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.
Now we have a meltdown. “I CAN’T! I DON’T LIKE TO CLEAN UP! I DON’T WANT TO! I WANT TO WATCH THE GRINCH!!!”
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?