“Mom, when will I be grounded?”
A few months ago, my three little ones were goofing around in the living room while I was making dinner.
When they were little I didn’t mind this kind of play. In fact it was adorable to hear them running after each other and their little feet pitter patter across the floor as they giggled. It was almost reminiscent of those insurance commercials that play during sporting events. Mom cooks dinner. Kids rambunctiously play. Dad walks in and joins family. Everyone laughs in slow motion while there is a voice over of where your local agent can be found.
Now, not so much.
While most would argue my kids are still quite little, they don’t sound little! When they chase each other now, it sounds more like a freight train moving through the house at rapid speed only with more screaming and whining. The chasing is happening not out of play, but out of anger or torment. It is more reminiscent of THE sporting event. If the sporting event happened to be a NASCAR race, only louder and with more of mom yelling over a hot stove, “Knock it off!”
A few weeks ago, my oldest asked me, “Mom, when will I be grounded?” I was kind of taken aback by this question because a.) I was a perfect child and there was no need to ever ground me and b.) when I think of a kid being grounded I usually think of junior high kids. To see where he was coming from, I asked what he meant and he said, “Well, my friend at school right now is grounded from his Wii at home, and I was wondering will that ever happen to me?”
Then it hit me. The lingo is changing. The kids are getting older. In our house everything is a time out. You have a time out! You have a time out from Wii! You have a time out from screens! You have a time out from each other! After thinking about it for a minute I realized that “time out” is kind of a babyish term for my oldest who is now in Kindergarten.
So, we talked about being grounded and what that means, and time outs and what they mean. Then we talked about rules, and kindness and expectations for behavior. It was a good conversation, but I very soon realized that the tide was turning in our house.
While we have a good handle on discipline and routine, I think as a family we do need to revisit some topics like chores, time outs and self-discipline. Bob Dylan said it well, “The times they are a-changin’” and my little ones are changing. As parents, my husband and I have learned as the kids grow and change, we must adapt and evolve, or just like the dinosaurs we will not survive.
Also, my oldest has learned that he, too, can be grounded just like his friend.