Monday, March 03, 2008

And the Lord Taketh Away...

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.



Amazing.



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.



Surprise, surprise.



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.

17 comments:

C-Marie said...

I was crumbling while reading this post. Been there - done that and it's heart wrenching! (although, it is effective as long as you don't cave.)

runninghome said...

Ugh, I HATE having to do stuff like this. If I could physically injure myself instead of making them cry, I would do it happily.

Anonymous said...

A BASIC NEED! Where did she hear something like that? That is unbelievable! Wow. Tell her Jesus didn't have shoes. J/K I can feel the pain. Sorry it had to end that way. Stay strong girl! Good job.

Brandy said...

She is such your daughter :)

Heth said...

She is right. Shoes are a basic need. Sparkly, fancy, pretty, shoes are a basic need. Lots of them.

Janelle said...

That is incredibly funny! And oh so hard to stick to your guns, great job! I'm sure the floor will be clean from here on out. We do the same thing for toys that mysteriously appear under pillows (we have a no toys in bed rule). I've thrown away some things I sure didn't want to!

Michelle said...

You are stronger than me! I will take things away, but then feel guilty and end up giving them back. I need to work on being such a sucker!

Mommy of Three said...

I loved this story. It is so familiar to me! I'm a new reader to your blog. I'll be back!

Momma T said...

Oh my heart broke reading this post. Is it possible for her to earn her things back with good behavior? The rule in our house is that if I have to pick it up - then you need to do something for me to get it back, and yes, DH is included. So, I have a giant bin that is our "chore box"... if someone wants something out of it - they must put away the dishes, make dinner, sweep the floor or whatever else I NEED done that day... then and only then will they get back the baseball glove, the mail, the magazine, the screwdriver, the Pokemon cards, etc.

I admire you for sticking to your guns... just not sure that I wouldn't cave...

Anonymous said...

At our house, the kids can buy back their removed items. I've sold back underwear, soccer shorts, and all sorts of other things. The drawback to taking FOREVER is they'll leave math books on the floor. Surely there must be some kind of reprieve for princess-esque flip flops.

Gomomyourock said...

I would've caved. I do cave on a regular basis. I guess I love their stuff as much as they do. I'm trying to get over that though!

I think an update is in order - can she earn them back or are they gone for good?

Becoming Me said...

Funny and sad post all at the same time. It's so tough to be the mom on days like this. You did a great job standing strong but I bet you needed a hug afterward. I'm so glad I stumbled on your blog today. I'm one of the many who find you funny and bloglined you. Have a happy Easter.

Mommy, the Human Napkin said...

Oh, how I feel your pain. I do exactly the same thing. I use a Wal-Mart sack and they can hear me shaking it out from the next room, and then the wailing begins. I've thrown away all sorts of things and you'd think they'd either get used to it or start picking up their stuff, but my two youngest are taking their sweet time learning the lesson. So I keep it up and I feel like such a mean mommy sometimes, but I think they need to learn to follow the rules and keep their toys picked up more than they actually need to keep those same toys. I have told my daughter that "if you can't keep it picked up, then you don't really need to have it." I don't think she agrees, though.

Rhen @yestheyareallmine said...

After reading this post I thought the pick-it-up-by-bedtime-or-it-is-gone-idea was magnificent. I implemented it. It has worked beautifully. Thank you!!

realworldmartha said...

My oldest, now 11, went through this. He refused to pick up his new lincoln logs. He gave me a look that said "Make me!" you know that look don't you? So after warnings the new (present from Grandparents) Lincoln Logs got packed up by Mom and the next day he had to drop them off at the Goodwill. His look ws devestating but I think he learned his lesson.
They do get smart to it though after awhile. They start to leave things out that they don't want or are broken. At times I have said that I will choose something then if they willingly leave it out. I think I am eligible for the Mean Mom award :)

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

so do you really throw the stuff out, or do you take it away until they are doing better w/ their chores and then they get their stuff back?

Amanda said...

I have done the "mommy cleans with a garbage bag" routine several times. I am still amazed by the shock on their faces when I do it, sometimes they can earn items back, sometimes, I really do throw it in the garbage. My oldest knows the sound of the bag and slams his door. One time he "cleaned" his room... and shoved everything under his bed- clearly obeying the "everything off the floor and out of the walkway" rule. Smart kid.

Usually I make room cleaning a game. You pick three things to put away, then you can have a break for 5 minutes. I set a timer. When 5 minutes are up, he chooses 3 more things to put away. Sometimes it takes all day, but eventually it all gets picked up and put away.