As painful and headache-inducing as it is, parents always have this ongoing battle with the “rules”. As parents we make the house rules, enforce the rules and limits, set consequences and listen to the cries of a child facing a consequence. Every parent is different and raised a certain way. I know there is no right or perfect way to raise a child; we just do the best we can with what we have and love them little terrorists the only way a mother could. One parenting rule I do stand by is ‘don’t be afraid to make them cry.’ It’s okay to tell them no, I don’t want my kids to have epic fits when they hear the dreaded word “no”. This is life and we don’t always get things the way we want. I say, “no you can’t eat ice cream before supper”, someone cries. I don’t let them outside without a hat, someone cries. I make them sit in car seats, they scream the whole drive. I shut the TV off to enforce bedtime, they both cry. I stand firm about eating vegetables and bath time, so they cry. I by no means am doing it to “be mean on purpose”, as Big Brother claims to any family member who will listen. I am simply teaching them rules.
Kids will be kids and question, test and attempt to get around every single rule you set in place. It’s human nature to be that way and my boys are no different. For the last week they have been home sick. Unlike children in fantasy commercials who are bedridden while coughing and lethargic, my kids instead are full of the same amount of mischievous energy and really try to play the ‘I’m sick and no rules apply to them’ trick. Well, it doesn’t work and big brother spent the week grounded with extra chores and lost his privileges. This was the first time he faced such a consequence. I wasn’t the one who grounded him, his dad did. I was honestly very surprised because I’m always the bad guy. So, this particular incident, he had to get off the bus everyday and be bored, which meant no TV in the living room, no iPod, no friends coming over, no calling friends, no visiting family, no stops at the store and no special treats. It wasn’t hard for me to follow through with the punishment while my husband was at work because Big Brother was sick and we weren’t really going any place, or having visitors to infect with his illness. However, he believed this to be the worst week of his life, lesson learned.
The last day of his punishment he had to have his bedroom clean before he could get his iPod back and all of his other privileges reinstated. Now, as for Little Brother and rules, he has a few. For example, when his train tracks are all over the living room he has to pick them up, when he doesn’t I put the box of them away. He’s gotten keen on the idea of pretending he isn’t done playing with them yet when it comes time to pick them up. Instead, he found a way to leave them intact all over the floor and now his new rule is, ‘as long as they get put away before you go to sleep you’re good’.
Both boys have now been given bathroom responsibility. The rules for that room are, ‘he who pees all over the toilet seat must wipe it off’, and ‘he who leaves toothpaste all over the sink has to wipe it off’, etc. They learned pretty quickly to wipe it up right away versus letting it harden and getting sent in to scrub it off. If your toilet paper isn’t in the trash basket you win the honor of taking the garbage out of the bathroom. It’s just simple little rules like that but every day they need reminders because they are still little. I just hope one day those little tasks will eventually just become second nature to them and they will make for some very wonderful husbands.
The living room has its own set of rules too, like putting your boots and jackets away and only having about an hour of cartoon time on daddy’s big TV. Sometimes they sweet talk him into letting them keep their shows on or choose smart and pick a full length Disney cartoon because then they give us puppy eyes to finish the movie. Books can be left out because we want them to read. Little Brother can’t read but he loves being read to or pretending he can. They are more likely to do so if their current favorite book is sitting on the couch waiting to be picked back up. However, cars, Legos and trains are not good couch buddies to find under your butt when you plop down to relax.
General brother rules always apply like, you cannot take away the toy your brother is playing with especially if he’s actually the owner of said toy; or you cannot whine to have your brother play with you just to boss him around. Big Brother is always trying to delegate exactly which car Little Brother is allowed to play with and where he supposed to drive it on the cars mat. There will be no pushing, hitting, tripping, tricking or leaving someone left out. Surprisingly that goes both ways.
With them both being home all week sick they’ve had lots of practice and testing with the rules. But, remember, mommy can always get to the bottom of who did what. As much as I don’t like being the bad guy, it’s my job to be teaching rules.