I would love to write about my thoughts, feelings, concerns, fears, worries. I could write about my experiences with the half-marathon (which was AWESOME!) or how I worry about taking care of my kids financially after the divorce. I could be sharing ideas for how I plan on keeping the kids busy over the summer in a way that keeps them engaged but allows them time to relax and unwind. I could share some of my recipes. But alas, I will write about none of these things. Many of them weigh heavily on my mind, others are much more light-hearted and fun to share. No, in the front of my mind at the moment is having to take away my daughter’s books and toys.
Before you judge, a little background. Izzy is, shall I say, a free spirit. Her older brother is definitely Type A like I am. He likes order and organization, and Izzy likes to twirl. For several weeks their respective bedrooms have been disaster areas. Jacob’s room was an organized disaster. He had specific piles of books, art projects in situ, cities built out of Legos, and a pile of Zach’s socks (unrelated to Jake, but nevertheless existed). Izzy’s room was just a disaster. I found a volcano of cut up yarn (I was going to say mountain, but since it was strewn about I like to envision the mountain turned out to be an active yarn volcano), sticker books and stickers EVERYWHERE (to the next person who gets her a sticker book: I shall give your child a flame thrower), and toys covering the floor.
Walking to her bed to tuck her in was like running a gauntlet. Nightmares were fun, trying to get to her quickly without severing a foot. After several (lame) attempts to get them to clean their rooms, the hammer came down yesterday. Jacob had to clean his room as a form of discipline (long story), and I thought while he’s at it, she needs to work on hers. Her ultimatum was if she didn’t get her room cleaned by 7:00 PM, the only items remaining in her room would be her bed, dresser, and her lovies. No books, no toys, no dress up clothes, nothing. This adventure began at 3:30 PM. One would think that in three and a half hours she could have this completed. Nope. Jake was done in about twenty minutes, and he didn’t try to fight me. Izzy…yeah.
She made several strong starts that fizzled almost instantaneously. She would make several trips to the garbage can in the kitchen to throw away yarn and paper scraps…then I would find her sitting on her floor singing to a toy. She would complain about being “soooooooo tiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrreeeeeed.” I reminded her of the consequence, and she would start up again. Shortly after that I go in to check on her as she had been very quiet, and this is what I found:
She will do anything–even forcing herself to take a nap–to avoid cleaning her room! I couldn’t believe it. She slept until 7:00, and because I’m not completely heartless I gave her until bedtime (8:30) to finish her room. In the mean time, Jacob is about to hyperventilate at the thought of this task not getting completed on time. He keeps getting in her face “YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE YOUR TOYS???HOW CAN YOU BE OKAY WITH THIS?????” Like I said, he’s like me. Does this light a fire under her? Nope. I set the kitchen timer so she could hear the ticking and know that when she hears the unsettling “DDDDIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG” that life as she knew it would change forever. Okay maybe a little too dramatic there. The timer goes off and she’s nowhere near finished.
The tears began to fall. Not just tears, but the sobbing, hiccuping cries of a five year old filled the house. The nap she took did wonders for her tantrum stamina. While this is going on, Jacob has nearly broken out in hives over the idea of how much work it would take to empty out her room. I tucked them both in and planned on clearing out her room in the morning.
Soooo, this morning I got as far as packing up the books and storing them high in her closet. I feel HORRIBLE taking away the books. It’s my own rule that books never get taken away, because how could anyone do something so horrible that books get taken away? While not cleaning her room isn’t that horrible, I have to send a message to her. She needs a harsh consequence here so this will stick in her head. I’ve tried having her see Jacob get rewards for cleaning his room when told and that hasn’t worked. I’m at my wits end with this! But I digress. The books are put away, and spying the fun task of cleaning her room and toting the stuff away, I decided to give her ONE LAST CHANCE (I know, I know, don’t give her too many chances). Tonight the kids go with their dad and I’ll have uninterrupted time to take care of her room. I can probably wipe it out in less than an hour if I don’t have them climbing up my leg.
When they come home, it will be bedtime the impact won’t quite be there. When will it hurt? Probably after school tomorrow. She’ll come home ready to play and there will be nothing but her brother’s toys. No Pinkalicious or Fancy Nancy. No baby dolls or Thor’s hammer. She will have a chance to earn her things back, but I haven’t decided how that is going to work. We’re approaching the end of the school year and maybe break will be a good time to establish a good set of chores for her and let her earn items back for good work. We’ll see. If this doesn’t get through to her, I don’t know what will. Someone hold me.