When you have teenagers, discipline takes on a whole new meaning. As do the ‘crimes’. I mean, when they were little, it was time out, and it could be multiple times a day. Some days I wished someone would put me in time out. In our house, they would get the occasional swat on the butt. (I am not here to discuss the merits or demerits of spanking. I was spanked, their dad was spanked, and my kids were spanked on occasion.)
Now, at 12 and 15, things are different. Time out is a thing of the past. Now it’s Loss of Privileges (LOP), loss of electronics, and grounded (does anyone use that term anymore?). And so it came to pass last night that I should have to discipline the girls.
The night before they had been outside playing in the neighborhood, hanging with their friends. They have to be home by 8:15, or dark. I tell them, whichever comes first, but since ‘dark’ is a relative term, I let things slide to 8:15. They managed to meander in around 8:20, to find me waiting at the door, telling them (loud enough the neighbor heard as she walked by my porch) “You’re late. You cannot go outside tomorrow until I get home. Also? I have some projects I want you to help with, so you’ll be hanging out with me until those are done.”
Yesterday, I came home, to find both girls, down the street on the neighbor’s trampoline. I stopped and told them to get their butts home right now. And home they went. I explained as only a mother who can’t believe her children have lost their ever-loving minds can do, that I had told them specifically they were not to be hanging out today after school due to them being late the night before.
They looked at me as if I was speaking Portuguese.
And that since they had violated the terms of their sentence, they would be expected to serve the entire night, inside, with me, doing hard manual labor such as dishes, cleaning up their bedroom, and basically hanging out with mom. All of this, in their eyes, could constitute cruel and unusual punishment, but they can take that up with someone else.
You have to understand, I am a mom that uses unconventional discipline tactics when it comes to my girls. I am the mom that not only threatened to take pictures of their messy bedroom and post them on their Facebook walls, but I also followed through. There was the time they used a new bowl/plate/cup for every single thing they ate or drank, going through multiples every single day, leaving me to wash every single dish we owned almost daily. I solved that problem by packing away everything except for 1 place setting per person. They were required to rinse cups, wash out bowls, scrape and wash a plate every time they wanted to eat/drink anything.
Discipline around here is not your usual serving hard time. But it’s not a picnic either.
So they were required to hang out with me, doing all the chores I usually do, cleaning up from dinner, cleaning out the litter box, and cleaning their room because that is a perpetual danger zone and Bermuda Triangle for just about everything. (Why can’t the cats disappear in there?) All of this sounds really good on paper, but last night? I’m pretty sure I was the one suffering the cruel and unusual punishment.
There was laughter (there’s no laughter in punishments, how can there be laughter? This is not supposed to be fun) and goofing off. There was also arguing, and yelling, and whining, and slapping (See, they beat each other now, leaves me out of it), There was the game of Find Any Stupid Excuse to Come to Tell Mom Any Stupid Story so I Don’t Have to Clean, which, clearly was not to my benefit. At all. There was a loud radio, competing with a loud radio. There was a big sister bossing little sister and little sister annoying big sister.
And there was me, in the living room, wishing like hell I could send their butts outside to burn off all this energy away from me, and thinking this ‘do hard time with mom’ punishment was only serving to punish… well, me.
At the end of the night, my kitchen was as clean as two teenage girls deemed clean, which is to say, only half-assed. I didn’t even bother to make them finish the job, I was exhausted just listening to them. The energy those two girls can produce and give off in a single night could wear out an army. Their room still looks like the hard hat disaster area it has for quite a while now. I’m thinking Round Two on Facebook is not so far off. I sent them to bed at 9:00 only to have to listen to them argue in their room, in the dark, over who’s cat was where, and what were they going to wear tomorrow.
I’m pretty sure the only lesson learned last night was “Next time, find a suitable punishment for them, outside”