(Or how a kitchen utensil saved my sanity.)

I wish I could say that this title was one of my inventions, but I must give credit to my mother-in-law who raised 11 kids. Yes, my husband is the oldest son of 11.

So as my four daughters started to grow out of their toddler stages I took this sage advise to heart. If you let one get away with it, the others will eventually run all over you. I had to develop a method of discipline that wouldn’t kill their psyche but yet would let them know who was in charge. I had to be the Alpha female or I was dead!

This is when I discovered that a simple kitchen tool could save me.

It was the wooden spoon.

I probably went through two hundred during the time my kids reached high school. And no… I never hit a one of them with them. When they started to fight or hit each other (oh yes, little girls can partake in fisticuffs!) I would run like the wind to the kitchen!

Now we all know what the kitchen “junk drawer” is. That’s the one place in the house that every known weird thing that doesn’t fit anywhere else resides. It’s the drawer that can’t open because something always gets stuck in it and it’s the drawer that you must remove everything out of when you really need to find a rubber band. This was the home of my wooden spoon!

The kids knew this drawer. They knew when I ran for it what was going to happen. They knew their mother (me) was a crazy lady! I would wrench the drawer open, it would make a lot of noise and I would grab my saving grace and turn with vigor towards my kitchen counter. With one fell swoop I would smack this marvelous tool onto its surface. This produced a cracking sound that could wake the dead because the counter was made of tile. This also produced a lot of broken wooden spoons!

But it always gave me the same result… the perpetrators would scatter! The anticipation of what COULD come next always got the team to their rooms. Now instead of fighting each other, they bonded as sisters. They had a common enemy. Their petty warring stopped. All was peaceful in the house. Now it was time for their punishment.

I was cagey in this respect. I followed nobody’s rules except my own when it came to this part of parenting. I would say, “You can all come up with your own punishment. And it had better be good enough or else I will come up with my own punishment for you!” What is funny about this method was that they would always come up with punishments that were WAY worse than anything I would have delved out! “Okay mom… We can’t watch TV for a week, we’ll go to bed and read a book after dinner, we can’t use the phone and we’ll wash the dishes for the next month.” There were many times that I had to keep from laughing in front of them, but I stuck to my guns and let them “do their time.”

They are all grown women now. Some have children of their own. To this day they tell the stories of mom and the wooden spoon episodes and I just smile as if to say… “Just wait girls, I might just live long enough to see you discover the ultimate disciplinary tool.” After all… Doesn’t history repeat itself?

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