Here's the thing, I have this fear of being the empty threat/don't make me repeat myself/walk all over me Dad so I think that makes me tend to overcompensate. My father was very benevolent towards me so I'm not sure where I get it from, but there have been very few 'three strikes and you're out' situations in this Gardner household. It's had to be ultimatums simply because of the language barrier. The kids know "almost" and "again" but not other important negotiating terms like "if/then" and even "or" has been a little hazy.
So we're at the park the other day (surprise surprise) and Y takes off her shoes at the top of a twisty slide so that she can reach maximum velocity in her socks. She gets to the bottom of the slide and instructs her brother, who is now at the top, to throw down her shoes. He complies... and then spits. Somehow he missed both her shoes and the back of her head, but my brain flashed the word UNACCEPTABLE in bold red letters and I knew I had to nip this in the bud. I go running up shouting, "Habtamu! No Spit! *Ptew*! No! Habtamu spit again, Everybody home!" I'm sure what he heard was, "Bad dog, Bad!" but I thought it was pretty clear all English and sound effects considering.
10 seconds later he spits over the other side of the slide thinking I won't see it, and I took it personally.
The problem is I didn't say "H Car" or "H Chair," I said "Everybody Home." Also, there was no condition set on where it was inappropriate to spit. "No Spit" is not the same as "Please don't spit on your sister." So I look him in the eye and say "Car. Now." He winces and then doesn't look back. His sister whispers to him to apologize. He mumbles something, but really, the discussion is over and my Ace was on the table. Y looks at me and says, "Yordanos stay." "No, " I say, "Habtamu choose. *Ptew* Everybody home" and I proceed to drag two whimpering children, one guilty, one innocent, to the car. Chris had been on the cell phone for this whole 60 second fiasco and unfortunately wasn't available to play the good cop.
So we all get in the car angry and frustrated, except Chris who was wrapping up her phone call, and I'm fuming. I end up having Chris drop me and the kids off 6 blocks away from home so we can 'walk it off' (for my sake as much as theirs) and she can sneak out to Walgreens for craft supplies. I got some lip, but they both got out of the car and walked with me.
About two blocks later, they start picking up empty bottles along the sidewalk and were back to being curious about anything and everything. H spotted a "garbage can" and made a bee-line for the Salvation Army Donation bin. "Not Garbage!" I called out, but he was already across the parking lot trying to read the big red words. "No Garbage?" he says. "No. Err... Gifts. Give." I fumble knowing that it doesn't mean anything to him. He looks it over and then sees something under the bin. My son then gets down on his hands and knees in the parking lot and pulls out a yellow matchbox car. "Up! Look! Glass!" I yank on his elbow, but he's beaming at his new treasure and just says "No daddy, more," looks briefly for glass shards, and then goes right back down.
Under-the-dumpster diving at the Salvation Army yielded 3 cars, a train engine (with working batteries) and a blue airplane. He was in heaven and by the time we got home, all was forgiven. I was just glad that respect for broken glass was not the life lesson of the day.
Chris mentioned in her last entry that Y got benched at the playground until she apologized. But she never did say she was sorry, and then was bitter until distracted by lunch. We agreed that next time around we should consider implementing time limits and/or more conditions on punishments. Neither of us are really heavy-handed types, and neither of them are acting 2 years old any more, nor are they covering for each other when one gets in trouble. Y would have probably bounced back fine from a 5 minute time out, and H's indiscretion shouldn't have affected the whole family. Live an learn, I guess...
And speaking of living and learning, H's life lesson today was that cereal with milk is good when eaten "now" and completely inedible when eaten "later," even if you cover it with Saran wrap.