My husband pointed out that there were some important things that have happened around here that haven't received any blog attention; I agree and am planning on a post for them tomorrow, because I just have to share what went down around here yesterday. I began writing yesterday's post first thing in the morning, but it took me until evening to post it due to life. Yesterday evening, before I even posted, I took Julia (and Elijah) to Julia's gymnastics. I received a phone call from Alei that she was investigating a crime.
As a bit of background, we have had a continual problem with people's items disappearing from our second fridge. Lately, the issue was that Alei buys meal replacement shakes to take to work and they were continually missing when she went for them. We have questioned several people several times and never come up with the guilty party. We hoped that we resolved this problem by letting Alei spend $100 on a mini fridge for her drinks so that they won't be stolen. Last week,Alei went shopping with me and bought a case of Red Bulls and Mt Dews (both bad, bad and I don't endorse) and put them in her fridge. The next day she decided to give up caffeine, so didn't open either of them. The amazing thing is that yesterday, when she got in there, they were almost gone. Someone had raided the fridge and consumed about two cases of high-caffeine beverages in secret. Before I even got home, JD had interrogated any and all possible thieves and had no one cracking. While he continued to talk, Gabriel and Alei went on a room hunt and found an entire book bag and back pack of empty can evidence on the guilty child's bed. (I'm not even going to go into the obvious lack of common sense of the criminal at hand). While the guilty party continued to declare innocence, Gabriel and Alei plopped the bags in front of JD.
Once the gig was up and damages assessed, it was determined that there was $35 worth of stolen items in those bags alone; they admitted to throwing many others away. All of a sudden, things made sense, but what made the most sense is why the two guilty children were plagued with night time insomnia and had a hard time getting up in the mornings - Red Bulls at 9:00 p.m. when you are supposed to be in bed will do that to you! It also confirmed that I'm not as nuts as I sometimes wondered, because there was evidence of other things I thought I bought that had disappeared before I used them.
In case you are wondering, we have a policy of paying back double. At this point, they owe Alei and I $70 for the damages; good thing they had recently earned $80 that I had not let them spend! They are also grounded from everything (electronics and desserts) for a full week. We are concluding with a few months of grounding from sodas at any occasion. (I have another child who is currently spending the next six months without gum for stealing it a few months back). I honestly think the punishment needs to be intense enough that it makes them stop and evaluate the next time they are tempted. There will also be a careful assessment of the tempting items in the fridge to make sure an additional infraction will not go unnoticed.
On the feeling side - this is really hard for me. I grew up as basically an only child and am continually discouraged to have my children treat me and their siblings with so little respect. (I have never even heard of the idea of locking up things until I attended foster parent classes, but now I have a locked storage room!) After extensively talking to these children, it comes down to SIN. They wanted what they wanted and decided it was worth the risk to have it. All I can do is train and teach while I make the consequences very painful. I guarantee that next Sunday when we pass out our traditional "Sunday soda" and they are handed water, it will be a good reminder of the cost involved. When we walk through Costco and the item that was being saved for is staring at them from the shelf (and now will never be purchased), it will serve as a reminder of choosing more wisely. If you are wondering why it will never be purchased, that is because one of these children has had extensive cavity issues due to poor dental care before our home. I am anticipating a pretty ugly cavity total at our next visit since these sodas were consumed before bed and didn't involve another teeth brushing. The next several months of allowance is going to have to be saved towards those fillings!
The consequences of sin are always far more than we think when go down that path. Getting and paying for those fillings is far beyond any price they considered; it is much like the adult that is staring at divorce papers from what seemed like harmless flirting. I pray my children learn these lessons while they are young - that will be how I can gauge true success in parenting!