When Chris and I used to sit in his old black truck, watching the waves at the beach in Gloucester, we would have discussions about child rearing. Of course at nineteen we knew a lot about child rearing, since I had siblings and my husband used to “help” his ex girlfriend babysit. We had decided we would have two children. A boy named Mark and a girl named Melissa. Due to our expert parenting skills, they would be rarely punished since they would be too busy being perfect.
Okay, well, we did have two children named Mark and Melissa. At least we got that part right. We did decide that we would not use our parents versions of discipline. There would not be spankings, no going to bed without dinner and no lecturing until the child would willingly spank themselves so it would all end.
First came the time out chair. It was a tiny wooden chair in happy kid colors in whatever corner it could fit in. The idea was that the tiny offender would sit there for however many minutes according to their age. Then they would get up, give us a hug and move on. At least that is what all the books and Super Nanny said would happen. They were very wrong. It took an hour to chase the accused and carry him/her to the chair. Another hour to get them to stay in the chair. Add on a good forty minutes for the child to stop screaming, writhing, and spitting. There was no hug after either. I was too tired and twitchy, also, the children were still angry with me.
Mark and Melissa are thirteen and ten now. Time out chair is long gone. Next came, “Go to your room!” Once the children got past the breaking of our doors, cursing so loud that my neighbors still don’t understand why someone was calling them an asshole, they discovered they enjoyed their room time. Did not matter if we stripped all fun out of the room. They used their imagination and had a splendid punishment. When I explained this to the therapists and counselors, they suggested removing whatever the children loved best for a period of time.
Thus came the Casey Media/Technology War. There were no survivors. Mark and Melissa had a hard time understanding why the devices I gave for rewards were now removed for punishments. My son became experienced in hacking. My daughter started an underground device smuggling ring. Then I noticed something. A few times when I was sick, Chris enforced the rule that Mom could choose any TV shows she wished. Melissa would turn green while we all viewed Rock of Ages, Grease and Evita. One time when I was ill and feeling sadistic I forced the family to watch the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo marathon. The horror on Mark’s face was priceless.
A week ago Mark was really on my nerves. Teasing his sister relentlessly, snapping at everyone, rudeness and not listening. I waited until he threw himself on the couch, I tucked him under three blankets very tightly then grabbed the remote control. On one of the Spanish channels I found a show called 12 Corazones, show is painful enough, add-on the fact that none of us speak or understand Spanish. I left this on and went to cook dinner. I could hear Mark hollering from the living room, “What fresh hell is this? There is a man hitting another with a rubber chicken! What are they saying? Why am I seeing this? If I say I am sorry can you change this?” Chris and I told him he had to watch the entire show as his punishment. By the time the show ended, he was begging us to spank him rather than ever make him see something like that again.
A few days later Melissa was the offender and was sentenced to a half hour of Teletubbies. She offered to clean the whole house rather than sit through that again. I think we have found our answer for discipline! Oh, by the way, remember when I said that we would never use any techniques our parents had subjected us to? I clearly remember being a teen, being a smart ass, and having to watch Brady Bunch specials with my father as punishment. Once when I was really bad, I had to watch the Godfather series. ::shudders::