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.