Recently, we have been having... struggles... with getting to Kathleen to bed. She goes happily enough but getting her to stay in her bed without getting out again and pushing bins over to her sister's crib or pushing her own bed around or rummaging through her drawers or drawing (with black pen) on the walls and window sills or screaming or talking at the door or asking 20 times to go to the bathroom is a problem.
First we tried taking her blanket away, but that raised such terrible howls that it was being counter-productive (it was waking Sophia up, and she was the whole reason Kathleen was supposed to stay in bed). Then we tried sending her to time-out in the basement. That worked for awhile, but then the fear wore off. Yelling didn't work, and neither did threats. The two hours following Kathleen's bedtime were beginning to become my most dreaded, instead of looked-for, two hours of the day.
And then I remembered a story that my mother had told me. There was a particular Primary class in her ward that had absolutely horrendous behavior. They wouldn't sit. They wouldn't listen. They wouldn't be quiet. They chased every teacher off that thought about taking them to task. Until a new teacher came to town, a devious teacher that knew the psyche of 8 year-old children. He brought an egg crate into class and labeled each cup with a class member's name. He filled each cup with an equal number of jelly beans. And then when a child would act up in class, he would simply look at that child, and begin eating their jelly beans. My mother commented that nobody had ever seen such an obedient Primary class after this teacher took them to task.
I am an ardent admirer of deviousness, especially when used on small children, because they can always resist brute force. So a few nights ago Kathleen got a cup filled with goldfish. The goldfish, we told her, would be all hers in the morning provided that we didn't have to come into her room and tell her to go to sleep. However, every time we came in, we'd eat a goldfish. After two goldfish consumed by me, Kathleen has come to realize that we aren't kidding.
And so silence reigns supreme again at bedtime and I am happy.