Disciplining Your Kids Is Supposed to Hurt . . . You

There comes a time in every parent’s life when she (or he) realizes the only way to truly punish her child is to punish herself. Behold:

Parent to Kid: I’m sorry, but you are getting up entirely too early on the weekends in order to watch cartoons. No more Saturday morning cartoons to you.

Kid to Parent at 6 a.m. on Saturday
: Can you get up and play with me? I’m boooooored.

Parent to Kid: Alright, alright, you can watch cartoons, but please, for the love of all that is holy, can you close the curtains and put the comforter back on? It’s cold out there.

Kid 1, Parent 0.

This, my friends, is simply the tip of the iceberg. I present a second scenario easy enough to recreate in any home with a young child.

Set a 6-year-old up alone in a playroom that resembles Beirut circa 1982, inform her the room needs to be cleaned or the door will be closed to protect visitors from seeing the post-apocalyptic world therein, and she will be banned from entering. Walk out of room and begin cleaning elsewhere (this time it was the bathroom). Wait for ear-piercing wails and whines.

I’m estimating 30 seconds, but don’t set your clock by it. A particularly stubborn sort may send you racing for earplugs in as little as 20 or even 10.

This disciplining stuff is easy in the books. Just tell your kids what to do and don’t take none of their lip!

And of course there are the perfect parents whose kids have never once misbehaved. They will regale you with stories of virtue and sublimity that will make you throw up in your mouth. They’re the same parents, mind, whose kids magically slept through the night from the very beginning, never suffered even a hint of pain at teething time, and whose dirty diapers were scented like a Parisian perfume.

It’s those parents I think of when the going gets tough, and the not-so-tough mother wants to hide in bed to escape the puppy dog eyes of a 6-year-old begging for a precious item to be returned earlier than the punishment deadline.

If this is hurting me, I can’t imagine what reality is like for them.

What punishments just kill you in the end?

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