Sticking to my guns.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today I went through what has been the most terrifying minutes of my life. I wrote a bit about it here.

You see. We live on a quiet street that ends in a seniors complex where thirty or so retired, with nothing to do but sit outside on lawn chairs, couples live. One of those couples happen to be my in laws.

Every single person in that complex - with two - one on each end of the complex- being actually related by blood to my children, watches out for them, and knows my boys by name.

Thats sixty people.

Right beside my house is another set of relatives, six in all.

In other words, my quiet little street has been very safe for my children. So much so that I gave them - including the baby (3) free reign to go wherever they want ON OUR STREET this summer.

My husband was home from work this afternoon. I had sent Blue Boy and Stuperman out to play. The little girl I baby sit was sleeping. I checked on the boys. They were in the back yard. I fooled around online for about ten minutes and then checked on the kids again.

Safe street or not, I'm paranoid like that. Their bikes were gone, so I came in to grab a smoke and go find them. I wasn't worried.

I had told them NOT to go to Nana's house as I thought my father in law would be napping.

They were not at the in-laws. They were not by the forest.

They were gone. Just. Gone.

The next fifteen- twenty minutes are really a blur. I remember calling for them and crying. I remember thinking they have to be somewhere. That they know not to leave the street. They have NEVER in the past taken so much as one step off it.

We found them. And they were unhurt. I don't know how, but they managed to get across three busy, BUSY roads and were almost to the edge of town.

While I am very thankful they are fine, I still think that they needed to be disciplined. And that dear interwebs is where I encounter a problem. My idea (which my husband backed up 150% by saying it at the same time as me) was to remove their bikes from their possession until spring.

Really, it's not that bad. Daytime highs are 12 lately, so they only have a few more weeks of rideable weather.

I should also mention that even if every one of you side with my mother in law I will be sticking with our no bikes till spring punishment.

You see, my mother in law thinks we are horrible parents for doing this. She thinks they have learned their lesson. That they won't do it again. She is basically likening us to child abusers for punishing them.

Has she ANY FUCKING IDEA WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED??>!! They are going to be lucky to be allowed to play in the back yard unsupervised in the next nine years!

We did not spank them, we did not yell at them. I cried while trying to explain to Blue Boy what he had done wrong. I have NEVER, in my life felt that level of terror. It was as if each step I took, each empty direction i looked in, my heart was being ripped into another piece. These are my BABIES.

How can I explain to my mother in law that we could have lost them? FOREVER lost.

And yet.

I'm stuck playing the roll of the bad guy.



Blogger Angry said...

First of all I feel for you, I really do. I know how it feels to lose sight of them, the fears for their safety build up so quickly and pretty soon you're out of your mind with worry, and then of course you blame yourself.
It’s hard to give this justice in a comment, but here goes...
The trouble is you're both right, they DO need a 'punishment', but kids of that age have difficulty holding on to concepts the way we do, in other words the 'no bikes' fact will quickly lose its connection to the 'don't leave the street' aspect... after a couple of days the ‘no bikes’ becomes the major issue which cancels out WHY they have no bikes. It’s not that they won’t remember that they did wrong leaving the street, it’s just that the lesson losses its potency because their brain will shift the emphasis to their own needs more than Moms, and that’s the bikes.

I recommend a couple of days maximum without the bikes, then make it a bit of a big deal that they are getting them back, almost a ceremony, highlighting that they are getting them back because since the incident they haven’t left the street again. Every time they ride their bike after that for the following few days, they will relate it to the ceremony and you’ll get more mileage out of it.

I’m no expert, but that’s my two cents worth.

12:43 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Sheila said...

You and JJ are the only ones that can make the punishment to suite your children. Don't let someone else detour you from what you believe will work with your kids.

My heart dropped when I started to read this earlier. Again, I thank God your children are alright.

12:50 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Mel said...

I agree totally with you, totally. Something happens to people when they become grandparents. I dont know what it is but they cannot think rationally when it comes to their grandchildren. My kids always thought my parents where so cool but I tried to explain that those were NOT the people that raised me! Its like invasion of the body snatchers really. So you mom in law, she cant help herself but you stick to your guns.

3:30 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

I am with you. I can well imagine the sort of terror you describe feeling...

3:51 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Annie Jones said...

Stick to your guns. I think the punishment you're describing does "fit the crime". I might agree with Angry if it were the beginning of summer, but since the biking season is almost over anyway, I don't think it's overkill. You could even say they can't have the bikes for a month, and by then it will be too cold to give them to the kids until spring.

You aren't abusing your kids. You know it and your MIL knows it too. They are your (and JJs) kids to raise and as long as you aren't endangering them, they're yours to discipline as well.

4:41 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Not a Granny said...

First off, I am so glad the boys are alright!! Little rascals, enough to give you gray hairs!!

