You want it? Earn it.

The up side of taking away every item with a PLUG from your teenage son is that said son actually remembers he is part a a family.

Too many days off colliding with my lack of time off, a series of pretending the chore list was an OPTION and being rude…yep…a nasty trifecta. It wasn’t pretty. At all. I was like the energizer bunny….or a timex…I gave a lickin but kept on tickin. It was the never-ending lecture. I’d yell and take away an electronic device. I’d head off to my room to change clothes but would get mad 1/2 way there, execute a pivot and head back in for more. Over and over again. I ran out of words. I ran out of things to take away.

When it was all over I had quite a pile: an x-box, a mac, a chrome controller, a cell phone and an I-pod. At one point I yelled, “if its got a plug I want it!” During one if my return rants I yelled, “if you’ve thought about plugging it in I WANT IT,” it seemed very intimidating at the time. Now I realize it was a pretty stupid statement. Homeboy had the good sense not to point out the ridiculousness of my threat. The look in my eye must have detoured him. That wasn’t the last of it either. At one point I realized I had nothing left to take away so I pointed to the pile and warned, ” I’ll sell it. I’ll sell it ALL.” That got his attention. I’ve been known to take clothes right off their backs, slap a tag on it and sell it the next day. Mama don’t play during kindermarket or garage sale season.

An hour after it started the worst was over. But, like with any bug storm, damage was done. Charged with aiding and abetting-the 11year old was sniffing in the corner. She didn’t loose her Christmas presents but knew that could change at any given moment. The guilt caused by her participation in the crimes kept her teared up. She was smart enough not to wave the offending RAINBOW LOOM in my face and was therefore uncharacteristically quiet…except for the sniffles. Teen son sat in a chair clutching a book, his sole remaining Christmas present. When I ran out of things to take away I took way his space. The last “punishment” was, “you will be part of this family. You will remember what it means to be in a family. You will sit with us. You will not escape to your room. You will not retreat. You will not lie on your bed. You. Will. Sit. Until. We. Go to bed. And when we go to bed-you will go to bed. You will not stay up late. Until then you will sit. There. And you will watch what we watch, you will talk about what we talk about and you will…..” At that point I ran out of words. Again. But my point was made. He sat.

He sat quietly. When,at some point, he got up I asked where he thought he was going to which he replied, “I m going to take a shower. I haven’t had a shower today.” Ding. Ding. Round 2. “I bet you had time to play x-box today. You watched you tube. You had time to sleep until noon. You weren’t too busy doing chores to shower. You weren’t worried about showering when you weren’t visiting with you grandparents,” not sure that made a lot if sense but it made my point, “sit.” So he sat.

Today I came home to a much more suitable home. Chores were done. There had been no one to be rude too. The children now shared an enemy…me…so they were united and not fighting. I acknowledged the chores and ignored the muttered, “like I had anything else to do.” The calm after the storm settled in.

Tonight I secretly enjoyed having all 3 of my babies in the same room. Techno boy had actually read 1/2 of his Harry Potter sized novel. And a conversation occurred. A real one. Between all 5 of us. A brief snippet aired about Alabama’s quarterback, AJ McCarron, who befriended a young man with cerebral palsy. The young man was at a bus stop and the famous quarterback stopped and offered him a ride. They talked. AJ learned of the young mans love of athletics even though he could no longer participate. He learned of the young mans desire to be part of a team. AJ didn’t forget the young fellow once he dropped him off. He talked to the team managers and secured the young man a “job” as an assistant equipment manager. Character. Both men in the story showed character. It was the perfect conversation starter. And it was the perfect conversation for the circumstances.

We talked work ethic. I talked about mine and used my recent project-from hell-as an example. We talked expectations….theirs and mine. We did a little math….an hour of chores in an 8 hour day = what % of your day. No one foamed at the mouth, no spittle flew…it was civil. A few tears fell…mine and theirs….but overall it was a calm family night. After I explained that the word “idiot” wasn’t directed at him but at his actions…Poppy participated and pointed out that grades, not x-box scores, earned scholarships. To which baby girl said, “dats right.” She wasn’t actually participating in our conversation but it was a timely comment. She also added, “hey, what about me?” (Her motto) when conversation didn’t directly involve her.

Did I handle it right? Probably not. Did I over react? Most likely. Did I over do it? Certainly. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Privileges are earned. Electronics are privileges. Manners and respect and responsibility are the currency that pays for privileges. No pay, No play.


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