As you all know, and to many people’s shock and dismay, I have three small children. In fact, from July 9 to July 31st I can say I have a one, two and three year old. That, to anyone except maybe Michelle Duggar, is a lot of little kids.
All of them are trying to figure out their emotions, boundaries, limits and attitudes. I am trying to figure out how not to churn out a Brittany Spears, Lindsey Lohan or Jenna Jamison. Not that these are not successful women in their own rights, I would just rather not have the belly button rings.
So my job, as it has been described, is to impose punishment upon those children of mine who do not act according to societies standards – or my standards, which are much lower than societies. And I do. Time outs, going to their rooms and even the much debated, heated discipline technique of spankings have been used in our home. We have given countless toys to charity, also known and the trash can when I can’t load them all up and drive them to Goodwill, put a many stuffed animals in time out and removed everything the child owns from their room. You could say that on the gamut of disciplinary techniques, we have run them and even invented a few of our own. Short of hanging them upside down by their toenails… but I have been tempted.
No one would ever call us abusive, in fact, from some who see us all of 3 hours once a year, we are too nice. But we do have the desire never to be called by a classroom teacher because one of our kids stuffed another one in the toilet. We try to reserve that fun for the home front.
But I am always perplexed and curious as to why, after imposing punishments, it always feel like more of a punishment for me than for the kids.
Time out is great, when it works. It does work sometimes, but it is not consistent and it is certainly no time out for me. I spend the minutes that the kids are in time out telling one of the other kids not to bother the punishee, putting punishee back in the chair or listening to the punishee tell me her life’s story while she happily dangles her feet in a cute, non scolded kind of way.
Going to one’s room is also a great form of punishment. When one actually goes to their room, stays there and does not scream and yell at the top of one’s voice. And if they leave the room and it is still in tact, that is an added bonus. A rare one, but still a bonus.
When the hitting and scratching and biting reaches fever pitch, by the children, not me- put down the phone, no need to call CPS – a swat on the bootay, as we call it, might be in order. The problem with spanking, at least for me, is that I feel incredible guilt over it. The taboo over spanking a child has reached such fever pitch that I feel even putting that we have done it on occasion will cause a knock on my door tomorrow by a social worker checking on the welfare of my children! But before I receive hate posts, let me say that even this we might be doing wrong because the majority of the time, it causes an eruption into laughter by the children. This demeans the entire practice all together.
I would say my main problem with discipline is my consistency… or our consistency. We can’t decide if they are just little babies who need love and affection and understanding, or little heathens that need military school, Pace style. We often wonder if we just had one this young, we would be more creative, understanding and delicate. But instead, I cave and then I am firm and then I am firm and then I cave. Pretty much just like I was when I was dating. I’ll pause for nodding agreement from my friends…
So I have decided that punishing my children is harder on me than it is on them. Because by the end of the day, the children still don’t listen, still don’t clean up after themselves and still order me around like a mail order Mommy.
But while I sit here, typing about the confusion that is my day, I smile and know I will try again tomorrow. Because punishment may be harder on me than them, but if I don’t try, therapy for them will be harder on my pocketbook.