Tuesday, August 23, 2005

And after a body search, there were no homemade weapons or prison tats

Remember my brief mention about primate feces yesterday? Well, it officially hit the fan.

It IS the dog days of summer. From here on in, until all three have Postal Codes of their own, the end of summer will be a behavioral nightmare. This gives me a moment to think about every parents bane: discipline.

Whenever I read a new take on this practice (especially when I am at my wits end, and that much closer to losing "it") you can see me, book in hand, rolling my eyes. Its predictable. There is some qualifying statement about discipline - that is latin derivative means to learn, and it ought not be about punishment. Can you see me? Yes, I am rolling my eyes again.

So, now that beating kids with a belt is thankfully out of fashion, we have been given a few options. The most and least popular being time out. Once upon a time, I was paying big bucks for a full psychological early learning profile on Owen. And I was given lots of great advice on how to do a time out properly. And trust me folks - I am as consistent as they get. I let nothing slip by. Owen's goal in life is to test every single boundary, repeatedly. Someday this may come in handy. In the meantime, I will continue to bang my head against the wall in frustration.

Implementing the time out system was nothing short of torture, on my part. First there is the warning. When it enters Owen's ear and is translated in his brain means "do it again, and show mom how you enjoy it!". Then there is the announcement "Time Out". That means, run away as fast as your little legs can carry you. Did I mention that Owen can outrun me? Then there is the escorting to the time out - and getting Owen to sit in said spot. Communicating that he gets MORE time for not sitting, somehow does not enter his thought stream. And then there is the constant policing to actually sit in the chair. And being quiet. This of course means dropping whatever you are involved in and focusing on Owen 100% of the time. I heard the voice of the psychologist, echoing in my memory " The purpose of the time out it to give the child no attention. Give him lots of positive reinforcement when he demonstrates good behavior and ignore him in time out". Right.... The pre-time out build up takes no less than 30 minutes. And this is for a minute of every year of age. So 30 minutes for a 5 minute time out...makes no sense in the end. I persist.

Mastering the time out learning curve took months. Now that Owen can be timed out, and he does not need 25 extra minutes of tacked on time for not listening, I suspect that they are no longer effective. I think he has outgrown them. What the flying bleep am I going to do?

Yesterday, I went downstairs to start some laundry. Something didn't quite smell right. A month ago, we scrubbed that basement until it was pinefresh. With the dehumidifyer, the basementy odour has dramatically subsided. I looked at the drain. Wet. I knew it. The boys have been pissing down the floor drain again. At that moment, I nearly lost my mind. I sent the boys to their room for 2 1/2 hours. At that moment I had some time to reflect. Aidan toddled upstairs, and I was wondering what the heck to do with him. I couldn't really leave, and play with him outside, since Owen and Harry need constant supervision in the time out. Aidan went to his room. And fell asleep.

It was 2 hours of bliss actually. No kids. Nice.

I have never been an advocate of the Prison system. I don't think it is an effective deterent for crime, nor do I think it works all that well as a punishment. I felt like a mini prison warden and my kids were in lock-down. Is this method effective, or a way of indoctrinating our children at an early age about the prison system? What sort of a loser parent am I anyway? I keep thinking about all the granola moms who merely need to say "I don't think that was very appropriate " and the child is in immediate compliance. That child then organizes a neighbourhood wide bottle drive and gives the proceeds to charity. I have kids who piss down the basement drain.
And now they are in Kiddie Jail.

After their sentence, the kids came down stairs. Harry came to me, gave me a hug and said "Mommy I am sorry, I won't pee down there again". Owen, who is not as touchy-feely, came up "Give me a high five" and then offered his appologies. I was amazed. And after a body search, there were no homemade weapons or prison tats. Imagine that...

I am so confused...


Candace said...

I am so with you. I was the master time-out giver. I *knew* how to give time-outs. So why didn't they work?

Lock-down works for us SO WELL. I'm not beating anyone, I'm not yelling at anyone, yet they know that I'm very upset and that they need to think about what's happened.

We call it "alone time" and use it most of all our disciplinary measures.

Do what you have to do, do what works, and as long as no one is being damaged, you're ahead of the game as far as I'm concerned!

hotboy said...

I had a wee girl to look after. Bringing up wee boys is a different class of insanity, it seems. I had a friend who was an educ. psychologist. Kid only tried to top himself once! I know this doesn't help!

Mary P. said...

Hmmm. I'd always seen "lock-down"s - great word, misfit - as a form of time out. Isn't it? It isn't necessarily a punishment. Sometimes we all just need alone time (another good word, we use it here, too) to calm down and sort it out ourselves. I know I do!

And sometimes, as everyone knows, a time-out/lock-down is done to protect the child against the ire of a parent driven past the outer limits of sanity. This, too, is perfectly appropriate.

Sounds to me like you did just fine. If it works, if it doesn't harm anyone, and a lesson was learned (hallelujah!!) it's right for you. No confusion there!

hotboy said...

I remember now! Getting hassled by people with quarter formed brains, I used to leave it and go into another room and scream my lungs out! That was great. When I got back from this, the kid had forgotten what the hustle was about anyway. They don't keep the memories. It doesn't hurt so much. To us, it seems to. This is no help either. Being young ... good way to burn if off! They won't really remember, will they?

Susan said...

Henry went through a period this summer where he would announce, 'I'm going to put YOU in time out!' but he never got the response he hoped for; after all, 37 minutes of stillness and silence is really my dream.

We also use a version of the lock-down, to protect the health and sanity of everyone in the house. It is a good good thing.