The Princess, The Witch, and The Door


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For years I’ve been trying to instill in my children the practice of knocking on a door before entering a room.  Two out of three have mastered the skill.  But Principessa, the oldest, struggles with this basic concept despite (or because of) my repetitive instruction and begging.

After a recent infraction, when daughter barged in on me in my bedroom (alone, thank goodness) I snapped.  In response to a reprimand, Principessa defiantly replied, “It’s no big deal, Mom.”

Really?  We’ll see about ‘no big deal.’

The next day, when Principessa was out of the house, I enlisted her brother’s help.  He had just woken at the crack of noontime and wasn’t feeling especially generous until I filled him in on my plan – to remove his sister’s bedroom door.  Suddenly devoid of morning stupor, Beagle popped out of his seat and ran to get the tool box.

When Principessa returned home and entered her doorless room, she, how should I say it?….Freaked Out.  In retrospect, I believe her reaction was a full-blown panic attack.  No privacy, too loud, too bright! Her concerns were numerous.

Principessa demanded that I return her door immediately.  She had ‘gotten the point.’  Silly girl.  Why would I put the door back so soon when I had gone to so much trouble to remove it?  Sorry, Love, lesson is not over.

For two days the family endured Principessa’s ranting.  Gradually, she began knocking on bedroom doors.  Unconvinced of her sincerity, I held out for the rest of the week just to be sure.

I knew it was time to rescind the consequence when Principessa entered the kitchen for a glass of milk.  In a show of the utmost respect, Principessa walked up to the refrigerator and knocked on its door.  “It’s not answering, Mom.  What should I do?”

At last!  We had moved past anger to acceptance and finally to humor.  Lesson complete.

I did the parent victory dance that day.  You know, the one where you celebrate the fact that you’ve managed to teach a lesson without losing your cool or getting sucked into the endless cycle of parent-child power struggle.  You’ve managed to use your grown-up skills without resorting to arguing with irrational young ‘uns.

One week later, Principessa failed (for the millionth time) to turn off her bedroom lights before leaving for the day.  I calmly explained that her next lesson would involve turning off power to her room.  Still smarting from her previous consequence, Principessa snapped to attention with apologies and promises and pleas to spare her the agony.  She knows I mean business.  But I fear that some lessons are best learned the hard way.  And I suspect I’ll be in the basement searching for the right fuse to pull before the end of the week.

Poor Principessa, she’ll probably want to take her door off so she can let in more light from the hallway.

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