Apparently, I give lousy punishments

but my house is cleaner than it was before.

One of my boys, whom I shall call The Perpetrator, was having issues with distraction Friday morning.  He found a multitude of excuses as to why he couldn’t do this school assignment or another.

I decided to make him suffer.

And I wanted to benefit from the situation somehow. 

So I made a list of chores that needed done and I was behind on:

Take Christmas decoration boxes to basement.  (Yeah, I know, it’s February).

Take down Christmas lights, card and tape over the family room windows.  Put in a Christmas box.  (I’ve been busy, okay?)

Thoroughly sweep the kitchen and dining room, taking care to get all corners and under furniture.  (It is a BIG room.)

Mop with old rags, on hands and knees, the entire kitchen and dining room.  (This last part was thrown in after reading a discussion among homeschool moms on a message board about how often they clean their floors.  I got paranoid.  Transferred paranoia to my wayward child.  By now, Sid is shaking his head in amusement over ” the ladies.”)

A half hour later, I was schooling the girls in the schoolroom, when I hear the sounds of relaxed conversation and laughter.  I assumed my other son, whom I shall call TenderHeart in this story, was distracting The Perpetrator.  Marching into the kitchen, I planned to pull TenderHeart into the schoolroom with the girls and me.  

What I found instead were two boys, on their knees, happily scrubbing away at the floor.

And appearing to enjoy themselves.

“Ahem,” I say.  “TenderHeart, WHAT are you doing?”

“I am helping The Perpetrator clean the floor.”

“I don’t think you understand,” I say.  “This is supposed to be a PUNISHMENT.  Punishments are not enjoyable, but is SOUNDS like you guys are having fun.”

“Actually,” says The Perpetrator, ” this is kind of fun.”

Hmmmmm, I think to myself, I wonder if he realizes that he still has do his morning school AFTER he finishes the chores.  I’m betting he won’t think the punishment is fun then.

Walking away, I heard The Perpetrator happily whistling.

An amazingly short time later, The Perp reports to me that his chore list is done.  I inspected to find superior work.  “I swept the whole room a second time after we mopped, because it stirred up more dirt from the cracks in the wood floor,” he tells me.  Is this a sign of the diligence I have longed to see in him?

Then The Perp heads off to the schoolroom, without any reminders from me, and pleasantly finishes up his schoolwork.

And I am left with a much cleaner house and a confused brain.  Do I just not understand punishment or perhaps it is the workings of the male brain that befuddles me?  And if he really is becoming diligent, how else will I get my house clean?

Our New House Rule

If you want to argue, you must SING your argument.

According to Lincoln, I come up with a lot of “weird” rules.

Talking aloud this week, I mentioned that we should have a whole day of singing everything we say, that it would force us to pay attention to HOW we say something and whether we are saying it sweetly or not.

Today, both boys have come to me separately and very seriously asked me WHEN our singing day was going to be.  It appears they want to “prepare” themselves with dread.

I would suggest that a singing day might not be necessary if I see great improvements in their tones, but the truth is that “I” need a singing day to improve MY tone.