Nicholas and Lorelei have both been looking forward to a long-planned family trip to the circus this coming Saturday – particularly Nicholas, who seems to have a passion for animals and clowns in equal measure (I think he strongly identifies with both groups).
Unfortunately, we have been dealing with a lot of terrible behavior from Nicholas lately – mean-spirited backtalk, hitting, screaming, tantruming, defiance, and so forth. It’s not surprising, given his age (3 and three-quarters) – but it’s not acceptable, either.
Things really came to a head a few nights ago, when he was put in a time-out for throwing food around at dinner. His time-out spot is at the foot of our stairs, right in front of our huge canvas print with, ironically enough, the “Family Rules” printed on it.
(You’ll notice that “Don’t slapshot your dinner across the table like Wayne Gretsky” isn’t explicitly listed; we may need to have an addendum printed up.)
In any event, we’ve had some issues before with Nicholas getting up from time-out and pounding on the sign, thereby prolonging said time-out. This time, however, he took things one step further by ripping the sign off the wall and slamming it onto the ground, screaming all the while like a rage-fueled baby Hulk.
The banshee was immediately removed to his bedroom, the sign was repaired and re-hung, and Eric and I quickly came to the joint conclusion that this was not a kid who deserved to go to the circus on Saturday.
Bubba did not, as you might expect, take the news all that well. But I think it finally hit home for him that there are consequences to his behavior.
He understands (I think) that we are not going to change our minds on this, no matter how good he is between now and then. And that Lorelei and I will still be going, while he and Daddy will be staying home and not doing anything particularly fun during that time. (Lest we be tempted to cave, Eric has already given the extra tickets to two German co-workers of his, who are excited to a) experience all the uniquely American entertainments this country has to offer and b) meet the little girl with the Teutonic name.)
Nicholas has been as good as gold since the whole debacle. While I have no illusions that this stretch of delightful behavior will be permanent, I do think it’s good for him to see that we mean business. It’s surprisingly hard, though, to see your kid so disappointed, even when the disappointment is entirely his own doing.
I’d really love to take him to the circus on Saturday. But I want to raise a good person even more.