Whever possible, I try to let my children experience the “natural consequences” of their actions, vs the mommy-made consequences. Mostly I do this because it is less work for me, and it prevents me from having to play bad cop 18,000 times a day.
Case in point: yesterday. Me First wouldn’t stop watching TV to come take a bath, and bath time is not something I can compromise on. Little Miss needs to be in bed by 7 or she transforms into the ogre version of Little Miss, and she has been brainwashed into thinking she must have a bath before bed (as have most Japanese people.) Plus she had preschool yesterday and was exhausted. You can see my predicament, right?
I told him three times that it was time for a bath, and that if he didn’t come he wouldn’t have a bath. He didn’t come, so what happened? He didn’t get a bath.
You’d have thought something much worse was happening if you happened to walk by our house last night. There was more of the dramatic crying, wailing, rending of clothing, etc. (I really gotta get this kid into an acting class; I’m sure he could teach the pros a thing or two.)
Me First eventually goes into the bedroom and starts looking through books, which is his way of calming himself down. When he’d quieted down, I went in and we had a nice cuddle. I know that he’s under a lot of stress at school right now: they’re having PE all morning every morning getting ready for Sports Day, which is like the debutante ball of Japanese elementary school. I get that. He’s tired, it’s stressful; I don’t particularly want to go to Sports Day either. We talked about that, except for the Mommy-not-wanting-to-go-either bit, and he apologized in his usual dramatic style: lots of hugs and kisses, which are nice. But not as nice as a normal, quiet, get-to-bed-without-the-theatrics-evening would have been.
Of course while all this is going on, bedtime comes and goes and Sister proceeds to melt down, right on schedule.
Brother was actually really trying to be nice and helpful, but she was in Chernobyl mode and there was nothing anyone could do. Then he got his feelings all hurt because she was rebuffing his attempts to be a caring, older brother. Can’t blame her, though, as that is so from his normal behavior that she probably throught it was F-R-E-A-K-Y.
Another hour goes by, both children are finally asleep, and HRH finally gets his dinner. Of course he gives no thought to the fact that I had to do the shopping in the rain, and fix this meal while Sister was crying and carrying on all afternoon, overtired from preschool, not to mention the bathtime/bedtime fiasco. He takes one bite, then proclaims it nama kusai, which means he is complaining about the fish tasting, well, fishy.
The natural consequence of this, of course, would have been for me to pick up a fish and slap him on the head with it, but as I’d used all the fish in the stew there weren’t any usable slapping bits left over.
So I’ve thought it over and come up with the next best natural consequence: leftovers. It’ll be even fishier after I microwave it.
It appears that evil knows no limits.