Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Bad bad Grit

The children are all grounded. This is because I have been driven to my wit's end by the constant screaming, fighting and arguing that has gone on all day at chez Grit.

Realistically, I should never have threatened everyone with a 24-hour grounding in the first place. Doing so made it only a matter of time before we got there. Anyway, I did, at 10am this morning, if the fighting did not stop. By 5pm I'd exhausted all my parental strategies, which admittedly are not many, and run out of smart options from a brain steaming with pain and frustration. So I gave in to the inevitable and shouted That's It! I've had enough! You are all grounded!

Then, after that line was delivered, and after the initial screaming and throwing soil passed, a strange silence fell upon all the house and no-one was anywhere to be seen. Squirrel, Shark and Tiger had put themselves into voluntary solitary confinement. If only they had done that when they were told to do so at 11 am, or separated even as the final straws were cracking at 4.55, then we might have got round this problem. I could have avoided the grounding and taken them off to play with En and Zee tomorrow in a field. We'd have made daisy chains, climbed fences and wondered why cows are the shape they are. I could have worked in a bit of Darwin and Newton's laws and felt a proper day's education had been done.

Tomorrow's fun was not meant to be. Despite the warnings, threats, the repeated threats, the final warnings and the final-final Now I'm counting warnings, injunctions, prohibitions, appeal to reason, just one more warning, Kaput. We are doomed. We have to stay in all tomorrow and probably repeat the same.

And if you are wondering just what three cute little 8-year old girls could possibly do that could be so bad, here are my notes.

8.55 am. Squirrel sits on the arm of the sofa. Shark, seated on the sofa, says Move! I cannot read my book! Squirrel edges her bum a bit closer to the page. Shark pushes Squirrel off the sofa. Squirrel retaliates with a cushion, book and two hands grasped around Shark's head.

9.40 am. Shark throws a bike at Tiger. Tiger retaliates with a tennis racquet.

10.15 am. Shark chants baby baby baby at Tiger, who growls, goes red in the face, clenches fists, screams, and throws soil and bits of plant at Shark. I get involved because it is my plant, dammit!

10.30 am. Squirrel in tears. She says Shark is being horrible. Shark says Squirrel is demanding to see entrance tickets of anyone wishing to sit on the swings at the bottom of the garden.

11.15 am to midday. Peace reigns and Grit compiles educational records should the local authority call. Dig, who is being very calm and patient and wonderful, is putting in hours of delicate work while discussing Tiger's latest science project (building a time machine. We have warned her, but she's having none of it). I can hear Dig say, That is not the right way to do things, is it? Do not punch your sister. Let us talk about it. Try and be patient. Tell me what your feelings are etc etc etc. None of which is rewarded, because ...

2.30 pm. Tiger punches Shark in the face with a cycle helmet.

2.45 pm. Shark and Tiger are chasing each other round the garden, screaming. This is the sort of screaming that makes your ears bleed and prompts the neighbours to walk past the house slowly, trying to peer inside, clutching the telephone number for Social Services.

3.00 pm. Squirrel is up a tree in the garden refusing to come down.

3.55 pm. Dig gives up from his worthless pursuit of trying reason, careful response, thoughtful and considered reaction. He sighs, sinks into a chair and opens a bottle of wine.

4.30 pm. There is a lot more screaming in the vegetable patch. I say This is my final final final warning. This time I mean it warning.

4.55 pm. Shark bursts through the door, pursued by a snarling Tiger who has claws, literally, springing from her lethal fingers.

5 pm. I shout the words That's It! I've had enough! You are all grounded! For 24 hours!

6.30 pm. Shark, Tiger and Squirrel are in the garden, making mud pies with dandelion tops. Everyone is helping. I can hear Would you like my dandelions? Yes please! Thank you! These are just right! Shall I collect some more for you? Shall I make some more mud? Would you like one scoop or two?

And I am lurking in the office, sour and sulking.


the mother of this lot said...

Don't fall for it, Grit. Bravery's what's required here. You know perfectly well that the minute you give in, it'll all turn to s*@% again.

Keep a clear head. Stick to your guns. Don't let the side down.

And I'm SO glad other people's kids throw bikes at each other. It's a great comfort, that.

david mcmahon said...

Can I come over, un-ground 'em and take 'em to the park to play with my three kids?

Just say the word ....

They'll enjoy it and you can have peace, perfect peace.

sharon said...

Good for you Grit. Now you have to stick to your guns or you will have achieved nothing. Next time, ground them sooner and keep shortening the time from warning to punishment until they get the message. Yes it is horrible for you but it works. Mine learnt that my limits could not be pushed and we had a lot less fighting and arguing as a result. Not saying they turned into angels (a fair bit of time was spent in separate bedrooms), but at least I, and the neighbours, didn't have to listen to the screaming, crashing and banging. Once some semblance of sanity reigned, I brought in the reward system and every calm day put a point on the chart. 10 points was an outing (museum, cinema, activity of choice) with Dad at the next available weekend.

Good luck!

Kelly Jene said...

You did a good thing! They will learn that mummy means business!

Casdok said...

Yes good for you!! :)

Michelle said...

I thought you had some sort of jar reward system going?

dragon boy said...

Grounded, does that mean you have to stay in all day?!?!?!!! Blimey, isnt that a punishment on you too?

OvaGirl said...

And thank god your computer is in there grit...

hang on...24 hours will pass soon... as night follows day etc etc

Suburbia said...

My sympathies! We had a day like that on the weekend. Sometimes I think 'is it me or is it them!!' the good thing is bed time comes around and peace reigns again!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

yes grit! you need to maintain stern composure, gird your loins. They have to know Mummy means it. As much as i feel bad about having thrown out the plastic 'dizzy' toy from Bob the builder when i was in a furious fury about something...by god my children have never forgotten it! Sometime you only have to have one battle, and then all the others fall into place...

bon courage!
How long until the au pair starts?

Grit said...

I have done my best, motl. against all adverse circumstances. i have been steel-jawed in the face of three little girls who have been all sweetness & light since 5.05pm tuesday.

hi david, since it's a short hop from aus, this should be no problem. i could send them to you but once there they will want to see the aquarium, or there'll probably be trouble.

hi sharon. i can see you are better at this than me. please do classes.

yeah kelly jene! i'm in business! i am mean mamma!

casdok! i am delighted to read about C.

hi michelle - we do different systems and then when behaviour improves, we lapse, and have a big squeal and start a new one... however most of our reward systems can usually be subverted in under 24 hours.

i know, dragon boy, this is why I am so foolish to use it. what can i do?!

ovagirl, you are right. and thank you for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Grit said...

hi suburbia! i think you are spot on - they sometimes pick up the radar of stresses and fire it straight back, 10-fold.

dear pig, shark still remembers the time angela the cuddly angel fish was removed as a punishment... we have probably psychologically damaged her. oh well. me and dig are not talking much at the moment so the au pair is an off limits subject.

Maggie May said...

You have to have ground rules. You did the right thing! if you give in once....... then you're done for.

Sandi McBride said...

Oh to be you just for a minute...I would love to look at 3 8 year olds (my Granddaughter is 8 for just 2 more months)all of them trying to outdo the other...and be so glad when I returned to relative peace and quiet!
hugs you poor baby...have a drink and put your feet up while I'm being you, okay?
Oh, and David sent me by