We planned to take our spoiled little darlings to Disneyland, Paris for a few days of wet, slushy outdoor fun. I suppose that's what you get -- precipitation -- when you book amusement park tickets for the cheapest week of the year.
I don't know what it is about large, rewarding events like a trip to the Mouse House that make all my children act so horrible. We like to think that they are frequently obedient and mostly respectful little creatures who know that their parents follow through on threats and blessings alike.
So how is it that the one week out of the year we're slated to take a vacation tailored especially for them they turn into whiny, sassy little monsters who foam at the mouth and snap their teeth at us?
It got so bad during errands last week that I actually took June, age 5, to her father's office and dropped her off with him so I could have a time out.
It was the best five minutes of my afternoon. I don't know what went on in Daddy's time-out chair but he returned a much more humble, penitent little daughter to the van's backseat. She might have mentioned something about Fire People with red eyes who live in the scary broken buildings, but I was too busy enjoying the lack of screeching to worry about it.
Due to the success of this event, I have decided that it would be particularly helpful to mothers and fathers in general if police stations would consider opening a Naughty Room filled with dusty corners for noses and lengthy apology-provoking benches. Parents could check their kids in for 2- to 10-minute sessions and enjoy some refreshing elevator music and complimentary Diet Coke and Oreos.
The children, of course, would not receive cookies.
I had all four kids in the car and was amazed at the amount of pouting and punching going on in the back seat.
"Everybody!" I finally hollered. "This has to stop right now! I am sick and tired of your fighting! You have been so disobedient this week, don't you understand that if you're not obedient to me and Heavenly Father, you won't get to Heaven?"
"Yeah, right," I heard my 9-year-old mutter from the back seat. "You always say stuff like that."
"Oh yeah? Well here's one for you, how about I take away Disneyland?"
Immediately the entire car was tomblike.
"Yeah," I said, "that's what I thought. If you want to get to Heaven, you need to obey God. If you want to get to Disneyland, you need to obey me, got it?" Their cooperative silence and fear at my new threat was so complete that I managed to unload an entire five-minute sermon on the pitfalls of disobeying your parents, those on Earth and above. I also explained that Heaven is just like Disneyland except it's always sunny and all the frozen bananas are free.
"And so," I concluded, "if you want to get to Disneyland/Heaven you had better learn those two, extremely critical, all-encompassing words that will get you through the rest of your week/life. What are they?"
"Uh ..." June said.
"I love Jesus!" Rex said.
"I'm sorry?" Harrison said.
I sighed. It doesn't matter how many times I tell them, they never remember. "The two magic words for the week," I held up two fingers, "are the same magic words that you've been saying your entire life. ... 'Yes, Mother!'"
I was met with a resounding echo from the backseat and 24 blissful hours with my momentarily reformed, somewhat obedient children.
The next night, for family night, I took a chapter from my girlfriend's book and implemented the Repentance Bench to reinforce our new crack-down on familial obedience. I have the feeling it's going to see a lot of action in the next few years.
Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, or vist her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.