Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Different Kind of Apology

Living with four little children can often be summed up as nothing more than an exercise in chaos management. With that goal in mind, we try to streamline things as much as possible.

Toys are always at the top of the list of things to be parred down. Somehow our kids manage a new toy almost weekly. Note now, I didn't say I bought them a new toy every week. I said they wound up with a new toy almost every week. Kids meals toys, some cheap little something that a check-out girl somewhere gave them, a prize from church or school, a small little gift from a relative. It all adds up.

All that to say, we weed out frequently. In fact, the more children we have and the older they get, the more often I find myself rooting through the toy box culling things out. I mean, really, how many stuffed cows advising us to 'Eat mor chikin' does one family need?

I spent about three nap times this week dealing with the toy army that had become unmanageable. That’s about a full work day of my life I can’t get back. I sorted different toy sets with multiple pieces into containers, cut the stuffed animal population in half, gathered the myriad of dress-up clothes into one bucket, tossed a handful of mangled books, and stacked toys that were no longer used but in decent condition in the consignment pile.

And then I breathed a sigh of deep contentment, idealizing the ease of clean-up each evening.

Most of the toy containers were placed on the shelves in the kid's closets, to be pulled out for a morning or afternoon of entertainment rather than a day of cluttering my walk spaces. Then the mandate was issued that the children were not to get into the closets. Toys would be brought out upon request and approval of request, only to be played with if all other toys were picked up. Do not get into the closets. Period.

I made it exceedingly clear to the children that the closets were off-limits, regardless of what they were after. If they needed something from their closets, they were to ask Mommy or Daddy for help. Then I had them each repeat back to me what they had heard me say. I also informed them that this was not something to test me on. The first offense would lead to consequences. And I didn't mean just a stern look and a reminder or warning.

Less than 24 hours after the rule was set in place, and after several times of me asking randomly what the closet rule was, Thomas breached protocol.

I was sitting in the play area with the kids when Thomas got up and wandered into his room. I started to remind my little man of the new rule, but decided to test him out in his obedience to the closet rule. I had just begun to relax my ears, deciding that he was obeying when I heard the tell-tale sound of the metal wire shelves being disturbed.

I got up and was sure to make a little bit of noise as I entered the room to alert Thomas of his company. He jerked around, head hung, guilty look upon his face. I squatted down and looked him in the eyes and asked him what the rule about the closets was.

"Not to go in them."

"And you chose to disobey?"

“...........yes," he whispered.

"I am sorry you chose that, son."

I administered the consequence, and then sat down beside him.

"I'm sorry, Mommy! I will never come out of the closet again!!!" my son sobbed into my arms as he hugged me.

Sincere though it was, it took every ounce of decorum I possessed not to laugh at his apology.


HisTreasuredPossession said...

so. funny! I love it!! Kids just say the dernest things. And I have to you eat more chicken?

Andrew in AL said...

Good for you for putting in the time to weed out. Hopefully content children and clean floors will be the result. Just think, if you ever decide you've made a mistake, we can send you home with some of our toys!