The other day, I was down at my grandmother's house with my kids. They were wiling away on her couch, looking at some iPhone app or something, and then all of a sudden, the two older kids started tusseling. There was some good natured giggling, then a couple of "ow's" and then before I knew it, they were really going at each other in that brother/sister type way. I don't think anyone was really in danger of getting hurt, but I really abhor violence of any kind because on one hand, I'm a hippie dippie kinda gal, and on the other hand, the noises they were making were damn annoying. So I break them apart. Gabby retreats to the recliner, Sam lays wounded on the couch, clutching his iPod. And I decide in my great motherly wisdom that now is the time for a "Life Lesson" about violence and making annoying sounds while in my grandmother's house (never mind that my grandmother wasn't paying attention to any of this, as she was doing her best to turn Alice into one of those morbidly obese kids you see on Maury). So I sit down and look at both of them and adopt my stern voice and start to tell them about why fighting is not a good idea. And I am really intending on bringing it around, talking about violence inherent in the system and golly gee, I'm really trying to think of something topical and cultural to really drive it home, and all of a sudden, Gabby, in a perfect deadpan, starts singing, "Everybody was kung-fu fighting...."
And that's all it took. I tried to swallow my laughter, but it didn't work, and there I sit on the couch, just chortling away. Sam starts laughing too, just really going at it, and his laugh is truly amazing, so that just makes it all worse, and before I know it, we are all laying on the couch in a shaking, giggling heap, and Alice is standing in the doorway, clutching her second ice cream cone of the hour and going, "What do?" which makes us all laugh harder.
And then last night, Alice started throwing the bowl of popcorn that she had begged and begged for, all over the bed. At first, I just said no. But she didn't stop, so I reached out and kind of made a slapping motion at her hand. I didn't really hit her, but I thought the motion might shock her into putting her handful of popcorn down peacefully and retreating into good-childom. It did. And she even acted as though I hurt her (remember: I did not touch her), so I kissed her hand and politely told her to not do it again, why it was bad, the whole bit. For one minute, she just sat there and watched the All Star Game with me. And then, she picks up another handful of popcorn and loudly shouts, "DO AGAIN!" at which point I realize she wants me to punish her again.
I guess I don't have to say this, but SECOND PARENTING FAIL.
I really suck at the whole disciplinary thing. It is funny, because a good deal of Gabby's friends think I am the strict mom, since we have a mandatory bedtime in our house and I have absolutely refused to buy her a cell phone until she is 13 (with my patented response to the inquiry at "Who are you going to call? Dora?"). I have also taken the very mean and awful, Medici-esque steps of outlawing those sweatpants with writing on the ass and not allowing anyone in my house to step out of our yard wearing pajamas. CRUEL, I TELL YOU. But when it comes to actually laying down the law, I talk a big game, but very often, I crumble. And when it comes to things that I find to be amusing, I absolutely cannot keep a straight face or carry out my original mission. In short, I'd make a very lousy terrorist and Dr. Phil would probably really lay into me, given the chance.
So I have devised a new list of punishments for my hellion offspring.
1. If anyone brings home a bad grade (and yes, in my house, that equals anything "B" or lower), I will put that person in the front seat of the car, and I will drive around our town, blasting Blackstreet's "No Diggity" windows down. I will loudly sing every word, and when I see someone that that child knows, however vaguely, I will yell "PLAY ON PLAYA" at that person until I get a response.
2. Anyone caught doing anything vaguely unsavory on Facebook (and yes, I keep tabs on these things and have the passwords) will have baby pictures tagged by me. And I will tag them while the child in question has been grounded from internet devices and cannot un-tag. I will also feel free to post things on the Wall of the offender, including, but not limited to, poems of adoration and a great number of posts that begin with the words "Remember that time that you peed on yourself?"
3. Anyone caught being mean to a sibling will be forced to clean the kitchen on a day after I make roasted chicken (have you see the roasting pan post-chicken?--ick). I will also make some kind of bread that has to be rolled out and--oops!--I will forget to use a cutting board to roll it out on. And yes, I'll check between the tiles to make sure the cleaning has been thorough.
4. A child caught lying to me will have garage cleaning duty for a weekend. Prior to the actual garage cleaning, I will leave the door open for a night so we can get a nice mixture of creatures milling around in there. Feral cats FTW!
5. An untidy room means you get to sit and watch a Hoarders marathon with me. I don't think that is punishment, but I'm sure they will, especially when I sit there and play-by-play it. "Oh, they're going to open the bathroom! Five bucks says the water has been off for 5 years and there is a bag of excrement in there. Wait for it....OH YEAH! BAGS OF POOP! TOLD YA! PAY UP!"
I am lucky that my kids are pretty good little creatures because I'm really running out of ideas. Or maybe I'm not lucky. All of these sound like they'd be pretty fun for me. Maybe I really do have the soul of a dictator....