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Ethics Code, Shmethics Code!

I've been doing lots of interesting reading at my new job -- reading about things that I've taken for granted exist in my life already: morality, legality, ethics, Doing The Right Thing. The company I'm working for is really big on these things, which I find encouraging in my "I'm sure they're totally genuine" stupid innocence. In my particular position, I'm considered to be one of the people who's supposed to ensure that all the other employees are Doing The Right Thing, and if I were a different type of person, I would take this fact and use it to my distinct, powerful advantage in my quest for more effective narcissism. Instead, I find it all very overwhelming and scary: what if I miss something? what if it's all a crock and there are unwritten rules I don't accurately decipher? what if I just get it all wrong?

This dilemma I have with myself and my understanding of black/white, right/wrong was driven home for me, yet again, by my kids tonight (my pre-school aged kids, mind you - why did this company hire me, anyway??). First it was Quinn. For some reason he's become violently opposed to taking baths, and despite a basically pleasant dinner and some fairly peaceful post-dinner romp time with Bryce, he repeatedly yelled and hit me during his bath tonight. Looking forward the glass of wine I knew awaited me once this tyrant was in bed, I managed to keep myself from screaming back at him, but in my eternal quest to be a consistent, logical parent (yeah, right) I had to do something. I mean, the behavior was unacceptable (or, "unasseptible" if I pronounce it the way SuperNanny does). So, what privelege popped into my head while I pushed back the mounting rage I felt bubbling up as my son repeatedly screamed in my face and refused to sit in the bath tub while I rinsed the shampoo out of his hair? Why, reading a bedtime story, of course! That's totally responsible! Why take away TV or play time or junk food when you can take away the ONE EDUCATIONAL ASPECT OF HIS LIFE?

The really pathetic thing is that once I told him he lost his story privelege, he hit me again. And then cried. As I was drying him off and torturing him with the slathering of the torturous lotion that keeps his skin from peeling and itching and leaving little white scrape marks every time his shirt rubs him the wrong way, he said, between screams of objection to the AWFUL AWFUL lotion saving his skin, in his typical question mark speech, "Read a story?" I made that little sound where you suck in while your mouth is downturned and simultaneously make the "ssshhh" sound: "Ssshhheee...Uh. Yeah. Well, see Quinn, here's the thing. Remember all that yelling and hitting in the bathtub? Did you get the memo? We don't...exactly... READ to kids who act that way. Yyyyyeeeeaaahhhhh. I'll get you a copy of that memo, mmmkay?" He looked at me like this made no sense, why would his MOM, of all people, take away reading, don't we like reading anymore? I couldn't give in now, what would that teach him? He looks pitiful and cute and this pesky "consequence" idea goes right out the window!? NO WAY, people. NO. WAY. I said no reading, so there was no reading. Even when he repeatedly brought me the story book I always insist on, rather than the cardboard "baby book" he used to demand ("elbows? cake? ball? star?") way past the age I thought such books were appropriate. NO, Quinn! You yelled at me, so no visible value placed on education for you! Why don't you go watch a Disney movie while I contemplate my stupidity? Mmmkay?

After sticking to my guns about the reading, I told Bryce to wait quietly in his room for me while I put Quinn to bed, and he looked at me with sadness welling up in his four-year-old eyes: "Mom, why?? Why don't you ever put ME to sleep first? *I* want to go to bed first, I'm ready to be in beeeehheeeeeddddd!" Huh. I wasn't able to answer this. I mean, sure, a year ago, my reasoning was that Quinn needed to go to bed earlier, but that is really no longer relevant. In fact, Bryce has been a little under the weather lately; I thought, "maybe my four-year-old has a very legitimate point, here." Well, duh! OBVIOUSLY I should listen to the four-year-old!!! RIGHT??? I mean, let's see, not reading to my pre-schooler as a punishment - I'm on a roll here! "Okay, Bryce. You're right. I'll put you down first tonight. Quinn, wait for me in your room and I'll be right there, okay?" I guess Quinn was terrified of what other "priveleges" I might eliminate (vegetables? sleep? school?), so he cooperated without a peep while I got Bryce's water and covered him with all of his neurotic required blanket layers. Then I scooped Quinn out of the glider in his bedroom and started his nightly songs, but right at that point, Bryce burst through Quinn's bedroom door: "But mom, you weren't supposed to turn on the music yet! Not until you're done with Quinn!" SIGH. Why did I mess with the routine? WHY, WHY, WHY??? Oh yeah. Because. I'm. An. Idiot.

Great resolve. Great judgment. Yeah, this is definitely an individual who should be making ethics decisions for a business handling billions of dollars in a volatile industry, headquartered in a city that would be devastated by its loss. OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO FLATTEN THE ENTIRE CITY WITH MY STUPIDITY AND PATHETIC LACK OF JUDGMENT.