The children in my care tell me I am required to feed them 2 snacks and one mid-day meal every day they are with me. I feel this is extravagant as they rarely eat what is placed in front of them and never want the same thing at the same time.
Today they have been offered a banquet of apple slices, cheese-flavored square crackers, filtered water, a cheese pizza facsimile and one caramel candy. The dogs and the chickens are pleased that the children are not fond of eating as they receive the leftovers and table scraps from my unacceptable offerings of food.
In addition to feeding the children, they have expectations that the electronic screen will be on 24/7/365. I have attempted to disabuse them of this fallacious belief by simply not turning on the screen. This non-action inspires them to run around in circles, stomp loudly, scream and play hide-and-seek. Strangely I believe these are behaviors that should be exhibited outside.
Although the children disagree with my fantasy, I have forced them to play outside. Their idea of ‘outside’ is to hang around the French Doors and jump over the threshold repeatedly until I give up and let them come inside. Today I had to evict them from the deck because they were distracting the painter. They have spent the last 45 minutes sitting on the stairs or the patio whispering things – probably about me. I hope they remember to put all the atrocities I’ve forced upon them in their memoirs, because someone is going to need to pay for all the therapy and only book sales will cover the costs.
There were 3 children ejected from the indoors on this beautiful sunny day. I attempt to acquiesce to their demands for food and take popcorn downstairs for afternoon snack. I only see 1 of 3 when I come down the steps.
The first child, called “Reporter” tells me that child #2 is sad. I turn to see this child under the deck.
Child #2 will be called “Contrition” and is sitting on the ground; sniffling, looking downcast and will not look at me.
I ask Contrition what’s going on. Contrition responds with a pitiful “I couldn’t control myself”. More sniffling, tears fill the eyes. Downcast looking. More sniffling. There’s even a chin quiver. Assuming this means that there will be a plastic bag with wet clothing and additional laundry for the child’s parents, I tell Contrition to go upstairs to change clothing. Contrition tells me this is unnecessary as that is not what the problem is.
Momentarily confused, I ask Contrition what the problem is and receive a shoulder shrug in reply. I repeat my question in the hopeful, but fruitless quest for truth. Contrition repeats the shoulder movement. More sniffling.
Reporter pleads with Contrition through repetitive eye signals and hand motions; however Contrition is exercising their Fifth Amendment rights and remains silent. Reporter is removed from the scene and questioned as to the whereabouts of Child #3.
According to the eagle-eyed and well-informed Reporter, Child #3 is hiding under the pool (tipped over upside down leaning on the kid’s ladder).
We’ll call child #3 “Hider”.
Speaking in the direction of the reported sighting, I ask Hider to show themselves. Crickets. I repeat my question 2 more times with no answer. As there has also been no movement from the documented hiding place, I warn Hider that I will begin counting. Upon reaching “3” in “The Count” (*), I move the pool and find the suspect under a hat, under the pool (under the ladder). Hider is moved to the stairs to begin interrogation; Hider immediately cracks under the pressure and plaintively wails “I scratched (Contrition)”.
Hint: a good interrogator already knows the answers to many of the questions used in an interrogation. This is the secret, as it means that the alleged perpetrator(s) believe that they are smarter than the interrogator. The perpetrator(s) then feel obliged to tell the interrogator a series of small omissions, also known as “untruths”.
Being an experienced interrogator, I continue to press Hider for details about the alleged criminal activity. Hider continues to sob, admitting only to scratching and being angry. Well aware of the history of the culprits I interrupt and ask what started the attack. Hider admits to scratching Contrition first, in anger; but only after Contrition ‘kept hitting me’.
Note: This line of questioning was a rookie mistake because there is never just one incident; rather a string of unfortunate events that explode into life-threatening tantrums and emotional outbursts.
Contrition begins sniffling again. (It’s usually wise to separate offenders as emotions run high, sometimes this is geographically difficult).
Hider continues to sob as both perpetrators are tried and sentenced to time-out. Upstairs, separately, for.a.very.long.time.
Reporter must follow the prison bus upstairs in order to view time served from a front-row seat at the dining table. Reporter requisitions snacks and beverages to accompany the entertainment.
Hider is placed on the floor, facing the toy drawers.
Contrition is placed on the floor, across the room, facing the cabinets.
The Prison Warden (formerly played by the Interrogator, formerly known as the Nanny) sits down to enter the case information into the court record.
Reporter feasts on snacks and beverages.
Contrition sits quietly.
Hider falls asleep in the cell.
After time is served, Contrition immediately gives a statement to Reporter who informs the Warden/Interrogator/Nanny that “Contrition enjoyed the time-out”.
Hider wakes up and leaves the cell quietly.
Both former convicts are sent to see the Parole Officer (see “Prison Warden”) and are asked once more if they understand the reason for their confinement. The story is confusing, but time-honored. There was an incident followed by another incident that created a reaction that caused an ensuing reaction. Feelings were hurt, emotions were involved and original sin reared its ugly head.
Parolees are reminded that future violations of parole may result in corporal punishment; then sent on their way to become self-sufficient members of society.
Reporter was seen leaving the scene with a woman called “Grandma”. Hider was chauffeured home using the usual driver and Contrition has decided to remain with the Warden until another meal is served and the evening entertainment has begun.
(*) For those of you who are not familiar in the skills of parenting, “The Count” has nothing to do with a friendly lavender creature on public television that loves to count things. It is the death knell to sanity and patience. If by the count of 3 (from 1), the Count-ee has not followed the instructions of the Count-er, it’s all over but the screamin’ and the shoutin’ folks. “The Count” is usually followed by a time-out, a swat, loss of privileges or in extreme cases, all of the above. It is not a pleasant experience.
Names have been changed to protect the innocent; however in this story no one was really innocent. In keeping with gender-less ideologies; no mention has been made of DNA-specified or recognized stereotypes.