You Break It, You Buy It {Tough Love and Consequences}

You Break It, You Buy It

Breaking Little Hearts

Just The Norm

Most of today was rather inconsequential. The morning started with the boy crawling in my bed at an ungodly hour, the girl asking if it was ok for her to play on her Kindle and dogs whining to go out. Laundry, coffee, breakfast, more laundry, more coffee, showers. Where is this? Have you seen my that? She’s bothering me, he’s taking my stuff. A Saturday that dreams are made of, no?

The girl had a birthday party at 1 pm, and we had a gift to pick up on the way. The boy and his daddy hung back and did boy things while the girl and I ran to Walmart and then to the party. After bowling, playing games and squealing for 2 hours with other little girls (she was squealing, I was wondering if I had Advil in my purse), we packed it in and headed on our way to meet the boy and his daddy for some frozen yogurt. The boy has been begging for it, but having temperatures in the teens wasn’t exactly helping his cause. Today was more like 60 degrees, so it was a little easier for me to get on board with his plan.

FroYo was great. I didn’t get any myself, but the boy did feed me a bite of his cotton candy/too much other stuff to know what I was eating combo. It was near the end of our FroYo adventure that things started to go a little off track.

Jumping the Tracks

The girl and I had discussed taking a trip to the craft store to finish out our afternoon. The Hubs and I were already in separate cars, so splitting back up was no big deal (besides, he loathes the craft store – probably a result of my hoarding.) Yeah, except that in the last few weeks, the boy has also really started to show interest in art and hearing that his sister might get to pick up some new supplies was just too much for his little head to handle. He declared his intention to join said craft store trip, and as dad seemed to be relatively on board, the decision was made to leave one of our cars at the FroYo place and travel together to the craft store. We could always swing back by to pick up the second car later. A minor change, but nothing that was causing any problems.

As we were leaving the FroYo place, we could tell that the boy was getting pretty wound up. He and his sister were already starting to bicker. He was poking and picking, pretty much anything he could do to get a rise out of her. It was getting on my nerves and we hadn’t made it out of the parking lot. He was warned and settled a bit, but I could tell he was twitching on the inside. Parking lot to parking lot was a 5 minute excursion, tops. He had to be warned again in that tiny span of time. I knew this wouldn’t end well, I knew it, but Hubs was making a very consorted effort to enjoy family time (as much as he hates the craft store) and I was doing my best not to squish his efforts. Also, the girl really had been good and I love feeding her craft habit, so I didn’t want to punish her by calling off the trip.

That Awkward Moment When…

Hopping out of the car, my first move was to tell the boy to hold my hand. He shot back at me with a “no!” Excuse me, son… I conceded and allowed him to walk beside me, sans the hand holding. The bouncing, grabbing at things and general unruliness didn’t slow down, even with repeated warnings from his dad.

And then it happened.
*crash**shatter**squeal*

Did I mention that this particular craft store happens to also have a large home decor section? With lots of glass and ceramics… very breakable glass and ceramics. And there ya go. The boy, still bouncing around like he was on a playground and not in a store, smacked into his sister and pushed her into a shelf full of ceramic vases. One met its untimely death on the cold, hard floor. Shattered into about 50 pieces, at one point it was a very pretty $23 vase. My children reduced it to little more than mosaic pieces and a safety hazard. As I bent down to pick up the fallen vase, I told Hubs to take the kids to the car while I collected the broken pieces and I would pay for the vase. That’s when the screaming started.

“Why can’t I get my art supplies?!” “He made me do it!” “She broke it, not me!” “inaudible wailing”

The Devil Is In The Details

Deep breath. Time for a lesson in consequences. This was going to be bad, but I was committed to it. After a brief moment to rethink my plan, I told Hubs to never mind my instructions to take the kids to the car. Instead, they were going to put back the items they had picked up and go with me through the line to pay for the vase. With much huffing and puffing, my directions were followed. Items were returned to their rightful homes and we took our place in line. When I handed the broken vase to the cashier, I said “my kids broke this and we need to pay for it.” She looked confused. Apparently people don’t normally pay for the things they break. She asked me if I was sure I wanted to do it, and for a second I almost said no, then I remembered… I committed. I was teaching a lesson. I confirmed my desire to pay for the vase, had her wrap and bag it as if we were taking it home, then had my kids take it – together – and throw it in the trash. We discussed what impact their actions had on our money, on the store and on themselves. They didn’t like it, they still wanted their craft supplies, but in the end the whining stopped, the boy got it together and the rest of the evening was relatively smooth.

Right or Wrong?

Did I do the right thing there? I’m not sure. I feel like I did, but I question if I should’ve just shut the whole thing down before we ever went into the store to begin with. This parenting thing is hard! So many decision to be made on the fly. If this had happened to you, how would you have handled it?

