Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rabid squirrels on speed v. Gray blobs of goo

So it's been a little while since I've posted for a couple reasons:

1. Life has been about 3 steps past bonkers busy -- which on MY scale of busy is about 900 steps past what normal people consider busy.

2.  My boys have not been funny.  They've been wretched brats.  Not the "oh we'll look back and laugh at this" kind of twerpiness, but more in the "I am amazed I allowed them to live and it's really too bad we don't still have the (really evil and barbaric) practice of leaving unwanted children 'out in the night' to perish" kind of horribleness.

WHICH makes today's post all the more appropriate.  We've recently launched our oldest son on a two-year mission for our church.  He's going to Australia, about as far away from home (Pacific Northwest, USA) as you can get on our planet.  Maybe Antarctica would be farther, but frankly, penguins don't care much about their mortality and life choices. (Although they do apparently care about dancing and singing in large, well-harmonized, groups?)  At any rate, it's so far away, there is really, really nothing I can do, as a parent, to fix, solve, or rescue in any way.  He is on his own.  And I am not worried one bit.  Truly.

First, I'm going to tell you about the past 18 months with Will.  His senior year of HS, he was team captain of every team he was on that had a captain.  He won the Inspirational or Coaches award for every team he was on.  He made a conscious effort to be kind and pleasant at home (when he was there -- see below for how HUGE this was).  He was accepted to BYU (average incoming freshman gpa 3.9, ACT average 29.  This is a TOUGH school to get in to.  We were frankly SHOCKED, Will most of all.  He still thinks the Admissions Office made a mistake, but he's not about to point it out!).  He suffered some heart-breaking set backs at the state tournaments in BOTH wrestling and track, but handled them with class and foresighted maturity, recognizing his own mistakes and shortcomings rather than ever blaming anyone else or declaring the world "unfair." (But his mom might have . . . ) He started college one week after graduating from high school and immediately began taking his classes seriously.  He hoped to make the BYU Track team, even though it's one of the top track teams in the nation.  He worked out with the track team all year, knowing his chances of making the team were very small.  And he did not make the team.  He was just that close, but not quite enough.  But he talks about how glad he was that he did that, about the discipline he learned and the friendships he made.

He earned an academic scholarship after Fall semester, with a better gpa than he ever had in high school.  He chose to take 2 years off of school and life to be a missionary.  He is not paid to do this.  In fact, he has to PAY $400 a month to be a missionary.  Missionaries do not do anything other than be missionaries during this time.  They can call home twice a year -- Mother's Day and Christmas -- and write home once a week.  No girls, no tv, no movies, no swimming or water sports (bigger than you might think as Will is a surfer and he's going to the Gold Coast).  He is doing this because he really does believe the principles of our beliefs can help people have happier lives.  He didn't choose to go to Australia, that's simply where he was assigned.  If he had been assigned to go to Boise, he would have gone just as happily and willingly.  Within the first week of his mission, he was chosen as a District Leader (meaning he's in charge of a group of fellow missionaries, to make sure they are being good missionaries, as well as all the work of actually doing the missionary work).  He loves what he is doing and we are so proud of him.

NOW I'm going to tell you about the 18 years BEFORE the last 18 months.

1992 -- Born on the day Bill Clinton was elected to his first term.  No, we did not name him after Bill Clinton.  We named him after my brother, my uncle, my great grandfather, and my great-great grandfather.  When OUR William arrived, he immediately wrapped both arms and legs around the doctor's arm.  The doc was crouching there, with this wet, screeching baby wrapped around his arm like a limpet.  "Well, he's definitely passing the APGAR test."

So they took him away to clean him up and sew me up (9 pounds and 15" heads are tough to pass, no matter how to do it.  5 out of 6 of them.  Not kidding.)  A little while later, I could hear this baby crying. Well, it's a maternity ward.  There's always a baby crying somewhere.  But this baby was LOUD.  You could hear it across the whole maternity ward.  You could probably hear it across all of Houston. And it got louder, and louder, and then it came into my room.  It was my son.  And he only got louder.

