Friday, May 4, 2012

The D Word

Discipline is hard.

**Disclaimer**  I'm not even kind of an expert.  This is not a how-to, or how you should, or even what works for me (I'm learning, here)...this is strictly an account of what's been going on.  I'd love to hear your feedback, but don't get your panties in a twist.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are certain things about discipline that are not hard for me.  I can bring it.  I'm not worried that I'm going to make them mad at me, or that they won't be my friend anymore.  I'm not worried about damaging their self-esteem or crushing their spirit.  I do worry about picking the right battles.  I do worry about my laziness allowing them to form bad habits.  And, here in the final weeks of our time as just us girls most of the time, I do worry about spending the majority of the day saying no, in time out, or swatting the backs of just isn't fun, you know?!

The hard part of discipline is that it's as hard on the discipliner as it is the disciplinee.  I'm tired.  When I just got plopped down on the couch to rest for a second, it sucks to have to get up to enforce a rule or punishment.  There is no, "Come here and let me spank you!", or "Remember this, and next time I get up I'll put you in time out".  We live in an immediate, now or never, world right now.  Consistency is key and consistency is not always (never) convenient.

The disobedience of the week has been Lauren's hitting.  She hits in play, she hits in anger, she bats at the air, she hits the couch in frustration...she's a hitter.  Dan and I discussed it and decided that no hitting was ok - not even when it didn't hurt, or when it was in play.  No hitting.  And so it began.  We have learned that for Lauren, spanking (swatting the back of her hand, spanking a diapered butt is silly) doesn't work.  She responds best to removal from the situation/area/person/room.  Sometimes just scooping her up and facing her away from the toys we're playing with and making her sit there is enough to get the point across that she's in trouble...sometimes we have to put her in her crib, in her room, alone.  Sometimes it takes 30 seconds.  Sometimes it takes 30 seconds, seven times in a row.

Another hard part of discipline, is that it's just sad.

Scenario: Wednesday had been a bad day for Lauren.  She was in a mood, by afternoon I was in a mood, and even poor Kate had had enough of the discipline interruptions to her day.  I decided a change of scenery was in order.  We went to the backyard.  I got in my lounge chair, the girls were playing in the grass and with their toys, and all was right with the world.  Kate went over to make faces at herself in the reflection on the glass door.  She wasn't bothering anyone, and she was cracking herself up.  Lauren was having none of it.  She kept coming over to Kate saying, "No, no, no" and trying to pull her arm over to play with her.  Kate would wait her out and go back to making faces.  About the third time, Lauren came over and just waylaid her.  I mean arm behind her, full swing, get-your-point-across swack.  (Another hard part of punishment: for whatever reason, Kate acted like she didn't mind.  No tears, didn't fall down, etc.  I feel like it would sink in better if Lauren were getting in trouble for the action and the effect - Kate doesn't play along.)  I swooped (slowly hauled my 35 pound overweight, off-centered, out of breath self ) into action.  I grabbed her up, spanked said diapered bottom, and headed straight to her room.  Plopped her in her crib, no pacifier, light off, closed the door.  Then I walked to the end of the hall where I could see a digital clock and steeled myself to wait ONE WHOLE MINUTE.

Kate walked from the closed door of their room back to me 14 times.  She didn't make a noise, didn't touch the door, just pointed and then came back and looked up at me.  I finally said, "Kate, she's not hurt, she's in trouble."  Kate lost it.  Like louder and more emphatically than Lauren was losing it.  I held her, we waited almost a minute, and then went in to get Lauren.  When I added Lauren to my arms and snuggled both the girls, it was as if Kate were trying to get into Lauren's skin.  She hugged her, she rubbed her back, she rested her head on Lu' shoulder.  The order of most traumatized people from that incident was Kate ---> Momma ---> Lauren.  But we had no more hitting that day.

It also gets me to thinking (DANGER).  I wonder how many time outs God would put me in a day?  As we're trying to raise sweet, kind, loving ladies, what behaviors do we need to be weeding out of our life so they see good examples?  I'm afraid if God actually spend the day spanking the backs of my hands, my day would be even worse than Lauren's Wednesday.


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