April 01, 2004

Of Discipline and Frozen Waffles

First, apologies for the lack of academic mockery this week. Go here and here for some amusements, if you're disinclined to listen to my ruminations on toddler raising. (Yeah, picking on Yale today.)

So, the terrible twos have smacked our family unit in the eye. Or kicked it in the shin, or thrown things, or rolled around in the floor--pick one! They're all very likely to have occurred at our house in the last week or so. Yesterday, however, we reached the apex of two-dom, and I reached the limit of my patience:

I bopped my child on the head with a waffle. A frozen waffle, and it was more of a "Hey! Listen to me!" tap than the righteous whacking I would have preferred, but you know what? It shocked him into behaving like a human for a few minutes, and brought me down from the edge of raving lunacy, where I have been hovering for the past few days. What brought on the infamous Waffle Bop, you ask? Let me share a sample day from the past week and a half.

5:00 a.m. The Boy comes to our room, convinced that it's time to get up. As we have 30 minutes before the alarm goes off, we stuff him in bed with us and ignore him.

6:00 a.m. It is now time for The Boy to rise. The Boy objects. The Boy shrieks. The Boy refuses to do anything but sit in the floor and yell, "NOOOOOOOOO!" However, as The Boy is awake, we go about our business.

6:15 a.m. One parent attempts to dress Boy while other parent fixes his breakfast. No matter which parent does which task, it is the wrong one. Also, neither clothing choice meets with approval, there is apparently no food on earth sufficient to satisfy his palate, and now the entire family is harried, late, and irritated.

6:45 a.m. Boy is cajoled to car with trains and assorted toys. Boy gets angry if parent hovers too close to car because Boy must "DO IT MYSELF!" Boy attempts and fails to fasten car seat clip. For FIVE MINUTES. He greets attempts at instruction or guidance with shrieks. Finally, parent just does it for him and ignores screaming.

7:10 a.m. Arrive at daycare. Boy becomes model freaking citizen. Parent drinks gallon of decaf and wishes for tequila shots.

4:00 p.m. Parent arrives to fetch Boy. Boy refuses to leave playground. Boy must take a particular circuitous route to car. Repeat entire "DO IT MYSELF!" process with car seat. Drive home in rush hour traffic to sounds of Boy screaming about Baby Beethoven and parent being disallowed to bob head to the rhythm.

5:00 p.m. Arrive home. Boy refuses to see either parent. Boy refuses to get out of car. Boy refuses to do anything except be carried, screaming, into house by unfortunate parent who drew the short straw.

6:00 p.m. Epic dinner battle, including 3 time outs, refusal to eat, demands for foods that have NEVER APPEARED ANYWHERE IN OUR HOME, and culminating in consumption of PB&J.;

7:00 p.m. Epic bathtime battle.

7:45 p.m. Epic bedtime battle.

12:30 a.m. Boy appears at bedside demanding milk.

12:40 a.m. Boy expresses displeasure at parent's refusal to sleep on floor by Boy's crib. Boy is ignored.

1:45 a.m. Boy demands more milk. Repeat 12:40 procedure.

5:00 a.m. Heeeeeeeerrrrrrrreeee's BOY!

6:15 a.m. Boy is screaming about food, clothing, parenting styles, the tv channel selection, etc. Parent snaps and bops Boy with waffle. Parent then cooks waffle and feeds it to Boy. Boy manages to act human for rest of day. Parent considers writing book about frozen waffle-fu style parenting. Parent realizes that there's probably a reason Boy will be an only child.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at April 1, 2004 01:11 PM

Brings back memories ... Husband away for 3 months on special duty, 2 yr old daughter, lousy commute and a combined 1/2-day pre-school, 1/2-day day care setup.

2 yr old daughter decides she will ONLY walk BACKWARDS. in the house. down stairs. in public. Will not be carried, conveyed, driven in a car .. none of these, if she was to have anything to say about it. And she had LOTS to say about it, including at 6:30 AM in the parking lot of our apartment complex.

Solution: Stuffing her into a laundry/grocery cart, the 2 wheeled kind old ladies use when they go to the corner grocery store. She decides I am now her personal chaffeur. Wants to see the world. Go to store - whee!!!! Go to daycare - lookatme!!!


