Tag Archives: discipline

Summon Fail.

I was ready to go home now.  I’d had enough of the Birthday Party Factory.  Christopher Robin and nineteen other Grade Preps had been ushered from nine-pin kegel bowling, the name of which was a constant reminder to the mums to exercise their pelvic floor muscles; to arcade games, where the little boys got to shoot at things with guns; to the food table, where children were issued with regulation chips, nuggets and bright red frankfurters.  They had sung Happy Birthday cheerfully and eaten a spoonful each of their icecream cake before abandoning it to play in the enormous play room.  Meanwhile, the other parents and I had drunk our allocated lattes, nibbled at the bonus dip, and chattered politely about their home renovations and the various reasons why their husbands annoyed them.

I should probably take this opportunity to apologise for the opening sentence of this blog.  I know it’s not grammatically correct, but I can’t think of any other way to say it.   “I was ready to go home” doesn’t fully express what I’m trying to say and “I am ready to go home now” is all wrong because it happened last week and I’m just not in the mood for any present-tense, stylistic, place-the-reader-in-the-moment nonsense.

Anyway, I was ready to go home (now).  I had given Christopher Robin a ten-minute-warning twenty minutes earlier.  The playroom was filled with a large quantity of multi-coloured tubing twisted into a labyrinth of slides and tunnels and little helicopters.  Do you know the sort?  Just imagine your standard fast-food child-conditioning playground, but on steroids.  It was pretty bewildering.

I had gathered all my bags together and bid farewell to my fellow hostages.  All I had to do now was extract him from the baffling plastic jungle and we could go home.  I started out with a few rallying calls aimed up at various sections of the immense structure: “Time to go now!”, “C’mon Christopher Robin, the party’s finished!”, “Let’s go!  Hurry up!”, but these got me no response.

My next strategy was to stake out the slide exits, so that I might catch him before he was again swallowed up by the plastic monster, but, while many children came speeding down the slides, Christopher Robin was not among them.  He was too smart for that.  I noticed one of the helicopter rotors spinning defiantly high above my head.  Grrr.

I enlisted one of the other children to go in and find him for me.  The little boy nodded and disappeared.  Now I’d lost two boys!

It was time for some threats:  “It would be a shame if you missed out on a lolly bag because you took so long getting out”,  “Christopher Robin!  This has gone on too long!  You get out right now or you’ll get no screen time for a week!”,  “Christopher Robin, I’m going to give you a countdown.  If you’re not out of here by the time I get to one, you will have NO SCREEN TIME FOR A WEEK.  Five.  Four.  Three.  Do you really want no screen time for a week?  No computer!  No TV!  That’s what you’ll be getting.  No screen time for a week!  TWO.  I mean it!  TWO  Come on!  TWO  All right – ONE!  You’ve got NO SCREEN TIME FOR A WEEK.  I’m VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU!”

In the farthest section of the tangled monstrosity I could hear loud giggling.  My blood boiled.

Then the little boy I sent in to find Christopher Robin came sailing down one of the slides and approached me (he looked a little frightened).  “I couldn’t see Chris in there – I think he’s hiding”

How on earth was I going to extract my son from this many-coloured beast?  I really did not feel like wedging my thirty-two year old body through a series of tubes built for the under-tens.  I rolled up my sleeves and sighed (after yelling something more about “SO MUCH TROUBLE!”).  It was then that the pile of children’s shoes at my feet caught my attention.  There were lots of different shoes scattered across the floor, but there seemed to be a notable absence.  Where were Christopher Robin’s black sneakers?

Hmmm.

I backed slowly out of the door in my first murmur of self-doubt and cautiously glanced around the room I found myself in.  The other room.  There was the party table, all laden with melting cake; there was the air-hockey machine, with five children jostling for a turn; there were the kegel bowling lanes (snicker); and there, playing happily on a Daytona race car machine, well out of earshot of anything that might have been going on in the playroom, was Christopher Robin.

Oh.

“Time to go!” I said, in a strangely strangled tone that was meant to approximate upbeat cheerfulness.

“OK, Mum”  Christopher Robin jumped down off the machine and walked dutifully beside me to say goodbye to the birthday boy and “thank you for having me” to his mother.

And as we rolled out of the Party Factory assembly line, I saw a new group preparing to go in.  Children excitedly clutching presents and parents smiling nervously in misguided optimism.  As I looked at them, I realised things weren’t so bad after all.

I could have been those people.

