Friday, December 3

Memo to the Nearly-Three-Year-Olds

I know you are getting bigger, and that like any normal children of your age, now is the time for you to become more focused and deliberate about your boundary testing. A year ago, you careened from one activity to another, pausing occasionally to see if I was paying attention and would tell you not to do some dangerous thing, but mostly you were simply bent on destruction exploration, and your limit-testing was more incidental—a by-product of your curiosity and exuberance.

But now, you are studying. Carefully probing the places where you sense any sign of weakness, whether it be the rare (yeah, right, I try, okay) inconsistent response, or the thing that makes me growl "NO" through gritted teeth. In short, you are checking out how best to piss me off.

I thought maybe we could all save ourselves some time. I will provide you with a list of things that piss me off. That way, you won’t have to check Every. Fucking. Day. to see if they still piss me off. In future, you can refer to this memo. I promise that if one of these things ceases to piss me off, I will update the memo to reflect my new attitude. I’m not expecting to do a lot of editing.

So here we go.

1. Putting your feet on my body, face, arms, etc. while nursing. What IS this???? And you BOTH do this bizarre behavior incessantly, even though you know that after 3 warnings the milky session is OVER. We’ve talked about touching with hands. We’ve talked about respecting mama’s body. But somehow, the feeling of feet (bare, socks, shoes, even rainboots, it doesn’t matter) against my body is just too appealing. It annoys the hell out of me. Sssssstop. K? Glad we’re clear.

2. Asking me for a cup of juice at dinner time, then climbing up on the table when I leave the room to get it. You know, I know you’re doing it when I hear the hysterical giggling. And you know that if you do it you are required to take a break from being in the dining room. You are allowed to leave the table whenever you are finished. No bonus for getting kicked out. So, well, this is pretty straightforward. I promise to be pissed about this every time you do it. As I think I have alluded to on more than one occasion in the past, it’s not safe, and it’s rude. So we can just stop with that little drama, because it’s not gonna change. Nope. I will remain this mean FOREVER. Just wait till I have car privileges to take away.

3. Demanding one single exact clothing ensemble, regardless of whether it is clean or not, and then whipping it off 5 minutes later and demanding another one, treading, of course, on the initial outfit in the process. Seriously. I already, surprisingly enough, have a fair amount of laundry to do. Not really necessary to create more by wearing a different outfit every time you walk into a different room in the house. And I'll tell ya right now, being completely naked is not always my favorite alternative, especially when I have EXPLICITLY told you that we are leaving in five minutes and when you are in the other room disrobing while I am putting your brother’s shoes on. Duct tape? Is that the only answer? And no, it’s not okay to go to the library naked. I don’t really have time to explain the many reasons WHY right now, but trust me, they are the same as the last 25 times we have had that conversation, okay?

I think that will do for now. There's more, oh there's more, but if we can start there things will run a lot more smoothly around here.

PMS? Moi? Shut up, it has NOTHING to do with that. Nor is it related to the fact that I have been home solo with the kids for the past week, and for 3 weeks in the last 6 (or something, it’s all a blur now; that’s a conservative estimate), and one of the weeks DP was home involved dinner for 10 and houseguests. And the freelance project and the 9:30 phone meeting with a fucking COMMITTEE (I love phone meetings on Saturday mornings with COMMITTEES reviewing my work--LURVE IT!). That makes me extra perky.

Over at Naked Ovary, one of Karen’s trolls used her cursing as evidence she that she is not ready to be a parent. In that case, three years into it, I am DOOMED.

I had to edit to add this from the comments:

Stephanie has a great #4:

4. I know that you like to nurse standing up and that it seems like a real time saver to you. Despite how this makes me feel less like a loving, nurturing mother and more like a SNACK BAR I am willing to do it if you will simply NOT JUMP AROUND with my nipple in your mouth.

(also, if you could stop stuffing the leftovers from your snack down the side of the couch I would like that.)

Um, yeah, that one too. Technically, the drive-through closed shortly after the take-out and delivery service went offline (pumping, that is) at 18 months. I think around 2, I insisted that all milky sessions be sit-down meals. We did have one session on some days where the rules were off and they got to stand up and SHARE (the other fun twin nursing excitement. You haven't lived until you've had your kids execute an entire wrestling session WHILE latched on). That one session has been spot weaned because I was going to start breaking china if I had to do it again. It was mostly the wiggling, but also the casual way they would turn, holding the breast in one hand, to see what was going on behind them. Sit-down diner from now on.

Thanks, Stephanie, and congrats on the book.


Anonymous said...

ok, my Heather is just turning 4. I've been enduring this for a year too. Here's what we're doing and it 's working.

