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Feeling Neither Loving Nor Logical September 28, 2012

Filed under: mama of boys — Elizabeth @ 9:06 PM

subtitled:  I Can’t Have Anything Nice

Exactly one week ago, I bought a new love seat for our living room.  Being that I rarely spend money frivolously or on anything other than groceries, this was a big deal.  Not even that it was frivolous–we desperately needed more seating area in our living room, it was just spur of the moment.

Yes, I bought a pretty, linen-colored love seat for our living room.  I, a mother of two boys, an owner of 3 pets (one of whom is a cat with all claws intact) dared to bring a nice piece of furniture into the house.  Gasp all you want and talk about me behind my back if you must, but I really don’t want to hear any “you should have known betters”.  Cause you know, that’s not gonna help anyone.

So anyway, everyone in our household understood the enormity of this purchase, the care that should be taken here.  Let me also say that we have a leather sofa and a custom fabric chair that have survived basically unscathed 2 years in this house.  My children are not heathens.  They know how to act and how to treat their surroundings.

But back to the topic at hand.  Today, the boys took a field trip to a farm and they each got to bring home a small pumpkin.  The afternoon was going well.  I had even worked in about 15 minutes of cuddle time for Matthew and me, which he really enjoys.

I have to back up just a bit and say that when Matthew is given anything new, he becomes overly obsessed with it.  He carries it for days, and even wants it with him in sometimes inappropriate situations (like sleeping with a lemon or bringing a non-waterproof toy in the bath).  So it was with the pumpkin.  I didn’t mind so much that he was carrying it everywhere.  It was the rough play with it.  He was kicking it, dropping it, etc.  So I explained that the pumpkin was messy on the inside and that he couldn’t be rough with it like that.  I told him that if he did it again, I would take the pumpkin.

So while I was making dinner, I found him riding the pumpkin like a horse.  On the carpet.  Enough already.  I took the pumpkin and put it on the counter out of his reach, and he was mad about it.  I continued to make dinner and Matthew went and got a green marker and drew across the seat of the new love seat.  And up the arm of it.

This wasn’t a stray doodle.  He wasn’t drawing, and he didn’t have an accident.  He had to go to another room to get the marker and then drew on the couch and then he went out of his way to hide the marker.  This was pure spite and it was clearly directed at me.

And I have no idea how to appropriately punish him.  I like the Love and Logic style of parenting, and usually I can come up with something logical, but I have no idea here.  Normally, I would make him clean up his mess, but I don’t want him near the love seat and my best guess is that we are going to have to hire a professional to try and clean this.

So after dinner, I went upstairs and got his piggy bank.  I counted out all the dollars and told him that we would be pouring all the coins into the coinstar at wal-mart tomorrow because he would be paying toward us cleaning the love seat.  (He has about $40.)  I also made sure to comment aloud as I counted the money what a shame it was and I named all sorts of stuff he could have bought with his money.

My other idea is to have him write repetitively “I will honor my father and mother” or something to that extent.

I should stop here and say that he did apologize and that I did tell him that I forgive him but that I am very upset with him and didn’t want to be around him for the rest of the night.  I also told him that Jason and I would be talking about how we would punish him.  (Isaac is devastated that he can’t have a say in the punishment.)

Here’s the tricky part.  Not much matters to Matthew.  You can isolate him and he doesn’t care.  It’s practically a reward.  You could strip his room down to a mattress and he wouldn’t bat an eyelash.  Taking his money, while logical and is definitely going to happen, isn’t a really lasting consequence for him.  The only thing that would really bother him that I can think of is to take away his Wii access and not allow him to even watch Isaac play it.  I thought of making him write the sentences over and over whenever Isaac plays Wii.

So if anyone has advice, I’m open to it.  Something loving and logical, neither of which I am feeling right now.


