Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Budgie Brouhaha

Ziad and Maya have budgies that live in Maya's room. These birds are not especially tame, or particularly bright, and when they get out of their cage it can be really difficult to get them back in again. Most birds, homebodies all, will eventually make their way back into their cage, but these are some freedom-loving budgies. Or some not-so-bright budgies, maybe, because even with two doors in the cage open I've seen them have trouble figuring out how to get back in. And of course since there are two, getting them both in and the door closed is twice as difficult. Honestly, they are the most trouble I have ever had with caged birds. When (not if, unfortunately) they get out.

Now Ziad and Maya like to handle these birds, and are trying to tame them, and love to interact with them. That is why I say when, and not if, they get out. That's all well and good, but seriously, chasing budgies into a cage when you are late for guitar class is one of the most infuriating wastes of time I can imagine. Especially since the guitar teach will definitely guilt-trip you for being late and then be unable to add extra minutes for the one you missed (it's not the fault of his next student that you came late), so that I can hear a little meter ticking off the dollars it is costing me to chase those annoying birds.

Which is why I made the decree that if those birds were EVER flying around loose again, they were out of here. There's a new place downtown that's opened up with the purpose of placing birds, and I have no qualms at all about taking those budgies and putting them up for adoption.

So of course, it turns out that they have been flying around loose again. The process by which I discovered this is not all that relevant, but when I did, and got ready to follow through, of course, there was a huge upheaval in the house. Ziad was crying his eyes out, and eventually revealed that he had set them loose ON PURPOSE because he felt like, in his words, "causing some trouble."

Naturally enough, this caused even more upheaval. I am not that keen on children who deliberately defy me. As I pointed out to Ziad, letting the budgies fly around loose is not really that good for them, they are not toys for his personal amusement, and it was that much worse that he decided to something that entailed serious consequences for Maya, just because he felt like it. So of course he cried even harder.

Not being made of stone (and being very fond of the budgies myself, I have to admit) we eventually settled on a compromise. Ziad is now personally responsible for all household chores for the next two weeks, he apologized to Maya, and he is going to be losing a substantial number of toys, although they are mainly birthday presents I've been holding back due to space considerations.

Now I'm wondering: which is the better course? Should I absolutely hold to what I said, or should I work with my children to let them find consequences that sting, but are bearable? Am I going to find myself with a drunken teenager who has no respect for the rules, and feels that everything is negotiable, or am I going to have a child who trusts me to care how he feels and wants to maintain our relationship of trust? I honestly don't know. Maybe nobody does.

Feedback welcome.

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Blogger zelda said...

I'm all for negotiation and allowing children to make-up for their mistakes. Except for hitting. I have a zero-tolerance policy for hitting.

Lately, I've been letting Henry earn back lost computer time by instead doing copywork of various proverbs that relate to his transgression in exchange. He gets handwriting practice, a lesson on proverbs and the whole thing usually relates better to what he actually did.

There's probably an argument against waivering after your kid has pitched a fit. It probably involves making threats you can't go through with. All stuff that's hard to remember in the heat of the moment which really is just more proof that decent people make mistakes and deserve second chances.

11:57 AM  
Blogger zelda said...

Is it proverbs that I mean? Maybe adages? Are proverbs always religious? If they are then I mean adages.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Now I'm going to have to go look up proverbs AND adages. But I don't think either of them is necessarily religious. And I wouldn't call crying really hard pitching a fit. Not in Ziad, anyway. When he pitches a fit it's a whole different ballgame, and actually, we have a firm rule of no negotiating when fits are being pitched. That one I don't waver on.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Vivian said...

I say rules are rules, house rules, parenting rules, society rules. Rules are made to be broken, that's the job for teenagers and small boys, and that's why there are parents. There are plenty of rules in this world we all have to obey, like not drive down highway 17 and play bumpy cars, or do harm to other creatures. A parent's job is to help children understand the world, rules included. One can love and trust another person, and at the same time understand each other's boundary and limitation. Trust and discipline go hand in hand, not one against the other.

I'm not familiar with budgies, but my mother-in-law has had multiple birds (various kinds) in her life. She always had some way to clip their wings so they don't fly too far. I can ask Bill what they do if you like.

2:07 PM  

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