1. The carrot. Pick three traits that are important to you. These become the family rules. Our family rules are, we are kind & loving, we are respectful, and we are responsible. (These are rough categories of the behaviours she was doing that made me want to scream.) We made a sticker chart, and bought some new special Barbie stickers (I know. Let's not have that argument right now, shall we? This is behaviour modification time.) When Heather does something that is kind, respectful or responsible she gets to put on a sticker. "Heather, you asked for a snack in a very nice and respectful way, thank you. Why don't you put your sticker on the chart while I cut the apples?" "Heather, I love how you put your coat in your room without having to be told. That is very responsible. What sticker do you want to put on today?" "Heather, I was so proud of you when you shared your snack at the park. That was very kind and loving. You definitely get a sticker for that!"

2. Immediately call out behaviors opposite the chart, in the form of a question. "Heather, is it respectful to put your dirty feet in someone's face?" "Heather, who is responsible for this coat on the floor?" "Heather, is sitting on the cat kind & loving?" This gives her the chance to modify her behavior without my telling her what to do. HEather is very strong willed so I work very had to avoid outright commands. It also gives her the chance to show how smart she is by knowing what IS kind, respec... etc.

3. The stick. Gross misbehaviors earn the consequence of no books at bedtime. This punishment was explained before it was meted out. In the first week of the technique, I also would remind her, "Heather if you continue sitting on the cat what will the consequence be?" Habits are heard to break.

We are now in the "do I still have to follow this rule?" testing phase. No books last night or tonight for being too rough with the cat. Tonight when I said "Heather!" in that way, she just said "no books". So maybe I may need to up the ante and take away scooter privileges.

Would you like my thoughts on your specific issues?

1. feet in the face while nursing. Heather did this too. I'd stop the nursing immediately, get up and move away. No three warnings, that just means they have two freebies. It may be that your darling cherubs are exploring, in their own minds, weaning. (Heather weaned with minimal prodding just last month.)

2. Get the juice before you sit down. One instance of climbing on the table means the food goes away immediately. no bedtime snack.

3. keeping the clothes on. Let me tell you a story. One morning Heather forgot how to walk and was incapable of coming down the stairs. for half an hour. Then she lost her ability to leave the rocking chair. for a further fifteen minutes. now we're late for school. "Heather you have one more chance. I'm going to leave your room. when I come back in two minutes we're going to school dressed or naked." We drove naked. It was funny at first. It was also January. Never had that problem since. Let her ride to the library naked. Turn on the AC. But you can only return the old books, no new books this week. Sorry, naked people aren't allowed in the library. Oh, maybe next week you'll make a different choice.

It's a lot easier to be a hard-ass now then when they're fourteen. IT will be too late then. You'll have protests for a week, then things will settle down nicely.

I look forward to hearing how you deal with them. Fun!

Anonymous said...

Oh my word, nearly 3-year-olds. Two of them. Both at the same time. I remember dimly, but no twins. When my youngest hit her 2nd birthday, she also hit the tantrums. One a day. Until she was nearly 4. Yegods. Twins! Anne from Alternative Knitting

Anonymous said...

Mercy this takes me back. I have no suggestions to help you.(I've blocked it all out) but I think you should add this one to the list, pronto.

4. I know that you like to nurse standing up and that it seems like a real time saver to you. Despite how this makes me feel less like a loving, nurturing mother and more like a SNACK BAR I am willing to do it if you will simply NOT JUMP AROUND with my nipple in your mouth.

(also, if you could stop stuffing the leftovers from your snack down the side of the couch I would like that.)

(yarn harlot)

Anonymous said...

Oh Dear - Ok, I'm thinking you don't want "advice" on how to solve the "problem" - but much confirmation that what you're going through is (a) hard, and (b) a phase. Hopefully shorter than longer.

While I can confirm the hard part (no I don't have twin experience, but I have a healthy imagination and it's not difficult to extend my own "hard" parenting moments to beyond and guess what! That'd be hard!). I can also confirm the phase part. Although I cannot confirm the shorter vs. longer version of the phase.

Repeat after me: "They're very cute some of the time. Nothing lasts forever. I love them more sometimes than others. In a minute, I'll love them more than I do right now, while they're squashing their stinky toes on my face."

And the best part - Tomorrow, Rhys will be home! --Sara

Karen said...

LOL! Boy did this bring back memories! Of course it's all funny to me now because mine are all grown up. I have a 2 1/2 year old granddaughter going through some of these things now. It's fun being the grandma...I get to hand her over to my daughter when she grates on my nerves! haha

Amy said...

Thank GSD I'm not alone! My 2.5 year old thinks that nummies are great twisted around, nursed upside, feet here there and everywhere. Argh. We also have the please be nice to Mommy's body talk, which always ends the same way--the child announces "They are MY nummies." She tried the nursing standing up, but that was pretty much solved when I strapped the items away from reach. After being gnawed on all night (still in our bed too), there are days that I think "Why did we want kids anyway?" But, I do notice she is kind and gentle to friends, pets, and baby dolls. I think that the attachment parenting will pay off if we can get through the twisted nipple stage???