Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No Use Crying Over Spilt Smoothie

Our Video Nights have been a favorite staple in our house for about a year now. Every Saturday, my son and I get a dvd from the library and then we all watch it together while having dinner in our family room. It is a nice shared experience that we all look forward to.

But, as with most things with Kai, it doesn’t always go smoothly.

There are many times when Kai gets excited and does something that he shouldn’t.

Sometimes he will shout in delight, often to the point where we miss more than just a few words of dialogue. Many times he will run up to the television to view it up close, blocking the view for the rest of us. Occasionally, he will jump up and down on the couch. And often, during the really exciting parts, he will ask me to rewind the movie, or just grab the remote to do it himself, so that he could see the scene again (and again and again sometimes.)

These behaviors range from being amusing but mildly annoying to things he really should not do.

But sometimes it goes beyond that.

On more than one occasion, he has spilled his drink after knocking into the table or wildly swinging his body in excitement. After the last time, when he knocked his cup of homemade carrot juice onto the carpet, we told him that if it happened again, we would no longer do Video Nights.

This past Saturday, we were setting up for our latest movie. I brought our drinks to the family room – green smoothies that my wife had made out of spinach and other vegetables and fruit – and then went back to the kitchen to get more of our meal.

When I returned, I saw that my glass was tipped over, and the entire green contents had spilled onto the carpet. Kai was sitting there quietly. When he saw me, he calmly said, “Dad, get a towel.”

I angrily yelled at him and rushed off to get towels. My wife heard the commotion and came over. When she saw the green goop all over the rug, she was even angrier than I was.

Video Night was over even before it began.

Kai started crying, either from knowing that he wouldn’t be seeing the movie, or because Mom had yelled at him.

I soaked up the spill with towels, and my wife got a carpet cleaner. And as she tried to clean the carpet, I brought our dinner, and Kai, back to the kitchen.

I tried to calm down. I questioned Kai how this happened. He explained that he swung a blanket and it knocked over the glass. I explained that he needed to be more careful, and quietly told him that there would be no more Video Nights.

When my wife returned to the kitchen, we started to eat our dinner in silence. No one was feeling good.

After awhile, Kai asked my wife to get more vegetables. She angrily told him that she wouldn’t be getting any more today.

Then Kai turned to me and said, “Dad, you can have my smoothie.”

I realized then that Kai was trying to make amends. He thought that our anger was because I had lost my smoothie. I don’t think he understood that we were upset that the carpet had gotten stained yet again. And so, offering his own smoothie was his way of showing some remorse, and trying to make up with me.

I thanked him for his offer, and suggested that we share his drink.

By the end of the meal, we were in better spirits.

In a few days, it will be another Saturday night. I’ve reconsidered my original thought about not ever having another Video Night. I don’t like the idea of not carrying out a threat, but I already miss our little tradition.

And so, we will find another way for Kai to pay the consequences for his actions. My wife came up with an idea to have him help clean a part of the house every week so he knows what it feels like to have to clean up.

We will also be more careful, and use cups that have lids.

But family-bonding time seems more important than a carpet. At this point, one more stain won’t make too much difference. But having a nice time together and creating good memories for the future will have a lasting impact.


  1. This is a dilemma we constantly face in dealing with our son's behavior. We often think using the most extreme punishment will cause a change in behavior. But often times it just sets him up for failure and everyone suffers in the end.

    That being said it's so hard trying to manage misbehavior with appropriate consequences that will in the long run alter the behavior instead of making us adults feel like justice was served.

    Best wishes!


    1. Myra, you are so right. With kids like ours, it can be so hard to alter the behavior. Many times, after I have cooled off, I wonder if the consequences had any impact other than making me feel better that I had doled out some punishment... which, in turn, then makes me feel worse.


  2. I like the idea of missing one video night instead of the 'never again' approach.

    Our boys love to watch a favorite part..even just a phrase of a sentence again and again...and they laugh big belly laughs at it even the 100th time. Crazy! haha.

    And we have replaced our carpet a few times...once after 2 weeks of the stomach flu, once after toilet training was done, and now I think we are due for it again! ha.

    1. Kai's constant re-viewing of certain parts gets a bit annoying when I haven't seen the movie before and want to know what happens next, but it is fun to see him enjoying it so much. So, I can only imagine the laughter x 3 at your house!

      I think I won't want to replace the carpet until it gets really gross... I'd go nuts worrying about spills on a new carpet. :)

  3. The final solution, I think, was a wise one. It is accountability combined with a lesson that applies, as well as teaches.

    I must agree with Myra...and I know that you do also.

    It is not in the severity of the punishment...but in the swiftness and sureness that matters.
    ----an often used Criminal Studies quote

    1. "Swiftness and sureness" -- a good thing to keep in mind. My challenge is always to keep my emotions in check, and to teach at the same time I am holding him accountable.


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