Blood makes a lovely accessory.
Before he was 1 year old, he chipped both front teeth and cut the end of one finger off (we got it sewed back on).  He started walking at 8 1/2 months and was banished from the high chair before 1 year because he would scramble out of his buckle and stand (and jump) on the tray.

At age 2, he discovered he had an opinion.  He exercised it on EVERYTHING.  He would scream and his eyes would roll in the back of head over things like wearing pants.  I had to sit on him to get his clothes on so we could go grocery shopping or to the park or anywhere.   I had to sit on him to change his diaper.  This is a trick to do without getting poo EVERYWHERE.  I hope you never have to do this.

It took me far too long to learn not to put my face anywhere near his (I was trying to be a good mom and get down on his level, rather than make him look way up at me) because he would thrash his head around and smack me in the mouth.  I've had more bloody lips than you can imagine. He would stand by the wall and smack his head against it for fun.  He would laugh while doing it.  This is when I really began to worry.

He was kicked out of the church nursery for biting.  Twice.

By age 3, I learned time outs were only marginally effective.  Mostly he would laugh at me, kick me in the shins, and run away.  This is why we have more direct discipline options.  Ahem.

We torture our children with Halloween Costumes
By age 4, I was tired of not understanding ANYTHING he said.  He started speech therapy.  After the third visit, the Therapist had a word with me because she was concerned with the "violent" way he played with the zoo animals in one of her therapy tools.  He would have the lion go around eating all the other animals.  With sound effects and visceral descriptions. (Hey, our kids watch documentaries instead of Disney.  Animals don't sing and dance.  Unless they're penguins.)

At age 5, he started sports.  Soccer, specifically.  Every time someone stole the ball away, he would cry and run off the field. Every time.  I had to drag him back and get him back in the game/practice.  Every time.  And keep coaching at the same time.  Uuuuugggghhhh.

Ages 6-11 was a pretty good stretch.  He was still surly and competitive and super active, but elementary age kids are my favorite age for a reason -- they're independent enough to do most things by themselves but still little kid enough to like mom and dad and seek adult approval.  But he still tried to do things like bury a chipmunk alive to "see if it could dig through dirt like a mole."

5 man sled. Put a hole in the wall 3 seconds after this pic.
Then the long, dark, night of 12-17 set in. (Insert omnious "dum-dum-dum" sound track) I do not like Testosterone.  It is an angry, roaring monster that climbs into boys' brains and turns them into smelly, grumbling, angry, hairy monsters.  Pretty much, William was angry from 2004-2010.  He argued about everything.  He was grouchy about everything.  Everything was "unfair" or "stupid" or "mbmgrmskls."  Every teacher "hated" him.  Every coach was "leaving him out on purpose."  Blah blah blah.

He put his foot through the wall twice out of anger.  He had to apologize to three different neighbors on three separate occasions for various bits of stupidity involving airsoft guns.  He learned how to replace and repair wheels/tires after a prank on a neighbor went "wrong." He had to do some service time/repair work at the high school after he and his buddies spent a day throwing ninja stars made in metal shop into the cafeteria wall.

He continued to scream and cry whenever a sports event did not go his way -- but he did stop running off the field.  He fouled out of every basketball game in 8th grade.  Then we switched to wrestling because it's ok to take down opponents in that sport.  Ahem.

You just wanna slap him, dontcha.
From age 15-16, he broke his leg, his wrist, and dislocated his elbow. 

His freshman year of high school, one teacher pulled Lauren (big sister) aside and asked if there was some big crisis going on at home to explain William's abysmal behavior/performance in school work.  "Nope," she said.  "He's just a slacker."  And that describes the bulk of his high school academic effort: least effort possible to get an acceptable grade.

