Morality seems a funny thing to a preschooler. Piper has been sorting, testing, and trying to understand this whole right and wrong thing. The practice comes with a lot of questions and challenges. You may recall in my post Careless Whispers she wondered if no one hears her say mean things whether they still count. They do. Just so you know.
Piper was having a similar dilemma last night about following rules. It was bedtime and she was knee deep in Barbie drama. She didn’t want to stop playing but she knows the bedtime rule. It’s non negotiable in our house. Kids need sleep. Parents need a break. It’s best for everyone. Thus, the testing began.
“Question! Can I just bring my Barbies to bed with me?” Piper asked.
“You can sleep with them. You can’t play with them, though. It’s time for bed,” I answered.
“But how will you know if I’m playing?”
“Piper, you’ll know you’re breaking a rule. You’ll know it’s not the right thing to do.”
“Question! What happens if I get caught?”
“I will take the Barbies away and I’ll be disappointed that you didn’t follow a rule.”
Piper collected the Barbies and tucked them into bed beside her. She spent a minute rearranging their accessories. Then she rolled away from them.
“Question! Do you check on my at night?”
“Yes, I do. I like to make sure you’re okay.”
“Question! How often do you check on me? And when?”
“Well, I peek in a few minutes after I say good night. Then I look again before I go to bed. And when I wake up early to write, I usually glance in then, too.”
At this point I could see the wheels turning in the Piper mind. She really wanted to play with those Barbies but she really didn’t want to get caught. Would the joy of playing with them outweigh the risk of losing them?
“Ah!” Piper said. “I’ve got it! Can I play with the Barbies in my bed when I wake up?”
“You know the rule. If it’s dark outside, you’re sleeping. Your body needs the rest to be healthy. You can’t wake up in the middle of the night and play. If it’s morning, you can stay in your bed and play with the Barbies.”
That seemed to satisfy the Piper. She said good night to me and to the Barbies. As I was walking out the door, she made her final push toward moral certainty.
“Okay, Mom. But don’t forget to check on me. I’m going to need you to do that.”