If you think you aren’t a hypocrite, have children. If you can’t have children, just hang out with some. They will shortly prove to you that you are indeed a hypocrite. I hate it when this happens to me. I’m sailing along, doling out consequences for bad behavior, and then, wham! They throw it right back in my face.
Yesterday, my oldest son came home from Kindergarten with a bad report. That morning, he had ripped a page out of a book and broke a penguin. When I tried talking with him about it, he got really mad and threw a fit and screamed this and that and around and around we went. I somehow managed to stay calm and sent him to his room to regain his composure. Later, when I brought it up again, I calmly let him know that he would need to pay for the book he ripped and the penguin he broke as per our house rule (see below).
“Anyone who breaks something on purpose will pay for it out of their own money. If you don’t have the money you will sell something of yours to get the money.”
When an angry boy is sent to his room to compose himself, we often remind him of this if he seems like he’s about to go on a destructive rampage. Well, after informing my son that he’d have to cough up some funds for his destruction of school property, he saw a prime opportunity to turn the tables on me (amazing how they catch on to this strategy at such a young age).
“What about Mario, mommy? You broke him and didn’t pay for it,” he said.
Oh, great. Thanks a lot, kid. In this moment when I’m trying to be a good parent and hold you accountable for your actions you have to remember something from a year ago and use it to your advantage to prove your point and make me feel bad. This kid is going to a good lawyer someday.
So now I have to fill you in about Mario. Last year, about this time of year, when we were in the throes of language school, transition and everything else, I had one heck of a morning. I don’t even remember what happened that morning to set me off, but I felt a temper tantrum coming on. As the boys sat at the breakfast table, I felt like I just needed to throw something to let off some steam. I dashed down the hall to the playroom and picked up the first thing I saw that I thought would bounce and sent it flying across the room.
Well, in my haste, my judgment must have been off because the toy I sent sailing into the wall did not bounce. Instead, it smashed into a million pieces! Why didn’t he bounce?!?! My victim, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, was a 10 inch, plastic Super Mario figurine the boys had received as a Christmas present in the mail from their uncle in America. It was everyone’s favorite (including my husband). So, I had to fess up and tell the boys I made a very bad choice and broke Mario.
I felt like such a moron as I swept Mario shrapnel into the dust pan. How many times had I told them not to throw toys? Wasn’t I supposed to be the adult here, leading by example? I was so ashamed of myself! The good news is that one year later we still have Luigi and we all know that he indeed will not bounce so we take good care of him. I have forgiven myself for my ridiculous blunder and haven’t thrown anything since. I’m also thinking of a fun segment for the Late Show called “Will It Bounce?” where exasperated parents choose a toy they think will bounce and test their luck by throwing it against a wall. Way more entertaining than “Will it Float?” don’t you think?
This was before we instituted the “you break it you buy it” rule. Oh, but these kids remember! So, a little while later, my son sat at the table playing with his Lego men. I pulled out 50 RMB and placed it on the table in front of him. “Here’s 50 kuai for Mario,” I said, “We can decide how to spend it as a family. Do you think that’s enough?” He nodded and looked pleased that I had decided to follow my own rules. We plan to go to the toy market this weekend and buy more Lego men.