I want to be consequence free…who doesn’t?

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I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free

— Great Big Sea, Consequence Free

The impact of one’s actions, or consequences, has been a hot topic of conversation at our house this week. Following a major meltdown last week, M lost all his electronic privileges for 6 days – no computer, Wii or (gasp!) iPod. The last one was particularly controversial because, as M has pointed out to me on more than one occasion, “it’s his iPod; he paid for it with his own money, so you can’t take it away.”

Given the public and profanity-laden nature of M’s meltdown, I didn’t spend much time debating whether I had the moral authority to take away his iPod.  As his dad and I have told him repeatedly, at our house, electronics are a privilege, not a right.  M had his iPod with him when he fell asleep that night, but by morning, it had been spirited away to

Unintended consequences

Unintended consequences (Photo credit: askpang)

a secret hiding place (somewhere in the closet).

M got through the first day with a minimal amount of whining. He complained about being bored a few times, but he dumped a 500 piece puzzle on the floor in the family room and worked on it throughout the day.

The next day, however, the reality of a whole week without any electronic devices, set in. M was very unhappy.  Why couldn’t he go on the computer or listen to music on his iPod, he asked?  I explained to him that losing access to his electronic devices was a consequence of his recent behaviour, which had been particularly awful. “But Mommy,” he said, “Not being able to have electronics is the worst thing ever. I’ll never survive the week. It’s too much.”

I pointed out that he was not the only one who had to face up to the consequences of his or her behaviour – one of his friend’s had gotten into trouble at daycare and had lost his electronic privileges for several weeks.

M – Why is it only kids that have to have consequences?

Me – Adults have consequences too. If I behave badly at work, I may not get to work on a special project or get a promotion. if I spend too much money one month, I won’t be able to pay my bills.

M – That’s not as bad as losing electronics for a whole week. That`s the worst thing ever.

I`m sure there are lots of adults who would disagree. But I guess when you`re an 11 year old boy, losing electronics pretty much seems like the end of the world.  It certainly got his attention. Whether it will serve as a deterrent in the future remains to be seen.

M wasn’t the only one who had to deal with the consequences of his behaviour this week. I forgot my towel one day when I rode to work and I had to use my arm warmers and cycling shirt to dry myself. Fortunately, my shirt was relatively clean so I didn’t feel too gross about wrapping it around my wet hair. Another day, I had to spend almost an hour doing 2-days worth of dishes, including cleaning out both the garbage can and the green waste bin (there’s few household task I dislike more than washing dishes).  Not to mention staying up too late several nights and then being tired in the morning. Plus, eating too many potato chips and feeling bloated the next day. 

Lots of consequences. But I didn’t bother sharing them with M. I didn’t think he’d be very impressed.

Wouldn’t it be great, if the band just never ended
We could stay out late and we would never hear last call
We wouldn’t need to worry about approval or permission,
we could – slip off the edge and never worry about the fall

I wanna be consequence free

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