So, the Naughty Chair has moved into our house. It may seem like just an ordinary chair to most people. In fact, it is just an ordinary chair - to most people. You can sit on it, drink your tea, eat your lunch, or even - if you find yourself with some unexpected free time and an impulse to organise on your hands - go through your pile of admin and consign that one pile into smaller piles. You know; 'dealt with' (in the nick of time, normally); 'to be dealt with' (I'll do it tomorrow - honest); 'rubbish' (if Johnny Boden sends me one more catalogue I shall scream); and 'oh thank god, that can go in husband's pile' (which rather speaks for itself).
Can you tell that both the Boys were back in school today, by the way?
Anyway, back to the chair. It's an ordinary dining table chair. But to Boy #2, it is 'That Naughty Naughty Chair'.
We don't use it every day. We don't even use it every other day. But when we use it, all our neighbours and the passers by on the street know about it. This is not a house with a handy step, you see, that can be relabelled 'the Naughty Step' in times of need. It's a problem, when you live in a flat. If I was more organised - i.e. the sort of person who never let her admin pile build up - I would have gone out and bought a mini step to be consigned to a corner, to be sat upon by small bottoms in disgrace, somewhere out of the way. Clearly, I'm not that person. So we are reduced to simply moving a chair from our dining table and putting it by the front door. Which is why everyone in a 500 yard radius knows when Boy #2 is sitting on it.
Well, I say 'sitting'. Standing, often. Hanging off the edge, occassionally. Swaying backwards and forwards on, sliding off, falling off. The actual 'sitting' bit doesn't happen as often as I would like. He hasn't quite got the hang of the whole naughty chair concept yet, you see. Or at least, he pretends not to have.
This evening, for example, during dinner.
Boy #2: "Train. Need train."
Me: "Boy #2 - stay at the table please, and finish your dinner."
Boy #2: "Yes. Train first."
I should say here that Boy #2, given the opportunity, will amass as many toys as possible on the table around him to amuse himself whilst he eats. We don't have that wide a table. Food gets spilled, cups get knocked over, people - namely, me - get wet. So I try to discourage the greater part of the toy chest adorning our meal times.
Me: "No, not train first, Boy #2, come back to the table!"
Boy #2: "Wait! Wait! Thomas! Polar Express!"
Boy #1: "Do you want your train set, Boy #2, is that it?"
Me: "Please, Boy #1. Don't encourage him. Boy #2, come back to the table" (note the fact he is very much not sitting at the table by this time. A word from me and he does as he likes). "If you don't come back to the table you will have to sit in the Naughty Chair."
Boy #2: "Noooooo! Not the Naughty Chair!"
Me: "So sit down please."
Boy #2: (running laughing and giggling into the sitting room, clearly thinking the danger of the Naughty Chair has receded). "In a moment!"
Me: "That's it. Naughty Chair, now."
Boy #2: "Noooooo!!!!!!"
General moaning and groaning whilst I carry him - and the chair - over to the front door.
Me: "Stay there please, until I come and get you."
I sit down, determinedly not looking at him. When I glance at Boy #1 I see him laughing at his brother who is by now standing on the chair trying to pull himself up the coat rack.
Me: "Sit down please Boy #2. Boy #1, stop encouraging him and eat some fish, please."
Time ticks past.
For those of you who have been living in a vacuum since SuperNanny started her reign of terror, and don't know how this form of 'discipline' (yeah, right) works, the idea is that you install the child on the chair / stair / sofa somewhere away from the action for the same amount of minutes that they have in years. So, Boy #1 gets 4 minutes, Boy #2 gets 2. If they leave the allocated spot early - and this is the kicker - you have to start the clock all over again. Whilst initially this may seem like water off a ducks back, they do eventually get the message that this means they are in serious trouble, and protest. In Boy #2's case, extremely loudly. At the end of the allotted time, the person who has put the child there goes over, asks them if they understand why they are there, asks for an apology (if not already offered), kisses, hugs, makes up, moves on. Punishment over.
It works - sort of. Boy #2 will normally behave if threatened with this. As they get older though, I can see that this probably won't continue to cut the mustard. But anyway...
1 minute, 30 seconds later - Boy #2 gets off his chair and runs to the table.
Me: "Boy #2 - back to the chair."
Boy #2 laughs.
Me: "Mama is not laughing. Sit here until I come and get you."
Time ticks past. But only for a minute, before I look up from the table, and see he has pushed the chair up to the door and is dismantling the letter box.
Me: "Boy #2. Please sit still."
He gets down again and walks over to a book, picking it up and taking it back to the chair. This is not what the Naughty Chair is all about, so I have to remove the book, endure his wrath (never get a flat with wooden floors if you can help - the sound bounces all over the place) and start again.
This goes on for 20 minutes before he makes the full 2 minute time period and we can move on.
Repeat after me: I AM a good mother. I CAN control my children. I DO know where the corkscrew is.