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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Teaching a 4-year Old a Lesson They Will Never Forget

I am writing this post from timeout.  My crime?  I told a 3-year old that she couldn't have any more Cheerios.  I'm not completely sure when this became a punishable offense, but it has.  I did the crime. Now, I'm doin' the time!

I guess the denying a 3-year old of Cheerios is a Class-A felony because I haven't even been told how long I am to stay in here.  And every time I try to leave the little timeout chair I get yelled at and time added to my sentence (I'm not sure about the time being added but if denying Cheerios is a Class-A felony then I'm sure trying to escape is at least a Class-B).

Since I've been sitting here I've had time to think...  Whatever happened to old school discipline?  There is no drug powerful enough to make me imagine a scenario where I would have been able to put my mom into timeout.  My mouth is hurting just thinking of slap I would have received for letting that thought go through my head.

Today's parent has to be more creative than my parent's generation.  Tools and Techniques they used are shunned in today's society. Their forms of punishment were not creative.  They were not pretty.  But BOY were they effective!

**DISCLAIMER** - I am not condoning nor condemning the "Tools" and "Techniques" in my post.  I think each child is different.  And one thing that works for one child may not work on another.  With that said.... here is my story.

My mother was the disciplinarian in the house.  She learned from the absolute best (my grandmother).  With the power to punish she also had the power to make the rules (attorney, judge and jury all rolled into one (kinda Andy Griffith style))

This particular day we were going through the local Big-K (This was not a BIG K-Mart.  The store was just called Big-K).  And like any other 4-year old, I wanted to go down the toy aisle.  My mother said no (because we were very poor when I was little and couldn't afford such things).  Usually, that's the end of it.  It WAS the end of it for the moment.  But life had other plans.  I was about to learn a lesson that can only be taught through experience (as in my friends blog title).

All was well while we went around the store.  Then right before we left, we passed the toy aisle.  I asked again and this time my mom gave in.  In retrospect, I don't know if she gave in because she felt sad that she would never be able to get me the toy and she wanted me to have 5 minutes of happiness instead of none... OR... she really just wanted to teach me a lesson that day.  She let me go but explained to me that we didn't have any money and I was to not ask for anything.  I agreed.

So I went down the aisle playing with all of the toys like it was Christmas and Santa accidentally dropped off everything at my house (Thanks Santa)!  But then I saw it.  A sliver of light began to shine on it like GOD was pointing to it as if to say, "This ones for you, little one."  In retrospect... I'm not sure if GOD (being the gracious and loving GOD) was doing this because I was from a poor family and would never be able to play with this toy under any other circumstances... OR he had the same lesson planned as my mother!  But there it stood... the 12 inch tall G.I. Joe action figure (doll).  AND I WANTED IT!!!

So I asked nicely if I could have it.  And my mother nicely told me no.  Then she reminded me of that EVIL pact I agreed to that said I could go down the aisle as long as I didn't ask for anything.  I was 4 so didn't remember back that far (3:47 seconds ago).  At that point the issue escalated.  I found myself breaking family rule number 1.  It had been passed down for ages.  My grandmother said it every time we went into public.  My mother agreed with it and refined it.  But family rule number 1 is "Don't show your @ss!" It was a very simple rule.  It was a easy to understand.  You didn't need a lawyer to interpret it.  You ALWAYS knew what it meant.  So what did I do... I showed my @ss!  In retrospect... It had to be done.  I was learning my lesson.

I yelled.  I screamed.  I kicked.  I rolled around on the floor.  My performance was truly Oscar worthy.  My mother's performance wasn't what I expected.  She didn't yell.  She didn't scream.  As a matter of fact, she didn't say much.  That doesn't mean she wasn't up for the same Oscar.  It just meant that she was the real star.  Her silence spoke volumes.  My 4-year old ears just couldn't hear it.  She let me continue my performance on up to the check-out line.  That whole time I was showing out, I didn't realize that my mother was setting the stage.

When it was her turn to pay, she told the woman behind the register to hold on for one minute.  I stopped crying because I thought I had won!  I thought I had worn her down.  I thought she was giving in and was going to get me the G.I. Joe I just had to have.... That wasn't the case.

She calmly grabbed my hand and took me in front of the registers.  She proceded to pull down my pants... AND my Superman Underoos (even the Man-of-Steel couldn't help me today).  In my head, I was thinking she's breaking family rule #1 by LITERALLY showing my backside.  In her head, she was teaching.  She gave me a bare-butt spanking in front of everyone in BIG-K.  Even GOD turned off the G.I. Joe light as if to say the rod was not spared this day. Game... Set... and... MATCH.

Some of you might be reading this saying that was barbaric.  But as I said before, it was EXTREMELY effective!  I never asked for another toy at a store... EVER.  I never showed my backside in public like that again... EVER.  As a matter of fact, 30+ years later, I'm STILL quiet when I go into Wal-Mart with my mom.  If she asks me if I want something I always say "No Ma'am." 

After that day, I didn't even like G.I. Joe anymore.  All of my friends wondered why I didn't watch that cartoon growing up.  Well, there it is.  G.I. Joe was not the same after that.  The G.I. Joe movie came out earlier this year.  As good as it looked, I just couldn't bring myself to go to the theater to watch it.

Life-Long Lesson Learned: The 4 "L"s.

Well, it looks like I'm about to be released from timeout for good behavior.  At least that's what she's telling me.  But I really think it's because she just said she's hungry in her tummy.  Either way, peanut butter and jelly is a reasonable price to pay for freedom.