I am SO unfair
Eldest has been indulging in one of the uglier behaviors available to children: she has become something of a bully. She’s turned into quite the petty tyrant, shrieking at her sisters, pitching fits when she doesn’t get her way, telling them “I won’t be your sister anymore!” (like THAT’S a good threat!) or “You’ll never be a princess!”
I’ve been working on this for a couple weeks now. Let’s see. We’ve gone through the ‘that’s not nice’ discussion. We’ve had the ‘go sit on the sofa for a minute and think about it’. We’ve talked about thinking before we speak, and discussed thinking about how we’d feel if these things were said or done to ourselves.
Well, today, I finally blasted right on through ‘discussing’ and ‘time outs’ and everything else and went straight for the jugular.
I have just been Unfair. Watch for Eldest in front of the house with a picket sign, soon.
We have an old laptop that is being used for the kids’ games. I set the kitchen timer for half an hour, and each kid gets one (1) turn per day during ‘quiet time’.
Eldest was twenty minutes into her game when the laptop froze up (a common occurrence – did I mention that it is old?!). Normally what happens next is, I’ll come in, unfreeze the thing, and bump the timer up a couple minutes.
So, right in the middle of the reboot, Danger Mouse says to me, “Mommy, I wish it were my turn soon.”
Before I could say anything (such as, ‘only about ten more minutes, honey’), Eldest whips around, thrusts her tongue out at her little sister and shrieks, “Well, you CAN’T play a game – EVER! It’s my turn FOREVER!! Because it’s MY computer and MY games and I SAID SO, NYAH!!”
Excuse me? EXCUSE me?
I froze, looking at my eldest child in disbelief. She froze, realizing that she was getting the patented Stare of Doom™ from her mother. Danger Mouse froze in mid-wail, realizing that if she didn’t hush up, she was going to miss the show. Even Boo Bug gasped, looking up from her LeapPad.
I sat there with my mouth open, searching for something to say. The first few things that came to mind really weren’t things I’d like to hear repeated, and the next few really weren’t harsh enough. I’m way past ‘discussing’, ‘debating’ or ‘exploring our feelings’ on this deal. Finally, I went with, “OK, that’s it. Out of the chair. Danger Mouse, it’s your turn NOW.”
Nooooooooooooooooooo!! Oh, the angst! The agony! The promises of good behavior! Never again! Wailing, screaming, flinging herself to the floor in excesses of grief. “I’ll never say anything mean again!”
Yeah, right. I’ve heard that one at least twelve times in the last two days. Besides, I haven’t found it to be a good idea to backpedal away from disciplinary measures around the Den of Chaos – if you say you’re going to do something, you’d better do it. Every punishment you threaten and don’t follow through on seems to result in three more punishments you DO need to follow through on to get back to where you were, Respect For Your Authority wise.
So, the timer has been set, Danger Mouse is playing Reader Rabbit, and Eldest has been couched to watch the stupid antics of the stupid Bear in the stupid Big stupid Blue STUPID House. She has also been told, just put to the cherry on the Unfair Sundae, that if she so much as whimpers about it even one more time (or tries to take it out on any of her siblings when she thinks I’m out of earshot), she will also forfeit tomorrow’s game time.
I am unfair. So unfair. She wants to go live at Grandma’s house FOREVER.
I’ve got news for her: my mother, her adored grandmother, cornered the market on ‘unfair’. I could tell you many hours of stories about the unfairness of my life as her eldest child.
Years of this unfairness taught me how to control my temper, so that I didn’t simply backhand my snotty-brat-child (which, believe me, also occurred to me as a potential course of action). It taught me the discipline that enabled me to get through college. I learned not to snark off at the wrong time, thus avoiding getting my face beaten in by irate peers.
And I will continue to be unfair until she, too, has learned; so that, someday, my grandchild can run to me with sobbing tales of how unfair her mommy is…
Logan Pearsall Smith
10 hours ago