ACTION AND CONSEQUENCE – 6.26.2003
My daughter Anna has been having a wee bit of trouble at these summer camps we have been sending her on. For some reason, she has been raising hell at them, leading my wife to have one of those stressful moments when you go to pick up you’re child and a counselor steps up and says, “Mrs, Shaw, may we SPEAK to you?” You just know its going to be bad.
There was an “Incident Report” that needed to signed, evidently involving something about wet paint and crushed pretzels. The details are a little blurry, I only heard this second hand. I remember saying “no” to myself a few times. But Anna had been bad. So what to do.
I ended up taking Anna’s bicycle and putting it in the basement. Then I had to give one of those talks, those talks where you have to be serious and try and talk about everything gravely. Except as I was taking the bike downstairs Anna said “That’s fine, “ crossing her arms, “I’ll just ride on my scooter instead.” She then made a “humph” noise and tilted her head up in the air.
So then I went and got her scooter too. She has all the diplomacy of a pit bull, I thought to myself.
Then I brought her downstairs so that we could talk. I wanted her to see the bike and understand why it was down here. I wanted her to feel bad about what she had done. More than anything I just wanted her to go back to camp and not piss anyone else off there. I had two other children that I planned on sending to the county-run day camp, I didn’t want burn this bridge so early out.
So I told Anna about consequences. And I told her about rewards. If she was good at camp the rest of the week she could get her bike back. If she was bad the bike would stay down for many weeks. We talked about what she had done at the camp, and why it was bad. She was really listening, and I felt like we were making some headway. So then I asked her, point blank:
“So are you going to behave yourself at camp?”
“Do you understand that actions have consequences.”
“So what does all this mean?”
“I don’t know daddy, when you say so many words I get confused.”
Now I’m thinking things like, “Okay, don’t sweat it” or “Shake it off” and “Just keep going.“ Then I say “The bottom line is that if you don’t behave yourself at camp, then you won’t be able to ride your bicycle for the summer. Dou you understand?”
“Yeah.” A pause. “Dad?”
“If I behave myself for twenty days can I have one of those Barby cars I saw at the toy store?”