Thursday, September 13, 2007

Since I Didn't Have a Bar of Soap

Yesterday, Matthew uttered the all-naughty, super bad, "s" word. You know the one, it starts with "s" and ends with "tupid". It, of course is an acceptable word after the ripe old age of 13, but it is punishable to the fullest extent of the law beforehand. (At least, that is the way it worked in our house when I was growing up - no saying shut-up, stupid, or butt -bottom was preferred). Not that on a person's 13th birthday they are given a wrapped gift with a box containing a piece of paper that says "you may now use the word stupid when talking about rules and other inanimate objects, but with the exception of describing people", it is an unspoken rule, it is just all of the sudden not such a bad thing (my guess is as a parent of a teenager the least of your worries is your kid saying stupid). I think that may be the way things will work in our house too, I don't know when exactly it will become ok for Matthew to say that word (probably by age 22) I just know that I don't want him to use that word now. Back to the story, if the "s" word were a ship this would not be considered it's maiden voyage sailing on out of my toddler's mouth. No, this ship had sailed a few times before. The trouble with toddlers and naughty words is that the first couple of times they say it you think-- Did he just say what I think he said?-- and then you have 3 choices:

1. Punish him for possibly something he didn't really say.

2. Respond with "Did you just say _____?" and run the risk of giving him a new word if that was not at all the word he was attempting.

3. Ignore the word this time, wait and see if it is uttered again to ensure it is the offensive word you believe it to be.

I had previously chosen option number 3... until yesterday. It was completely clear and especially horrible. There was no way to deny it this time, I heard every letter of that word as if he were spelling it out, in slow motion: S-T-U-P-I-D, looking directly at me waiting for my reaction. I promptly took him to the spare bedroom so that he could serve his 2 and a half minute time out. The spare bedroom is like the Alcatraz of time outs because not only is it conveniently and cleverly located in the only room without toys it is also home to the cats' litter box. So there is absolutely no chance of him finding his way to a toy while I am not looking and no chance of escaping the smell of the litter box.
I think I may have stumbled upon a new form of discipline here. For instance, if the next time the "s" word comes to mind, he immediately thinks about stinky cat poop and opts not to use the naughty word then my plan is indeed successful. If this works I may be exploring and compiling more discipline tactics (like maybe having him clean out the litter box during a time out or eating undesirable vegetables). I may even write a book, maybe titled Alternative Discipline. Yeah, be on the lookout for that.


Jenny said...

Haha. I will be on the look out for that book! That is funny because I also tried #3 as my first option with each of the kids. It did work sometimes.....but not often. And it certainly does not work for Paris! Thanks for the idea!

MARY SMITH said...

You are very witty in your stories. They are very charming. You really should write that book.