My daughter, Honeybun, has an unusually hard life for a five year old who has pretty much everything she could ever dream of. She also has a really hard time listening, following directions and doing the right thing. Her poor decision making often gets her a stern talking to or consequence of some kind which lately has resulted in her uttering her current phrase of choice: “This is the worst day ever.”
I have been really looking forward to school being out for the summer for many, many reasons (listed here) but the four day weekend we had really pushed me to the edge and I’m going to come out and say it: THIS WAS THE WORST WEEKEND EVER!
It started Thursday night and snowballed into proportions I never could have imagined. Thursday night at dinner I talked to the girls about how the next day we needed to clean up their room, the playroom and the living room before Daddy got home from a week away. I put the girls to bed a little later than usual since there was no school Friday. About an hour later I went into the kitchen and saw their door cracked and light on. I went in and we had a little chat (not a good one). About 45 minutes later I went to bed and JUST as I laid down, I heard a little voice called for me: Honeybun saw a shadow and was scared. Three times I put them to bed that night.
The next morning I reminded them of our clean-up plan. I put it to them this way: “This morning I want to work happily to get your room cleaned up. I want to work happily to get the playroom cleaned up. I want to work happily to get the living room cleaned up. Let’s do it quickly so we can go have fun with our friends and not have to worry about it later!” Everyone was eager and on board. We started promptly after breakfast and everyone was doing really great! I put the baby down for his nap and my three year old, Sugarplum, decided she did not want to help anymore.
I reminded her of our dessert rules and that if she didn’t do her job (cleaning up the playroom and her room) then she would lose dessert for a week. She said ok and I said ok. A little while later, Honeybun is still working hard at cleaning up as am I but Sugarplum is playing, making more mess. I inform her that she chose not to help so lost dessert for a week but may not make more mess for Honeybun and I to clean up. Sugarplum loses it, ensue screaming. And there’s baby, awake, long before he’s ready. The baby spends the next few hours screaming and demanding to be constantly held and nursed.
I get overwhelmed with dealing with a screaming baby (who had finally calmed down) and a three year old who “doesn’t care” and really truly doesn’t. No threat or punishment matters to her and I cannot for the life of me get her to do what I need her to do and I find myself crying uncontrollably in frustration. The girls hug me and gently stroke me but never say they’re sorry for their behavior. And then I spot the blood. The blood, smeared all over the floor at my feet. Spread all over the door jamb. The baby with a huge paper cut, bleeding everywhere and happily reading a book. I clean up the bloody trail and bandage the bloody finger. The girls don’t really deserve to do our fun thing and our friends couldn’t make it but we went anyways and we had a good time.
Friday night, hubby is home and we talk about the day and all that happened. We talk about the frustration I felt and how we expect (and need) them to be better. Fast forward an hour and it’s like a replay of the night before: girls are up playing with the light on. A while later, up again.
Fast forward to Saturday morning and it starts ok. We have our neighbor girls over for the morning, all go to lunch together and it’s great. But when we get home, it just continues. Not following directions, not listening, arguing, being nasty and sometimes hateful. After dinner, bed time. And it’s a three-peat. Three times laying the girls down because they are up playing instead of sleeping and hubby and I are at a loss. We don’t know what to do. I talk to the girls about consequences and warn them the morning will bring a negative consequence for their inappropriate behavior.
Hubby and I spend the rest of the evening talking about what to do going forward. The frustration, the anger, how to react and how not to react. We came up with a plan, the consequence.
This morning things started out nicely we reminded the girls that a consequence was coming for the way they acted at bed time. There were no surprises…right away. After breakfast, though, it all fell apart. Sugarplum refused to fulfill a simple request (something so simple and routine I don’t even remember what it was). Cue consequence. I grabbed one of the diaper boxes I’ve been hoarding for who knows why since the baby was born and began filling it up with toys. I sealed it and set it against the wall. I explained “when you can’t handle following directions and doing nice things for mommy and daddy then you don’t need all your nice toys.”
A little while later I catch her with a bunch of coins we had collected while traveling. I ask her to give it to me and she starts crying. I warn her not to wake up the baby (for the 4th fricken day in a row!) or it will mean three boxes and she starts screaming. Cue baby crying and me grabbing three more boxes. Filled them up. One more round when she refused to bring her towel in from outside that she threw on the ground after swimming (yes, I let her swim after all the above but ONLY because I needed the baby to take a decent nap which meant keep the girls outside for as long as possible!).
It may not be the most logical consequence for her actions (my favorite kind of consequence, after natural of course—read about them here) but it is the only thing that has worked. It is the only thing that has gotten her to care AT ALL about following directions and doing the right thing.
We had an okay rest of the day, we went for lunch and ice cream (which she didn’t get since she’s on dessert restriction) and beer. The kids took a nap and Sugarplum woke up in a splendid mood. We finished cleaning, had dinner and the girls rode their bikes and scooters before we jumped in the pool for a final dip before bed.
And then hubby caught her in the bathroom, eating the baby's snacks, and that was just the start of what ended up being the worst day of the worst weekend ever!
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