Hey Kid, Don’t Do the Crime If You Can’t Do the Time!

Don't Do The Crime, If You Can't Do The Time, Kid #funny #punishment #nightmare #behavior

So then…he folds his skinny little arms over the covers, juts out his chin, and says, “But, Mom, I can’t make it 4 days without TV!”

I stifle a smile as I click on the lamp on the bedside table. My 5 year-old son is fresh from bathing, so he’s tucked in bed in colorful jammies with damp hair and the sweet face of an angel — but his expression has all the gut-wrenching desperation of a junkie who’s just been denied access to the methadone clinic.

I plop next to him on the bed and say, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

Crime? Mom, come on!”

“Tucker, I warned you several times earlier today, so you knew the consequences of your behavior.”

“Mom, why don’t you take away my video games? I love video games way more than TV,” he says hopefully.

Not so fast, Brer Rabbit.

I shoot him a look. “Do you think I don’t know that your video game controller is broken? I’m not taking away something you can’t use anyway. So no TV for 4 days.”

“This is so not fair!” He furrows his little brow.

“Oh come on, take it like a man. When I was your age, if I misbehaved, I would have been spanked!” I turn toward him and prop my head on the pillow.

“But I can’t live without TV for that long!” he says.

“That’s what Rico thought too. Did I ever tell you about him? When I was a kid, he lived in the house across the street from us in Panama. He was a little older than you are now and loved TV. But his dad was pretty strict so he restricted the time Rico could watch it. And he’d take it away if Rico misbehaved. They fought about it a lot. One time, when Rico was forbidden from watching TV, he got up in the middle of the night to sneak TV without his dad knowing — but his dad came in — and you know what he did?”

“What?” asks Tucker, very interested.

“He shot the TV!”

“WHAT?” asks Tucker in surprise.

“Yep, he had a service revolver, this gun, and he just walked right over and shot the TV!”

Tucker contemplates the death of his favorite device very somberly. “Did they get a new TV?”

“No, and what’s more, Rico’s dad insisted that the TV sit there in the living room for months as a constant reminder – shattered screen and all.”

“That’s awful,” says Tucker. He’s horrified by this story, which reminds me of another childhood memory of this family.

“Yeah, the dad was really strict. Rico’s sister was a teenager at the time and really beautiful – thick long black hair all the way to her waist, pretty face, gorgeous eyes – but he wanted her to focus on high school and stay away from boys, so he forbid her to date. So one night she said she was going to her friend’s house to do homework — but when she came home, her dad found out that she’d been on a date with a college guy! So you know what he did?”

“He shot her?” asks Tucker with wide eyes.

“No, no, no!” I laugh out loud. “He didn’t shoot her! He waited ‘til she was asleep, then he picked up her ponytail and cut her hair off!”

“Really?” he asks, dismayed.

“Yes, really! She was devastated! She went from this long luxurious hair all the way down her back to this hideous pixie cut. I think he was trying to teach her something about the dangers of being vain and too focused on beauty or something. The whole neighborhood talked about that for months.”

My mind is still replaying those memories when I notice Tucker becoming very quiet, a tiny little worry line between his eyebrows. I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned these stories right before the poor little guy goes to sleep. He’ll probably have nightmares of gun-toting, scissor-wielding maniacs chasing him!

I hug him and say, “Don’t worry, honey. No one’s gonna shoot the TV or chop off your hair while you sleep!”

“Um…OK,” he says unconvincingly.

I feel terrible, of course, but maybe his 4 days of TV exile doesn’t seem quite so bad now.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Have you ever taken TV away from your kids?  What consequences do you impose when they behave badly?  Do those differ from the way your parents punished you and your siblings?)

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7 replies on “Hey Kid, Don’t Do the Crime If You Can’t Do the Time!

  1. Lily said:

    My friend explained the difference between punishing girls and boys. His kids are 3 and 4 years old. The other day, they were throwing Beanie Babies across the room at the table to knock other toys off. He said sternly, “Throw that Beanie Baby one more time and you’ll be sent to sit in the corner!” His daughter dropped the toy immediately and burst into tears at the very idea of disappointing her parents and receiving a punishment. His son, on the other hand, cocked his head and thought for a moment, then shrugged with an expression of “Yeah, totally worth it,” and hurled the Beanie Baby at the table with great enthusiasm.

  2. Emma Berton said:

    When I was 11, my mom punished me by taking away my new flip-phone. She asked me to hand over my phone and my mind raced with all of the horrible torture devices she must be planning to use on my poor shiny device. I was beside myself, so I ran and hid my phone to protect it from my mom’s evil plans. Needless to say, my attempt failed and my mom added more days of holding my phone hostage! Sometimes I still wonder just what my mom did with my phone during those three days.

