Over the hedge

A mother of four children finds a novel way to discipline.

Marilee, an old friend, and I were having lunch, as we do now and then. Finally, over tea, it was time to exchange pictures and to talk about our kids, our grandkids, and our grandkids' children.

Marilee amazes me. She was widowed when she was young and raised four children by herself.

"How on earth did you handle discipline when you couldn't say, 'Just wait till your father gets home!' " I asked. "For instance, what did you do when the kids came screaming to you, each blaming another for starting the fracas?"

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"Oh, that was easy," she said. "I sat them down around the dining room table with tablets and pencils and I said, 'This is very serious. We must get to the bottom of it. You are to write what happened, from the very beginning, telling who said what and who did what. Leave out not a single detail, as I will need all the facts before I decide who must be punished.' "

Soon afterward, silence fell upon the house, and when she peeked into the dining room 10 minutes later, it was always empty.

Doris Markland

Norfolk, Neb.

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