Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clean Up Your Act

The inevitable happened this weekend: Amy ate soap.

It was an ugly, ugly thing. But we all knew that one day she would have to pay the piper. And the piper was officially paid Friday afternoon.

On the way home from school, Amy was so keyed up that she bit her cousin. I was incredulous. I couldn't really believe she did it. She's in FIRST GRADE!!!

Keith immediately sent up the flair: "Amy bit my cousin. She gets soap in her mouth. And she loses television for a week. And she has to sleep in her own room for a month."

(Remind me never to make Keith mad...)

I tried to regain some control. No dice. Finally, we dropped of cousin and headed for home, Keith and Amy waging war in the back seat.

When I stopped the car in the driveway, I sat quietly until Amy and Keith took a breath and realized we were no longer moving and I was looking at them. Keith went for the kill.

"Mom, you said if Amy bit again she would get soap in her mouth..."

"No she didn't. She keeps the soap for if the bathroom doesn't have any," Amy ventured.

Emma stayed quiet in the very back as if to say, "I am not involved. I have a slumber party for which I need to get ready. I could not care less as to how this evolves. Let me know if you need me. I'll be over here."

"Let's talk inside, Amy. Keith, thank you for your concern. I think I've got it from here," I said firmly.

Once inside I got eye-level with Amy. "Amy, did you bite your cousin?"

Her bottom lip poked out and huge tears pooled in her eyes. She nodded slightly. Then she wailed, "I'm sorry, mommy! I promise I won't do it again. I'm really sorry!" She continued to sob and suck in air.

I looked at her with compassion and asked, "Amy, if I promised you I would take you out for ice cream and I didn't, what would you think?"

She puzzled and cried simultaneously. "I-would-be-mad," she puffed out.

"Yes. You would be. I would have lied to you. You wouldn't trust me, would you?"

"No," she sobbed, "Are we getting ice cream?"

"No," I shook my head. "I told you if you bit or said bad things, I would wash your mouth out with soap to make it clean, didn't I?"

"Yes, but mommy please don't. I'm really sorry!" she begged.

"Yes, I know you are. And I appreciate your apology. I believe you are sincere. But Amy, if I didn't put soap in your mouth now I would be lying to you. And you couldn't trust me."

She tried to come up with an argument, but she's smart and she knew she'd been out-smarted. If she could have I feel certain she would have said, "Well, crap." But she knew she'd get extra soap for that. So she settled for a huge sigh.

I went to my purse and got out the Warm Vanilla Sugar she had selected a couple of weeks prior. I unscrewed the top and poured a scant amount on my finger.

She was in full-tilt emotional mess phase. But she stood her ground, and bravely held out her tongue.

I swiped her tongue with the liquid soap. (Note: liquid soap stays around longer than bar soap in the mouth. Makes a longer impression. Emma's biting phase ended abruptly after having tried bar soap and moved to liquid soap.)

Amy spat and rubbed her tongue fiercely with her hand. She ran to the kitchen and got water, which activated the liquid soap and bubbles even more. For a full ten minutes, she looked like I did when I accidentally sprayed perfume in my mouth instead of on my wrist (long story).

Finally, she settled down, quit crying and composed herself.

"Mommy, I am very sorry I bit. I promise I won't do it again," she said somberly.

"Thank you, sweetie. I know you won't. And I know you won't say ugly things, either. Thank you for being such a big girl," I answered.

The rest of the weekend has gone without a hitch. In fact, that night she stayed at BFF's house instead of in the midst of Emma's slumber party.

BFF called at 9:30 that night to report that Amy was the most perfectly behaved child she had ever seen. Now- I am so glad that she behaves well for others. And I attribute some of the "above & beyond" angelic behavior to soap. But, I would be lying if I didn't say that there's a little part of me that gets really put out that she can be so good for others and act like a demonically possessed poltergeist at home.

I guess I'll take what I can get. And, she definitely believes me when I tell her a consequence now. But, I'm still carrying the soap in my purse, just in case...

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