I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
February 17, 2011
A few days ago in a moment of typical mommy multitasking, I plopped 3-year-old Bruiser in a shallow tub to play for a few minutes, spread out a few toys for Punky on the bathroom floor, and hopped in the shower. Through the shower door’s glass, I was able to keep an eye on both of them, and see that Bruiser, as usual, was driving his 6-year-old sister crazy.
“STOP IT!” she squealed as he splashed water on her for the 15th time. “I mean it, Bruiser! You’re not my friend!”
“You’re a baby!” he shouted back, and splashed more water on her.
“Cut it out!” I bellowed from inside the shower. Bruiser splashed more water on Punky. “That’s it! This is your last chance, Bruiser!”
The kids quieted down momentarily and I sighed and closed my eyes as I rinsed the shampoo from my hair. I couldn’t believe the hoops I had to jump through just to take a simple shower. And then, quickly, I opened my eyes again, conscious that the bathroom had gotten a little too quiet. The bathtub faucet, which I was running at a trickle to keep Bruiser’s bathwater warm, was silent. I rubbed the fog from the glass shower door and peered through it.
Bruiser had put the big plastic cup I use to rinse his hair over the faucet, so that all the water was running into the cup… and then back out, onto the bathroom floor.
“BRUISER!” I screeched. “GET THAT CUP OFF THE FAUCET NOW!!” He shot me an impish grin before quickly removing the cup.
“THAT’S IT!” I said. “NO MORE CHANCES!” I opened the shower door a crack and looked out onto the floor to assess the damage. There was a lot of water on the floor beside the tub- enough that it was very well leaking down and staining the den ceiling below.
“Oh, you are in SO MUCH TROUBLE!” I said from the shower. “SO MUCH!” He gave me a withering look, and I realized that since I was in the shower, he assumed I was powerless to punish him. As if underscoring that point, he turned and splashed more water across the room onto his sister.
“That’s it, young man! I’m…” I paused, trying to think of a way to fully express my wrath. “I’m sending you to The Farm!”
Bruiser froze where he sat, a look of horror on his face. Then he tilted his head back, opened his mouth, and howled. He’d gotten the message loud and clear.
The Farm, created by my own mother, is a place where naughty children work for a living. They scrub floors and wash windows and do various other unpleasant jobs, and all they get to eat (I added this to the legend myself) is cold mush. The Farm helped keep my brother and me in line when we were growing up, particularly once we’d looked it up in the phonebook and called it to make sure it was still open. And while I hadn’t spoken of The Farm that often to my own children, clearly the little I’d told them about it had made an impact.
Satisfied that Bruiser was feeling a suitable amount of remorse over the situation, I turned off the shower faucet and grabbed a towel. But as I was drying off, another wail rose to meet the cries of my son from the tub. I wrapped my towel around me and opened the shower door again. Punky sat on the floor amid her toys, sobbing.
“What is it, Punky?”
“If you send Bruiser to The Farm, I’ll miss him so much!” she cried. “Waaaaaaaaaahhhhh!”
Hearing her, Bruiser cried harder. “I miss you too, Punky!” he yelped. “WAAAAHHHHHH!” Together, their cries were deafening. I frowned and considered my dilemma.
“He’ll have to work… for… a… living!” Punky gasped between sobs.
“I have to WORK!” Bruiser howled from the tub. “WORRRRRRRKGKFLEKJWLK!”
“But maybe it’ll be good for him to go work for a while,” I said quietly to Punky. “Maybe he’ll stop hitting you and taking your toys.”
“But I love him!” she wailed.
“She LOVE ME!” Bruiser chorused mournfully. As they continued crying, I floundered, at a loss for words. Before my eyes, a simple attempt to take a shower was turning into fodder for future therapy sessions.
“Mommy, if you send Bruiser to The Farm, it’ll break my heart!” Punky keened, clutching her chest before dissolving again in tears.
“Mines too, Mommy!” Bruiser shouted in anguish. “My heart will broke! Broke! Broke! Broke!” He beat his chest each time he said ‘broke’ to emphasize his suffering.
It was time to admit I’d been defeated.
“Okay, okay!” I said. “Calm down. Bruiser can stay.” Their sobs quieted to sniffles and I dropped to my knees, trying to wipe up the standing water with an extra bath towel. Dammit. There was a lot of water. “He can stay if he promises to be a good boy from now on,” I added.
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!” Punky howled. Bruiser looked over at her and joined in. “WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!”
“What’s wrong now?!” I asked, exasperated. “I said he could stay!”
“I don’t think Bruiser can be a good boy,” Punky cried. “I just don’t think he can do it! Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!”
“HE CAN STAY NO MATTER WHAT.” I said over their cries. “OKAY? ARE YA HAPPY? HE CAN STAY NO MATTER WHAT.” Abruptly, the crying stopped. My children both burst into cheers.
“I staying!” Bruiser shouted with the same gleeful delirium you see when Publisher’s Clearing House goes to a random person’s door and tells him he’s won ten million dollars. “Mommy say I staying, Punky!” As they continued their celebration, I turned away, grimacing.
This is parenting. Don’t let the experts tell you any different.