The little girls like to play in their room. They discovered this quite recently when they finally had a clean room with open floor space to play on. They actually can do pretty well for about an hour, until the inevitable squabble, angry words, and then everyone retreats to their corner only to regroup in about half an hour and start the process all over again.
About a week ago, as this played out throughout the day, they kept locking the door. Not allowed. I had some sympathy. It was in an effort to keep Agnes from charging through their carefully laid out scenarios like some sort of bad Godzilla movie. Still, it made Aggie sad, and at most she just wanted to be a part of the action for a few minutes at a time before moving to other scenes of possible destruction in other corners of the house. I repeatedly told them to unlock the door and issued warnings (well, um threats) about losing the door altogether if it was locked one.more.time. Several "times" later I really had enough and in a moment of sheer brilliance I realized I could carry out a great consequence simply by removing the doorknob. I got the tools I assumed one might need to remove a door knob and prepared to make good on my promise.
What followed, as described by Kay at dinner last night (we were discussing locked doors at dinner), was a scene of "some little girls that turned into shrieking devils, a big 8 year old one, a medium 7 year old one, and a little 5 year old one, I'm the little one."
Oh! The outrage and anger! How could I do this to them?! Anna was somehow confused and was sure removing the doorknob meant she would be put in the room and then never be able to leave, ever again. She howled about being left to die. Carmen proclaimed me the meanest mother ever. Kay just wept, though I'm not sure she knew why. I remained calm, explaining quietly that I had given them every opportunity to obey me and this was the consequence of their disobedience.
One big problem. As I set to work on removing the doorknob it quickly dawned on me that I had no idea how, and furthermore, as handy as I can be one my own, I was going to have to admit defeat to the superior technology of this particular doorknob. I could explain the technicalities of the problems and perhaps someone could tell me where I went wrong. Instead I will admit that the afternoon ended with a doorknob still attached, angry little girls and a frustrated mother.
Is there a moral to the story? Who knows. But you know what? They have not locked that door since.