The sugar bowl died today.

This day is an example of how I can find laughter in my kids antics even when they are completely misbehaving. The morning started well enough. I woke when I heard the boys begin playing in their room. I kept dozing instead of getting up to work out. When I finally rolled out of bed, I checked Will’s diaper, my usual first task of the day. Hooray! He hadn’t managed to dirty it before I got up, perhaps that means he’d be willing to use the toilet instead of his diaper or underwear today. But no, it is almost lunch time and he has yet to go at all. That probably means he is saving it for his nap-time diaper.

Breakfast was English muffins. We are out of 2% milk again. Somehow we went through an entire gallon in just 3 days. Sometime this morning I decided to not follow the normal schedule today. Perhaps it started as early as 6:30 when I didn’t get out of bed to exercise. Perhaps it was at 8:30 when I noticed there weren’t THAT many clothes to fold, so it wouldn’t be horrible to put it off until tomorrow. Most likely it was when I sat down at my computer and started researching buttons. (Despite how it sounds, this is a necessary part of my day today). I got so into researching and searching for a supplier, I eventually made a conscious choice to not stop at 9:30 to do craft time as usual.

The morning was interrupted by several breakdowns concerning Elise. I have been taking a pretty tough approach with her talking back and arguing and this has resulted in plenty of tears, whines, and complaints. If the bad response to my directions or punishments goes on too long, I start adding more punishments on. So far, she hasn’t seemed to get a clue about how to stop, but I’m hoping if I stay consistent, things will start to improve. I am just tired of disrespect from her and have decided on a no tolerance policy.

To describe how this plays out, let me describe to you what happened the other day on the way home from Fayettville. Elise was complaining because she couldn’t hear the music above the boys (who are often quite rowdy and loud by the time we head home). Eventually her complaints gave way to ranting and raving at the boys themselves. Once her complaints and bossiness became unbearable to my ears, I turned off the music completely. “Mom, I want the music on,” she complained. “Well, you were complaining about the noise, so now it is quieter in here,” I said. “But Mom . . .” You can imagine the rest of the conversation. When she refused to stop complaining and arguing and accept my decision, I said that when we got home she could not play outside. This decision caused her to go into almost hysterical complaints, whines, and excuses. “Please, Mom, please, choose a different punishment.” When I assured her that this is the way it was going to be, she started screaming, and so I told her that now she would also not be able to read at all this evening. This produced even higher hysterics. I was finally able to calm her down some by explaining that if she kept complaining and screaming and basically throwing a fit, I would find something else to take away as well. After a bit of quiet crying in the back, Elise says to me: “You completely ruined my day!” “What?” I reply, “Elise if your day is indeed ruined, which is debatable, you have no one to blame but yourself. It was your own choices which caused you to lose your privileges.” “Well, you aren’t making me happy,” she said. We were home finally, and I started unloading kids and purchases. Elise, on her way out of the car, gives Will a solid punch stating, “It’s all your fault I got in trouble in the first place since you wouldn’t be quiet!” She was subsequently sent to her room with the instruction that she would receive suitable punishment for hitting her brother once I could think of one. She wasn’t aloud out until supper time. Just before supper I sat down with her and tried to explain her actions and my responses. Can you believe that after all that, she claimed to not have any idea what she had done wrong? So one by one, I listed the mistakes she had made and then ended by trying to explain that a punishment isn’t supposed to be something you like and how she should correctly respond to one, even though it makes her very sad. We had a practice run when I announced that her punishment for hitting Will would be going to bed early. She actually accepted it quite well. Perhaps she is learning, but after her actions today, I see that it hasn’t sunken in completely yet, I guess we’ll have to wade through the increasing punishments a bit more before she realizes how to hold her tongue.

So, back to today. Ten o’clock arrived and I did take a break to pop some popcorn for snack time. I sat the kids down at the table and returned later to find the whole bowl of popcorn dumped out on the table. When Will saw me coming he quickly ducked under the table to hide. He had a small pile of sugar on the table in front of him and the sugar spoon from the sugar bowl that he’d been using to transfer the sugar. Seth was yelling in his chair to be let down. Not, as I found, because he was full of popcorn, but instead because he wanted to share in the sweetness Will had discovered. I ended snack-time, cleaned up all the crumbs and sugar off the table and swept the floor. I explained to Will that he had to be done with snack now because he was stealing the sugar. “Seth do it,” he politely lied.

A phone call came in, an interesting one, actually. Half way through, something crashed in the kitchen. That is the moment that the sugar bowl died. I led Seth away from the mess and finished up my phone call. Then I returned to clean up sugar from the chair Seth had been standing on and the tile floor. I picked up the remnants of my sugar bowl and stacked them on the counter. I’m thankful Elise didn’t see it, as she tends to be pretty dramatic about losing precious things like this. Later as I was holding Seth I realized, he still had sugar caked on his cheeks. “You have sugar on your cheeks,” I laughed. Seth, thinking this was a great discovery, begin scraping it off his cheeks and sucking his fingers. He has no regrets, why would you put something as tasty as sugar in a bowl anyway?

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