With last week’s arrival of Lent and the challenge of finding something to “give up” for forty days, I am reminded once again that our children thrive in their role as self-appointed pint-sized police. We have an usually large task force at work here in the Lyons Den – a team of five who are constantly on the prowl, eager to catch someone in a forbidden act and then promptly rat them out to the prevailing parental unit which, for better or worse, happens to include a legitimate local judge.
Our pee-wee patrol alternates between committing and reporting on numerous petty crimes. The two-year old triplets are eloquent in the language of accusation – “he bit me!”, “he hit me!”, and perhaps most unfortuantely “he PEED on the floor!” are part of a daily refrain which is often followed by stern self-administered sentencing: “NO Declan!”, “Time OUT Mac Mac!”, “Bad boy KooKoo!”
The “bad boy” expletive is puzzling to us since we do our best not to actually tell our kids that they are “bad”. Because, of course, they’re not. They’re just kids. While I’ve certainly slipped up and dropped an F-bomb now and again, I honestly don’t think I ever called one of them a “Bad Boy”. As it turns out, I didn’t; their Big Sister has. It appears that Ciara has taken on a Lieutenant role of sorts and I’m told that she lets that “Bad Boy” fly routinely while we’re at work. She was outed by her Big Brother, who assumes the Captain role in their pee-wee patrol unit. This all helps to explain why one night when I strongly suggested the triplets finish their dinner, I was verbally assaulted by three two-year tyrants screaming “Bad Boy Mama! Mama BAD BOY!!!!!!”
Then there’s the big kids – they don’t let anyone – including me and Des, get away with anything. We were driving home from Costco last week and they overheard me talking to a friend about our Saturday night plans, saying something like “oh, I’d love see a stupid, mindless movie for a change – especially since the last thing I saw was Black Swan!” I was immediately interrupted by the petite police in the back of the minivan, “MOM! You said STUPID! STUPID is a BAD word MOM! What’s stupid anyway? Why did you say that? I’m telling Dad.” Oh geez, I thought, here we go… it starts by telling Dad that I said “stupid” and then quickly escalates to the fact that I was talking while driving, might have rolled through a stop sign and somehow spent almost $600 at Costco! It’s all fair game to my four foot and under platoon.
Knowing as I do that I can’t get away with much, I really struggle with what to give up for Lent. I am under the contant scrutiny of five sets of eyeballs (six, if you count my husband the Judge!) who are just waiting for me to screw up… waiting for me to sneak that potato chip or cookie I’ve tried to give up in the past, waiting for my shrill outburst when I’ve promised to try harder to keep my cool. So, what’s a gal to do?! Giving up wine is out of the question, I’ve tried that and failed miserably and just couldn’t stand my own kids urging me to “just say no.”
So, as I write this, I haven’t committed to giving anything up; my pint-sized police have perhaps put the fear of God in me because I just can’t stand to fail in front of them. Or maybe it’s that being called “bad boy mama” is quickly losing its charm. In any case, if you have any suggestions for something I can give up (or take on) between now and Easter, please let me know — and, should you have your own pee-wee police at home, consider yourself warned!