Oh, I was so mad.
Clare has asked me if she could watch the English version of a cartoon after watching the Italian version (for school). I said she had three things left to do, and then she could watch the English version. She begged and begged, promising that she would do all three things, after watching the English version of Muzzy.
Finally, I agreed, emphasizing how important it was that she follow through and, after watching Muzzy, that she practice guitar, do her guitar workbook, and fold her clothes.
I left the house, taking Annie and Mary to ballet.
When I came home, Ron was here with the kids, and had set up a computer game (actually just a biology website) for Clare. The pile of laundry was untouched.
“Clare! What in the world are you doing!!?? Why have you not done the laundry yet?”
So Clare shuts the computer, runs and does the laundry. Ron and I get everyone ready for bed.
As we begin family prayers, I say, “Clare, before we start, I just want to say that I am so upset that you did not keep our agreement. You promised that you would do all three things you had left to do, if I turned on Muzzy in English for you.”
She replied, “Well I DID do three things!! Muzzy, guitar, and my guitar workbook! That is three things!”
And I realized that in her innocence, she really did believe that she had done what she was told, and truly just muddled it up in her head.
I replied, “Well, that was NOT what we agreed: we agreed that AFTER you watched Muzzy, you would have to do 1) guitar, 2) your guitar notebook, and 3) fold your laundry. Watching Muzzy was NOT on the list of obligations; it was your treat.” Her eyes got all wide and she realized her mistake.
I continued, “You did not follow through on our agreement. So I want 20 pushups, right now.” She smiled, and looked sheepishly at her siblings. They were rather adorable about it, being kind, realizing that they have to do pushups sometimes, too. She got down on the floor, amid our whole family, and we all watched her do 20 pushups. She smiled getting up and resuming her place. Then she led us in family prayers.
Afterwards that night, Ron said, “Kathryn, in my house growing up, that would have been screaming and spankings. Your handling of that was a million times better than anything I have ever seen.”
I wish I had not been so mad about it, afterwards, realizing that I had a way of handling it that is better than getting so mad inside. I think I took it personally, like, “Why doesn’t anyone ever listen to me?” But the truth is, people (my kids, anyway) DO listen to me, and I just have to hear their story and reprimand accordingly, not out of anger, but with love and firmness.