When we moved into this house, we found a really great leather couch and chair on the St. Louis Craig’s List to replace the monstrosity we’ve been calling furniture for the past eight years. The timing of everything was great because we had some Christmas cash to use. The gal we bought it from was asking $1,000 and we negotiated for $800. When we compared what like-furniture would have been new, it would have been well over $2,000, so we got a good deal. Plus she let us make payments to her which is really amazing.
Anyway, they had a few minor dings – cat scratches to be specific, nothing major, but they weren’t perfect. At first I was a bit bummed by that. But after a week I decided I was glad they came pre-scratched because when one of my kids did eventually do something to the couch (and really – we all knew that day would eventually come), they wouldn’t be guilty of first infringement and thus I wouldn’t come down on them as hard as I might otherwise be tempted.
I was tested on that this week. Millie (3) found Maddie’s (8) knifty knitter tool in the living room and decided to decorate the couch with it. She’s an amazing little artist and my eyes about popped out of my head when I saw it. I had to blow a big breath out really slowly before I called her into the living room. I didn’t even give her the chance to lie about it, but went right for the gold. “Millie, why did you scratch the couch with the knifty knitter tool?” (Note: I did not yell. Not out loud). Her eyes about popped out of her head as she suddenly realized that what she’d done was not on the list of okay things for her to do. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know. I’m sorry.” Then she hung her head and just stood there.
I picked her up and held her a minute. I told her (again, not yelling out loud) that she shouldn’t have done that and that she should never do it again. I patted her some more and then had the wrestling match in my mind. Inside I’m screaming, but I’m also having this conversation with myself that sounds rational to me: Is Millie worth more than $800 to you? Is her relationship worth more than $800 to you? Yes? Then don’t make a bigger deal out of this than necessary. Yes, I seriously had to tell that to myself.
Because I wouldn’t really lose my brain for normal 3-year-old misbehavior and I couldn’t let the value of the misbehaved-on item dictate whether or not I was going to become more angry this time.
So I sighed. I hugged her again. I said I was disappointed she did it, but that she was more important to me than the couch and that I forgive her. Then I put her down and we went on with the day, heads no longer hanging.