Monday, November 26, 2007

Poor choice, Ella

B and I are big believers in making the girls face the consequences of their actions. We are very upfront with them about what they can expect - if you do X, Q will happen. Most of the time the girls realize that we mean business and pay attention to our words.

Last night, not so much. At least not with Ella. She always sits in the chair right next to Campbell at the table. It used to be B's seat, but she made him move so she could be closer to her brother. Lily sits at the end of the table, still next to Campbell, but around the corner from him. As we were setting the table for dinner last night, Lily asked if she could sit in Ella's usual seat because she felt it was her turn. She asked very politely and reasonably, so I said yes and asked Ella to sit in Lily's chair. In the process, I explained to Ella that it was only fair that she and her sister take turns with the favorite chair. Ella wasn't interested in listening to me.

She crawled under the table until I told her that if she didn't get her bottom in her seat and sit politely at the table, she'd be sent to bed immediately without dinner. Ella sat in her new seat, but she pulled her jacket over her face and refused to show us her face. When B told her one more time to move her jacket, she said, "I just want to be alone!" We granted her wish and sent her off to her room.

After dinner was over, I went in to try and talk to Ella, but she refused to look at me and squiggled away when I sat in front of her. I told her she was allowed to be angry but she wasn't allowed to be rude and disrespectful to me, but she still wouldn't look at me. So I ordered her into bed and turned out the light.

I went in later, and she'd written a letter to her best friend about how she wished there was a secret world that only the two of them knew about where they could go and hide and no one would know where they were. When I told her it was time to stop writing letters and reading because she was in trouble, the waterworks started. She started crying about the unfairness of the situation, I reminded her that she had created it by being rude at the table and again to me later, that everything that had happened had been her choice. Then I walked out, leaving her to cry.

The tears lasted about 15 minutes before she passed out cold. I knew that much of her behavior was caused by sheer exhaustion. Ella and Lily had spent the night with their grandmother, and I know that they never get to bed early there. On top of that, Ella had had a busy holiday weekend with later than usual bedtimes, but still, being tired is no excuse for being rude to me.

Ella woke up at about 9:30 pm and staggered into the bathroom to pee. As she headed back to her room, I called her into the living room and gave her a big hug, telling her that I loved her no matter what. She gave me a big hug back and went to bed.

Maybe Ella learned a lesson last night, maybe she didn't. Either way, B and I will have had plenty of practice enforcing consequences by the time she turns into a teenager and the stakes are higher.


Family Adventure said...

You did good!

And I'm sure, when they are teenagers, you'll think back at this with fondness...

I had to laugh at her letter...the girl's got spunk!


MadMad said...

It's amazing how hard they are hit by a lack of sleep. I hate sending my kids on sleepovers, because it means I will pay for them with two days of behavior I can't take... this weekend was a whole mess of it, with all the cousins and parties and late nights. What a nightmare! At least they're back in school today... thank God!