This weekend my computer died. Or, more accurately, the computer used by my husband and kids died. I have my own, which I do not allow anyone to touch for reasons that will become clear.
Late Friday night as Kevin went around the house preparing for bed, he heard a buzzing emanating from the basement. Going down to investigate, he found the fan in the desktop whirring like no fan should ever whir. The computer was engaged in a battle for its life.
Cautiously, Kevin approached. As he neared the computer he noticed amber splotches splattered across the keyboard, sticky smears along the desk and wadded-up paper towels strewn on the floor. He stepped closer to examine the desktop, and when he reached to pick up the little white box on the desk a tsunami of ice tea poured out.
I place the time of the crime around 5:30 p.m. when Crazy ran through the house, eager to report an assault. I probably should have conducted an investigation, but Crazy is, well, crazy, and I can’t always trust his recounting of events. I suppose my suspicions should have be aroused when my daughter repeatedly sought bundles of paper towels, but she insisted she merely dripped water on the keyboard from the homemade ice pack she created to relieve herself of the heat that steamy summer day and needed more paper towels in which to wrap the ice cubes.
Either way I didn’t, and by the time the crime scene was discovered it was 11:00 p.m. I was already in bed and immobile even with a computer in its death throws. Conversely, my husband, the appointed IT guy in our house, was livid and ranting. He stormed in and out of the bedroom, in between attempts to resuscitate the soggy computer. His failed efforts only further infuriated him, and he raged on until he decided the best action to take would be to wake The Kid and scream at her.
Half asleep, The Kid still had the presence of mind to maintain her innocence. She insisted the liquid saturating the computer was just drips of ice melt from her pack. At that Kevin became enraged. Given the condition of the crime scene, The Kid’s commitment to her lie was incomprehensible. The overwhelming evidence pointed to the Big Gulps of ice tea she liked to pour against our continual advisement to limit liquids to a safer level.
Unable to revive his beloved Mac in the morning, Kevin and I tried to decide on an appropriate punishment. How does one punish a 9-year-old for destroying a $1000 item? Is there discipline severe enough?
We decided to hit her where it hurts – in the desserts. If there is one thing in this world that matters to that kid (besides T.V.), it is her food. And seeing as how our T.V. has been broken for weeks now, we couldn’t take that away from her. She lost dessert and pool privileges for a week. We did not, however, force her to watch her brother as he loaded up his waffle bowl with several scoops of ice cream, a tower of whipped cream and a sea of chocolate syrup and then proceeded to stuff his face. That would have been a more just punishment.
And we plan on having The Kid cover a portion of the cost of a new computer just to make a point. But since she doesn’t receive a paycheck or anything, her money is more like our money anyway.
Has your kid damaged, destroyed or otherwise ruined something in your home? What course of action befits the crime: A) disown them; B) inflict corporal punishment; C) sentence them to a life of solitary confinement?
This post originally appeared in BaristaKids.com.
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