From the living room we hear a door open and slam shut and little feet tip-toeing from the boy's room into our bedroom. Next we hear crying (Jack) from the boys room and then Natalie's voice calmly saying, "It's okay, Jack. It will be okay... MOMMY!"
I go into the boys room to check out the damage while Jeff walks back to our bedroom to investigate Carter's whereabouts.
"He hit me! Then he spit on me and scratched my eye and stepped on my toe! Then he called me a name and tried to bite me! He did it all first!" I hear Carter explaining his version of what happened to Jeff but I can't hear what Jeff is responding with. Finally I don't hear any more have-mercy-on-me's from Carter so I just continue to love on Jack and he recovers in a minimal amount of time (which always seems to happen as soon as they realize the culprit is being disciplined---miracle cure).
I go back into the living room and Jeff enters shortly after. "How'd you deal with Carter?" I ask, knowing that Carter and I butt heads more than I do with the others and creative discipline with that boy is more difficult for me than pretty much anything else. It's almost like Carter doesn't realize that I have a fairly long "rope" because he seems to immediately pull me tightly to the end of it. Every time.
Jeff just smiles, looks at me and says, "After talking to him and hearing him admit that Jack didn't do any of those things to him before he hit him I talked to Carter about how it's important to tell the truth... Then I let him pick his punishment." "You what?" "Well, I asked him what he did wrong and he said he lied. So I asked him what would teach him that it's not okay to lie to Mommy and Daddy. And he actually thought about it for a bit."
"Yeah," I said sarcastically, "I'll bet he did. What did he come up with?"
"Well, he sat there for a minute and eventually looked up at me with somewhat hopeful eyes and said 'How about a time-out?' and I said, 'Okay, for how long?' He thought about it for a few seconds and then told me, '12 minutes would probably be long enough for me to think about not lying.' "
I looked at Jeff and said, "So, now he's going to think he scored if he gets to pick his punishment, even if it's a freakishly long time-out, he feels like he got off the hook."
"I'm not done." Jeff said. "I told him that he could pick his punishment and then I would approve or not approve it. He picked a 12 minute time-out and then I said that was fine. However, I told him that he wasn't going to take it right away. I told him he would sit in his 12 minute time out later. After dinner. When I'm wrestling on the floor of the living room with Natalie and Jack."
"Oh. Yeah, that's bad. What did he say?"
"When the tears stopped streaming down his face he just looked up at me and said, 'Okay Daddy... but is it too late to change it to less minutes?' "