I'm a big meanie.
Since implementing the new Clothes In the Hamper rule, the floor in my hall has stayed remarkably clothes-free. Well, when it's not overflowing, anyway. In fact, Sister has been The Enforcer, stuffing any stragglers she finds lurking around the outside of the hamper back in their proper place.
Since that rule worked so well, I thought I'd apply a slightly different version of the same rule to their rooms. I took a tip from my blogging friend, Kelli, and told them whatever was left on their bedroom floors after bedtime would not be there in the morning. This rule, I was hoping, would be especially helpful for Sister, who seemed to take such a liking to the laundry rule and who can never seem to find enough energy to pick up whatever she drags out.
A little back story here: About a month ago I took Sister shopping for shoes as her tennis shoes were suddenly about two sizes too small. But, alas, Sister is not a tennis shoe kind of girl. She is more of a sparkly, make-a-loud-click-clacking-on-the-floor shoe kind of girl. You can imagine the kind of mind-numbing, hair-pulling kind of torture that ensued. I finally got her to agree to a simple pair of white, no-frills tennis shoes, but only after promising to spend an extra eight dollars on a pair of gold, glitter flip flops.
Much to Sister's delight, we have had a few days of early spring and the weather has been flip-flop wearin' warm. She has worn those glitter flip flops more than the tennis shoes.
However, just before bedtime tonight, they were in the middle of her bedroom floor, along with some valuable Build-A-Bear accessories, a favorite princess lip gloss locket, Barbie's horse and various other trinkets. When I gave the "10 minutes till bedtime" warning, she was very busy playing robots with Brother and I knew this evening wasn't going to fare well for her. Wanting to give her every possible opportunity to rescue her golden shoes, I even reminded her about the rule. "Okay," was her flippant response.
I gave the five minute warning and nothing had been put away.
Then the one minute warning, thinking she might shift into hyperspeed and, by some great miracle, pull it off.
But, no. She didn't get it done. Truth is, she didn't even try. So, when I told her I needed to brush her hair so she could get in bed, she stared at me in disbelief, and then the tears began. She started down her list of excuses, trying to tell me it was Baby's fault and that she wouldn't help pick up (they share a room). I reminded her that I had already been in there with Baby and made sure she picked up her share. She tried to say I hadn't given her enough time, which again, didn't pan out. She was reaching for anything and getting more upset with each new excuse and all I could say was, "I'm sorry." And I really, truly was. Even Brother was upset and almost got himself grounded coming to her defense. After brushing her hair I told her to go pick out a story and I grabbed my trashbag to clear the floor.
Then the real wailing began.
And it didn't stop. She wailed during the three books we read, pausing to ask if I had thrown away any of her favorite toys. "I don't know," was all I said and she continued to sob on my shoulder. Afterwards I got them all in their beds to start the tucking-in process. It was then she realized her shoes had been collected by the mean, stupid-rule-making, mommy monster and her sadness turned to despair. It was heartbreaking. Really, it took every ounce of willpower I had to not turn tail and rescue those shoes from the big, white trashbag waiting in my room for its fate.
Oh, but I wanted to.
I brought her tissues and a drink of water and lots of hugs. "Mommy," she said, finally calming down. "Can you buy me some more sparkly flip flops?"
I looked at her huge, blue eyes and splotchy face. "No, honey," I said, sounding resolute, but feeling like I could crumble any minute.
"But, Mommy," she said, turning on the tears again. "Shoes are a basic need! You can't take away a basic need!"
Smart one, she is.