Saturday, September 3, 2011

463 The Day I Cut Off the Oxygen Supply

Okay, so that might be a little dramatic... I did turn off the television for the night. I had good reason!!

Sunday night, the kids were whining and complaining, arguing over which show to watch and who can sit where. When Connor brought the living room remote control into the bathroom to get me to put it on Scooby Doo I decided that was the last straw! It's bad enough that I can't potty in peace, but at least bring me a problem I can solve while still sitting down.
I took that remote and (a few minutes later) placed it on top of the refrigerator. I even turned off the tv the old fashioned way to prove how serious I was!


SEE! It's really over now kiddos! Well, at least for the hour or so until I can tuck you into bed... with a story and a back rub (because I am not that horribly mean of a mommy).
Oh, the begging that ensued! PLEASE MOMMY!!! to which I only have to say "PUH-LEASE CHILD" This isn't my first rodeo. I can hang on a little longer than six seconds. They survived, but it was clearly touch and go for a while there.

Fast forward to Wednesday.
The stage is set. The kids (plus 1) are on the couch, the tv is on ... and the bickering begins.
It starts off small... and slowly builds. Now they are pushing a little, Connor might be lightly kicking his sister...
Admonishing them to be nicer to each other, to sit still, to STOP HURTING YOUR BROTHER/SISTER! It all falls on deaf ears.
What is a mom to do?
What punishment affects them more than any other?
Snatch up the remote ...and CLICK.
Blank stares that turn into glares.
Oh yes, I have found their kryptonite. The 52" Black Hole...
You could see the joy drain from their faces. No Scooby. No Goosebumps. NOTHING.
The oxygen seemed to drain from the room. Their brains were clearly struggling with the sudden need to THINK. Imaginations were pulled from the deep recesses of their minds and slowly dusted off. It was a painful experience. I suggested something radical. I suggested that Katie actually sit and READ A BOOK! You would think I had suggested she pluck a chicken or change a diaper or something even less savory.

As usually happens when we punish our children, it ended up hurting me more than it hurt them. Indoor tag is a great way to pass the time. It also means they were playing upstairs where my craft room caught Connor's eye. Without the distraction of tv, all his devilment was able to manifest itself... in the form of a (soon to be empty) bottle of acrylic paint ...on the floor, the wall, and on himself. And what makes it even worse, he clearly knew it was bad. He hid behind the door in his room to unscrew the cap. Basic rule to remember kids, if you have to hide it then you can just automatically assume you shouldn't be doing it.
Luckily (for him and me) the paint was still wet and the steam cleaner was handy... you know, since I have been trying to clean all the cat hair from the carpet ... almost all of it came up. 
But that was truly the last straw. I told them that the tv was off for the rest of the night, with threats of the rest of the week. As the promise of hours of silence and entertaining themselves stretched before them, the remaining air grew thinner. Soon it was hard to breathe... Maybe it was the incessant whining that depleted the amount of oxygen in the air. Maybe the black hole sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Katie just lay down on the floor and whined herself to sleep. Connor leaned against me, repeatedly asking when the tv could come back on. Even my brain shut down in order to keep from exploding.

Sure, I didn't get frustrated at all that I have been listening to nothing but whining and screaming while I try to clean. It doesn't bother me in the least that they run circles around me, playing chase while I am steam cleaning the floor in the bedroom and shifting every piece of REALLY heavy furniture around to a different spot. NOT AT ALL! I love watching my children methodically destroy every patch of clean in the house as I try to create another patch. I enjoy always answering the door with an apologetic glance at the house and an explanation that this is what happens when I try to clean other parts of the house. Really, it isn't a big deal.

Sure, I have a nine year old who SHOULD at the very least maintain her own bedroom. I have big baskets in the living room for the toys that SHOULD make itso  easy for them to pick up their toys. There are many SHOULDs that would help me to maintain the house and my sanity. (Like, maybe someone SHOULD stop buying them new toys) But, as all moms know, our sanity is not even of secondary importance. It falls at the very bottom of the list.

But now I have found the best method of punishment. I have found the quickest way to take the wind out of their sails. I have found the kryptonite that will lay them low. And I am going to use it! And I will enjoy that there is one less layer of sound to process, even if I do not get to enjoy complete silence. And eventually they will learn .... RIGHT??!! RIGHT??!!