Or did she even come with one?
I am sure you all know the answer to that. None of my daughters came with an instruction manual, (if your kids did, we need to work out a deal!).
I thought after we had Emma and found out Hannah was another girl, "Man, this will be easy. I know EXACTLY what to do with girls.". Then, Hannah got here. She's a POLAR opposite of Emma and to say she rocked our world would be an understatement.
Then, Catherine was on her way. I thought, "OK. Two COMPLETELY different personalities under the belt. Catherine will fall somewhere in the middle and we will know what to do." Again, TOTALLY different. Nothing like either of the first two. So, of course, it's been yet another learning process.
(I am sure God is laughing at me saying "That's what you get for underestimating me!")
The thing is each one of the girls is so different. They have different likes, dislikes, personalities, hair color, eye color and giggles. I love them all for their sweet differences. I love Emma for her tender-heart and her shy nature. I love Hannah for her spunky attitude and her love of music. I love Catherine for her strong-will and desire to make others laugh. I love their differences. I beg them to embrace their differences and be kind to each other.
I do know how to do that. However, each time I get one stage (mainly discipline) figured out for each of them, the stages change. What worked before, stops working. They aren't phased by spanking/grounding/losing toys. And...I feel like it's back to square one.
(I promise there is a purpose to this post...just bear with me.)
Emma has never really been a trouble maker. She does do things here and there to get in trouble, but that is usually cured with an "I'm disappointed in you" and a stern look. She would crumble. I would love on her. We would talk about why she should/shouldn't do things. All would be right with the world.
But, 1st grade started 16 days ago. Today marks day # 17. Sixteen days ago, our sweet, never-argues, can't-stand-for-someone-to-be-disappointed Emma disappeared. Don't get me wrong, she is no where near theft and destruction of property or others. But, one issue just seems to have been looming in our house for the last sixteen days:
You heard that right folks. Emma has been lying. (Just for the record, sneaking around and withholding the truth is the same as lying in the Williamson household). She is lying about EVERYTHING! STUPID THINGS!
(This is the point I would whip out the previously mentioned instruction manual, flip to section 32A-1 and read all about how to handle lying with Emma Claire Williamson, steps 1-8 would be followed, and the lying would be cured.)
So, Travis and I are at a loss. We have tried it all. We have talked to her about how lying is a sin and it doesn't make God happy when we lie. We talked about choices. We have spanked her. We have talked about not doing things that she would need to lie about. We have grounded her. We have talked to her about paths in life and how lying the start of the "path to jail". (Don't laugh...my child is terrified of jail because "They have no TV"). I have yelled. (Not my proudest moments...but I did!)
NOTHING IS WORKING!
I am shocked. Shocked that my little, sweet, tender-hearted Emma can lie. (She's a BAD liar). I am floored that she can sneak around and do something she KNOWS is not allowed.
I wonder two things: 1) What is going on in her life that has flipped this switch?, 2) Did I break her? Did it only take us 6 years to mess this whole parenting thing up? (I mean...that's got to be a world record right?)
So, starting today, we are on a new path with Emma. Emma is EASILY influenced by others. (I don't really relate to that, because I was always an instigator). So, Emma is going to move to the "Rewards/Consequences" form of discipline.
Just like in science, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every good choice, there is a reward. For every bad choice, there is a consequence. Her consequence might be picking up after Catherine, unloading the dishwasher, missing soccer practice. Her reward might be staying up 30 minutes later than Hannah and Catherine, reading a chapter out of her Kit books together, eating popcorn in her room and watching a movie on the weekend.
However, if ANY lies are told during the week, things will be taken away (TV, Trampoline, Ipod, etc) and an early bedtime enforced for the next 7 days. Also, during that 7 days, there will be no rewards given.
So, that is what we have come up with. Yes, it's a little silly. Yes, you may think we are being too hard on her. But, lots is tolerated, even over-looked, in our house. Many warnings are given about fighting with your sisters, not picking up your toys when you are done playing with them, etc. However, lying is UNACCEPTABLE.
I am sure I will let you know how the "Emma Method" works. If it works on her, I have no doubt it will be of no use on the other two! :)
On a side note: A few months ago, I received an email from Daddy Ben about kids and lying. The typical age in which a child starts lying is between 7-10. The earlier a child lies, the more advanced they are said to be, as they are able to come up with an "alternative ending" to what happened and recite that back to you. These "early liars" are also more likely to become lawyers or go into the financial field and are typically successful in their careers.
(I must have a mini-genius on my hands. I have already gotten information for her on the best law schools in the country. Also, should we embrace lying as it means a successful adulthood?)
(I'm kidding people...I'm kidding!)