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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crime and Punishment and Parental Race Assumptions

Crime and Punishment - Abby was late inside again. Usually this is a matter of a few minutes and is not a big problem. But when she's a half-hour late to lunch, and a parent has to go after her, it's another story. She was supposed to be in at noon, and she had come in at 11:37, with a couple friends, to bring me some "blackberries for your sore teeth, mom, 'cause they're soft, and if they're too sour you can spit them out". I thanked them, accepted the blackberries, and sent them back out until noon.

When she hadn't shown up by 12:35 I went looking for her, texting neighborhood parents as I went ("Is she at your place?" - "No, but she and my kids are together, last I heard at the "secret club".") I found her at the secret club (blackberry thicket with a clearing in the middle) and the look on my face must have warned her that the usual excuses ("if I only had a cell phone I could keep track, and I can't find my watch!") were not gonna cut it. Not when it was half an hour and I had to hunt for her - this is not the same thing as breathlessly running up the stairs to our apartment four minutes late - and she knew it.

Now Abby is not a strong reader and so her punishment had to be phrased carefully. I never want to use books or reading as a punishment for the same reason I don't send Lizzy to bed as a punishment; I do not want negative associations with those things. But I wanted to do something she'd notice and that she'd have to think about. So, as I had errands to run, she had to eat her lunch (now cold) and then amuse herself in the house without electronics. No TV, no computer, no DS, no outside until I come back and we can talk about it. On a beautiful September Saturday. Of course this has the net effect of essentially punishing Lizzy too (and to some extent Laston) but no harm in the TV not being on in any case. When I came back (2:30) she was sent back out and told that if she did not check in at four she'd lose her outside and electronics privileges all day tomorrow. We shall see.

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Parental Race Assumptions - Lizzy told my mom she hates "scawy black mans". She's told me this too, and I was frankly a little worried about it. So today I did a little careful questioning about it (this is an art form - asking a four-year-old questions without leading the witness - it takes practice). Turns out she means black-black, not black in the racial sense. Roscoe Orman is not the problem, nor is DJ Lance Rock, nor our dark-skinned neighbors. She can't describe what she means by "black" in this context, but she describes all the people above as "bwown", so i showed her a couple more pix - and this guy and these guys are the "scawy black mans" in question. I admit to feeling relief.

Though I'm a little disappointed that she categorizes this favorite character of mine as a "scawy black man" too... "'cause his face is all shadows".