From ages 13-18, he was given the option 3 times to quit Scouting.  He chose to stay all three times but then wouldn't do anything and complained the whole time.  He nearly started a forest fire on one camp out by trying to create a bonfire with tree branches he chopped off a tree.  He got in trouble multiple times for hiking 5 miles ahead of everyone else. Actually, I think this happened on every single hike he was ever on.  They finally just assigned one leader (in really good shape) to stay with Will and Morgen.  He got in trouble on one Klondike outing for climbing out on to the cabin roof and jumping off in to snow drifts.  To earn an Eagle Scout rank, they have to complete 20 merit badges, a huge service project, several leadership positions, and a ream of paperwork before they turn 18.  Will turned in his paperwork 3 hours before he turned 18.

The fist fighting with his sister stopped when he was 13 and she was 15 and they literally rolled down the stairs squabbling.  They were both crying and bleeding.  But he was just too strong and people were going to get actually hurt.  But hey, the fighting stopped.  Well, the physical fighting, anyway.

Honestly, looking back on William's childhood often seems like one long string of crying, angry, fighting, struggle of getting the kid to do what he was supposed to do.

A real smile.  Rarer than you'd think :D
And guess what.  He did.  When he gets home in 2014, he'll get back to school and his goal to major in genetics and attend medical school.  On academic scholarship.  It took 19 tough years, but I can say I'm happy with the result.  He's certainly got a whopping lot of life left and many challenges to face in his future.  But he's on his own now and I'm not worried.  He can handle it.


So.  When your child, of whatever age, is driving you insane and you are genuinely considering sending them to a "Reprogramming Camp" in Siberia, hang in there.  You have a GIANT of a soul, brimming with incredible talent, crammed into a little body that is a little on the crazy side, with all that growing and developing and whatnot going on.  Of course they're going to act like rabid squirrels on speed a lot of the time.  They kind of are rabid squirrels on speed.  But you WANT this.  Really, you do.


It's like that episode of Sponge Bob where he decides to be "normal" and slowly changes himself until he's a smooth, shiny employee who sits in a cubicle at a computer and does everything "normally."  And the computer-generated burgers he creates are gray blobs of goo.  Sure, he sits and behaves perfectly.  But he's a gray blob of goo.

Who wants kids who are blobs of goo?  Unfortunately, sometimes that's what the school and the teacher and we want.  But who wants to be an adult gray blob of goo?   You don't get a vibrant, intelligent, positive leader of the community from a glob of gray goo.  You just don't.  But that means you have to take the rabid squirrel child.  Just hang on with both hands and don't let go.  Oh, and stock pile whatever minor vice gives you comfort and wear good shoes.  For me, it's Moonstruck chocolates and green Birkenstocks.  And I have 4 more to go. Yeehaw!










Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Trip to the Store

Hey, c'mon along for the ride.  We're headed to the store!

Scene: Davis home, a sunny Saturday, mid-morning.

Players:
Me: "29," A mom of many boys
Matthew: 7, the Youngest Child
Jonathan: 9, the Misunderstood Artist
Jacob: 13, the Budding Evil Genius
Alex: 15, the Perpetually Sleepy and Hungry Teen

