E will be 5 at the end of February this year. Last night we hit an important milestone- her first grounding. She is, as you may have guessed, not a perfect little angel. But, in the past, nothing ever warranted a long term punishment. She’d get the the traditional time-out in her room, denied an special treat or shortened park outings. We never had to issue a prolonged punishment though.
Last night changed that. She had a meltdown of cataclysmic proportions and, as luck would have it, I was on my own for it. It all started over where I had decided to hang a picture. She wanted it in the hallway and I chose the bathroom. It was all downhill from there. There was pushing, screaming, flailing, askew glasses- she pulled out all the stops. Then, to put a cherry on top of this melodramatic milkshake, she sits in her room and randomly screams, “Help me! Help me!” As I gave Little J his bottle, and counted to 1000, I prayed the police wouldn’t show up at our door.
I eventually had to call my husband and ask him to come home early from work. My temper had reached critical mass and I just couldn’t handle much more on my own. It all turned out okay of course. He got home and by that time her banshee shrieks had died down to meager whimpers. We talked about expected behaviour and all that jazz, and then at the end gave her her sentence- No TV or iPad until we said so. All things considered, she took it well. Tears flowed, but she acknowledged that she understood.
I braced myself for a backlash this morning. Usually her first words in the morning are “Can I watch my show?” and I reluctantly change the channel from my HGTV renovation show to the Disney Channel. Today though, not one word about turning on the TV. She asked once or twice about the iPad, but accepted my Nos and went back to her toys. It’s been quite a peaceful day. She’s rediscovering her toys and I love eavesdropping on her imaginative play. Her elephant family has earnestly been trying to get it’s baby back from an angry bird and Batman and Robin have solved a few crimes.
It’s been pretty good on my end of things too. Besides dealing with cell phone frustrations in the morning (a story for another time), my stress level has been pretty even. The quiet house makes for a much needed change. I was afraid that this would be more of a punishment on me than her- constant nagging and whining to watch her shows or play on the iPad. It’s in fact been the exact opposite and I think we’re both quite enjoying the grounding.
It’s also making me feel pretty confident that I’m on the right track as a parent. I tend to be very wishy washy when it comes to discipline sometimes. I let her get away with more than I should or give one too many chances. It really is hard to tell your own child NO or take away anything. But seeing how she has been today just makes me realize how worth it really is to be that “mean mommy” and put your foot down. Not saying that I enjoy punishing her. I would of course prefer it if she didn’t fight with me at all, but, contrary to what others may think, I do have a sense of reality. I’m an optimist, not a fantasist.
Maybe with a hiatus from children’s programming, I can finally shake the soundtrack of kid songs I’ve had circling in my head.