Earlier this week, I shared the sad story of a lovely little boy who turned into a pathological liar/professional actor. Because Will was the subject of that post, you may have inferred that Nate is the twin that has decided to fly straight. But you’d be wrong.
Instead, Nate has descended into a life of crime that has resulted in him spending a lot of time in the big house (his bedroom, for the purpose of “time out.”). While Will sticks to the elaborate hoax designed to raise money for insurance companies, Nate is more interested in petty theft (from his brother), protection rackets (protecting his toys from his brother), and Rebel Without a Cause-style rule flouting.
Most troubling is how comfortable Nate is living inside the criminal justice system. Yesterday, he was naughty at preschool, and the penalty was that he had to go straight to naptime when he came home and couldn’t watch any Elmo. We got home and Will ran to the TV so he could watch, and I directed Nate towards his bedroom so he could start serving his punishment. Rather than yelling or screaming, he just took off his shoes and crawled into bed. Then he pointed to the humidifier, which we use to create white noise while the boys sleep. He wanted to make sure I had turned it on before I left him there. Then Nate picked up a book and went off into his own world.
A similar thing happened later that night. Nate and Will had been in bed for about an hour, when I hear the light turn on in their room. We’ve had a lot of problems with lights being turned on and marathon roughhousing sessions taking place after the little guys have been put to bed. And when I come in to stop the riot, they just laugh and smile. So we’ve implemented a new policy: any time things get so out of hand that I have to come to their bedroom to break things up, I walk out with a favorite toy of theirs. It can be harsh, but it usually stops the uprising in its tracks.
So I hear the light turn on and I go to Nate and Will’s room put down the rebellion. When I arrive, Nate doesn’t even look up from his book. He just holds up his favorite toy so I could more easily retrieve it. Then, as I left the room, Nate took one final drag off his cigarette, marked another day off his calendar with a pocket knife, and flipped me the middle finger.
Clearly I’m going to need to find new forms of punishment.