Me: K, everybody get in the car.
Matthew: My shoes are lost forever.  I get to stay home.
Jonathan (breaking into sobs): DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT ME!  WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!"
Jacob: Look at me, I'm Jonathan, Boo-hoo-hoo
Alex: . . . . 
Me: Jonathan, it's fine, everyone is still finding their shoes. Matthew, find them.  Jacob, knock it off NOW.  Alex, wake up.
Jonathan: (still shuddering): OK BUT DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT ME!! JACOB'S TEASING ME!!!
Matthew: Nope.  They're gone.
Jacob: (very quietly) Boo hoo hoo, I'm baby Jonathan.
Alex:  . . .
Me: Jonathan, I promise. Matthew, find your shoes or you go barefoot.  Jacob, that's one load of dishes. Once more and you have dishes for the day.  Alex, WAKE UP.
Jonathan: (sob, cough, sniff, sniff) Ok, wait I need to get my stuff.  (Runs upstairs)
Matthew: Good.  I hate shoes.
Jacob: WHAT?! No fair!! I'm not doing them.
Alex: . . .
Me: Jonathan, you don't need to bring your entire art backpack just to go to the store! Matthew, your shoes are on the back deck.  I can see them.  Go put them on now or you will help Jacob with the dishes.  Jacob, that's a full day of dishes.  Keep it up and you'll clean the whole downstairs.  ALEX WAKE UP WE ARE LEAVING!!
Jonathan: But I NEED my backpack!  I won't bring it in the store, I'll just leave it in the car!  I promise!"
Matthew: FINE, woman! (stomp stomp stomp)
Jacob: Uuuuuuugggggghhhhhhh.
Alex: snrflshgh?
Me: Then, why bring it at all?  You will be fine for 15 minutes in the car without your entire backpack. EVERYBODY GET IN THE CAR! NOW!
Jonathan: DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT ME!  WAIT!!
Matthew: I wanna get a Skylander.  Can I get 3 Skylanders?  Cameron has ALL of them.
Jacob: grumblegrumblegrumble (car door slams)
Alex: . . .
Me: Alex, I am getting in the car right now.  If you aren't in the car in 45 seconds, you don't get to go.
Jonathan: (sniffling) I just wanna bring my backpack (sniffle, shudder), all I wanna do (whimperwhimperwhimper, sniffle)
Matthew: Cameron has StumpSmash and SnorkleBlast AND ToxicFairy!  I want (begbegbeg)
Jacob: So.  Mom.  I was thinking, I've figured out how to pay for my mission.  I can take video of Jonathan acting stupid and I can post it on YouTube.  It will go viral and then I can get all kinds of sponsors and ads and stuff.  Whaddya think?
Alex: (shuffling like a comatose zombie to the car) I'm hungry.

-- car doors close, I start the engine --

Me: (at Jacob, employing full Death-Glare, as Jonathan has turned on the full, wailing cry) You do realize that a mission is spiritual endeavor.  You know, where you're supposed to be Christ-like and help other people learn to be NICE to each other?  Jonathan, I won't let him.  But you need to stop crying.  Now.  You've been crying all morning.  Matthew, no.  We're not going to buy toys for you.  We're going to get Father's Day gifts for Dad.  Alex, not my problem, you had all morning to eat.
Jonathan: waaaaaaaaahhhhaaaaahhhh (sniffle sniffle, gulp, sniffle) waaaaaaahhhhhaaaaahhhh!
Matthew: NO FAIR! (kicks Jonathan)
Jacob: Hey, I can be a good missionary.  And I can make a lot of money video taping him being weird.  Seriously.  Why can't I?
Alex: (kicks seat in front of him) MBMLSHFGHSMS!
Me: Jonathan, stop now.  You know I won't let Jacob do that.  Matthew, I will show you what "no fair" really is, if you don't stop it.  Jacob, seriously?  Stop it. 
Jonathan: (retaliating to Matthew's kick -- scream of rage, full attack on Matthew)
(Scrufflescrufflethumpsmackyankscrufflethump)

---- scrrrrreeeeecccchhhh!  (I pull over) ------

Me: THIS WILL STOP.  THE NEXT PERSON WHO TOUCHES ANYONE ELSE OR SAYS ONE WORD WILL BE GROUNDED FROM ALL ELECTRONIC MEDIA FOR TWO WEEKS.  I AM GOING TO GET IN AN ACCIDENT AND WE WILL ALL DIE IN A FLAMING BALL OF DEATH IF YOU DON'T ALL SIT STILL AND KNOCK IT OFF!!

---- silence for the next 9 minutes ---

Jonathan: (sniffle sniffle) He pulled my ha . . .
Alex: (muttering) Jonathan, shut up!  Mom said no talking!
Jonathan: (sniffle sniffle)
Matthew: (grrrrrr) 

---- silence for remaining 4 minute drive to store --

Me: Do not get out yet.  Listen up.  There will be no begging for toys, snacks, or treats.  There will be no fighting.  We are here to buy gifts for DAD, not for you.  Understand?
(everyone exits vehicle)
Jonathan: I love my Daddy sooo much!  I want to get lots of gifts for him!
Jacob: (cough) Kiss-up (cough)
Matthew: Can I get Daddy a Skylander?  I know Daddy wants a Skylander so he can play with me.
Alex: Can I get a bag of chips?  I'm hungry.
Me: Watch it, Jacob.  We're going to the tools section since you guys have buried most of Dad's tools in the backyard.  No Skylanders, no chips.
Jonathan: (Singing and dancing like a puppet on strings) Boo-bee doop-eee, love my da-dee!
Jacob: Seriously, Mom.  Look at that.  I would make a million dollars.
Matthew: Can I pick out the tools?
Alex: Jacob, shut up. (punch)
Me: Alex, please don't.  Jacob, please don't.  Matthew, yes, let's see if we can find a really nice set for Dad.  What do you think he'd like?
Jonathan: (still dancing, but now sticking his bum out and swinging it from side to side) Bap pa doo!  Bum ba dee! Look at my butt, Look at my butt, whoop a dee!
Jacob: (stares at me)
Matthew: Ok, let's get Dad this (huge, expensive) saw, and this (even more expensive) drill, and . . .
Alex: Can we get lunch after this?
Me: Matthew, we're looking for smaller tools.  Like hammers and screwdrivers, those are the things you guys lose.  Jonathan, what you're doing is not ok.  Please stop your body.  (Ignores Jacob) Alex, we'll see. 
Jonathan: (still dancing) Boop-bee, boop-bee . . .
Matthew: (tossing tools into the cart) Ok, this one and this one and this one . . .
Jacob: (Still stares at me)
Alex: Can I get Taco Bell and Burgerville?
Me: Jonathan, stop.  Matthew, whoa, too many.  Pick your favorites.  (Still ignores Jacob).  Alex, you'll be lucky to get a PB & J on stale bread.
Jonathan: (looking at me with wide, round eyes) Boop?
Matthew: (reviews selections and tosses unwanted items all over the aisle)
Jacob:  Mom.  Alex punched me and you DID NOTHING.  And Jonathan is WEIRD.
Alex: mrgmbsuehgrmbl
Me: (picking up discarded tools and returning them to shelves) Jonathan, stop.  Matthew, you have to put them back where they belong.  Jacob, you deserved it.  Alex, you will get food, I promise.
Jonathan: Boop? Beep-Boop?
Matthew: Ok, I think this looks like the right amounts of tools for Dad.  Let's go.
Jacob: MOM!
Alex: Jacob, stop it. (punches Jacob)
Me: (Ignoring ALL of it) Ok, let's go buy these.

--- to the check out line ---

Me: Where did Alex go?  Jacob, go find him.
Jonathan: Can I get a Push-Pop?  Look they have my favorite, Asteroid Blue.
Matthew: I want a Push-Pop too!
Jacob: (grrrrr, goes to find Alex)
Alex: ???
Me: No Push-Pops.  If you keep begging, no treats for the next week.
Jonathan: Starts singing again.
Matthew: I'm hungry
Jacob: (returning without Alex) Can't find him. 
Alex: (shows up eating a bag of chips) I'm starving!
Me: Ok, if everyone will just behave long enough to get to the car, we will go get lunch.

--- perfect behavior for 3.2 minutes, to get through the check out line and back to the car ---

--- we pull in to the fast-food drive-thru ---

All Boys: i want and no mustard but extra onion i hate lettuce but french fries for me with lemonade and 2 burgers but don't they have tacos with ketchup but add the pickles i hate pickles can i have a milkshake . . .
Me: Whoa!  One at a time!  Matthew, first.
Matthew: I want 20 chicken nuggets and a bucket of ketchup.
Jonathan: I want a cheeseburger with no ketchup, cheese, or meat.
Jacob: I want the super deluxe burger with extra bacon, lettuce on the side, four dabs of ketchup in equal placement, three concentric slices of onion, and NO Mayonnaise or tomato.
Alex: I want 6 hamburgers, 4 orders of fries, 2 milkshakes.  And another hamburger.
Me: uuuuuggggghhhhh. (into the drive-thru speaker) Do you sell Excedrin?

