I Put the "ME" in "Punishment"
Yesterday, as the morning sun sparkled through my bedroom window, I was gently lured into wakefulness by the sweet, melodic chirp of a bird.
Haaaaaa! We all know better than that, right? Let me tell you how it really went down. Yesterday, as the morning sun was still creeping through the trees because it was barely up, I was rudely woken by the sound of someone shrieking my name. Or more accurately, "Mommy," which is what these little heathens call me when they need something, which is all the time.
If you want to get technical, it wasn't just any kind of shriek. It was the tattle-shriek. You know, the one that rises a few octaves at the end, like a plane taking off? It sounds almost like a question: "Mom-mmyyyyyy?" And then it's most commonly followed by something really random and stupid, like, "Cameron won't stop sucking on my hair!" (Yes, this was an actual tattle in my household. Feel glad you don't live here.)
Anyway, I catapulted onto my feet from the midst of a deep sleep, because that's what happens when one of your children is screeching.*
*Unless you're like a certain dad I know. Ahem.
They were squabbling - at top volume - over a video game. At barely seven o'clock in the morning. So I did what any freshly-woken mother would do: hobbled stiffly into the living room with bleary eyes and Medusa hair and croaked in the loudest, grumpiest voice I could muster, "That's it. No more video games for the rest of the day! Find other things to do!"
They didn't even complain at that point. They turned the XBox off and scattered into blissful silence.
... For about five minutes.
It didn't take long to become clear that I should have thought harder before doling out this punishment. Because the "other things" my kids chose to do involved wrestling too hard and then whining about it, giving each other wedgies and then whining about it, chasing each other around the house and then whining when they collided into a massive heap in the hallway. Arguing about who would play which role in their game and then arguing because so-and-so wasn't abiding by whatever arbitrary "rules" they imposed. They played zombie and took it too far, resulting in teeth marks and tears. I don't know if they were grumpy about their punishment or what, but they were squabbling like someone was paying them to do it.
Because they were sentenced to a full day without video games, I was sentenced to a full day of listening to them boss each other around and bicker and tattle. I mean, it's not like they play video games all day every day, but at least I would have gotten a little reprieve - because their worst arguments while gaming are not as bad as the constant barrage of disagreement I had (unintentionally) subjected myself to. It brought new meaning to the classic parental phrase, "This hurts me more than it hurts you."
It was a long day. And at the end of it, I caved and told them they could earn their XBox privileges back if nobody argued for one solid hour.
It worked ... just in time for me to do my evening round of laundry and dishes.
At least I got to do them in relative silence.