Friday, April 17, 2009

My Best Discipline Tool

Some years ago, I puffed on the eliptical next to Melanie as we discussed the joys and frustrations of Momhood. I was particularly frustrated with one of my angels with whom everything seemed to be going wrong. "When was the last time you went out just the two of you?" she asked. "Man, its been a while mainly because SHE DOES NOT DESERVE IT. I can't reward that type of behavior." I replied. Wise Melanie insisted. "Try it. You have nothing to lose. I will take the other two today. You need to go."

I came back that afternoon with a different child. The 1 1/2 hours of individual time accomplished what time outs, consequences, pleading, and yelling could not. I had a bright eyed, eager to respond, helpful, thoughtful little girl. Instead of wanting to throttle her sisters, she wanted to bring them something. Her love cup was full enough to spill over to her sisters.

This is our miracle cure. Our consequences and other parenting tools become 10 times as effective when our sweeties are caught up on their "special nights." I have come to find that usually when they deserve it least, they need it the most.

Tonight, I put three very happy, loving little girls to bed. After prayer as I tucked them into bed I felt the love cups bubbling over. One bubbled over with plans for new paintings and sang me a song about how much she loved her mom. The other threw her arms around me, held me close and kissed my nose. I whispered, "Thai salad dressing really does taste like hairspray." Then we giggled at our private joke as I shut the door.

One chose a Thai restaurant for lunch. While waiting for our spring rolls and hot and sour soup, we located Thailand on a map, examined Thai characters, than perused the restaurant and discussed everything we saw. Buddhist monks, strange new fruits and vegetables, traditional Thai masks, basket weavers, and rice farmers all merited discussion. We sat close so we wouldn't spill as we shared our orders. We agreed that the fresh spring rolls were really sub par with skimpy shrimp and the worst dipping sauce we'd tried. We loved the hot and sour soup and filled it with sticky rice. The BBQ pork was fantastic but the Piece De Resistance was the salad slathered in what Little Mother called a hairspray tasting dressing. The waitress hoped to treat us and brought us an imported jelly. Little Mother literally gagged. I swallowed it as quickly as I could and filled my mouth with mints once we reached the car.

Our outing continued to a doll store where we giggled and oohed and aahed over every amazing piece of doll paraphernalia known to man. After much discussion we determined that: it is always nice to have a fresh clean pair of panties, dirty socks make the vilest smell, and who doesn't need a pair of runners to stay in shape? After consulting her pocket book, Little Mother purchased the above items for her favorite 18 inch companion. Our outing finished with a trip to our favorite tea shop for a Bubble Tea.

Dinner with my other sweetie was Pumpkin Coconut Soup, which I am going to try to duplicate and a Crab Panini. "You must be really hungry." I said as she snarfed down almost twice as much as I did. "I'm just so excited!" She replied.

We then had the sweetest experience in the art gallery. We held hands as she excitedly pulled me from painting to painting, each more compelling than the next. "How did they paint this one? Why are there people in the net with the fish?" Looking at art always fulfills me, but never so much as today. Accompanied by another art lover tripled my enjoyment. I wept as I told her the story of the crossing of the Sweetwater and as I explained the background behind James Christensen's newer works. She squeezed my hand even tighter to say she understood.

As before, our outing ended at my favorite tea shop for a Bubble Tea... probably the best deserty drink known to this little lady.

Discipline accomplished. After all, what is discipline? My Webster says the word is derived from disciple, n.: one who receives the teaching of another -and- discipline, n.: mental or moral training. Tonight my angels are definitely ready to receive my teachings and I think we accomplished quite a bit of metal and moral training.

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