Think & Write #27

The Punishment

Natalie scowled, as she stared at her daughter Sidney, who was throwing a temper tantrum in the laundromat parking lot.

“I wanna go home!!!!” Sidney whined.

Natalie sighed.  “Sidney, stop it right now! We can’t go home until the laundry’s done.  Please calm down.”

Sidney wouldn’t listen.  She only screamed louder.  “I WANNA GO HOME!!!!”

Natalie, already frustrated, gave Sidney her pacifier.  “Use this, honey.”

Sidney threw the pacifier back at her face.  “NO! I wanna go home, mommy!  I WANNA GO HOME!!!!!”

Suddenly, a man came out of the laundromat, carrying two bags of laundry.  At the sight of Sidney and Natalie, he  put the laundry in his car and left as quick as he could.

Natalie still needed to get her laundry.  Well, it wasn’t just her laundry.  It was hers and Sidney’s.  Natalie picked up the pacifier.  “Here, Sidney.  Let’s go back inside and get our laundry.”

Sidney stomped her feet on the ground and screamed.  “NO!  I WANNA GO HOME!!!!”

“Fine.  You’re waiting in the car.  I’m getting the laundry.”

Natalie put Sidney in her car seat and gave her the pacifier.  “Mommy is not happy with you at all, Sidney.  I’ll be back with the laundry.”

Natalie re-entered the laundromat, her face red with embarrassment.  Why does she have to do this every week?  There were some people who yelled at her that were still there.

“Learn to control your child, lady!” One of them shouted.

Natalie sighed, and went to the dryers.  All of her laundry was done.  She began filling her five bags of laundry.  After the bags were filled, she carried them out in two trips.

After all the laundry was in, she closed the trunk and entered the car.   Sidney was sitting in her car seat, sucking on her pacifier, all sad and worn out from screaming.

Natalie pulled out of the laundromat.  “Sidney, you are in big trouble when we get home.”

Sidney removed her pacifier.  “No trouble, mommy…”

Natalie nodded.  “Oh yes you are.  You will be punished when you get home.”

Sidney began to cry.  “Don’t punish me, mommy!”

“You embarrassed me at the laundromat again.  You threw a big fit there and in the parking lot.  You are getting punished for that.”

Sidney began to scream again.  “Don’t punish me, mommy!  DON’T PUNISH ME!!!!!!”

“Oh! Now you’re DEFINITELY going to get punished!”


“Oh, you are.  You just talked back.”


Natalie sighed.  “Sidney, you have just turned four.  Is this how a four-year old girl is supposed to act?

Sidney continued whining.  “No, mommy….”

“Well, shouldn’t a four-year old girl be punished when they throw a fit?”

“NOOOOO!!!!”  Sidney screamed loudly.

Natalie continued driving, and the arguing continued until they got home.

Natalie let Sidney out of her car seat and got her laundry out of the car.  With her husband being gone on a business trip, she had her hands full for the next two weeks.  She entered the house with Sidney and three bags of laundry.  “Sit there in the living room,” she told her.

Natalie went back out to the car to get her remaining things: her last two bags of laundry, her purse and her diaper bag.  She then closed the trunk and the car and entered the house.

Once in the house, she grabbed a wooden paddle and approached Sidney.  She removed her jeans and her diaper.  “Bend down,” Natalie ordered.

“No!” Sidney shouted.

“I said, BEND DOWN!”

Sidney listened, and she bent down.

During the next couple minutes, Sidney was screaming in pain.  “Ow! OW!!!!! That hurts, mommy!!!!!”

Natalie redressed Sidney.  “Now Sidney, do you know why you got spanked?”

Sidney was in tears.  “I….I was a bad girl!”

“And why were you a bad girl?”

“I threw….a fit.”

“Now, what do you say, when you’ve been bad?”

“I’m…sorry, mommy!”

Natalie looked sternly at Sidney.  “Good.  But you are still in trouble.  There will be no ice cream on Friday.  If you are a good girl….”

Before Natalie could finish, Sidney started screaming again.  “I WANT MY ICE CREAM!!!!!”

Natalie sighed.  “Do you want the paddle again?”


“Now, go to your room.  It’s time for your nap.  I want you to think about what you’ve done.  After your nap, I want you to apologize.”

Sidney sadly walked off to her room.

Natalie sighed.  She made Sidney her bottle.  When is she going to stop using this?  She then took the bottle to Sidney, who was lying down in her crib.  She gave her the bottle and left the room.

After that, things got quiet in the house.  Natalie began to think about Sidney, and the ways that she has behaved in the past.

