Monday, December 29, 2008

Sometimes Moms Get a Bailout Too

As the boys get older, it has become increasingly harder to find meaningful punishments for them, other than the old standby, “Go to your room!” When they were little, the mere mention of “If you keep that up, I will have to take away your Transformer” would cause whatever offending behavior was taking place to fly the coop. All I had to do was threaten an earlier bedtime, no Legos or taking their skateboards away and they would straighten up.

Unfortunately, they don’t stay young and impressionable (manipulable) forever. It is harder to dole out consequences when they really aren’t into their boyish toys like they used to be. Say I told them I was going to take away their Hot Wheel cars, they would probably tell me, “Go ahead,” and then they’d find themselves in even more trouble than they started out in and I’d be searching fruitlessly for an even more applicable punishment, one that actually mattered to their tween minds.

As I sat and wracked my brain for meaningful consequences, reread the parenting manuals searching for the magic cure and spoke to my own parents about what I should do, I was interrupted by the ringing phone.

“Hello,” I say.

“Hi, may I please speak to McRae?”

Oh, it’s a girl, I think to myself. I glance down at the caller id, confirming my suspicion and try harder than humanly possible to resist the urge not to listen in on their conversation. Although, from what I could tell from my son’s end, it wasn’t much of a conversation at all, unless you count “I’m bored,” and “What are you doing?” as conversation.

I sat there; painful as it was, and waited the excruciatingly long fifteen minutes for his phone call to be over. Then, it occurred to me. I wasn’t going to find the solution to my inability to find a consequence that mattered to my middle school bound son in any parenting book. No magazine would have all the answers and although my parents did a bang up job raising me, I was not my son, not by a long shot.

The answer was in the phone. The phone, which had become, in the past few weeks, an object of great curiosity. The phone, whose inbound calls had increased so much so that I had to explain the finer points of answering call-waiting so that I would not miss a call while he was busy “conversing” with the girl in his class. The phone!

That’s it. That’s the magic bullet, the deliverer of truth and justice in this household. The phone is the ticket for my trip out of what-kind-of-consequence-will-matterdom. The phone it is!

A few days passed without any significant rule-breaking taking place. I was beginning to think that I’d never get the opportunity to wield my new superpower, that being the threat of losing phone privileges. Not that I was complaining about my kids being well-behaved, every mother knows that these brief moments when children get along with one another and go to bed without a tantrum are mere mutations in the usual daily grind of parenting.

Finally, the day had come. Some backtalk was thrown haphazardly from my son’s lips and no greater joy was found within my black, mean mommy heart. I’d finally get the much-anticipated chance to test out the new material.

“If you continue to speak to me in that tone of voice, you will lose your phone privileges for the rest of the week,” I delivered.

His eyes got as big as saucers. His lips pursed, the sassiness trying like a caged bull to escape his mouth. I swear, I saw steam coming from his ears. . .

“Okay Mom,” was all he could say.

All I could say (to myself) was BINGO.


Ashley said...


I will have to remember that about 6 years from now.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...


Little Miss Sunshine State said...

After you say "No phone for a week" you have to laugh that maniacal laugh accompanied by crazy eyes.

Just think, in a couple of years it can be replaced with NO CAR FOR A WEEK.

Take it from one who knows.

Dan said...

The phone thing only lasts for a bit - the first year of high school usually leads to the dual choice of car privileges or cell phone.

By the senior year of high school, the cell has become their own and the car is iffy.

And then they depart for college and the last remaining hook ($$$) starts to fade as well.

And if you are lucky, somewhere around the sophomore or early junior year of college, the hooks are no longer needed and you get the calls that begin "Dad, I'm thinking of joining the foreign legion, what do yo think?"

Becky said...

omg so smart. when my mom would take the phone from me it was like the biggest tragedy EVER.

Valarie Lea said...

And just wait in a couple of years when its going to be losing the privilege of gettinng to see said girl.

I had to used this just the other day for a certain daughter who did not clean a certain room after being asked to repeated times, so a certain visit to a certain boy was certainly taken away. :)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

If you get him a cell phone it's even better. We don't even give a warning--back talk happens and one of us sits down at the computer and reports the phone lost. A short time later the teen says, "Something is wrong with my phone."

"Hmmm," we say, "perhaps it has something to do how rude you were to your parents."

Works like a charm.

jen said...

dude. go you.

WhatTheHay said...

The key is finding that one thing that really hurts. The phone thing works fairly well, but for my kids what really hurts is having to go to bed early. I dock bedtime in 15 minute increments for each offense. There has been plenty of nights where my older daughter (12) has gone to bed at 7:00 pm simply because she can't keep her snide comments and back talk to herself.

Jenn @ Juggling Life:
Brilliant! I'll have to remember that one!

It's Just Me ~ Katie! said...

I do what one of the commenter suggested. I take whatever away, laugh like I've lost my mind with eye bulging and my child is only 7.
Take care and Happy New Year to you and yours,

Kyla said...

I making a note of this for Future Kyla.

OHmommy said...


I look up to you. Did you know that?

Liz said...

Please accept this virtual high five from another mom to you! :)

Mrs. G. said...

Score Mom!

San Diego Momma said...

I really really wish my girls used the phone!

I am so running out of meaningful consequences!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...I like this.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...I like this.