Memorial Day

This week is called ‘Privileges & Responsibilities.’ This is the clearest path away from punishment toward natural consequences that I’ve ever seen. Jerry is thrilled. It pains him to watch the girls take all the nice stuff they have for granted. He, especially, can’t wait for them to understand that privileges are something you must earn.

In the next day or two we’ll hash out our top five or six privileges to address between the two of us. But it didn’t take us long to know what will be at the top of our respective lists. For Jerry it’s electronics. (Paraphrasing: TVs don’t grow on trees, you know! Especially not Sony flat-screen TVs. You can’t just get one served to you on a platter and then lie around watching it all day while other people do all the work!)

For me, and Jerry too, it’s also the chance to motivate the girls to treat each other with more respect and practice self-control. In the next day or two we will again apologize for our bad parenting and explain that we have been irresponsible by not doing this earlier. We’ll introduce the idea that visiting other people’s houses is a privilege to be earned. So before they spend time at any more friends’ houses, they must show us that they can solve problems without yelling or hitting. We don’t know what they’re like at their friends’ houses, so they must prove to us they can do it at home.

Here’s a small taste of how they handle conflict now. Part A sets the scene — with a nod toward Ellen’s new-found pancake confidence — and part B is a mild example of their problem-solving status quo:

ps For all who know the history of our pancake journey, the looks on these faces speak for themselves:

Ellen's pancakeFenner's pancake

Charlotte had a slightly different story. She happily went about baking her own cinnamon buns. She even wrote instructions down for herself:

bace400smAll was well until she reached into the oven to get them out with her bare hand. She screamed, completely taken by surprise. I ran her fingers under cold water and could see that the burn was painful, but not serious. After the mom-guilt of allowing it to happen passed, the event quickly turned positive. When the tears subsided, Fenner and Ellen began sharing their own burn stories with Charlotte, “I’ve burned myself twice!” “I burned myself here on the toaster.” “Burns hurt the worst.” “Yeah, and puss came out of that one on Fenner’s hand!” Charlotte listened eagerly. She was part of the club. Now she had her own burn story to tell. And that one split second of experience was more effective than any of my endless reminders and be-carefuls and don’t-forgets could ever be. And my “poor you” voice is gone for good. Yep, you got a burn. That’s what happens without a pot holder. Here’s an ice pack. Burns hurt a lot. It’ll be ok.

Charlotte's burn

pps The “Yes! As soon as …” approach saved us tonight. As we were driving home, the girls decided to have a good-natured food fight in the car. Ammunition was corn chips and popcorn, and they were laughing and having a ball together. (And they weren’t just throwing big corn chips, they were crunching them up in their fists first and then throwing the tiny pieces!) It stayed confined to the back and it was so rare to hear all three of them having such a good time together, I was able to convince Jerry to keep quiet. I could tell his ‘disrespect for our property’ button was getting pushed, so I leaned over and whispered, “When we get home, as soon as they want anything, say “Yes! As soon as you clean up the car.” When he heard that, all the tension left his body, and he breathed a sigh of total relief, “Oh, yes, yes, that’s good,” he said. When we got home, it took all of 10 seconds for them to announce that they wanted to play their Nintendo DS games. “Yes!” I said, “As soon as you clean up the car.” I was fully expecting whining and foot dragging, but all I got was, “How do we do that? Can we use the vacuum?” Jerry got out the shop-vac and a minute later they had divided the car into three sections and were happily taking turns using the vacuum. Disaster averted:


Explore posts in the same categories: Week 8: Privileges & Responsibilities

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