Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Natural Consequences

My adorable little ragamuffins are at it again.




Last week we ended up on lockdown as I attempted to force them into better behavior. Because that always works so well.

Beautiful Baby just learned the "mine" concept (although she says her name instead of mine and pats her chest and its soooo adorable you almost give in to the fact that shes being a little selfish so and so). She's almost 2 so we've begun timeouts as she screams and declares everything hers. I doubt I'll win this battle but I have to at least try. It may be time to find a playground and let her loose on other unsuspecting toddlers survivor style.

Curly and Moe lied about completing chores, ignored directions and back talked me over the course of several days. I let loose a full-on heaven and hellfire version of sinning and laid the guilt on thick and those boys prayed loud and mightily and after they went to bed their dad convinced me to give them a second chance (which was really more like a thirteenth chance but he's not home all day and doesn't realize just how much he's asking of me) and somehow batted his eyelashes and got me to agree to it. I'm glad I did. As my husband is fond of saying, he's always right.

Larry was another story altogether. He went into the week grounded for playing video games during school time and other general sneakiness. He then committed all the same acts as his brothers PLUS he played video games during his actual class with his actual teachers and I completely lost my mind!! However the heavy hellfire guilt cloud, that worked so well on the other two, dissipated whenever it reached his vicinity as if he was somehow immune. Not knowing what to do and not trusting him or myself in any conceivable scenario, my husband and I agreed that he would spend the next 2 days in his room thinking about his crimes and learning what true boredom was. This was not the best plan. We put him in his room with only a bed, a bible, a dresser and his spelling worksheets. He was served meals there and escorted to the bathroom by Moe whenever the need arose. He began the punishment by commenting that it felt like a hotel with room service. Grimace, groan and smack my forehead. Are you serious?! For the first day he chose to shred cheese from his lunch and put it all over the floor and let the dog out without telling anyone. I was not impressed. The second day I explained that this punishment was a test of his true nature. Did he not care, so he sat and did nothing? Was he truly trying to be bad and still getting in trouble in this limited environment? Was remorseful and wanting to do better, shown by doing schoolwork, cleaning out his dresser or reading the bible? Apparently he just wanted to be bad. He drug his brother in for a wrestling match, tried to bribe the other brother to bring him confiscated materials and snapped rudely at me when I went to check on him. I thought this was the beginning of the end. I began researching boarding schools.

The next day my boys had a swim meet. Larry stayed home under guard and I took the other 2 boys. My husband took Beautiful Baby all day so I was free to do some contemplating. I'm not sure if you've ever been to a swim meet, but they're long with lots of breaks. I sat and talked to some of the other moms during the breaks and unloaded my fears that I might be raising a sociopath. They commiserated, unleashed their own brands of wisdom and left me feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I drove home from that meet proud of the sons I brought with me and praying to God the whole way home to change me.

And he did. I got home and walked in the door without any anger. I talked nicely to my jailed son and complimented his good behavior. God, and the women he had share with me that day,really opened up my heart to see that I need to love my children differently. It is my job as a parent to both model and share with them the things they need to know about our morals and values. But,I can't make them follow them. I need to love my children for who they are and stop trying to change them or mold them into someone else. I don't mean that I'm giving up or allowing junk behavior but I am no longer going to let their actions control me. I will continue to present our morals and values daily through my actions and words. But I can't do that if I'm mad all the time or feeling let down.

I struggle when other parents give me advice that feels like I'm giving in or losing the battle. But the thing is, I no longer want to battle. I don't need to punish my kids for everything they do wrong. I need to rely more on natural consequences. I don't like to do that because it feels like I'm giving up control or that they might not get the natural consequence. But if they don't, maybe it wasn't such a big deal anyways.

I'm going to step back and pick my battles much more carefully. I put this idea into effect immediately. Shortly after arriving home that day I went looking for the broom. I found it in the closet where it belongs, that I had recently completely reorganized, in a heaping messy pile of things that had been shoved in every which way. My natural instinct was to yell and make my boys drop everything and come fix the situation immediately under my condemning eye and at the timely expense of whatever else they had been working on when I tore them away. Instead, I took a breath, took out the broom and went and added, clean out the broom closet to the to do list for their chore time. No yelling, no hurt feelings and the problem was rectified within 24 hrs.

I'm not sure if I can stick with this, or if I've explained it properly, but I'm hoping. I've had a very real mind shift and its bringing me a lot of peace and calm and allowing me to focus on the positive for the first time in a long while. Now if you'll excuse me I think I better go take some valium before heading downstairs into my childrens realm where I am sure to meet the dastardly foes grime and chaos and will need medicated or god gifted aid to survive serenely.

Wish me luck!
I need to remember ,boys will be boys.