So when is it worth the standoff?

As you all know, I am the mother of an almost 4 year old boy. We are working on figuring out what works for us in the discipline department. Usually I use time outs, taking away priveleges or toys when Carlitos acts up, and I try to remember to praise and remind him that no matter what he does I always love him. It’s the action we’re focusing on, not the person. I am really working on controlling my temper and not screaming at him, which I am sad to say I should probably apologize now to the neighbors, because sometimes it is me making more noise than him.

Sometimes it astounds me what he takes to heart and really listens to me about. He told me the other day “you have to brush top and bottom, front and back or your teeth will rot and fall out and really hurt”.

So last night I was cleaning up from dinner and we were gearing up to watch the Grinch for our “2nd” day of Christmas advent calendar event, when things went a little haywire. Carlitos likes to walk through the kitchen and pull things off the counter as he goes to see what they are, what I am doing, etc. He is very curious- alot of times he tries to break things open to see what is inside, which drives me insane. Of course I remember trying to break open the etch-a-sketch on the basement floor myself, and my brother biting a hole in his Stretch Armstrong doll to see what was in there, so I guess he’s pretty normal.  

So he finishes his sweep of the counters and moves on to the pantry, and decides to take out a scoop of dog food. I tell him, “Carlitos, put the dog food back, it’s not to play with”, maybe 4-5 times. He ignores me with a little smirk, and drops 87 pieces of kibble on the floor. Ok, no big deal, I tell him to clean it up.


Well, Mommy is not even done cleaning up from dinner, and I am not cleaning it up. There will be no Grinch until it’s cleaned up. This turns into a monster brawl with things being thrown, people being carried to the time out corner, and me one by one taking the holiday stuffed animals (Carlito’s new favorite things since we pulled out the decorations) and putting them on top of the refrigerator where he can’t reach them. Each one is like a dagger to his heart, he stumbles around the kitchen screaming NO NO and calling me stupid.  3 year olds are like schizophrenics- “I want a hug, no no no, I don’t want a hug YOU ARE STUPID MOMMY, I need some help, not RUDOLPH, oh yeah, I am taking your STUPID DECORATIONS, I NEED A HUG, don’t touch me!”All the while screeching.

I finish cleaning the kitchen, I have left out the dustpan and the broom. I sit down in the living room, he wants to watch the Grinch. Not until the dog food is cleaned up.

I CAN’T DO IT!!! He’s rolling around under the Christmas tree, trying to knock things off by shaking it.

“Just get started and I will help you”.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, GET STARTED! I need a drink, I’m firsty.

Oh. Okay. Pick up a few, then I will help you. Eventually he goes and gets the dustpan, gets 15 of them in there, and I praise him and begin to release the hostages. Grinch first, then Rudolph, the rest of the reindeer, Herbie the Elf, and the alligator. It is amazing how long it can take a child to do something I could have completed in 60 seconds. Between the fight and the actual clean up, it is well over an hour.

When all is said and done, there is no time to watch the Grinch, I help him carry a dozen “friends” upstairs, it’s pajamas and read some books, and he passes out almost immediately.  

I talked to my cousin today, and she is laughing and laughing while I tell her this story- someday he will be in therapy talking about when I used to hold his animals hostage on top of the refrigerator. He made a point of telling the neighbors the other day that I took his blue turtle and put it in the garage.  

I hate those standoffs! Lately we have both had a cold and cough, it feels like it’s been happening more often. maybe we’re grumpy because of the cold? Maybe it’s a phase?  I don’t remember doing this when I was a kid, or how my parents may have handled it.

So tonight I am making popcorn and we are going to snuggle up and watch the Grinch together. I hope he stays out of mischief so we can! It’s tough to know if you’re doing the right thing. I really don’t want to prolong the fight and have us both miss out on enjoying each others company for the evening. Should I just have cleaned it up? Any suggestions?


About debratap

Mom, artist, analyst- taking some time to figure it all out!
This entry was posted in Family, Friends, Parenting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to So when is it worth the standoff?

  1. Christine says:

    Aw. First you need a hug. Then you need to know that you absolutely should not have just cleaned it up. What would that have taught him? That nothing has consequences… Then you need to remember that children learn their boundaries from their parents. They will try you and push you and it’s just how they learn where the boundaries are. Trying to remain calm and not scream your head off is the hardest thing on. the. planet. You’re doing great.

    • debratap says:

      Thanks Christine, I accept that hug gladly. I sometimes feel like I’m turning things into more than they have to be. And then when he reports me to the neighbors I have to cringe.

  2. michelle2004 says:

    LOL hilarious…just breath…I absolutley agree that you did the right thing. I am a single mother too and I probably would have ripped my own head off. My son is 6 now and heps me with cleaning all the time he loves to mop…even though its not really a mopping kind of job. Its the idea to pick up and help pick up that matters…

  3. am says:

    i feel ur pain deb….we shld talk!!! <3u

  4. Jeanine says:

    Stay strong Deb! Perfectly handled =) It will pay off in the long run. He is soooo cute with the stuffed animals 😉

  5. Laura says:

    Perfectly played, Deb!! It’s tough to stay strong in those situations, you did great. The stuffed animals on top of the fridge is a good one, tho. We used to take away baseball hats, believe it or not, with the same reaction.

    Keep up the good work!!

  6. Noreen Dengler says:

    Hey Deb, I think it’s one of the hardest parts of parenting. Iused to sit and cry and call my mother who would assure me I did the right thing. Her other words of advice which i heed to this day were “Always choose your battles”, so if they’re not going to learn anything from it skip it. So my Kathleen used to go to school in a hideous, hairy vest and a red cowboy hat for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t worth the melt downs. And she has a decent fashion sense now.
    You did good girlfriend, keep up the good work. Kids are more resilient then we are, I think. Love ya, Noreen

  7. Mom says:

    You definitely did the right thing. I remember having standoffs with your brother when he was small and yelling loud. (You and Jeanine didn’t give me grief till you were older. He told the doctor that I used to hit him with a fork (it was the wooden salad fork) so try not to get too physical. Hold your ground.

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