27 May 2013

Punishment and dementia

A few weeks ago I confiscated J's ipod after he was mean to his sister. Initially he took this rather well, but later on that night the contraband item was no longer on the office shelf where I'd left it. J denied all knowledge of it's current whereabouts and as there were more pressing matters at hand (involving the staged bedtimes of 3 children, the answering of a dozen emails and the consumption of a large glass of red wine and a family bag of maltesers) I did not pursue the matter further.

However, the next morning I found said confiscated item under its owner's pillow, and suddenly J remembered, Oh yes that's right, I did take it back without asking and yes that was wrong of me and I'm VERY sorry mummy...

So ipod was confiscated for 2nd time in as many days, only this time I did not leave it in plain view of the owner. Whoah no- I hid it. Sneakily and effectively. Rather too effectively. When I came to return the thing I couldn't find it.

Cue many tears (him), lots of apology (me), a 4 hour road trip which felt much longer than it was and the treat of being able to spend some journey time playing games on my phone (normally not allowed, but felt it was only fair given the circumstances).

On returning home we searched some more but still no iPod appeared. I knew the room I'd placed it in (our bedroom) and the general area within the room it had last been seen (on top of chest of drawers by window), but many items in our bedroom and indeed all over our house are not static at the moment (About 1/3 of our belongings are packed up in boxes and stacked in the dining room so we can move house as soon as the mortgage people decide to give us some money and stop playing email tag with us to demand bits of paper and question the wisdom of cancelling direct debits from energy suppliers who no longer provide us with energy yet continue to steal take our money). So anyway, the hiding place I'd so carefully chosen for the iPod was not only hidden, but possibly portable too, making it a really really good secret hiding place.

There have been many iPod centred conversations in our house recently. I won't bore you with them all, but here are some of them:

J: Mummy, the next time I'm bad and you have to take my ipod away can you pleeeaaase remember where you put it?

Me: I will honestly and truly try to do that mate. And maybe you could try really hard NOT to be mean and then lie to me and then you'll get to keep all your stuff! (Big smile and I try to hi-5 him).

J: (Half-heartedly slaps my hand) Yes, but it is still lost just now though, isn't it?

E: Mum, the next time you take something off Jackson and hide it I think you should tell dad where you put it.

Me: That is a great ideas. Thanks.

E: Or you could tell me.

Me: Mmmm. Probably NOT.

E: (At 12 1/2 he is often treated as an honorary adult and looks affronted at my reluctance to confide in him) But... why??

Me: That would cause the balance of power in this house to shift a little too much like this (I demonstrate with my hands) and that's not a good idea.

E: But I wouldn't tell him.

Me: Probably not, but you might do. Or you might get mad with him then accidentally tell him you know where it is even if you don't say exactly where and that wouldn't be good for your relationship with him. Yeah?

E: (Clearly wrestling with this scenario) I get what you mean by that...  but I really don't see it ever happening.

(This kind of response is why he gets treated as an honorary adult, although it's not a guaranteed consistent response which would be expected of an actual real grown up)

Madi: If you can't remember where Jackson's ipod is then it will be lost forever.

Me: I'm sure it will turn up though.

Madi: If it doesn't then he can share MINE! (An old Zen MP3 player which came free with a Staples order about 4 years ago and WAS Jackson's up until Christmas when he bought the one I have lost from Ethan for £10, and which no longer works properly after its adventure in the 40 degree wash cycle in the pocket of her jeans).

Me: That is ever so kind Madi. Jackson's very lucky to have such a thoughtful sister, aren't you mate?

J: Yeah- thank you Madi! (whispers to me) Isn't it broken though???

K: So we still haven't found his ipod then?

Me: Nope. You want to try looking for it?

K: Nah- we'll find it when we move.