Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Can't Make Me...

Imagine me stomping my feet, arms crossed, half pout / half sneer on my face.

That's how the kids do it these days right? Back in the day, we would fight the authority of our parents and teachers on a regular basis.

Not much has changed with them, or us.

Here is a short list of the things we couldn't be made to do:

Share - that's my toy and I'd rather break it than let my little brother or sister or that annoying kid from next door play with it.
Fair - was the word used to describe anything done to me or against me.
Pay - was the thing you threatened, as in "you're gonna pay or playing with my toy."
Play - I don't care if he's my cousin, I don't wanna play with him.
Watch - you can watch my tone, but I'm not gonna.

I remember having epic fights with Shaggy when he was much younger. He was the kid who would hear the consequences of an action, weigh the action against the consequences, then proceed with the action. He would often hit his brother and then take himself to timeout. Then he realized we had zero power and that taking on the parents was way more fun than his brother.

He would be told to go to timeout and refuse to go.

When he went, he wouldn't stay.

When he wouldn't stay "worse" punishments ensued.

One day when he was older, we got the brilliant idea to make him write sentences! Good penmanship, pinning him to a chair, and a timeout...BRILLIANT! So, it started with the threat of sentences.

Me: if you do X, you will have to write me 25 sentences.

Shaggy: what do the sentences have to say?
Me: they will be sentences that indicate what you did wrong and that you won't do it again.

Shaggy: I don't want to write sentences.

Me: and that is why it is punishment.

Bad behavior referred to as X ensued.

Me: ok, guess you'll be writing me those sentences.

Shaggy: I'm not writing them.

Now I had already seen this coming and the trick was not to waver, but to add sentences and indicate that the amount of sentences was entirely in his control...

This is more sentences than Shaggy wrote
and with less excitement
Me: so you want to write 50 sentences?

Shaggy: no!

Me: well, you've earned another 25. I suggest that you get to work on them.

Shaggy: that's not fair, I'm not doing the stupid sentences.

Me: I guess you want another 25? You know I took advanced math and can count really high, right?

Shaggy: count as high as you want, I'm not doing them.

Me: so, 100?

Shaggy: I'm not doing them.

Me: so, you want to do 200 then?

I figured escalation would prove my tenacity and seriousness. At this point, I should have realized the folly.

Shaggy: what?! You can't add a hundred!

Me: there are rules?

This witty banter continued and by the time my wife came home, he had earned 1400 sentences. Yes, I didn't put the decimal in the wrong place. Her comment to me was "I haven't been gone that long!" Bless her heart, she went along with it, though now I believe it was more to watch me squirm.

I finally placed Shaggy at the kitchen table with all the necessary writing instruments and none of the distractions. You would be amazed at what a young boy can consider a distraction. It was too bright, then too dark. The chair was too high, too hard, too far away, not in the right spot. He lost the point on his pencil so many times I got him a pen.

Ask me how many he did at the first sitting, though I imagine you can guess. If you guessed less than 10, you were right.

When I went to check on him, he was gone. He had realized that if you are prepared for the worst, there really isn't anything they can make you do. If no reward was ever great enough and no punishment stiff enough, the rules of "make me!" didn't apply.

As an adult, I realize that we play the "you can't make me" game just as much as when we were younger. We have learned a new skill in the form of passive-aggressive behavior. Now we face life with the same words:

Share - this is my money, why should I give it to the government to waste.

Fair -It isn't fair that I have to pay these taxes

Pay - taxes are for the rich to pay, I barely get by.

Play -If I didn't have to pay these taxes, I could afford to get a pool to play in.
Watch -I don't want to watch the news about economic recovery coming to a seriously poor neighborhood near you.

The above may only slightly be my mood based on owing taxes this year and not getting a fantabulous vacation as a result.


  1. I totally agree.  And this problem is snowballing.  It's getting to where kids think it's unfair if the world doesn't revolve around them. Scary stuff!

    Good for you for sticking to it and doing the hard work of parenting! This is so hard especially when nowadays, the opposite is expected.  Yesterday my oldest daughter's school called and said she forgot her notebook and could I bring it to her.  Could I? Of course.  But will I? NOPE!  I didn't get much support on the other end of the phone but who cares.  My daughter needs to learn that lesson on responsibility.

  2. justkeepinitrealfolksMay 17, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    So damn, Shaggy got off with less than 10 sentences huh???? I sure have done my share of those when I was a young'un.

  3. Well that sure took me back. Not to my childhood, I don't even want to go there but my daughter was the same way. If it was something she wanted or wanted to do, she knew the consequences and you're dang skippy it was worth the punishment to do it. At 23 I think she's still like that but I sort of always enjoyed that spirit it her. My father squelched mine down somewhat and I wasn't doing that to her. Karma, now that is a biatch. She has a daughter now and she's starting to show signs of the same thing, hahaha. Love it. Great post. Have a wunerful day Mr. Wily...


  4. I was never like that as a child I was raised to never talk back to my parents, however my daughters  would argue with me and their dad a was so fruastrating.

  5. Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and reruns of M*A*S*H

  6. Wow, this post is so on-point.  And Shaggy sounds incredibly smart... I imagine that your points became harder and harder to prove to them as he grew up and managed to present valid counter-points.

    But overall, the important thing to remember is how much taxes suck.

  7. I punish my niece by forcing her to watch Hitler videos on Youtube if she misbehaves. I can't tell you how effective that is.

  8. I fear Shaggy might take notes... I'm only half kidding. He is a sponge for knowledge.

  9. Yeah, all three of them are super smart. Mrs Mynd asked me after one of them hacked around some security I'd set up, if I was more pissed off or proud.

  10. Rusty! It's like my long lost friend has returned! I actually have fond memories of watching M*A*S*H with my mom.

  11. Yeah, I was a handful. I'm reaping what I've sown.

  12. We said just the other day how much we are looking forward to the grandchildren that will undoubtedly torture Shaggy and Mrs Shaggy. (that was really weird to type)

  13. Yeah, we had fun with that one. Still having it.

  14. Yeah, those are the hard choices that separate the bad parents from the good parents from the great parents. They've all been a challenge in some ways.

  15. LOL, that day will come sooner than you realize and yes, you will enjoy the torture, hehe *evil laugh*. I mess with my daughter all the time with it.





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