13 April 2012
A Mistake. And a Correction.
Have you ever had a violent reaction to something and then in the middle of your overreaction you suddenly see the light? But you can't stop now because you would lose all credibility - so you just keep talking? Trying to figure out how to get yourself out of this mess while you continue to spout about the thing that you now know is bogus? Or worse, going to get you into big trouble?
So you either have to very subtly backpedal - in a way that seems totally authoritative and sensical OR you have to come up with a new reason for why you're doing what you're doing.
Exhibit A: above. Liam gets in big trouble. Like "both parents yelling at the same time" trouble. He protests. Life is so unfair. He dramatically runs away. We let him go.
Several minutes later we hear stomping and thumping coming from his upstairs bedroom. It goes on for a really long time. Really long. What the hell is he doing? We decide to let it go. Separation is good right now. Giving him a little space to express his frustration is good right now. We'll/he'll deal with the consequences later.
When the stomping and thumping slows and turns into silence, it feels like the right time to approach the angry wolverine in his den and make amends. But when I get to the top of the stairs..........I see the scene in the photo above. And a sheepish Liam, waiting, peeking his face around the door jamb.
"What is this?" I ask. Calmly, I might add.
"It's all my stuff," he says.
"What do you mean, all your stuff?"
"All my stuff. I took everything out of my room." (and here's the kicker) "To punish myself."
"Hmmm," I say. Again, super calmly.
"Yes. I knew I needed to be punished and so I decided to take everything out of my room. Because what I did was wrong. And so I shouldn't have anything in my room."
He's not kidding. I carefully climb over the pile and peer around the corner..........and see that he has, indeed, taken every bleeping thing out of his room. All that is remaining is a stripped bed, a dresser, and a completely empty shelf that once teetered with toys and books. He even unplugged the floor lamp and hauled it out to the hallway. The book bins, unweeded and heavy, must have required him to channel Superman before lifting and schlepping. Even the art is removed from the walls. Clever touch.
This must have seemed like a mighty fine idea at first. The perfect protest. The I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-or-why-I'm-doing-it-but-I'll-sure-show-them protest. But after getting half his stuff out in the hallway and burning off some steam he must have looked with a clearer head and said, "Uh oh." He must have looked at the monster he had created and knew there would be big trouble in little china. But since half his stuff was out there, he quickly came up with a REASON, a parent-centric reason, for doing what he was doing. Whew. Crisis averted.
And I'm actually incredibly impressed. I don't know that he's ever committed to a task this large. I don't know that he's ever committed to anything. Except maybe a Spongebob marathon. The focus! Oh the focus this required! Are you telling me he didn't get distracted by any of those toys and plop down on the floor and start playing with them like he does when he's mid-teeth-brushing? Or mid-running-to-the-bus? And he's never lifted anything heavier than a Wii remote. I'm so relieved. And oddly proud. I want to congratulate him.
But instead, I say "Yes. Yes, this is good punishment. Thank you for taking care of it for me. Now put it all back."
And he did.