Monday, September 10, 2007

Cain's Doing Time

Raising CainNot too long ago I was making my rounds through the house before going to bed--checking the locks and windows, tucking the kids in before turning in for the night--when I saw Andrew standing at the girls' bedroom window. I approached him to see what he was looking at and there, down below in the dusky light of a late summer evening where the street light had just clicked on was a figure.

It was Cain and he was running. We watched for a few minutes as he ran down the length of the cul de sac, circled the end, ran back up the opposite side of the street and past his house. What was he doing?

It appeared that he had a blanket tied around his waist and it flared out behind him as he ran like a mini Superman and Andrew said, "He's been running around the cul de sac. He goes down one side, around the circle then back up the other side to his house. I think he's on his third lap."

"Why?" I asked.

"The kids said that when he gets in trouble Cain has to run laps in the cul de sac." Andrew shrugged, " He must have got in trouble."

"What??" I said, shocked.

I watched him run and my mind started examining the situation from different angles. Was this cruel and unusual punishment? Child abuse? A bad idea? Andrew, with a runner's admiration, interrupted my thoughts by saying with amazement, "Look at him run, he's not even cutting corners!"

And it was true, he hugged the curb tightly with each stride and never indicated any inclination to fudge things, not even a tiny bit. After a few more minutes I settled the issue with myself by saying, "Well, I guess it's not really a bad thing--in fact, it kind of makes more sense than sticking a kid in a time out or giving them a silly talking to. At least he's working off his energy in a beneficial way." I mean, aside from the fact that it was 10:30pm and he should be in bed I found nothing terribly wrong after I thought about it.

Unusual, but certainly not wrong. There's a big difference. I tucked the sleeping girls in and shut the door. Fifty years from now I'm going to be reading the paper and there will be Cain's name as the latest Nobel laureate--nothing would surprise me. A few minutes later I came back to see if he was still at it but the cul de sac was empty.

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41 comments:

Melissa Garrett said...

Alas, Cain sounds a lot like Jacob. We often send him outside to run laps around our house. If we had a cul-de-sac, I'm sure we would take advantage of that, too. Such is life with an "energetic" child. My pediatrician has reassured me, on several visits, that Jacob is a brilliant boy. The trouble lies in channeling that brilliance for good, and not for mischief.

childlife said...

I totally agree with Melissa! Like as not, brilliance and mischief tend to be indelibly linked... on opposite sides of and equals sign. Keeping all that cleverness channeled towards constructive pursuits requires brilliance of an entirely different nature. I sure wish I had better solutions for the challenge at our house! Kudos to Cain's Mommy : )

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Creative parenting! It's all about figuring out what works. I especially like the cape thing. Kids are so great.

chelle said...

It is an unusual punishment but alas I have a bookworm child not an energy child so my kid would be much better off losing a cherished book for misbehavior than running.

Crystal said...

I only wish I was that good at coming up with creative ways to solve problems. I might start sending the girls out for a lap around the yard when they really start acting up when they should be settling down.

SabineM said...

He might win the Olympics in the future too!
How funny!
After running at 10:30 how can he go to sleep? I can't sleep right after I exercise!
This post made me chuckle! I had the visual!

mcewen said...

If your family member is an energizer bunny type, that might be a great idea. I think I'd be sitting on the curb watching though.
Cheers

Michelle A. said...

Interesting approach, but I guess with all that energy he needs to get it out somehow...now to check out your recipe for goat cheese panini!

Qtpies7 said...

We use this on one of our sons in particular. He gets in trouble when he hasn't been active enough. We have to keep him physically exhausted or he picks on people, lol.
We make him run around the house and we count his trips past the window.
Now that he is a teenager, we just keep him busy with swimming and football, swimming is actually WAY more physically demanding than football, a surprise to me! So, now, I will send him to the gym to swim when he is acting up.

Poppy Fields said...

It sounds like his parents are looking for creative healthy ways to channel his energy.

Heather said...

One of the coaches for Matthew's football team made his son run after practice last week. He got in trouble in school that day and Dad punished him that way. I know I would remember that much better than a talk and I hate to run. :o)

JAM said...

Sounds like the perfect way to wear down a high-energy kid. Though at 10:30pm, I might try him on the treadmill instead.

The kids got flair, with the cape and all.

la bellina mammina said...

good way for him to release energy, but probably better before dinner?

Kelly said...

I think he's got some smart parents.

Heffalump said...

D's Mom would always make all the kids do laps around the house if they got too wild. It helped to settle them down (there were 9 of them so I am sure she enjoyed the few minutes of reprieve it gave her to have them all outside).

Joan said...

When I was subbing in first grade last year, I had a boy who just could be full of mischief. Finally I devised a system where I'd make a tally mark on the board every time he interrupted; for each tally mark, he had to do 10 jumping jacks at recess. We also tried laps around the school yard and push-ups -- all of these worked much better than the usual punishment, having to sit at the wall for all of recess. Restricting movement in children like that is the worst possible thing you can do!

That said, how dark is it there at 10:30, now? I'd have my kid do something indoors that late at night, here. Too dark, and coyotes wandering around, even in the here in the 'burbs.

