Bedtime with the kids is usually wonderful. We read, sing, makeup bedtime stories, sometimes meditate, pray, give squeezes (hugs) and kisses. Then Gina and I go down stairs prepare our magical snack and get ready to create, talk, or Netflix binge. During our preparation we hear some scuffling and we kindly yell up the stairs, “Go to bed please.”
Three minutes pass, repeat scuffling and repeat kindly yelling. Then mid snack and mid climax of Stranger Things, repeat more scuffling and giggling. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is turning into Rage Against the Machine.
We look at each other hoping the other will volunteer, then hoping that whatever the other decides to motivate the kids to stay in bed will work so it won’t be our turn next. After we alternate attempts this is when I typically resort to spanking (just to be clear this is legal in the state of Maryland to the extent that it does not leave a lasting mark).
Wooden spoon in hand I thunder up the stairs - I am a big guy, so I am never not thundering up the stairs - and the kids know they have pushed too far. I reach the crest of the stairs and they scatter like roaches when the light is turned on. Tripping over toy strollers and dodging legos like they are land mines, I pursue my targets.
Seriously, what are you supposed to do when the kids will not go to sleep and are getting out of bed?
Time out? They are hoping I put them in time out so they can stay up later.
Grounding? My kids are all 9 and under - were still in the time out phase.
Taking toys away? That just keeps their little brains more active to find something else to play with.
Passive aggressive - lay in bed with them until they fall asleep? Four kids! And I miss Stranger Things, snacks, and Gina.
Violence is an epidemic in our culture. I heard a great story from a lecture by one of Ghandi’s descendants addressing the issue of violence and how it’s linked to the way we discipline our children.
In the story he lied about going to see a movie, so his father asked him to drive the car behind him on the side of the road with hazard lights flashing while he walked all the way home. While he was driving at idle speed watching his dad walk, all he could feel is the anguish that he had put his dad through. At that point he voweled to never lie to his dad again.
Maybe I should keep the kids awake and have them watch me sleep and they can think about how wonderful sleep is as they struggle not to fall asleep. This is a joke social services.
I love this story and when I heard it I went home talked to Gina and said I wanted to try and raise our kids without spanking them. That was before we had kids. Non-spanking is still a goal, but is like dieting or quitting smoking - everyday we start tomorrow.
Non-violence is still a value for our home. We fail (aka spank). We learn. We talk. We don't give up.