Her next phase included peeing while standing upright, like her best buddy Tommy at pre-school. Fortunately, her teacher was patient and cotton clothes was easily enough. That one lasted a few weeks until her dad got back home for a week - after the Official Demonstration at the pre-school bathroom, she moved on to discover finger painting and interminable repeats of The Wheels on The Bus.

Hang in there - when Boy comes out of this you'll have a few blessed years of peace before the teens hit.

Posted by: rkb at April 1, 2004 01:29 PM

The middle of the night crap has GOT to GO. And fast. You will be flinging omelettes at him if you lose any more sleep. Read Penelope Leach or something and get some advice that is better than mine.

My only words of wisdom are that, bittersweetly, this too shall pass.

You know I do remember that Julia needed to "decompress" after day care (same as she needs to now after school). Can he chill somehow? Where/when/how does he chill? Does he chill at all?

You know I love him - I really find this dastardly behaviour so hard to believe :-)

Posted by: Belle at April 1, 2004 01:56 PM

Yeah, the night stuff is a bit much. It was easier to break him of it when he couldn't get out of the crib, though. We'll try the new strategy (back in crib, bring milk, then to back in crib, period) on a weekend--generally it takes him 3-4 nights to break a habit.

As far as decompressing--usually he comes home and has a snack and either plays outside, watches a video, or plays with his trains. Lately, decompressing involves throwing a tantrum and being put in his room until he can act like a human.

Phase? Oh I hope so. This is one of those times in his life when I'm standing on the sidelines yelling, "GROW! GROW! GROW AND MATURE AND GET OVER THIS CRAP!"

Posted by: BAW at April 1, 2004 02:05 PM

I am sooooo Glad my youngest is 32!!

Posted by: mary lou at April 1, 2004 02:34 PM

First off, this reminds me of the old joke,

Q: What's the difference between a two-year old and a terrorist?

A: You can negotiate with the terrorist.

Yes, it does pass (at least most of it did for our two (now 5 & 3). Although She Who Must Be Obeyed gets sick of my mentioning it, check out John Rosemond's book "Making the Terrible Twos Terriffic" He's just about the only child rearing guru I've ever heard of that has a psychology PhD but isn't a total waste of time. With the pysch background, he actually knows what's going on in their twisted little minds, but at the same time most of his advice is stuff your Grandma would approve of. He also has a very wry, twisted sense of humor that you'd probably enjoy.

A parting thought: God didn't make them good - he made them cute (that's so we don't kill them before we've put in so much time that we'd feel bad about it).

Posted by: Pete at April 1, 2004 04:13 PM

Proper, sturdy, clothing is required. Oshkosh b'Gosh is good.
Using a grip just above the belt line in back, you will be close to the center of gravity. Carry like a briefcase.
It worked with our twins.
Outbursts and screaming are not legitimate behaviors and merit no response.
Under no circumstances should the parent demonstrate anger, anxiety, or the slightest possibility of modifying his or her behavior as a result of terribletwoing.
If the child won't eat the dinner, the child can watch the rest eat. No child ever starved himself to death.
Our kids turned out well. Details on request.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at April 2, 2004 10:31 AM

Ah, so many sweet memories come flooding back. Thank God I got neutered.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at April 2, 2004 11:37 AM

Oh, yeah, highly reccommend Oshkosh, or other sturdy brand of overalls. When you lift them up by the back straps, and hold them out at arms length, you not only get a wonderful upper-body workout, but they can neither kick or bite you from that position.
And concur with Mr. Aubrey's advice re: food preferance terrorism. This is your meal, sweetie, eat it or not. If not, the next meal is in so many hours.
Hang in there, at about the age of three and half, they are amenable to threats and bribery, as in "Sweetie, stop that or Mother will spank!" or "Darling, if you are angelic, you can have some ice cream."

Posted by: Sgt. Mom at April 2, 2004 12:47 PM

Two words: Movie Camera

Capture as much of this insanity as you can stand, store in a safe place and wait for the perfect moment to take a (shared) trip down memory lane.

