Dominoes and Discipline

old fashioned dominoes

Tuna is in his room with no computer.  Binker is in his room crying with no computer tomorrow.  Squishy is being watched for a head injury (so far so good) and watching Mater’s Tall Tales.

I’m sitting here wondering what the hell just happened.

Let’s see…

First, I kicked them off of their screens and fed them lunch, forewarning them that they would be going outside after lunch. Next, I forced them to go outside on this gorgeous summer day. The sun is shining, it’s not too hot, and there’s a slight breeze.  Perfect! Only Squishy went happily. Tuna tried to go back inside, Binker tried to go back inside, and Squishy…well, he just rode his tricycle. I had to sit in front of the door telling them to “play like regular kids”.  I told the tale of long ago when the cold winds blew and all the children in the land could not go outside; when those poor cold children looked out their windows longing for summer.  The little shits still wanted to go in.

I made suggestions: bounce on your bouncy ball, ride your stinking bikes, play basketball–I’ll play with you!, draw with your stupid chalk, blow some freaking bubbles, just PLAY OUTSIDE AND LIKE IT!

Did they do any of these things?  Of course not!  Tuna and Binker started balancing on the cement ledge that borders a small cliff hill into the neighbor’s side yard.  Then Binker (in an admittedly funny fashion) pointed up and said “Tuna, look up there!” and pushed him off the ledge.  Now, these boys hurl themselves off of this ledge on purpose all the time. Sometimes on bikes, sometimes on scooters, sometimes on foot, sometimes on sleds, but always fast and dangerously.  But Tuna was pissed that Binker pushed him.

Instead of just telling him he didn’t like it, he went after him violently and angrily.  It was like Binker shot Tuna with a water gun and Tuna came back with a freaking bazooka.  He was grabbing him, shoving him, trying to push him off the ledge.  And he did push him.  Neither boy was hurt, but Tuna was way out of line.  Then Binker punched him, and I don’t blame him.  I had to drag Tuna into the house and shove him in his room, and while I was doing that, I heard Squishy start to cry REALLY HARD outside.  Like that no-breathing crying where he cries a second and then doesn’t breathe for like ten minutes because he can’t even cry hard enough.

I raced outside and found Squishy on the ground at the bottom of the cliff ledge thing, and Binker looking very guilty. I really should just wear roller skates all the time.  That way I can get to each emergency faster, and possibly roll over some small toes on purpose. A spy camera and lie detector wouldn’t hurt either. Ooh! and collapsing stairs so I can just roll down and out the door!  So he told me he pushed him.  WTF?  Why?  So picking Squishy up I then dragged Binker to his room and sat down to check out the damage.  The baby landed on his head, and seemed dazed.  I had this terrible scenario flash through my head of resenting Binker for permanently damaging his brother etc, snapped out of it, and made Squishy do all the eye-following things you do for head injuries. He is fine.

So the domino effect is twofold in this scenario.  Even though Binker pushed first, Tuna really did start it by being the grumpy “I don’t want to be outside” example, and then they all fell down.  Poor little Squishy was the last one to fall in the succession.

The other domino effect happens in the discipline.  That first domino has to withstand the most force, and the fact is that Tuna is first and gets the hardest push.  “Why am in trouble, but Binker isn’t?”  “Because you’re the oldest and you know better.  Binker is still learning.  Down you go!” *flick* Of course Binker gets in trouble too, but he gets the 5-year-old version.

Is it fair that Tuna gets the hardest push?  He’s older, he knows better, but he is still learning too.  It’s just that fighting with a 5-year-old makes him act 5.  He has more responsibility because he can understand it, and all that developmental blabbity stuff.  (#becausedevelopmental).   And, Binker has dominoes falling on him on both sides.  He comes out punching and kicking in all directions.  So his lesson is not to take his stuff with Tuna out on Squishy.  Tuna’s lesson is to learn to be the bigger person.  Whew!  This growing up thing is HARD!

I think it is fair.  The birth order thing is tough, because so much is inevitable.  I can’t change their statuses, ever.  I think that right now it’s appropriate to give Tuna the hardest push, but once they’re grown, they’ll all be first in line.

But right now, they’re in their rooms crying and thinking about how unfair life is, with no idea what just happened except that they still want to push each other over the ledge.  Ya know, sometimes when they fight I tell them to fight.  They just stop and stare.

“Fight! Fight with each other.  Go on, fight!”

And then they laugh and play fight and it’s over.  Would that work with cliff-pushing? Hmmm, maybe I’ll try that tactic next time.  With helmets.