If you are a mom, you know that one of the rare joys in life is getting to go to the bathroom by yourself without being interupted 50 times. Usually, the interuptions are annoyingly benign things like "Mom? What are you doing?" or "Mom? How much longer are you gonna be in there?" or "Mom? You're in the bathroom??!" -- like they can't believe that mom's need to pee. Depending on how long the bathroom business takes, a fight may break out requiring a trial to take place right outside the bathroom door that the kids expect you proceed over as they all try to tell their version of what happened so that you can deliver your verdict before you even flush. And every once in a while, something happens that requires you to rush or leave before you are finished. This was the case last night.
Dinner was done, homework was finished, and the kids were distracted by a rare weekday occurance of desert. I figured it was the best chance I would have before bedtime to go to the bathroom by myself so I snuck upstairs and locked the bathroom door. As I was sitting there, I heard the back screen door open and close right beneath me. And then again. And then a third time. And I heard lots of screaming and laughing. Seriously, I'd been gone all of 42 seconds and they were running outside into the cold and dark for some reason that only they and God knew. I knew that they were in their pajamas and probably didn't have shoes on, but I also knew that the gates to the backyard were closed, so I decided to hurry up but not to worry too much.
About 14 seconds after hearing the laughing screams, something changed. The back door slammed again and I heard the ear piercing screams of my 6 year old from outside. I rushed. I ran downstairs to find that her older brother and sister had left her outside in the dark in 40 degree weather in her pajamas with no shoes and no jacket. She was standing there holding her stuffed cat and screaming. The door wasn't locked, but she was screaming and they weren't doing anything to help her. After I got her inside and calmed her down, I laid into the nearly 9 and 11 year olds. They weren't taking me seriously. I had to do something to get them to realize that this wasn't just about my 90 seconds of "me time" being interrupted.
So I employed a little technique that I like to call "The Brothers Grimm Method." This is where you take something real (or at least rumored to be real) and exaggerate it into something scary to teach a moral lesson to your kids. Civilazations have done this with their young for centuries, and while I didn't tell them that there was a werewolf or chupacabra or a Lady in White that would come and steal them from me, I used the modern day version of all those things -- CPS. I told them that if our neighbors heard a child screaming outside in the cold and in the dark, they could and probably should call Child Protective Services. I told them that IF Child Protective Services came to the house, that they could decide to take them away from me and their dad and make them go live with strangers and send me and their dad to jail. NOW they were listening. I went on to explain that they needed to take care of each other and that I expected them, as the oldest, to do better than leaving their little sister outside by herself in the dark like that. I also stressed that it was pretty pathetic that I couldn't have 5 minutes to go to the bathroom without them getting into trouble.
I may have misrepresented the CPS, but I don't really care. I got them to see my point and they felt bad about what had happened. They apologized to their sister (and she promptly forgave them like she always does) and I made everyone go to bed early.
After all, I STILL had to go to the bathroom!