I’ve been pondering my own hypocrisy.
A couple of weeks ago, exhausted by a relentless day of parenting two lively boys, my patience finally failed when Junior PLL the Elder answered back just ONCE too often.
“Right, that’s it!” I screeched, in a measured, thoughtful, responsible way. “There is no way you are going out to play tonight. You are not going out. End of.” There was quite a bit more in the “If I’ve told you once, la la la” vein, most of which I wasn’t even listening to, let alone the Junior PLLs. There were tears (not mine) – but my resolve did not waver. My boys love playing outdoors (well, really, whose child doesn’t?) and this was a severe punishment indeed. It certainly showed those two rascals who was boss.
It was only the next day that I began to feel very hypocritical. I believe – no, stronger than that, I know – that outdoor learning and play is vital for young children’s proper development, growth and wellbeing. So why on earth did I use restriction of it as a punishment? Would I withold food or water? Nobody would deny that they are vital for young children’s development, growth and wellbeing. Would I send them to school half dressed, just because they were tardy getting ready in the morning?
Like most of the punishments (such as they are) in our house, there was plenty of grumping for an hour or two (much of it from me, as I realised I now had the little terrors housebound for even longer), followed eventually by a “sorry”, and another very dull talk from me about understanding what the transgression meant to everyone who’s ever met JPLLTE, and then we moved on.
I’ve been brooding over this far more than is healthy. I’m veering between “parenting is hard, get over it” and “how can you preach to others that getting children outdoors is essential, if your own children are banned because of a bit of banter?”. I thought writing a confessional blog post might ease my conscience, but it hasn’t. Now it’s even more obvious that I need to find other, more reasonable ‘consequences’ to avoid punishing the children in a way that has actually been far more punishing for me than it was for them.