Mom says, count to three, then take a time out

Are We There Yet? • LORI CLINCH

Since the experts decided that spanking kids is not the way to go, we parents have had to get downright creative with disciplinary measures.

I, for one, have been quite imaginative. Take, for example, the enjoyment of, “Don’t make me count to three!”

What it lost in effectiveness, it made up for in entertainment. “One!” I’d call out when at my wits’ end. And while most people feel that simply stating the number should make any child worth his chocolate change his evil ways, my kid would just look at me and wait for another number to follow.

“All right then!” I was known to say, “I’m going to say it; you know I’ll do it. OK! Two!”

It wasn’t until “three” that I looked like a fool and was forced to go with another form of discipline because the counting thing never stinking worked.

Then there was the fun and creativity of “time-out,” which was more of a punishment for mom than for the kids.

Take, for example, a mother who looks at her child and says with all of the firmness she can muster, “You’ve just earned yourself some corner time, little mister!”

The unyielding parent then finds a corner, directs the child to it and walks away. I don’t know how this goes down in your town, but the Clinch children did not serve their time well. In fact, they’d fill their time out calling, “Five minutes left to go,” and then they’d pause for effect before adding “and all is well!”

This, of course, earned laughter and chortles from onlookers and sometimes a brother by another mother.

Now that the Clinch boys have gotten older, I’m happy to say that they can be easily managed by a simple threat to take away their Saturday night and perhaps even their entire social life.

Given that, these days I enjoy sitting back and watching others give it a go.

Think me demented if you must, but there’s a feeling of been-there-done-that when I observe a toddler misbehaving in a restaurant and enjoy a knowing smile when little Bobby gives young Gregory a “wet willie” during mass.

Sitting at a wedding celebration just a week ago, I was entertained by a man who was trying to get his little girl to join him in his departure.

“Honey,” he called out as if he were in control, “this is your threeminute warning.”

I’m not sure if the child had an internal clock or not, but she looked at her dad with a darling little attitude, tossed her curls, and walked away.

“Macy,” he called out a couple of minutes later, “it’s time to go!”

Sadly enough for the man, he now had a captive audience that was enthralled with the show he was about to put on. Although no one spoke of it, we were all taking mental bets and putting our dollars on Macy.

“Don’t make me count to three, Macy,” he said. “OK, I’m going to do it!”

Best-case scenario, the little dear would have raced toward her dad. Alas, it was not to be. Her dad had threatened to count to three, and she was calling his bluff.

“One!” the man said as if stating it was the worst thing in the world.

“Don’t make me say two Macy. I mean it, I’ll say two!”

I suppose that it wasn’t until he said three, and little Macy still hadn’t obliged that he realized that counting to three wasn’t all that he had hoped.

“Do you want a time out Macy? Because I’m going to give you a time out. I mean it! OK then, you asked for it. No more Barney either. Do you hear me? A big long time out AND I’m taking away Barney! Fine then, I’ll just leave you here. You can just stay here and I’ll be gone. Off to parts unknown.”

By now, he had everyone’s attention. Legs were crossed, folks got comfortable, and some even sent out for popcorn.

“I mean it, I’m going,” and as is the case with each and every parent who ever took two steps away from their child in hopes they’d chase after them, little Macy dug in her cute little sandals and stood her ground.

Daddy turned on his heel, went to Macy and said for all to hear, “Just for that you’re grounded!”

It’s a good thing that daddy likes to count. He’s going to be doing a lot of it for the next several years.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at www.loriclinch. com.