12 Responses to “Feeling Neither Loving Nor Logical”

  1. elizabeth how frustrating my girls color on everything and then blame the other!!!!!i think the best punishment is the money and then moving on. It is true with kids if you get attached to something new they will destroy it lol. love you girl all 5 of my kids are CRAZY

  2. aunt chris Says:

    There is no punishment worse than making your mother cry. Too late, but next time–please burst into tears. Sob. Show that your heart is breaking. As you say, a logical punishment will not work on Matthew. I think you must take him into a dark quiet room and tell him how much he has hurt you. He can relate to fear, anger and heartbreak. It is an honest approach and you should not hide your feelings about this. I cannot think of any punishment that fits the crime other than an honest emotional response. He will learn something from thatt.

  3. Jerusha Says:

    OH my…my mama’s heart is aching along with yours. And I would be just as frustrated and confused about what to do. I was really expecting the couch to get pumpkin on it…which would have been an accident, probably. Not marker. 😦 I agree with the money, and with taking Wii away (’cause you have to use whatever leverage you have, even if it’s not entirely logical), and also with Aunt Chris, if you think seeing your hurt would impact Matthew.

  4. Cari Oliver Says:

    Frank had little to no currency growing up. We pulled the Dr. Phil treatment on him – stripping everything out of his room, off his walls, out of drawers, down to bed and books. All went into the attic. He had to earn it back over 6 months (this was in response to some serious school ambivalence). After 3-4 months, his grades came up a little and he started earning stuff back. When we asked him what he learned: “I learned that I don’t need a whole lot of stuff”. OK, this was a good lesson, but not the one we’d hoped. He was the king of lemonade – nothing phased him. NOTHING worked with this kid until we found writing. We used that over and over. Write about why the act was punishable, what he could have done differently, how he can make amends, etc. I would give him a length and tell him that I reserved the right to make him rewrite until I was satisfied. Matthew is too young to write a paragraph, but you could have him dictate an essay about responsibility and then write it out clearly for him and require him to transcribe it. Make it long.and make him re-do.

    Also, he can’t clean the loveseat, that’s true, but he can clean your walls, he can rake, he can do other chores that you would have done but now you have to clean the loveseat.

  5. Renee Says:

    Ugh! I struggle with punishments too. What can you do that actually bothers them but doesn’t punish you at the same time. If the Wii is his currency, them you have to go with it. Unfortunately, kids know just how to get ya! Good luck!

  6. Jodi Wells Says:

    Sometimes it is important for a child to see how their actions affect others so if the wii is his currency, you might want to consider removing it altogether until a certain amount of time has passed. While this seems unfair to Isaac as well, Isaac should feel free to express his sadness about how Matthew’s actions affected him. It is part of being a family. Isaac seems well adjusted enough to understand that it is not about him if you explain it to him. And I think using his money towards cleaning the sofa is excellent too.

  7. kimbelina Says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have much to offer here. I can see how taking the Wii away for a period of time might be reasonable as long as there is a definite timeframe involved (I know that as a kid, I hated open-ended punishments that seemed to go on forever, and looking back on them, went on far longer than seemed to “fit the crime”).

  8. I empathize with you. My boy is very unaffected by punishments… things seem to roll right off him. I have found that dealing with the root of the issue in him is most effective in our house. The thing is, the loveseat isn’t really the issue… the reason why he drew on it is. Try to use this as an opportunity to teach him healthy ways to deal with his anger. I fully back you in the natural consequence of him helping to pay for the cleaning – good call on that! Think about ways to deal with his anger that don’t include disrespectful behavior… I promise it is worth it.

  9. Oh no oh no oh no!!!!! We had a similar situation here recently and I still have no idea whether we handled it in anything like the right way. Please blog an update!!!

  10. mlewis597 Says:

    I do not have a good idea, just wanted to say I cannot imagine how frustrated you are. We had our own major punishable offense this week as well, and it is HARD to come up with the punishment that will teach as well as punish.

  11. Oh, I am so sorry! I think that children do not understand how much their actions affect us.
    On a brighter note… I LOVE your blog! I’m a new follower and was hoping that you might return the favor! Just go to: http://www.enjoyingtheepiphany.com, read it, and follow me if you like it! That’d be AMAZING!!


  12. christine Says:

    Oh man… I’m late to this… and don’t have too much advice since I need to work on parenting WITH love and logic. BUT, I will say that I am SO, SO sad to hear about your love seat. I loved it!

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