  3. Kate said:

    My daughter told me that when kids disrupt the class, the teachers don’t hand out punishments right away — they make the misbehaving kid leave the classroom for a period of time so everyone calms down. They’ll say things like, “stay out there until you count to 200” or “stay outside until you walk around the courtyard 10 times.” The other day a kid was driving the teacher so crazy, the teacher told him, “Stay outside until you find a pregnant ant.” I thought that was hysterical and creative! So the kid went out, leaned down, and kept looking on the ground for a pregnant ant! (But how would he know, really? It’s not like they’re wearing maternity clothes!)

  4. Annie B said:

    I told my son to leave the TV room and go to bed early for bad behavior the other night and he took it fairly well. I was proud that he had matured enough to accept consequences without throwing a fit. So I brought him a little snack to his room and found him watching TV shows on the laptop under his covers. When I busted him, he launched into an intense debate that I had said “No TV” — not “No Laptops!”

    • jessica said:

      LOL which is why my son gets “No screen time!” :D

  5. Ellie said:

    I walked into our 16 year old daughter’s bathroom and found myself in an inch of water. “What happened here,” I practically shriek. She tells me in sotto voce that it had been that way last night but she thought it would drain so she didn’t say anything. “Drain into what?” I ask but don’t stay around for the answer because she is, well, 16.

    My first call is to our landlord’s girlfriend, an middle aged Moroccan woman by way of Paris and Miami, who always accuses us of destroying her house, which we originally think is her house because we think she’s married to the landlord. But no, we found out later, she’s his girlfriend. She’s caused both our children (the 16 year old and a 9 year old) to cry; our house sitter once videotaped her on his iPhone because she was causing emotional distress during his stay; my husband who could get Mussolini to listen to reason holds no sway with her.

    No, this woman doesn’t believe in normal wear and tear. It’s our intention to cost her money, lose our air conditioning when it’s 110 degrees outside, have no power during a client dinner party, and somehow have our metal gate stop functioning on the day the neighbor’s house is robbed. Yes, we live to give her tsouris.

    The landlord’s girlfriend says she’ll get a plumber right on it. I call on Thursday. Friday, I hear nothing. Flooding in the bathroom has led to commodes not flushing in the front bathrooms. The house smells bad. The kids (and my husband and I) don’t like having to run upstair when nature calls.

    Not wanting the croaking North African French bitterness, I call the landlord himself, who’s the actual owner of the house, at work. He’s not there but the son who joined him in his business commiserates with my plight and tells me this happened frequently when he lived in the house. (Pray tell, huh? This has happened before??) He says the tree roots compromise the sewer system, and roto-rooter squad were frequent visitors. Not only not our fault then, but a longstanding issue never revealed to us when we rented this poorly constructed house of shards.

    That was Friday. Monday morning, we get a call from a plumber who says he’ll be out the next day. Now the odiferous backup keeps us all upstairs despite the fact that the bedrooms and kitchen are downstairs. The plumber comes with a crew, and they try to roto-root the sewage lines to free our bladders from jostling up the stairs. No luck. That was Tuesday.

    Wednesday, another plumbing company accompanies the first because the pinch-plumber has a longer rooter hose. 250 feet as compared to the original company’s 170 feet. The second plumber tells me he’s been asked to attach a camera to the rooter line. Uh-oh. The landlord’s girlfriend wants to make sure this our fault! Find a tampax (not ours!), too much toilet paper (who’s to say?), something so that we have to pay for their intrusive tree roots.

    250 feet isn’t enough to follow the sewage lines from the house to the street hook-up. (Sounds like teenagers using Foursquare, but no, it’s our household’s gut system.) So pinch-plumber digs a huge hole in our lawn halfway between the house and the street, cuts into the sewer lines and send his seeing eye snake to spy on our detritus. This is going to cost the landlord a pretty penny. I leave to get my hair blow dried.

    The landlord’s girlfriend calls me at the salon. Termezeh stops the blow drier so I can hear. The plumbers have found the problem, landlord’s girlfriend says. It’s not pretty she adds. It’s the bodies of two Barbies and perhaps one head, but they cannot determine the latter yet. “Oh,” I say thinking of our crafty, curious and determined 9 year old, “This one’s on us.”

  6. Heather said:

    When we were younger, my siblings would never do their chores or homework after school ( we were latchkey kids) so my mom cut the plug off the tv. She bought a re-attachable one that she kept in her purse at all times.
    One day the Jehovah’s witnesses came for a visit and were trying to talk my mom into a video about how to increase family togetherness. She smiled and reassured them she had that well taken care of….