Mommie Time-Out !
A few weeks ago, while organizing my youngest daughter’s 6th birthday, I remembered one of the more memorable kid parties I went to with my girls.
It was an ice skating party. Harmless enough.
My girls (who I have coined Chickenhawk and Ms. Prissy) were making their way around the rink, and then finally took a break to head over to the play area. It was filled with juice boxes, pizza, and every arcade game imaginable.
I became engrossed in an endless chatter with the other Moms about our children’s school, parenting methods, to the television shows. It didn’t take long before both of my girls came to ask me for change for the arcade.
I excused myself from a mother in midstream about her opinion of my favorite show Breaking Bad and pulled out two five-dollar bills. “Here, girls. Put these fives in that change machine over there and have a good time.”
I turned back to the mother. “Gurrrrl, I hate Walt,” I said. And before I noticed any time had passed I felt my youngest girl, Chickenhawk, back by my side.
“Mommy, I need more money.”
“I will give you two more dollars,” I replied, “Then it will be time to go.”
I reached back into my purse and pulled out $2.
Then Chickenhawk was there again.
“Mom. Mom. Mom.”
“Honey, we are leaving in a couple minutes. Just wait please.”
Eager to finish my conversation, I turned back to the mother, and my youngest ran off.
A few moments later a third mother walked over to me. She was bent over her son, trying to stop his little hands, which were filled with shiny quarters, from spilling on to the floor.
“Calida,” she asked. “How much money did you give your daughter?”
“Chickenhawk came to me a couple of times for money,” I said. “I gave her $7.”
“My son told me she gave him these quarters and that she’s giving all the kids handfuls of money.”
I did a once-over of the arcade and saw all the kids skipping around, pockets bulging and with coins.
“I only gave her $7,” I thought. I looked over at my purse, and my wallet was hanging out and wide open.
“CHICKENHAWWWWK” I yelled. She ran over smiling.
“Did you take money out of my purse?”
“Yes.” She replied coolly. “You were talking, and I needed more money.”
“You can not take money out my wallet! How much did you take?”
“I took a special $5 with an O. When I put it in the machine, soooo many quarters came out, so I gave them to all of my sister’s friends.”
With a nervous smile, she added. “I wanted to share, Mommy.”
I screamed furiously. “YOU PUT A FIFTY DOLLAR BILL IN THE MACHINE!”
Heat rising to my face. Sharp pain behind my eyes. Heavy breathing as I thought about what just transpired.
My little one looked back at me, squinted her eyes, crossed her arms, and fired back, “Well, Mom, you know I can’t read money!”
“Let’s go.” I said firmly. “Get your sister. Now.”
The mother who came to me offered back all of her son’s quarters. “Calida, I can help you get the quarters back from the kids,” she said sweetly.
“Thank you,” I said, moments away from exploding. “But, no. I have to go now.” I walked briskly to the door trying hard not to turn into Mommy Dearest in front of all the kids and moms having fun, in large part to the abundance of quarters my $50 provided.
My daughters, sensing the impending emotional eruption I was about to spew, sped-walked behind me wide-eyed and quiet.
We drove home in silence. I started to think of all different punishment that would be fitting and thanked God I was not home in reach of any wire hangers. When we reached the house, I cut off the engine and turned to Chickenhawk , “You know what you did was wrong.”
With a puppy dog expression and a sniffle she answered, “Yes, mommy.”
“Go directly to your room and don’t come out until I come to you.” I then spoke directly to my oldest, Ms. Prissy. “You stay in the living room and look at TV or something. This is not the time for me to hear you arguing or anything because ONE OF YOU MAY GET HURT. I know you didn’t do anything, but I am so BEYOND angry right now, and you could get IT, too. I am going to my bedroom. Neither of you bother me.”
“Okay,” they said in unison.
I went to my room, slammed the door, started using some yoga breathing exercises so I would not strangle my child, and turned on a Breaking Bad episode. The sound of my husband coming in the door brought me back to reality. Then I heard light footsteps greeting my husband at the door followed by Ms. Prissy’s hurried voice.
“Dad, Mommy is in her room and soooo mad because Chickenhawk stole $50 from her wallet and put it a coin machine at the party and gave all the quarters out to the kids. And now she is just playing with her toys in her room, so I think YOU are going to have to punisher her, Daddy.”
“Be quiet! You tattletale!” my youngest daughter yelled from her room.
Then I heard heavier footsteps coming my way. The door burst open.
Before my husband could say a word I said, “ Honey, I’m in time-out.”
“What? It is Chickenhawk who should be in time out, or something worst right now!”
“I am too angry and need my time. I’ll handle it later.”
“You are just going to let her play while you lay here and watch T.V. That makes no sense.”
“Yup. I am in TIME-OUT!”
My husband left the room flustered and confused with my oldest daughter, who was totally disappointed with the lack of severe punishment given to her little sister.
For years, I have been putting my kids in time-out when they seemed out of control, but going forward I will use it for myself when I feel like my inner Joan Crawford is emerging. Plus, it is a good time to catch up on movies and, of course Breaking Bad.