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19 Responses to You Break It, You Buy It {Tough Love and Consequences}

  1. Samantha G says:

    I personally love the way you handled it. I have left a few stores without buying a thing due to bad behavior. I have yet to be faced with this issue at hand. On one point I know most big stores do not have a break it you buy it policy but what does that teach my children. I have made a huge effort in this parenting journey to always think about what my actions and or speech is teaching my little ones. Sometimes I get it wrong put I pray I am teaching them respect and responsibility so I applaud your actions. Yes you could have read the signs and backed out but then the lesson to be learned would never have happened. No amount of money or time is ever a true lose when raising the little ones.

  2. Carissa says:

    Totally. That’s not tough love parenting. THAT’s REAL LOVE parenting!

    My 16 and 13 year old routinely watch a friends THEIR OWN AGE have a full on meltdown/tantrum because not able to deal with loss, or disappointment… And they come home and say and I quote: “Thank you for being a mean mom when we were little. Now we get it and don’t throw tantrums as a TEENAGER!”

    Seriously they thank me for NOT giving in to them in a store. Your response was brilliant and life learning and likely they won’t forget it when something ‘big’ happens to them in life. What do you do? You SOLVE your problem, own up to it and move on. I think that’s a recipe for life long happiness!

    Getting off soapbox. :)

    • mamamommymom says:

      Awe, thank you! I often wonder how bad I’m messing up, you know? I know there’s no *right* way to do this parenting thing, but sheesh. I hope my kids thank me when they get older.

  3. Been there. Miss A and a couple of her friends broke new crayons at school. I made her pay for the crayons with her own money, and take them to the teacher and apologize. I want her to know that mom is not going to get her out of trouble and that she needs to be responsible for mistakes. Yes there will be moments of grace, God knows I need those myself, but teaching our children that even if they make a mistake there are consequences will help them not feel entitled and give them a sense of responsibility next time they don’t think before acting.

  4. My advice is always you have to do what is best for your family and in this instance your family and my family would have done the same thing!! (:

  5. Laura says:

    Yes! They’ve got to learn the lesson at some point, and who better to learn it from than Mom? My mom was like that, I had to learn from my actions and I can honestly say, today, at 20, I always think about those consequences before I make a big decision. So many kids today don’t, so it’s nice to see someone teaching them!

  6. Whitney says:

    I have seen this scenario played out way too many times in my head. It’s just a matter of time before it happens in real life. Especially with my three very active littles. You handled it very well, mama.

  7. Kerry Cairns says:

    I think you did a great thing by following through! It’s SO hard sometimes, especially when it comes to money being involved. It reminds me of when we took Sweet Girl to the fair last year and she had been told numerous times all day to behave, of course she didn’t and upon reminding her at the fair and if she didn’t we would leave…we actually had to. I *hated* wasting money and honestly I would have loved to stay myself, but I had to stick to my word. Believe it or not, she still talks about it to this day. I bet next time she’ll remember. :) It’s hard, but you did awesome!

  8. I like that you faced it head on. I think you handled it beautifully.

  9. Jane says:

    As a mom of 4, I will tell you that you chose very wisely! It shouldn’t ever happen again, usually once is often enough!

  10. I’m torn on this. I do think that ultimately you did the right thing however, from what’s above, I don’t think your daughter should have been punished for her brother not behaving. There is a possibility, especially if these kinds of punishments happen a lot, that the only thing she’ll learn is that when someone else does something wrong she has to pay for it too. I’m not trying to telling you how to parent your kids and I don’t want it to come off like that but I think he should have been forced to pay for it and lost his supplies and maybe a few extras until he had payed off the $23. Does that make sense?

    • mamamommymom says:

      Thanks for commenting, Cassie. The only reason I chose to make her accountable as well is because she tends to feed her brother’s unruly behavior. She’s been told to separate herself from him when he’s misbehaving rather than pushing back and encouraging his behavior. As the older child, to some degree, to back me up when I am trying to calm her brother down verses working against me. If she had been following directions, she wouldn’t have been standing with me rather than messing around with her brother.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I definitely think you made the right call. Some of the hardest lessons I learned as a kid were similar to this and I’m sure they were not easy for my Mom to enforce and follow through on!

  12. Carly says:

    Good for YOU!!! You taught your son accountability!

  13. Ashley says:

    I think you handled it perfectly. Way to go lady!

  14. Triplezmom says:

    I think you handled it perfectly and I am duly impressed. The world would be a better place if more parents did what you did.

  15. I’m impressed too, I’m not sure I would have been able to hold it together, especially when the sales lady asked if I was sure I wanted to pay for the broken vase. #SITSBlogging
    ~Jamie

  16. Meredith says:

    I personally think having them witness you buying the vase was much better than sending them to the car! (which is probably what I would have done!) So, good job, mama! Stopping by from SITS! :)

  17. Katy Blevins says:

    Good for you!! I give you lots of credit for sticking to your plan, even though it meant a rough uphill road for you as the kids worked through their frustration. What a great lesson and great example, not only of responsibility and care, but even more importantly, of honor. Setting the example that you valued items that belonged to someone else enough to proactively be truthful, pay for it and assume the responsibility for the damage is fantastic.

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