The 3 older boys were out late tonight playing catch with Daddy. Sam was the first one in the house, and I challenged him to get all ready for bed, including brushing his teeth, before Mama or Daddy came upstairs. He loves races. He was already ripping off his shirt before he fully closed the sliding door to the patio.
Not 30 seconds later, he was back down the stairs in winter jammy pants, which were vetoed by Mom. Back up to change. Well, not really. He just took them off.
As the boys and Daddy converged on the bathroom for Caleb and Noah's teeth brushing, the following conversation took place:
Me: "Sam, did you brush your teeth?"
Me: "You did? Then you must not've done a very good job, because you've hardly had time up here at all."
Sam: "Yes I did!"
Here, I go to feed the babies and listen in on the rest as Dad takes over.
Dad: "Sam, did you really brush your teeth?"
Dad: "Then why is your toothbrush not wet?"
Sam: "I dried it off."
Dad: "Why is the sink not wet?"
Sam: "I dried it out."
Here, he is accused of lying, given a touch of hotsauce on the tongue, and brought back upstairs. He is still insisting that he brushed his teeth.
Sam: "I DID!!! I DID!!!! I DID BRUSH MY TEETH!!" Repeated many times at an increased volume.
To the bedroom where I'm feeding the babies.
Me: "Sam, if Jesus walked into this room right now, is that what you'd tell him?"
Me: "Why not?"
This is repeated several times.
Me: (new tactic) "Is some of what you told us not true?"
Me: "Which part?"
Sam: ...silence and contemplation...deep contemplation...."The part about drying off my toothbrush."
Me: "Anything else?"
Sam: "Yeah. The part about drying out the sink. But I DID brush my teeth!"
We go round and round with this some more, but it always comes back to the fact that he wouldn't tell Jesus that he'd brushed his teeth.
Finally, he admits it was a lie. Apologies are offered and accepted. Hugs given.
Daddy: "Sam, do you know how Daddy knew it wasn't true? Because I told the exact same set of lies once to Grandma Sarah and Papa George when I was little. And they didn't believe me either."
A touch of hot sauce on the tongue? That seems a bit abusive don't you think? Everyone has varied sensitivities to hot sauce and for children even more so!! How cruel!!
No, I don't think it's abusive. I'm guessing that if you have children, you don't spank them either. Some people consider this abusive as well. I am not among them. Maybe I'll do a post on all this soon and we can all have a great debate.
**My children, by the way, have not suffered any health problems or ill effects from the hot sauce. If they did, I wouldn't do it anymore. THAT would be cruel.
Anonymous, do you have any suggestions for alternatives? We are struggling with a stubborn 3-year-old ourselves and have tried many many things some that work better than others but I'm ALWAYS open for new ideas and recommendations.
On a side note, I remember a summer day between preschool and kindergarten. I was out playing on the swingset using a swear word (I don't remember which one) repeatedly. My mom hollered out at me to quit using that word or I would get soap in my mouth. I chose to continue using the word and promptly was brought kicking and screaming into the bathroom for my soap. It was forced into my mouth and kept there for a few seconds. I didn't swear again (any swear word) until high school. The moral of the story is multi-fold: I CHOSE to continue acting in a way that I knew was going to lead to soap in my mouth; I learned my lesson for a long time; at least hot sauce is food, I doubt that soap has much positive nutritional value; my guess is that 25 years ago no one would've even batted an eye at a toddler getting a mouthful of soap now a "touch of hot sauce" is considered "abusive."
Maybe this is why midwestern folks like bland food...Yes, at least hot sauce (or vinegar) is food, not battery acid. And we're not talking about them downing a tablespoon of it. It is a lot less harmful than some of the common American snacks that are marketed to our kids - like "Fruit" roll-ups, etc. Maybe there is a better way, and I'm also open to hearing it. I don't want to encourage an aversion to hot sauce because personally I love a burrito that'll burn the lining right off the inside of my cheeks(mouth). But the immediate point IS to create an aversion or distaste or even hatred for lying. Honesty is the foundation of our whole free economic system, blah, blah, blah don't get me started :).
My rule on discipline, if I wouldn't submit to the same consequence for the same infraction then I'm possibly treading over the line for abuse.
See Hebrews 12 - it's my job and privilege to correct attitudes and actions in love.
I'd rather be known for exerting authority firmly and take the risk that maybe the kids don't like it all the time than take the risk they grow up thinking it doesn't matter to me what they do. IF they think that they will soon form the opinion of themselves that THEY don't matter at all.
The discernment for when and how to show mercy amid the clear need for justice is probably the most difficult part for me.
Looking forward to your discussion on the rod...
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