Okay I really need your help with this one. Imagine--just hypothetically of course--that you and your four amazingly cute and normally well-behaved children are attending a family function. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that it's a family Christmas party.
And then, let's continue with this supposition by saying that there's a moment where the cousins get to unwrap their Christmas presents from Great Grandma. Are you with me so far?
Well if your five year-old should happen to unwrap her present and find that it's a DVD of "Enchanted Princess Stories with Magical Moments and Happiness All Around" (not a bad gift is it? Is it?) but should be less than thrilled by the gift what do you do?
Not that this happened to me or anything. It--um--happened to a friend. Yea, a friend. And we'll call her "Carinne." Because it doesn't make me look so bad.
Okay I can't completely lie and put this on my poor sister, it happened to me. Lillian opened her gift and found a DVD. I never buy the kids DVDs so I thought it would be a novelty and that she'd enjoy it but she looked at it skeptically then turned up her little nose. Bad enough, right? But no, the real meltdown--the one of Chernobyl proportions that shall live hereafter in family history--was when all the cousins ran to various places to play with their new treasures and Lillian realized that she couldn't actually do anything with her dumb old movie.
She started to pout, she started to sulk and the grand finale came when she squawked about not liking the movie and threw the present--THE ONE FROM HER GRANDMOTHER WHO WAS SITTING RIGHT THERE IN THE ROOM--on the ground and stomped off.
Honestly? I've had kids do bad things before, I've had those moments where I've had to withdraw from a playgroup because I'd apparently brought the human piranha or where I've watched in horror while my previously potty-trained child filled her swimming suit while standing in line to get into the pool at swim lessons (no names). But this? Such deliberate behavior from a five year-old (FIVE years old!) was pretty horrifying.
Now you can bring up the mitigating circumstances by saying that it was Christmas, that's it's not a holiday or birthday celebration unless someone's getting in trouble and that you have to expect the occasional tantrum because of tired little bodies but I've lived with an attorney long enough to know that mitigating circumstances are only part of the sentencing and not part of the trial itself. She's guilty and she's in trouble. My question is--what should be her punishment?
When she threw down the movie she was immediately reprimanded (though it was hard to give her the walloping she deserved while everyone was looking on). I gathered up the movie and whisked it away then stuck her on a chair in the corner--yea, I know, the whole "time-out" thing is really a joke, she didn't care at all, you can tell by the look on her face but as I said it was hard to deal with it at a party. We talked about her behavior and how she was in deep doo-doo (to quote the great Jar-Jar Binks) but I need some help. Guide me, oh Mothers of the Internet, with your wisdom and experience and help me make a lasting impression on my wayward child.
Andrew and I laid in bed that night and he said, "Well don't give her the movie back for a while" which shocked me. I figure she's lost all rights and ownership and that she'll never see that movie ever. Would you give it back to her? Would you make her donate it to the library or some charitable institution? Would you throw it away? Would you spank her with it? (Okay I'm kidding here, even I wouldn't do that--talk about your therapy-inducing trauma. Being spanked with a princess DVD? Ha!) She's asked for it back but I haven't given it to her.
Help me out. It's like a pop quiz for motherhood or something and I've frozen.
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