Well, I was right. A few days ago, I blogged about my children and their oft-used response of "I don't know." That's usually what they say when I ask them why they did something devious or stupid. And I predicted in that post that if my son wasn't allowed to say "I don't know," he would say, "Because I wanted to."
And usually I'd be glad that I have a good grasp on my son's personality and motivation. But not this time. And that's because the activity my son just wanted to do was take a pair of scissors and cut the strings on our window blinds. And (of course) he didn't do this on a window facing the backyard or a fence. He did it to the only street-facing window in the house. And he didn't cut just once. He snipped the string in no less than 10 places. It is now irreparable and needs replacement immediately.
So the precursor to the punishment phase was a chat with him about his motivations. I find that if the punishment phase starts too quickly, the kids don't really get a good grasp on the situation. So we sat down and I asked him why he did that. But this time, I told him that "I don't know" was not an acceptable answer. (My exact words were: And if you say "I don't know" ... so help me you will not like what happens.") And just as I guessed, he could only come up with "Because I wanted to." And also just as I guessed, it didn't make me feel better. I wish I would have let him say "I don't know." It left me wondering why a child would want to destroy something for no reason.
And then I had a series of flashbacks like people do in those really funny sitcoms that use flashbacks. And I saw myself doing a myriad of ridiculous, ill-advised, downright stupid activities as a kid. I shot my cousin with a BB gun, I pushed someone off a trampoline after they caught about 9 feet of air, and I tried to drive my dad's car without any knowledge of how cars work (and without permission). In all three of those flashbacks, there was injury or damage done. Perhaps more importantly, in every one of those flashbacks, I was much older than 5. And oddly enough, that made me feel better. Because I believe I'm normal. And I believe I was a normal kid. So if I, a normal person who was a normal kid, did so many of those things, then my son must also be normal.
And that was a very comforting thought... for me. I can't say the same for my wife. She was never a little boy (thankfully). And she doesn't have any brothers. So a lot of this is completely new to her. She and her sisters never destroyed things just because they wanted to. That type of thing does not make sense in her beautifully sweet girl brain. And hearing about my ridiculous activities as a kid didn't make her feel any better. In fact, I think she's more concerned now. Because now she's worried about her son and her husband.