My kids both know that when it comes to punishment I’m the weak link — I can’t punish my kids. Make Casey angry and get a punishment? It’s going to be tough and it’s going to happen. Make me angry and get a punishment? It’s going to mostly be an outlandish threat that I won’t dare stick to the minute their little lips curl down and begin to quiver in sadness.
Casey has told me many, many times that if I want our kids to obey me I can’t threaten them with punishment and then fold at the slightest hint of an onslaught of tears. Over time I’ve gotten better at giving small punishments that end up getting upheld to the end, but my kids have learned to accept those small punishments knowing that they can continue to do bad things an never get any type of tougher punishment.
Casey has been gone for the past week and a half and Addie’s behavior has gradually gotten worse and worse. Addie’s not out there robbing banks or sneaking out with friends at night. She’s doing bad things like sneaking candy and not going to bed on time when told to do so, but I need her to stop doing those things.
The other morning I woke up and got Vivi out of her crib on my way downstairs so I could make breakfast for everyone before I had to get everyone off to where they needed to go for the day. I walked into the kitchen where Addie was eating Toaster Strudles for breakfast. First, the kid knows she’s not supposed to have desert food for breakfast. Second, the kid knows she’s not supposed to be touching the Toaster Strudels unless she has her mom’s permission to do so.
When I asked Addie why she thought she could have Toaster Strudels for breakfast she said, “I didn’t know there was anything wrong with having Toaster Strudels for breakfast.” Uh, I think her nose grew two inches the second she finished with that sentence.
Fast forward 12 hours when we were all gathered in the living room watching an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before bed and I looked back into the pantry where I saw Addie hiding. I asked her what she was doing and she said, “Getting a Fruit Roll-up.” In my lecturey tone I told her she wasn’t allowed to have a Fruit Roll-up without getting permission first. She responded with, “I didn’t know I couldn’t have a Fruit Roll-up without permission.” And then her nose was measured at 5 solid inches long.
Earlier in the day while grocery shopping with Addie, I grabbed some ice cream to give her that night as a treat after Vivi went to bed. Addie was excited for the ice cream. When the Fruit Roll-up incident happened, I couldn’t take it anymore. Addie needed a punishment that would stop her from eating every sugary item in the house before Casey got home. I told Addie she lost her chance to have ice cream and Addie said, “I just threw away the Fruit Roll-up, so I can have ice cream.” Uh, no, that’s not how it works and Addie began to sob when she found that out.
Addie sobbed for the next hour. I don’t know how many of the tears were real from sadness or how many were conjured up as a way to get me to bend and allow her to have some ice cream. The punishment ended up sticking and Addie went to bed without ice cream, and maybe Addie will stop sneaking the treats in the house. Either way, I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out if the tears continue to flow.
More on Babble Dad: