Mulligan, Please

By nine-thirty this morning, I wanted a do-over.

When my alarm clock buzzed at 7 a.m., I accidentally turned it off instead of hitting the snooze so I could wake up gracefully and gradually. That would probably not have been a big deal, if it weren't for the fact that the average amount of sleep I have gotten per night in the last ten to fourteen days has been five-and-a-half to six hours--a good three hours short of what my body prefers. So instead of having at least a semi-conscious part of my brain to rouse me from sleep, I was instantly dead to the world again--waking with a start at 8:24.

At 8:24 on a school morning, I should be getting the kids into their coats and boots and heading out to the van. After the first surge of adrenaline subsided, I let my head flop back onto the pillow to consider the options.

First off, it was 8:24 and not only had I just woke up, but it was only a few minutes later that I heard the kids get up. "The kids" in this case meaning Jude and Noah, obviously, since Jabin is still in his crib. (He's ready to move out, but we are lacking a bed to move Noah into from the toddler bed, so for now everyone is staying put.) So, I was looking at a good hour before I could get the family dressed, eaten, and ready to go. When Jude is only in school for three hours total per day, is it worth it to take him in an hour late?

I thought of the number of days he had missed recently due to illness, and also how he had missed Friday because my van keys had taken a site-seeing tour of DMI in Jason's coat pocket, and decided that yes, it was worth it.

I had just come to this conclusion, when I heard four little-boy feet pounding their way across the house to my bedroom, and two little-boy voices loudly blaming the other for peeing on Jabin's (carpeted) bedroom floor.

Ugh.

This is not the first such "peeing-on-Jabin's-carpet" episode. It has happened at least once (and I think actually twice) before. Jude blamed Noah, and at the time, Noah did not deny it.

Following this, there were two mornings (in only a few days' time-frame) where Jude came running to tell me that Noah had peed on his own bed first thing. Meaning--he took his training pants off and peed on top of his bed!

While I was surprised, he had peed on Jabin's floor, and I just could not believe that Jude would urinate on his brother's bed for any reason. So despite the fact that Noah said Jude did it, he got thoroughly spanked and scolded (still only two firm swats--the maximum number of swats I ever give. When I am that angry, my reaction is to not do anything but speak rather strongly about the action committed until I can calm down, so I don't do something I regret. Especially for a crime I did not witness first-hand.)

The way Noah acted, though, got me questioning Jude's story. Jude has been known to lie to us before, but I just couldn't conceive why he would do something like that. However, I could see Noah maybe doing something like that if he was actually trying to get to the potty in time, but only managed to get his pull-up off. However, when Jason and I discussed it later, I put forth my suspicions that it may, in fact, be Jude doing it. Especially after the first time, and Noah got disciplined so severely--he is not the type of kid to do something so stupid when he knows the consequence is so sever. However, Jude is the type of kid to do something so stupid if he knows he could get his brother in big trouble by it. (I'm thinking that Jude has taken the rap for Noah enough times that he got some kind of perverse pleasure out of his revenge scheme after getting away with it so cleanly the first time.)

So, when Jude came running over to our room first thing last holiday Monday, again blaming Noah for peeing on his bed, I started weeping silently at yet another day spent disinfecting the bed, washing sheets and floors and toys, while Jason thoroughly questioned Jude about his truthfulness.

Usually, when you ask Jude several times about whether he is telling the truth, and especially if Jason is doing the asking, he will crack. He is also, in general, becoming more truthful, since this is a topic that has been dealt with more severely and repeatedly than anything else. When a crime is committed, the worst offense, and the most harshly disciplined, is lying about it. Jude is finally starting to "get it." However, a little to my surprise, he confirmed our suspicions and came clean about peeing on Noah's bed.

He got in BIG TROUBLE for that one. No spanking, but the discipline he received was far worse (to him). He was the one responsible for getting the bed cleaned up, sheets in the washer, and floor sterilized. He also lost his movie-watching privileges for three days--the first time he has ever received a "grounding" from anything for more than a day. This was an even bigger deal when his brothers got to watch something, and he had to stay out of the room and find something else to do. It was an opportunity to keep driving home the ternary lesson we were hoping to impress: 1. Never, never, NEVER lie. ALWAYS tell the truth! 2. Don't do stuff just to get someone in trouble, and 3. Pee in the toilet, for crying out loud!

That was why I was so surprised when the boys came into my room hurling blame at each other this morning.

I made them both clean it up. Then I gave them three opportunities for one of them to 'fess up that they did it. With each time I asked the question and received the same finger-pointing answers, they lost another day of privileges with video games and movie-watching. (I'm not sure this was the best form of punishment for Noah, but I wasn't quite sure what to do at the time.) They both stuck to their guns, so after three day's worth, I stopped. However, I continued to question them both throughout the day, even asking Jabin who had peed on his floor. While his communication skills are pretty amazing for an almost-two-year-old, I don't think he really understood the question. Either that, or he no longer remembered the incident I was referring to.

I'm pretty sure Noah did it. Jude never wavered in his story, even after some rather intense questioning. Noah's blame assignment was always rather gleeful and giddy, in much the same manner he adopts when he is mimicking something he has seen someone else do. Plus, while Jude's lesson in peeing on Noah's bed is still fairly recent, it's been a while since Noah got in trouble for peeing on Jabin's floor, and his little brain has probably forgotten that he, too, can be in BIG TROUBLE. However, fresh in his memory will be that you can get someone else in trouble by doing something bad and blaming it on them.

So, while Noah is being disciplined for not telling the truth, Jude is also being disciplined for not telling the truth consistently. When he got hurt that he was being disciplined for something he insisted he didn't do, I simply reminded him that I couldn't be sure he was telling the truth because he sometimes lies to us, and had done so recently. Hopefully, this will be a lesson we can impress enough over the next few days: That no matter how much trouble you get in for telling the truth, it is still less than getting caught in a lie, and that you'll get into less trouble in the long run if people know that you consistently tell the truth, even if it means you get into trouble for it. It may be a big lesson for a five-year-old, but hopefully he grasps it.

By the time I was on my way home from dropping Jude off at school, there were some new and alarming warning lights on on my van's dashboard, which a quick flip through the manual told me meant that the brakes are failing and that we need to get them looked at right away.

It just made me wish I could rewind my morning by about three hours and start from scratch, you know?

Fortunately, the rest of the day went much better. (Monday ran out of tricks early this week! Yes!)