“How’d you learn to kick a field goal like that, son?” the football coach asked after my son kicked a 45 yard field goal in the 8th grade.
“Squats, sir,” he replied.
“Squats? What do you mean by squats?” the coach asked.
“Hundreds of squats, sir,” he answered.
‘Why did you have to do hundreds of squats, son?” the coach persisted.
“Because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, sir,” he explained.
Squats have become the punishment of choice in our house. We tried the wooden spoon, corporal punishment, time out, early bedtime, even rocks. Each have their time and place, but each also have their limitations. You can only spank so much, some children are quite content in time out, early bedtime is sometimes more of a relief button for the parents than a real solution. Now the rocks. The rocks had so much potential.
A rock removal activity to instill self-control, that is. A great solution! Our new house had a yard filled with rocks. When the boys back-talked, argued, or stepped out of line, they had to pick up a particular amount of rocks, removing them to the rock pile. A great disciplinarian alternative that produced results on all levels: attitude change, behavior change, and landscape change.
Until we ran out of rocks! We just weren’t comfortable shipping a new load in for punishment purposes.
One day, I was in Wal-Mart. Our town doesn’t have a mall, but we finally got a SuperStore Wall-Mart! Two of the boys started arguing and wrestling. It wasn’t pretty. This was not how I visualized motherhood.
The boys had been discussing wall-sets a few days before. The P.E. coaches apparently used wall-sets for punishment. I didn’t have a wall, but, hmmm. It wasn’t a big jump from wall-sets to squats–all that upper-thigh work-out and all. You can do squats at Wal-Mart, in the church lobby, on the side of the highway, in front of a police officer. Child-services won’t take your kids away for doing squats!
Different children “ask” to do more squats than others, though.
“Are your knees telling you to keep your mouth shut, yet?” my husband asked one son during one squat event. Prudence can sometimes be a difficult trait to develop.
The other day, my two youngest were arguing. One punched the other. Then fists were flying. Sons hitting sons must be the most awful thing they can do in the presence of their mother. The myriad range of emotions leave me speechless: fury, gut-wrenching conflict because you love both unconditionally and enormously, the frazzeling shortening circuit of my nerves, and those short-term feelings of failure, and just total befuddlement because they know punching is not acceptable.
Both faces expressed outrage. Both mouths blamed the other. One set of eyes flashed the injustice. The other set of eyes welled with tears.
I know how Solomon felt when he was called upon to determine the guilt and innocence of the two women determined to be given custody of the baby. All he had was hearsay. That’s all I have most of the time. What a quandary! The solution? No, I didn’t threaten to slice anyone in half!
Fifty squats! Holding hands with arms crossed, facing each other, each set of feet in one tile block, saying, “I am in trouble because of you. You are in trouble because of me.” If anybody whines, stops, or steps out off their tile block, an additional 25 is tacked on.
By the end of the squats, they are laughing and hugging each other. Yeah, they are still more little than big.
I remember a set of brothers getting into a fist-fight in my yard. They were about 11 and 13. I called their mother and told them that if they ever did that again, I would pull the hose out on them. The best ideas come after the fact. I waited and waited, but they never did fight in my yard again.
I’m ready if my older boys do this. Of course, if they would start fighting inside, I’d have to direct them outside. Would that be encouraging them to fight? I hope not. I do think a good dousing with a waterhose would definitely extinguish a heap of rage. Part of me wants to see if my solution works; the other doesn’t want the opportunity.
One of my sons had to write, “I will neither provoke, incite, nor encourage my brothers to negative behavior.” He had to write that 100 times. Why is it 14 year olds want provoke, incite and encourage their younger siblings, baiting them, building up their ire, and then, “BOOM,” the entire house explodes? He still cries, “Injustice” about that punishment today.
Another son does not like to listen to lectures, so I write them up. He
hears” everything on that sheet of paper. It takes me out of the picture, so he listens better.
We ground, take away privileges, add chores, and pray for guidance on how to lead these young men.
Discipline constantly evolves. Different situations require different reactions. Different personalities require different reigning-in-techniques. No discipline is not a choice. No discipline says, “I don’t care enough about you to make me uncomfortable.” The irony of a parent’s discipline? It says, “I love you.”
The kicker hasn’t got in trouble as much lately. Upper-thigh development is now self-inflicted if he wants to produce the same yardage. I guess there’s a point where parental discipline becomes self-discipline!