---- food is ordered, mouths are full, silence ensues on the drive home ----

And this, my friends, is why I do not take my children ANYWHERE they do not have to go.



Friday, June 1, 2012

Screaming Bag of Doom

Discipline.  It's the big chunk of parenting we don't really want to deal with, but if we don't deal with it, we end up knowing, with beautiful clarity, words like "Parole Officer" and "Early Release for Good Behavior."  Kids create new and fantastic ways to drive us nuts and do wretched things to each other, so it's only fair that we create new and fantastic (and often wretched) ways to stop them.  Then there's the whole cursed element of "what works for one kid, may not work for the next kid."  And what worked for that kid today, won't work for them in 5 years.  You need a boatload of creative ideas to get your kids to NOT fight constantly, break windows with "new ninja skills", duct tape the cat to the wall, bring the garden hose (turned on) into the house, or let the bucket of newts from the swamp loose in the house.

Having said thus, here are 9 creative discipline ideas I have gathered over the years.  All are tried and tested, and come from seasoned Moms!  Results may vary, based on your child and the severity of the naughtiness!

1.  Door Slamming.  There are many, many reasons why I hate door slamming.  Every time I hear a slam, I can see in my mind little fingers being chopped off, little toes being crunched, or, well, worse stuff.  I have a good imagination.  Additionally, every slam is like an ax to the tree of my nerves.  Then there's the whole "angry" element of door slamming, generally because they just got sent to their room for some infraction.  This grates on me as well.  I never really did too much about it, though, (other than yelling at the kid to not slam the door) until my friend Nelean told me about their family's consequence for door slamming.  It seems simple but it's a doozy.  The perpetrator of the slam must stand and close the door 10 times in a row absolutely silently.  If Mom can hear even one closing, the kid gets to start over.  This is waaaaay harder than it seems, especially if the kid is ticked.  And by the time they actually manage 10 silent shuttings, everyone has calmed down.  Bonuses abound!

2.  The Bag of Doom.  One of the better ideas I have gleaned in my parenting experience is letting kids pick their own punishment.  No, I'm not saying they get to make up whatever they want.  That would just be, well, completely idiotic. "Yes, I punched my brother in the nose.  I think I will have a bowl of ice cream for my punishment.  And since I don't think I will have gotten the message, I better have a second bowl."  Rather, they are given a range of options and can chose whichever one they hate the least.  Our neighbors implemented this with the Bag of Doom.  In this bag was a whole range of punishments -- various household chores, silly stunts, or fines.  The kids knew ahead of time what was in the bag.  Then, when an infraction happened and punishment had to be assigned, the Bag came out.  The family would generally also sing along with the Dodo's chant from Ice Age, "Doom on you, doom on you," whilst the prisoner reached blindly into the bag to find out his fate.  Nice part about this, whatever the punishment was, the Bag did it, not you.

3.  Hold a Trial.  Once in a while (eg: every 17 minutes), two siblings may have a difference of opinion about who threw the ball/ate the last popsicle/dropped the water balloon, etc.  Generally, this is not difficult to sort out.  Most kids are not very good liars and most Moms are fantastic at considering forensic evidence.  (The kid with sticky goo on his face probably did eat the last popsicle.  And if they all have sticky goo on their faces, then they've all had enough popsicle anyway.  Case solved.)  Every now and then, though, a more major incident will happen and Mom won't have any real evidence to work with.

Thus it was maybe 30 years ago my mother was faced with such a situation.  My brother was accused of throwing rocks at a sibling.  My brother was actually a fairly mellow kid, for a boy, and didn't generally do things like this.  My sibling was insistent, however.  So my mother held a court.  She appointed jury members, a prosecution lawyer, and a defense lawyer.  Evidence and witnesses were called.  Everyone, and this was the real key to the success of this, everyone was allowed to testify to their recollection of what happened without anyone else being able to interrupt. Even the 2 year-old who had a 19 word vocabulary.

The case proceeded and after everyone had their say and the verdict was returned (it was probably a rock thrown up from his bicycle tire), my mom made cookies and everyone was satisfied, including the sibling, who just needed someone to listen for a minute.  Don't we all? 