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Nudity Blues

If you’re wondering why I’m so twitchy and nervous at the moment, it’s because I’m currently teaching Harry how to use the toilet.  Toilet training is stress on toast.  That child’s bladder is a ticking time bomb. I need to maintain a catlike state of readiness at all times.

As Harry is discovering this wonderful world of toileting, he is rediscovering his love of nudity.  More often than not, before going to the toilet (or lemon tree) Harry feels the need to remove ALL of his clothing, like he’s wearing some elaborate geisha costume.  And he never wants to put them back on again.  And it’s the MIDDLE OF WINTER.  Sometimes Harry takes all of his clothes off just because he can.  I don’t know what he’s thinking:  “home time!  Time to get naked!”, “Mmmm, this is a great snack, but what is it missing – ah, I know: nudity!”, “I don’t know about you, but I prefer to do my trampolining sans vêtements”

Yesterday afternoon, I was running late to pick up Matilda from a netball party because Annie had done an emergency-nappy-explosion just as we were getting ready to leave.  I should say right here, that I could have picked up the phone and asked one of the other mums to give Matilda a lift home, but I resisted.  I find it so hard to ask for help.  I feel like I’m always the one asking and yet I’m never giving back.  Besides, I want them to know I can cope.  I don’t want them all to think I’m the crazy lady who had too many children too young.   I am Superwoman, don’t you know?

Harry, meanwhile, was feeling very angry at the world and was expressing this anger by refusing to wear clothes.  Any attempt to dress this young protester would result in extreme resistance and I had no time.  I was already the worst kind of late.  The kind of late that imposes on someone else.  Someone I’m trying to impress with my superior coping skills.  I think that’s when things got a little crazy.

“I’m only taking him to the house around the corner and back home again and he won’t be getting out of the car”, I reasoned, “why not take him as he is?”

I started with some threats “If you don’t hurry up and put some clothes on, you’ll have to go out with no clothes on!” and “I’m taking you in the car whether or not you’re dressed, so you better put some clothes on!” had no effect, so I picked up the young naturist and carried him to the car in a no-nonsense, “right! We’re leaving!” sort of way.  All of a sudden, Harry panicked and started shouting “No! No! No!”  I smiled to myself.  I knew I could outsmart him.

It was as I put Harry down to get his clothes that I realized Harry was not cross at the idea of going out without clothes on, he just didn’t want to be carried to the car.  Once I had put him down, this nature child strode happily to the garage, clad in nothing but his birthday suit, and climbed into his car seat.

I’m a great believer in natural consequences when using discipline.  Sometimes children need to learn the consequences to their behaviour for themselves and this becomes a learning opportunity.  So it was with some vague idea of natural consequences (au natural consequences?) that I strapped a naked three-year-old into his car seat.  I draped a jacket artistically across his lap, but he promptly flung it off in disgust.

As I drove to the netball coach’s house, I formulated a plan of attack in my mind.  I would park in the driveway and leave the children in the car while I ran to the door to fetch Matilda from the party.  She would dash back to the car with me and we’d hightail it home.  It would all be over in a matter of minutes and nobody needed to know.

The first thing that struck me as I arrived at the house was that I wasn’t as late as I thought I was.  There were still parents arriving and chatting and returning to their cars by walking down the driveway, RIGHT PAST HARRY’S WINDOW.  Meanwhile, Matilda was having the time of her life and in no hurry to leave.  When I finally managed to extract her with her school bag, lunch box and netball certificate from the party, a group of excitable girls came with her.  No sooner had Matilda looked into the car when she announced exultantly “HARRY’S NAKED!  HARRY’S NAKED!”

So it was that a gaggle of giggling schoolgirls rushed to the car to behold a self-satisfied Harry smiling shyly with nothing but a seatbelt buckle to cover his shame.

The parents nodded awkwardly as I stammered out a lame explanation and, at the same time, it struck me that nothing shrieks ‘trailer park neglect’ like a small child who’s naked for no good reason.

As I drove off in crimson confusion (I think even my hair was blushing), I was beginning to doubt the effectiveness of ‘natural consequences’.  There were no negative consequences for this inappropriate behavior.  On the contrary, Harry had thoroughly enjoyed his nude expedition and was probably planning his next one.

When I got back home, I was setting the bath running when inspiration struck.  This was always the plan.  I am actually so organized that I prepared Harry for his bath an hour ahead of time. 

I am Superwoman.  That’s just how I roll.