Carinne said...

We do this with Ethan. When he's annoying the other kids, being too hyperactive, or being to bored we send him out to run "laps". He has to run around the block a certain number of times. It works great!

jtcosby said...

I hope it isn't child abuse as we too have used this. Only we run around our house and fence (there is space between neighbors yards). It was instituted because my mom once told me the three things that will help keep a child happy and really even healthy: enough sleep, the PROPER food and exercise. If any one of these things is out of wack, the whole world falls apart...and while we watch the sleep and food thing pretty well, we NEVER get enough exercise...so that is what we instituted for this very reason.

Heather said...

my eight year old is an energizer bunny. i feel really bad for his teachers when he looses recess. now that we have a yard, i think i'll make him do laps.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Is this Cain for real?

Lisa said...

I don't think this is such a bad idea. I make my kids pay me if I have to remind them to do things that should be automatic. Maybe if I made them run it would be more effective--although I collecting a fair amount of quarters....

Summer said...

LOL! This reminds me of my dad's punishment for sibling arguments. The two or three fighting siblings would have their wrists tied together with a few strands of yarn and then made to walk around the block like that. It was sooo embarrasing if friends saw us.

Patois said...

I'm all for it. I'm most especially in awe, though, of the fact that you intend to be reading a newspaper in 50 years. You must be alot younger than me.

Coach J said...

As a basketball coach, I've found that running is the answer to ALOT of mischief! I just haven't thought about using it on my own children...

SusieQ said...

My neighbor has a very active boy and she does "Mommy Bootcamp" with him. His consequence for misbehaving is to do what they call up/downs, running up and down their 3 flights of stairs. She'll say to him, "Justin, you owe me 15 up/downs, GO" He has to count them out loud so she can hear that he's not cheating. Seems to work for them.

soccer mom in denial said...

How I wish we didn't live on a state highway. There is something about getting to literally run "in the street" that kids just love.

I agree though - very creative!!

kailani said...

Wow. Now that's creative disciplining.

J.S. said...

I haven't tried making my kids run yet but I did make my 10 year daughter clean the toilet the other day for arguing.

Bill Braine said...

It sounds great, but only if done good-naturedly, I would think. Otherwise don't you turn the kid off to running later, if it's presented as punishment?

And if not, he's going to need a cape to take first in the 800 once he gets competitive.

Daisy said...

Hmmm...my middle school P.E. teacher made us run when there was trouble, so I grew up seeing running as punishment. Run for fun? Never. I hope Cain enjoys his skill enough to avoid this fate.

charlotta-love said...

I was going to say he must have lost a bet. That's sounds very similar to some "runs" my buddies had to go on in college. Only it was light out, they were on a main road, 25, and wearing a superman shirt, spandex pants, and a cape.

Leslie said...

I love Cain stories.

This reminds me of Bill Cosby: Himself. I had to look up the quote because it's just so funny:

"My wife and I were intellectuals before we had children. We were very, very bright people. My wife graduated from the University of Maryland, child psychology major with a B-plus average, which means that if you ask her a question about a child's behavior, she will give you at least an 85 answer. I, from Temple University, physical education major with a child psychology minor, which means that if you ask me a question about a child's behavior, I will tell you to tell the child to take a lap."

Theresa Bakker said...

I love this idea. Especially that they let him wear his cape. Come to think of it, my mom used to make me write essays when I misbehaved. Our destinies are not so hazy when we look through the clear lens of childhood punishments.

Bobbie said...

Hi -
Just found your site while searching for blogs in Anchorage
I have enjoyed reading your posts and will mark your blog as a favorite!
Take care,
Bobbie... An Alaskan Mom too.

(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

For some reason this made me LAUGH! LOL! I am fascinated by the things we may sometimes disagree with but are not wrong. (That's just kind-of an afterthought~I'm not in disagreement with this method here.) I'm just weird that way I guess.... (((((HUGS))))) sandi

my4kids said...

This made me laugh also and would probably work for Joshua if we lived in a cul-de-sac. But we live in the woods and he is freaked out about bears right now so I don't know if it would be to traumatic for him! Of course he would probably run faster to get his laps in!

Corrie said...

I should so do this for me - not my kids. I think I could use a few laps when things get crazy around here. Maybe i could count to 10 while I do it?

It would certainly make the kids take notice.

Babystepper said...

My husband had to run laps around the house when he was little. He was always very well behaved, so I don't know if it was a punishment so much as just an energy burner. He still loves to run.

elena jane said...

i also have my boys run around our house when they are overly rambunctious or naughty. it burns some time and energy. i've put them in boots, given them umbrellas....
my mil suggested this to me, and i figured it was worth a shot (she also parented 4 boys, much closer in age than mine are).
nowadays, i figure, so long as it's safe, whatever works :)

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

what a neat and interesting opportunity you have had living next to this boy. i like reading your excerpts about this little guy. you sound positive about him.

ps. i thought that was awesome awhile back when you wrote about how he missed your kids and gave them a welcome home party. a kind heart was in there.

Jeana said...

If laps are child abuse, I guess every coach in the nation is out of a job.