Posted by: RBinWeHo at April 2, 2004 03:59 PM

Oh, yeah, get it on tape. Another thing. The little brutes can devote their entire energy to this. You can't. You've got a job, cooking, cleaning, shopping, cleaning Boy, ad almost infinitum. Boy's only task is getting his way.

Just wait till he hits his teens.

Posted by: Captain Yips at April 2, 2004 04:23 PM

do you recommend any particular brand of waffle?
my waffle tossing mornings appear just around the corner.

Posted by: Lynn at April 2, 2004 04:42 PM

We observed that our kid had particularly hair-raising episodes right before some major developmental breakthrough.

Agree with the not giving in about food thing. I wouldn't expect a child to eat food that I knew he consistently hated, but I also wouldn't give pb&j; if he refused eating something that at other times would do. You're going to back yourself into a corner like my SIL whose eldest will ONLY eat chicken nuggets and nothing else. Look, we all have our moments, and we all have to learn to deal. It's his turn.

As to getting dressed, I used to have arguments with my daughter's clothes. "All right, shirt, let's get on Frankie." "No, I'm tired, I don't want to go to daycare. She can wear some other shirt." (in squeaky shirt voice.) Frankie thought this was a real hoot and she would say menacingly, "I'm gonna wear you, shirt!" This technique actually brought about a lot of cooperation, although my husband wondered what it did to her psyche.

Posted by: Laura at April 3, 2004 10:24 AM

Lynn -

I use Eggo Buttermilk Waffles, for that satisfying "thwock."

Posted by: BAW at April 5, 2004 09:39 AM

It's great reading all the various solutions! I'm with Mary Lou on this, though, I'm glad my kids are grown!

I also agree with Sgt. Mom, no kid ever starved himself -- if he won't eat what's served, too bad. He'll figure it out, believe me!

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was not to threaten what you won't carry out. One parent threatened a recalcitrant child with being thrown out the window if the child didn't behave. The child looked at the window and looked at the parent and couldn't believe the parent would DO such a thing. Misbehaved. Parent threw child out the window! It was a firtst floor window, in the middle of winter, with a snowbank under it. (Parent knew this.) Needless to say, when the parent threatened some action after that, the child took the parent seriously!

Sometimes, you just have to be very creative to get their attention and let them know you truly mean business.

Posted by: Heather at April 5, 2004 01:14 PM

Never let them see you sweat. Never let them get the upper hand. And NEVER let them outstubborn you, or you're dead meat.

Your job as a parent is to take a rude, dirty, uncivilized savage and turn him into a human being. Raising and training dogs and cats was a good prerequisite to raising a child. (Yes, I did yell 'Sit!' at her sometimes when putting her in her car at the mall.)

Missing a meal or two won't hurt the little buggers. Neither will screaming and crying until they fall asleep from exhaustion. Then they learn that that's not a good thing to do.

I'm an incredibly stubborn and pigheaded person - just ask my momma, but she swears she's got all hers still. My daughter runs me a close race. As I sometimes tell people, you have to hit her upside with a 2x4 just to get her attention, and if she really wants something she's liable to do it anyway no matter how dire and certain the consequences. (My kid brother was the same. *Sigh*. Family curse, I guess.)

Above all, remember to keep telling yourself: "I'm the mommy!" Of course, throwing a really good temper tantrum now and then can really feel good and get rid of some stress.

I routinely threaten my daughter that when she turns 13 (she's 8 now), I'm going to lock her in a closet and throw in raw meat once a week until she's 21. She thinks I'm joking...

Posted by: Claire at April 5, 2004 03:22 PM

Gotta love the twos! The kid's at his most annoying, and you're at your most stressed. So what do we hear from others?? "Isn't it time you had another one?" "It's just not fair to only have one child." (Not fair? To whom?) "So when are you planning the next one?" And these comments come from friends, relatives, complete strangers. I often wondered what drug they were on. And could I have some?

But you should be thrilled to have an only child. I am. I figure while all our friends will be investigating household crimes like a detective, we will always know right away who did it!

Posted by: Julianne at April 6, 2004 10:30 PM