Natalie cried.  It is official.  I AM a failure as a parent….

Even to her, the word failure was an understatement.  She was the worst parent in the world.  Her only daughter Sidney is four.  She still sleeps in a crib. She still drinks from a bottle.  She still needs her pacifier.  She still isn’t toilet trained and she can’t even dress herself.

To all her friends, she was called a pushover.  “Why do you let her walk all over you?” they ask her.

Natalie took offense to this.  I mean, it’s not like she hasn’t tried.  Oh, how she tried!  According to her, she has tried harder than any other mother to raise her child.  Pushover? I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.  How do you raise an impossible child?  Any other kid is teachable, but not Sidney….

For Sidney, everything was a fight.  When Sidney was almost two,   Natalie tried to get her to use the sippy cups.  Sidney, however, refused, and wanted to use the bottle instead.  She even forced her to use the cups by taking way her bottle.  When she did this, Sidney threw a fit.  Every week, she tried the sippy cups on Sidney, and took away her bottle.  Every week, she threw a fit.  Finally, when Sidney was three and a half, she gave up.

Natalie’s next battle with Sidney was with her crib.  One day, when Sidney was almost three, she bought her a beautiful new bed.  Big mistake.  Sidney totally hated it, and threw a fit until she got her crib back.

Besides that, there were numerous other battles that Natalie had to fight Sidney with.  The battles against Sidney’s stuffed rabbit (no other rabbit would do), Sidney’s tattered blanket and especially Sidney’s pacifier.  In each of these battles, Natalie fought long and hard.  But in the end, she lost.

But Natalie’s biggest failure would have to be her inability to toilet train Sidney.  Before Sidney turned two, Natalie showed her the potty.  She even bought a potty for Sidney, but she showed no interest.  Maybe a few more months and she’ll be ready….  After a few months, she got the same response from Sidney.  Not interested.  At three, Natalie was desperate.  She bought every book she could on toilet training and used all the techniques.  She even showed Sidney a few cartoons on DVD.  Sidney just didn’t want to learn.  Numerous times, she let Sidney watch her go to the bathroom, hoping that Sidney would get the idea.  Instead of watching her, Sidney would rather play with her toys.  While Natalie has given up on pretty much everything else, she wasn’t about to give up on this one.  This was the only thing that Sidney did not fight with Natalie about, because she just wasn’t interested.

Natalie sighed.  Why doesn’t she want to learn?  She doesn’t even let me know when she needs to be changed!

A couple hours passed.  At that time, Natalie decided to check on Sidney.  Her nap should be done by now….

Natalie entered Sidney’s room.  Sidney sat in her crib, sucking on her pacifier. Her bottle sat nearby her, all empty.  “So, big girl,” Natalie stated, “do you have anything that you want to say to me?”

Sidney took out her pacifier and climbed out of the crib.  She then ran up to Natalie and hugged her.  “I’m sorry, mommy…..”

Natalie needed to hear it again.  “What was that, my girl?”

Sidney looked up at her with a sad face.  “I’m sorry, mommy!”

“So, did you learn your lesson?”

“Yes I did, mommy.”

“So, what are you going to do next time you want something and can’t get it?”

“Be a good girl.”

Natalie was moved, but she still wanted to be sure.  “You know that I am still a little upset about what happened at the laundromat.  There is still no ice cream on Friday.  But, if you are a good girl all the rest of this week, I may change my mind.”

At that, Sidney smiled, and jumped up and down.  “I’ll be a good girl!”

For Natalie, it was so relieving to see her girl like this.  She is usually only happy when she gets what she wants.

Natalie’s attention then went to the empty bottle laying in the crib.  At that, she sighed.  That’s right.   I have to change her….

Natalie laid Sidney down and changed her.  After that, she showed Sidney her potty, telling her how she needs to start using that.  Sidney walked away.  Natalie smiled, and walked toward Sidney.  “Sidney, you know that good girls use the potty.  You want to be a good girl, don’t you?”

Sidney nodded.  “Uh-huh!”

“Then be a good girl and let me know when you need to go next time, okay?’

“Okay mommy!”

Hours passed.  Amazingly, Sidney kept her promise.  For the first time, she used the potty.

The days passed.  Sidney was a good girl, just like she promised.  For the first time, she did not throw a fit and she minded her mother.  For Natalie, it was a miracle.  Sidney has never behaved so well like this before.  While Natalie was not able to fix all of Sidney’s habits, her being obedient was a start.

Finally, it was Friday.

Sidney, all excited, ran toward Natalie with a big smile on her face.  “Mommy!  Can I have my ice cream now?”


©2012  K. L. Walker