The Jail

Why are my kids so fascinated with jail?

You might even say obsessed. They draw towns in the driveway with sidewalk chalk, and there's always a jail. They sit behind the deacon's bench that resides in our TV room -- you guessed it -- jail.

My 3-year old in particular. He, somehow, realizes that this is the ultimate punishment, and will often, out of nowhere, exclaim that he never wants to break the law and go to jail.

Good boy.

Because I'm not thoroughly convinced that one of my other children might not end up there at some point.

So we're at WalMart one day, and you know how at the front of WalMart there are banks, opticians, customer service...little cubbies built into the store. Several of these "cubbies" in our WalMart are gated -- closed.

Tate thinks they're jail.

I've tried to explain what they are. I've tried to convince him that jail ALWAYS has policemen; that they don't put jails in retail stores; that criminals don't shop at WalMart (hmm, I need to think about that one). No dice.

And then there was that fateful day.

It was an accident, a lapse in judgement brought about by exhaustion and desperation. It was a weekly trip to Wally World where those of us who are net-not-working now frequent on a regular basis. It was one of those days. Tate didn't want to walk. He didn't want to sit in the cart. He didn't want to be carried. He didn't want his jacket, he didn't want his shoes, he didn't want new toothbrushes, he didn't want ice cream, he didn't want wine (I did), he didn't want the dog food, he didn't want to stop screaming, he didn't want to get. Off. The. Floor.

Having reached the end of my wits, I did the unthinkable. Pointing my finger, I showed him the caged up cubby. "You see that jail? And see that police man (security guard)? He's looking to see who's doing all the screaming. And if he finds you...."

He paused. Laying on the floor with spit in his eyes, he said "nuh-uh. jail's for grownups and I'm a kid."

Me: "Well, that's kid jail. That's for children who are misbehaving in the store and not listening to Mommy."

He thought for a minute, then got up, climbed in the cart, and he's never NE-VER misbehaved in WalMart again.

It's a lopsided victory -- on the one hand, I made him behave. Go me! On the other...well, I'm a little ashamed of myself. My mother is not pleased.

But honestly, who hasn't, in a moment of desperation, told a little (ok, maybe not so little) white lie to make an impression on a child?

Mom, you let that bald man in the Shop & Save tell Carrie (my sister) that if she kept twirling her hair (her bad habit as a kid) she'd end up like him. I don't think she ever twirled her hair again and don't tell me you weren't a little relieved. And yet also just a wee bit ashamed.

He's OK. Besides, I think a little fear isn't necessarily such a bad thing. Especially if it encourages good behavior.

Moms, we don't always do things the right way. But I think that if we can encourage good results, as long as we TRY to do it the right way MOST of the time, our kids will turn out just fine.


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