I mean it.
This is why: Today, Lizzie had two of her friends over for a play date. Of course, Maggie wanted to play, too. Instead of saying no and telling her that last time she had a play date, she refused to allow Lizzie in the room, I encouraged Lizzie to allow her sister to participate in any games and make-believe that they played.
After an hour, the girls decided to play dress up. I was ecstatic– thousands of dollars in dance costumes were getting another use. They were mixing and matching and creating crazy combinations. Someone decided they should have a fashion show, and I got to be the judge.
They all came up from the basement dressed in their outfits, and Maggie wanted Lizzie to lead the way. I don’t know if it was because Lizzie wanted to walk in the living room with her friends or she felt that Maggie was trying to steal her friends away from her, she refused.
“No, Maggie! I will not go first.”
“Go,” Maggie repeated.
“I am not going first!” she yelled at her.
“Go,” Maggie insisted.
When Lizzie shook her head “no” and crossed her arms across her chest, Maggie did the unthinkable. She shoved her sister. It was not a minor shove either. She had fire in her eyes, and she shoved so hard, Lizzie lost her balance and fell into the dishwasher, scraping her elbow.
I was up before Lizzie could start crying. I ignored Lizzie.
“Go to your room, now,” I bellowed. “How dare you treat your sister like that!”
Maggie cowered, which she always does for dramatic effect, and then she ran to her room. I followed. She threw herself on her bed and began to sob into her pillow.
“You can stay her all day for all I care,” I continued yelling. “You do not shove your sister! You do not shove anyone! The only person you are allowed to shove is yourself!”
Yourself? Wait, what?
As quickly as I could, I slammed the door for emphasis. And then I did the unthinkable. I started to laugh.
I am the worst disciplinarian in the world. I had truly been angry a minute earlier, but then I told Maggie to shove herself, and the whole thing seemed ridiculous. Maggie sobbing in her room seemed stupid. Not letting her play in her cute little outfit she put together seemed obtuse. I am a terrible parent because I hate being a disciplinarian. I want my children to enjoy their lives, and being in trouble sucks.
Nonetheless, I held my ground. I sat on the couch and sadly listened to her cry and feel sorry for herself for over an hour. I did not relent until I felt that she learned a lesson and would think twice before shoving anyone again.
Of course, she’s still allowed to shove herself.