needed punishment or for me to raise my voice, lose my temper because they would listen the first time I told them something in a soft whisper. Yeah well about as likely as me meeting a real Christian Grey who looked like Brad Pitt and was looking to whisk me off my feet -- fantasy, quite nice but notta gonna happen.
In real life I find myself repeating the same request (hmmm okay sometimes command) over and over and over so many times that usually my voice feels the need to try the same exact request at different frequencies - increasingly higher hoping that the howling of dogs, as I get to a screech, will reach my children who will be impressed enough to look up from the device or toy of choice. However, should I whisper to my husband in his ear "do you think they want ice cream" and well the little darlings who could be upstairs, door closed, listening to tv with that trance stare (slight open mouth, ready to drool, pupils dilated) and air conditioning on, they prove the hearing test at the pediatrician was indeed correct - they have perfect hearing. I find the practice of having to say "please put on your shoes" or "please do not forget..." one of those things that should appear on a list - you know the lists that say you spend 15000 hours of your life watching tv or some such nonsense -- because it is possibly shaving some time off of my own mortality. Now I do not want to live forever - but I would like to have vocal chords for when I am older if for no other reason but to yell sexy things at good looking young men as I zip by on my motorized scooter - paid for by me as Medicare will be one of those extinct things that my children will read and wonder about.
So here we are not in a posh apartment while Brad Christian is making me a gourmet dinner while our J Crew catalog children play a game of scrabble in Italian but rather in my hallway while husband has thrown hands in air and is mumbling about when dinner is going to be ready and telling me to ask the boys about their latest loss at camp...because he is done talking, yelling and has done that famous parental "your sons" hand-off. Cannot blame the man at this point - we are 3 weeks into camp and the following items have not returned with said boys - 3 pairs of goggles, one bathing suit, one rash guard, one bag, and my patience. We have tried the nice approach - "please be more careful". Husband tried the I am bigger than you loud voice (admitting I was bit scared) "don't lose your things we work hard for them" yelling approach. Tonight as I heard about the 3rd goggle loss I looked at them - looking bit like Lenny from Of Mice and Men and wondering "which way did they go George?".
None of their behaviors are scary, you know the kind that later wind up in print about how could he commit this kind of crime Dateline pieces. By the evaluation of others they are quite above average intelligence children who seem to remember passwords, quotes from music/books/films, and website addresses - but ask them for the answer "why did you not follow - do - remember ...."? and they too look like Lenny - or a UN delegate without the translation headphones one - looking at my lips wondering what the language I was using meant.
I am not sure what the punishments should always be - I actually ponder them for merit because I know while I want to say "you will never get goggles, tv, books...again" that will not actually happen and set up me to fail in the motherhood punishment department (you know in the book that "they" keep on my mothering activity to discuss and tell me how to do it better). I try the take away method, for a week, the sit down method and tonight I even resulted to a tried and true method passed down from my father - I made my oldest son write me a page worth of what he thinks would be good methods for not losing goggles in the future. I am an even tempered person, often known for my "grace under fire", but I have found myself at times looking like either Nurse Ratchet, understanding Joan Crawford - I mean for goodness sake she did say no wire hangers at least 50 times before - Linda Blair head spinning -- and I guess as crazy as I think I am reacting it must come through more like Mrs Brady - because my boys are not scared (phew - glad to write that) of me. They are unhappy and usually sad when they realize that I am upset and disappointed that I am not teaching them. I do not know if I am good at punishment but then again I am not sure any parent knows this to a science. I do know that I am trying to serve out punishments that will teach them about fairness, responsibility and how to make good choices. Time to go - the at least half hour time for bed ritual must begin - or by the time you read the at least half hour ritual of please wake up and brush your teeth....
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin