When will I learn to stop making off the cuff ridiculous consequences?
Yesterday the kids thought it was Christmas when I returned home from the store with these:
"Are those for us?!" they squealed as they barreled over to see exactly which kinds there were, knocking over anything that was in their way. Which almost included me.
As their little hands were poised over the box to rip it open, I quickly grabbed it, put it on top of the fridge, and declared, "Supper first!" Three little groans followed.
It was then that I had a vision of what my living room and kitchen would look like in a few days' time. Littered with empty bags and crumbs.
And that's when it happened. I was tired. We were nearing the end of the day. And my vision had already upset me. So I declared right then and there the following:
"If I find ONE empty bag laying around that doesn't make it to the trash, NONE of you will partake of another bag of chips from this box."
Another collective gasp. This time, one of horror.
Almost immediately, I regretted it. I'm not usually a fan of punishing the group for one person's wrongdoing. Then again, sometimes that tactic helps foster accountability amongst them and they may even begin looking out for one another, helping each other to remember where the trash is and whatnot. I just feel so darn bad for the one that ends up messing it up for the others. Cast out during playtime. The little lone child no one wants to sit by on the couch. Breaks my heart. And I feel like buying them a pony.
But it was already out there. Mother had spoken.
Judging by their excitement level when they saw me first walk in with the box, I figured it would at least be a few days before someone slipped up. And by then the box would be half gone.
As we settled in to watch TV, they suddenly remembered the treasure box that awaited them at the top of the fridge. Their excitement was renewed. They had each carefully planned out which flavor they would choose and began crunching away.
Fast forward a few hours. As I headed to bed and began the seemingly endless journey through the house turning off lights, I saw it. There, in the glow of the tiny lamp in the living room. A little dorito bag by the loveseat. My heart fell. Tatey was the offending party. He was going to be heartbroken. And the girls weren't going to let him off easy.
I sighed as I turned around to go upstairs. Then something on our other couch caught my eye. Another dorito bag. This one was Drue's. Frustration began building up inside me, followed by a smidge of relief. Tate at least now had a partner in crime. Reese's wrath would have to be split between the both of them.
Reese. Our little thinker and planner. I knew as soon as I told her, she'd start listing all the reasons why she should be rewarded and allowed to continue consuming chips from the box. That's when I heard our little dog, Gizzie, crinkling a wrapper. I went to retrieve it and discovered Reese's bag of Sun Chips.
All three of them had broken the cardinal rule of trash disposal laid forth by me earlier that evening. I didn't want to end the night on a sad note. But I didn't want to crush their dreams of packing a bag of chips in their lunch in the morning either. I chose to tell them right then. They hung their heads in defeat. And with David not returning home for another day, they had no secret ally to slip them contraband bags of chips.
I'm not sure which I feel more bad about: The upsetting truth that my children have yet to master the art of throwing away their trash, or that fact that I now have 29 bags of chips to eat.