Thursday, February 24, 2011
Crime & Un-Punishment
So I have to share the latest disciplinary developments in my home. When you command(!) a household of four children all roughly 40 months apart [that's total!], you realize what a necessity discipline is.
After years of beating my head against the reward & punishment-style of child discipline, I now have the complete and undivided attention of my children. For every bad grade, sass-back, infraction of any kind against a sibling or disrespectful outburst... the child looses one week of video-gaming. No exceptions.
For my kids, martial law would be better. I have tried everything; no TV, no cell phone, no internet, no ipod, no sleep-overs, no dessert, being grounded from everything from swimming to favorite TV shows -- even spankings! -- and I promise you dear reader, ALL of them pale in comparison to a life of hands devoid of Wii or XBOX 360 controllers.
I am sure you are thinking "good for you buddy... you've now figured out what every other 21st Century parent already has. Nice job." But this, true believers, is just the beginning. You see normally this topic wouldn't even be blog-worthy really, but my children have engineered a new form of haggling and negotiating that would make even Bernie Madoff proud.
Now with every swing of the video-game gavel, each child now bargains for "early parole" from their punishment, asking "what can I do to earn it back?" My answer is always "Nothing." Hey can't do the time, don't do the crime, right? Well this is where they start to get creative; "what if I do all of my brother's chores?" Huh? Where was this exuberance for household cleanliness when you were whacking your brother in the head with a plastic sword 20 minutes ago?!? "If you let me play, I promise to be good." Are you kidding me? Are my ears deceiving me? Let me get this straight, if I let you have your games back, you swear allegiance to light side?
"So you're threatening to be good?" I ask. "No Dad..." they respond, "... we just won't do it again." I am baffled. "How is it that I'm to believe this now when for years you NEVER treated your brother/sister properly?"
Silence. A blank stare. Then a shoulder shrug.
The very prospect of trying to negotiate a lighter sentence is intriguing but these kids have watched one too many episodes of Law & Order if they think I'm going to fall for that one. "Listen, the best way to get your time back is to never loose it in the first place." The exchange is usually followed by an array of tears, plea-bargaining and some weak-attempt to try and convince me they have, quite suddenly, turned a new leaf.
Points for originality. 25 demerits for missing the point.
Sorry, the verdict stands. Now, go read a book...