Incidentally, my brother is now an attorney . . .

4.  Scream Along.  This also comes from the Library of Sarah's Wacky Parenting Ideas.  When you have a kid who is screaming and wailing and falling to bits over something silly, scream along.  Do exactly whatever they are doing.  If they lay on the floor, you lay on the floor.  If they throw their head back and wail, you throw your head back and wail.  And do this bigger and more dramatically than they do.  Really channel your inner Diva. This is GUARANTEED to stop the wailing.  Nearly every time I have done this, my kid has stopped and looked at me with an expression of "My mother has lost her mind.  I am somewhat nonplussed at this event."  Either that, or they start telling me to stop acting silly, which presents the perfect segue into pointing out that they were acting just as silly as I was.  And once the tantrum is stopped, you can figure out what the problem is.  Usually something traumatic like the absolute stubbornness left shoes will insist on having over not fitting on right feet.

5.  Paying the Bill.  This is all about not maintaining their own personal hygiene standards.  Specifically, brushing their teeth regularly.  Once my kids are old enough to understand how to brush and that they need to brush, they are responsible for paying for any fillings they get.  This is an absolutely avoidable cost and learning the lesson quick and early will absolutely benefit them their whole lives.  The first kid I imposed this on did not get another filling after paying $150 for two fillings.  That was 8 years ago.  A tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush is cheaper than a filling. And all of that is cheaper than dentures!  Brush your dang teeth!

6.  Nickel Jar.  This is a very versatile method of modifying all kinds of behaviors.  I learned this one from my mother in law.  You get a jar -- a smallish one, like a pint jar (trust me, you won't want a big quart jar for this, you probably can't afford it).  Fill it with nickels.  Place it somewhere really visible, kitchen counter, mantle, wherever.  The deal is this: every time the kid does the unwanted action (in my house it was peeing all over the toilet seat) you take a nickel.  At the end of a specified amount of time (a month or so), the kid gets all the nickels left in the jar.  The kid stopped peeing all over the seat in one day.  I call this a win-win.  Two dollars (or less) of nickels will fill a jar, but the kid just sees a jar FULL of money.  And the behavior stops.  (Unfortunately, the plethora of younger brothers grew up and now it's impossible to tell who peed on the seat.  Ugh.)

7.  Holding Hands.  I can't remember who I learned this one from, but as much as it's a punishment for the two accused, it's pure entertainment for Mom and Dad.  So, when the fighting has reached the saturation point, the two fightees must sit on the couch next to each other holding hands for 15-30 minutes.  It will seem like forever to them.  If they talk, move, or in anyway do anything other than sit there and hold hands, time starts over.  A variation of this we often use is the Repentance Bench.  We have two very short, pointless little decorative arches in our living room.  It creates two little edges about 6" deep that can be sat on.  Not comfortably.  This is where both accused arguers get to sit, looking directly at each other, when time outs are required.  All other rules and regulations apply.

8.  Slave For A Day.  This is particularly effective for older siblings who pick on younger siblings.  So, when one kid will not leave another kid alone, it seems clear to me that they want to spend lots of time with that other kid, right?  So I simply fulfill their wish.  The Picker-Onner then becomes the personal slave of the Pickee-Onnee for 24 hours.  They have to do anything the Pickee says (other than illegal/immoral/unsafe stuff, obviously) -- do their chores, feed them their dinner, give them a pedicure, read them 15 stories, etc.  And, obviously, any further teasing will result in more serious consequences.  Usually involving red-hot pokers.  No not really.

9.  The Interpretive Dance Apology.  This is a truly genius idea from a friend of my mother's.  Her son had been obnoxious and had been sent to his room.  The price of being freed from the room was an interpretive dance in which he referred to her as a goddess and extolled her wonderfulness as his most wise and amazing mother.  The rewards of this are never ending.  Say it with me: "Video Camera."

So there you are.  If time outs and never ending chores are seeming tired and passe, try these new and exciting ideas.  Fun times for all!  Well, mostly all.  You, at least! :D