Monday, July 27, 2009

The Discipline Issue

Remember that old Mazola commercial where the beautiful native American woman says “You call it corn, we call it maise?”  Well, Some call this cruel, I call it parenting.

This morning when I staggered downstairs to get coffee I saw that my 7 1/2 year old was playing on the Wii. I reminded him of my rule stating that he had to eat breakfast and be dressed for the day before he turned on the TV. I don’t count polar bear pajama bottoms as dressed. 

I went on to ask him if he had had breakfast. He repeatedly stated that he had. As I proceeded to make coffee I noticed something. The toaster wasn’t left out on the counter. The syrup was in the cabinet where it belongs. The garbage bag did not have a sticky paper plate hanging on the outside of it.

I had been lied to. 

The situation required swift and serious action. I felt I was justified in pulling an unused gem out of my treasure trove of parenting tricks. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

First I lulled my son into a sense of normalcy. I read the paper, had my coffee and went to the gym. At lunchtime I said we would go to McDonald's. Joy ensues. “I thought you didn’t like McDonald's Mommy.” “I hate it, I can assure you I won’t eat the food.” I haven’t dined there for a decade, though if I did want a colon cleanse I would snarf a quarter pounder.

We load up and head to Micky Dees. I pull into the parking lot, drive around the building and then head home. He is stunned into silence. At the stop light I spin around and simply state, “You lied to me about breakfast. I lied to you about lunch.” 

I truly expected a hysterical fit. My eardrums were grateful, he was silent most of the way home. About a block from the house he asked, “When does school start?” Hilarious.

When we got home I asked him how he felt when I lied to him. “Bad.” “Did you feel bad when you lied to me?” A slight nod of the head and then silence.

Mr. Man was put into the corner to think about the error of his ways. 

1:30 - Sentence begins

1:47 - A lunch of potato chips, yogurt, granola bar and glass of juice is served (Warden Mom puts juice in cup with handle in case prisoner tries to drag it across the wood blinds shouting for Amnesty International. 

1:53 - Prisoner is granted trip to bathroom. On the way back to the corner gives me a hug and a kiss. 

2:01 - Whimpering starts.

2:02 - Prisoner assumes the fetal position.

2:07 - Prisoner asks, “When can I get up?” “Every time you ask me, you add time to your sentence,” Warden replies.

2:12 - “I want a blanket. I’m cold.” Prisoner’s request granted.

2:34 - Older prince says, “He’s starting to break.”

2:37 - Earnest crying begins. Wails of “When can I get up?” from the corner begin and end quickly.

3:05 -  Snack of peanut butter crackers and chocolate milk is served. Warden prays inmate will fall asleep.

3:12 - Another bathroom break granted.

3:29 - Punching pillows begins.

3:33 - Prisoner tries to make a break for it. After being given the chance to nicely and quietly return to his cell he chooses to disregard that option. Warden physically puts prisoner back in corner. He stays.

3:37 - “Hey Mommy, where’s Daddy?”

4:11 - Negotiations acceptable, sentence complete.

The standoff ended when the detainee requested a meeting. After asking how long he had to stay in the corner I told him that that was totally up to him and a clue might be to think about why he was in this predicament in the first place. He said that he had ‘accidentally’ lied to me. Dear God. After amending that he said that he had learned something, would do better in the future and he was released.

Was this cruel and unusual punishment? Am I suffering from discipline burnout after raising his two older brothers and this is the result? All I wanted was for him to admit on his own that he lied, that he was sorry and had learned his lesson.  Cop to it without any prompting from me. Confess that he lied without me saying “Now what did you do? Why were you punished?” in a sing song voice. I caved. I did prompt him, but not in a sing song voice. Had I just undid the lesson of the last 2 1/2 hours? Am I bad parent?

The low point of it all was when he said, “Does this make you proud Mom?”

That one hurt, to my core. 

I would be proud if I knew for sure that I did the right thing. But I just don’t know if I did.


DollieMama said...

Hail to the Queen! I think you did awesome! I have a 4 year old and just gave birth to my second little man and am ripping my hair out trying to figure out different ways to teach my guy how to be good. I look to the future when he is 6,7,8 etc and Aaaaarrrggghhh! Can't wait...hee hee! I definitely decided that the punishment for lying was going to be worse than the bad deed that occurred using my Queen-in-law's example. At 3, can you imagine, my little man learned to lie (a milestone and developmental issue say the experts...yee haw) so I have made the punishment for lying more tough than the bad act. I think you "showing" him how lying affects people as opposed to telling him was brilliant! And for the prison sentence? Well, I bet he will never turn on that TV until he is fed and dressed again! And I would love to hear any followup on the lesson of lying and if it worked or diminishes that happening. Well done Queen! Well done!

Michelle said...

you did really well. I wish it would work for me. unfortunately my 7 year old has to go to school.