As a grandparent I agree with Mel. Something does change when grandchildren come into our lives and no, we are not the same people who raised our children.

In this case I agree with you Blue. Riding weather is almost over anyway.

When they get their bikes back, next Spring, I think you should remind them of this experience and remind them about not leaving the street.

5:01 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Simplerich said...

Ya don't /have/ to explain or justify your actions to the in-laws. That's easy for me to say. I'm way over here, but seriously, you're the grown-up now. You don't answer to them. Your kids answer to you.

If Gramma and Grampa think you're being unfair and give them the bikes or undermine you in front of the little guys, no worries, they can be grounded from coming over until spring too. You're the parental type here and it's your decision.

That being said, I think until spring is a long time for somebody that's their age, that's like forever and ever and ever away. It's almost as far away as a whole month! Time's all dilated and hard to measure at that age. But you're not answerable to me either. *grin*

5:52 AM, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous metalmom said...

Stick with it! Only take the bikes away for a month. (I know- too cold to ride-hear me out) Mark the month point on the calendar. let them mark off every day. After the month ask them again if they remember why it was taken away. If you wait until spring, they might forget YOUR reaction. As they mark off the one month point, I would show them how many X's there are and tell them that is how many days they could have ridden on the bike and that is how many days it made you sad to tell them no. Kids understand 'sad'. They don't undersand 'worry'.

In my own experience,my MIL became 'Grandmom' and instantly forgot what 'Mom' felt like like . She was all about the spoiling and always tried to get the punishments reduced.I'm glad we stuck to our guns.

6:44 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Monkee said...

First of all, it's really nobody's business but your own.

Second of all, here's my two cents worth! I think the punishment was appropriate for the infraction, but moreso I think that consistency is key and if you've already told them the punishment then it's too late to change it anyways. Besides, walking never hurt anyone. =)

7:05 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger J. said...

Oh Hell's NO!
I'd be taking those bikes away AND reducing their area they're allowed to roam around in.
And Angry's comment makes great sense too.
Maybe a bit of both?

And people wonder why I'm getting grey hairs so fast. *sigh*

7:30 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Lynda said...

I actually agree with you. It is like Mel said. I mean, even my parents, who are raising my nephew, still let him get away with stuff us kids never got to get away with. ;)

7:38 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Avitable said...

If I would have done that as a kid, I would have been spanked until I couldn't walk and not allowed out without supervision for a month. And you know what? I never would have done that again.

I think you're being too gentle with them. Your oldest is definitely old enough to know that was wrong.

8:00 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Finn said...

You know what works with your kids. Although I'm sure the terror you felt was communicated to them, punishment is in order if they broke a standing rule.

And, if like you said, they only have a few weeks of good weather left, you really are only restricting them for a short period of time.

For what it's worth, I would do the same thing. My rationalization would be, if you can't use the thing responsibly, you can't use the thing (whatever it is -- in this case, the bikes).

Grandparents are a pain in the ass. They had no problem punishing their children for looking cross-eyed at them, but their grandchildren should never be punished. Ignore the MIL.

8:36 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Angry said...

If I can just add one thing, I am the father of 7 children (no multiples) and this situation is not new to me, my advise is built on more than my fare share of experience. But the bottom line is this, after listening to all the advise here and elswhere, do as you think is right, because it is you that the kids look to for guidence, discipline, consistencey of standards, and above all else love.

8:50 AM, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous thordora said...

My mother would have beat the crap out of me if I had pulled that.

Take the bikes til spring. If they're old enough to go to that far, they are old enough to remember WHY they lost their bikes. And remind them in the spring about the rules. It's not like they can ride through the snow anyway. :P

9:30 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Trisha said...

Ahhh...Blue. I hope I never experience that terror...but yet I'm pretty sure that it will happen years from now. (She doesn't go much of anywhere being 2 weeks old and all...). But I do agree with your punishment and also with the fact that these are your kids. No one gets to tell you how to raise them. I'm not sure I would have spared them a spanking...but you and your man are the only ones that get to make those calls...and the Mom in Law is just going to have to accept that your kids are awesome, they are alive and it won't kill them to be bikeless until spring!

9:33 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Marilyn said...

I never let the grandparents make parenting decisions... I know what stupid things my dad let me do and the trouble I got into... and M.I.L. doesn't even like kids, any kids. I'm used to being the bad guy. It sucks though.

Long term punishments work very well when you constantly remind them why they are being punished. Besides... reminding them and watching them roll their little eyes is fun.

10:06 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Webmiztris said...

they shoulda followed the rules.... if they can't stay on your street, they need to be punished somehow. I don't blame you one bit. and they're your kids, so whatever punishment you decide on, it's totally fair and you shouldn't feel like the 'bad guy'.

10:38 AM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Diane Mandy said...

You don;t have to explain yourself. You are the parent, and what you are doing is very reasonable!

2:50 PM, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not being mena at all, the MIL obviously is starting to go senial and forgets what it is like to have small children and have them "leave" you.
Recntly SBW was riding his bike and wasn't thinking and just crossed the street, there was a car there. And the thoughts that went through my mind as I sat in the house wand wacthed my baby almsot get ran over by a car was pure HELL. (Needless to say he was grounded from his bike for the rest of the summer, but now the little smart ass says Fall is tommorow so he gets his bike back)

5:06 PM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Shelli said...

I totally know that feeling. I don't know what the best answer is. I agree that they need punishment.

5:34 PM, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blue, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine the terror, nor do I want to.

As YOU are the mommy, YOU are the one responsible for them. You stick by your decision. Punishments for something like this are supposed to be "harsh" for lack of a better word. You can always check in every 2 weeks or whatever to determine whether they can have their bikes back.

I clearly remember my mother taking our bikes away, because we rode double (big no no) and I ended up with a concussion and didn't come home straight away (what 5 & 9 year old understands head trauma) I never forgot that I was equally in trouble for riding double as well as not coming home right away.

Kids remember, especially when it's traumatic to them. Seeing you as upset as you were will never leave them, and most likely will keep them from doing something like this again....but there's always that chance.

You're a good mom, you know the right think for your children. No one knows their children like their mothers. Don't doubt yourself! :) Best of luck, your in my thoughts!

6:04 PM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Tug said...

Yep, Blue, YOU know what's best & what works for your kids. MetalMom had a good idea about the x's, too...just make sure they don't forget, no matter how long you go for. Grandmas have no place stepping in on the discipline (unless the child's in danger, of course, which isn't the case with you). My mom does it with my grandkids (her greats)...pisses K off, and I totally understand why.

Hang in there...thank goodness they're all right!

7:38 PM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger TPFKAMA said...

I'm with Avi. I would have gotten my ass beat but good....AND the bike would have been taken away for-fucking-ever.

And if I had kids, that's exactly what I would do.

10:37 AM, September 21, 2007  
Blogger Bluepaintred said...

Angry I agree with what you are saying, as kids do forget easily, but i plan on reminding them each time they ask - and they have asked - for their bikes, why they cannot go on them. Add to that , by mid October we will have snow, so they are facing a three week punishment.

Sheila Thank you.

Mel I know what you mean. My husband tells stories of how strict his parents were and his parents back it up, yet my kids, it seems, get away with murder at their place.

Mr.Fab you know, about three minutes into the search I thought of the post ...

Annie Another thing i feel is that if I say something to the kids, i NEED to follow through. If I say we are going bowling on Saturday, we go, even if I feel like crap. If I say no bikes till spring, i mean it. If i don't keep my word, how will they trust me?

NOG Heh. better yet, I signed both of them up for the stranger danger class at the cop shop.

Rich I'm glad I am not answerable to you!

Metal Mom Taking the bikes for a month and letting them mark it off on the calendar is a great plan with one exception. By the time a month has passed they will be snowed in anyway!

Monkee WORD!

J. they are back to being allowed to only play int he back yard (six foot fences) unless I , my husband or my seven year old is with them!

Lynda Thanks!

Avitable Yours and Miss Anne's comments are the actual reason I am responding.

We ARE a spanking family. I spank all three of them, however, when you are too mad it is really dangerous to spank a child. I know this, unfortunately.

So, being as my first instinct when I found them was to rip BB off his bike and start hitting him, I refrained. Once I had calmed down, i felt too long had passed for physical punishment to be of any use. I think that a spanking should happen immediately or not at all.

And lastly, my oldest? had he been home, this would have never happened. Rainbow man (7) is far too over protective, he would have told them not to go, and if that had not worked he would have found one of us immediately and tattled.

Unfortunately, RM was in school.

Finn Responsible use is a good thing to teach. if kids learned to be responsible early on, how few car accidents would there be?

Angry Seven? SEVEN kids? Wow. Congratulations!

thordora You remind me of me :0)

Trisha I really really hope you don't ever have to go through this. You are pretty safe now ...but watch out for when she can walk!

MArilyn It's harder than you would think, us being three doors away from the in laws

WebMiz Sweet. Score one for side BPR!

Diane But.. it's nice to have back up, you know?

CoffeeMom well, technically he is right. Did you growl or laugh when he said that?

Shelli wanna come down and be my enforcer?

Pixie Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Tug Thanks. I let her set her rules at her place, for example, they jump on the bed there. Our house is a jump free zone, but when i set down a punishment ,,, well here is an example, they are upset at how we decided to treat this, IMO its a major no and deserves a major punishment, so they got mad and went off to Manitoba to visit one of their kids. This is supposed to be a punishment for ME, but i feel relieved they are gone, more than I miss them here!

Miss Anne becuase I am super lazy, may I just refer you up to where I answered Avitable?

1:22 PM, September 21, 2007  

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