Battling Wills

My mom used to threaten us with “One day you’ll have a child just like you.  And if God is kind, it’ll be a child of the opposite sex, just so you don’t know what to do.”  She was referring mainly to my younger brother.  Those two are peas in a pod and went to battle ALL THE TIME.  My boys are too young to really see who they act like, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my share of battles.

A year ago, Evan decided he didn’t want to nap.  I NEED his naps, and he NEEDS his naps.  I wasn’t planning on taking no for an answer.  So after ten minutes, he came out of his room to tell me he wasn’t tired.  I escorted him back to his room.  Five minutes later he was thirsty.  I handed him his water cup and left.  Ten minutes later he was kicking his walls.  I thanked God that Sean was peacefully asleep in his bassinet in my room.  Five minutes later Evan declared it was time to get up.  I returned a kicking, whining child to his bed.  Ten minutes later he was whining for cartoons.  He tried to dodge me as I went to grab him. Over the shoulder and back to his bed.  Ten minutes later he was in the nursery and tried to climb the crib, giggling.  I dragged him back to his room.  After two hours of fighting, Evan conked out, just before I was about to let him out, and Sean woke up.  The funny thing is a week later I met a woman, with children the same age as mine, who told me her two-year-old refuses to take naps.  As I watched the cranky, tired child stumble around as Evan napped, I thought that’s a fight I would win.  But to each is their own, and Evan still naps, though we have to go to the mat every other month or so.

That was another thing my mom told me.  Children will always test their boundaries to see if the boundaries are still there.  It’s like Jurassic Park, when they were explaining how the raptor kept testing the electric fencing.  Actually now that I think about it, I bet I could come up with more than one comparison of raptors and children . . .

Yesterday was another battle.  Maybe you’ve noticed the tambourine activity that is new.  Well, yes, the boys did love it, but Evan preferred to throw the beans all over the dining room.  At first I felt it was my fault for bringing out the whole container beans and debated on putting out a warning, but my mom said even if it was a bowl, he still should not have done it.  True.  Evan was already a half hour into the punishment when I talked to her.  Yup, he was sitting in the middle of the floor “picking up” beans, which entailed playing with them and throwing them and laughing at Sean as he tried to eat them.  I called my back-up (my mom), who said put him in time out when he won’t pick them up.  For two and half hours we “picked up beans,” I picked up the ones Sean threw, tried to show Evan how you make a pile to go faster, and demanded to do it.  I tried everything: time out, go to your room (incredibly stupid because he played), wait him out, scolded him, stood over him, ignored him, slapped his hand when after almost finishing he started to throw the beans again.  As you could tell, I was at my wits end.  So finally I did as I used to when he was a young toddler.  I took his hand and used it to pick up the beans.  Now I’m sure I didn’t do something right here.  I’m not sure what it was, but the beans were picked up and Evan didn’t get any candy for pottying and didn’t get to play for two and half hours.  I pray he learned his lesson.

Then today.  The very first sibling rivalry fight.  Note the date.  Evan is 3 and 2 months, Sean is 16 months next week.  I had made pancakes for the boys, but Evan refused to eat his.  Fine, then nothing until lunch.  But I did leave the pancake out because sometimes Evan will eat an hour or two later when he’s actually hungry.  I was upstairs getting dressed when I heard the screaming and crying.  Racing downstairs, I see Evan whining for pancake and Sean crying.  I pick up Sean and asked Evan what happened. 

Evan: “I hit Seanny on the back.”

My jaw dropped. He admitted to hitting.  He’s telling the truth.  He’s actually telling the truth.  Wait.  He hit his brother.  Ok.  Calm down.  What to do?

Me: Why?

Evan: He took my pancake.

What?  The pancake?  The one you didn’t want to eat!  That pancake!  And of course, it’s just like Sean to see food and decide he hungry and he’ll have that.  And I look, and sure enough there’s a pancake on the floor with two baby bites.  Ok.  Think.

So I sit on the stair and motion Evan over. 

Me: I bet that made you upset.  But did hitting Sean get your pancake back? (Evan shakes his head.  Sean skirms out of my lap and walks away.)  I think next time Sean takes something that is yours you tell Mommy.  Sean’s too little to know it was your pancake.  He thought you weren’t going to eat it.  Next time say: Mommy, Sean took my pancake.  Can you say that?  (Evan repeats.  Sean comes back and wiggles his way to sit in between us.)  Look, Sean loves you.  He wants to sit by you.  Can you tell him you’re sorry for hitting him? 

Evan: Sorry, Seanny.

Me: Now I’m proud that you told the truth.  That makes Mommy very happy.  But we can’t hit Seanny.  Now give me a hug.

Evan: (hugging me.) Daddy tells me the truth.

Me: Yes, he does.  Now do you want another pancake?

Evan: No.  I want a waffle.

Fine.

So it goes on.  As it is I just was summoned by a toddler who told me he can’t sleep because his bed is too hot. (Sorry, Dad, for all the times I used that.)  I took him back to his room, turned on his fan, turned over his pillow, and laid him back down.  And really, I guess I should be lucky that the boys waited THIS long.  Tim and I began the moment he crawled and took my pacifier away as I sat watching tv.  He didn’t even use a pacifier!  So this is family, wills trying to conquer one another and get what they want.  And it’s up to me to make sure things run as smoothly as possible.

Note: As I was putting the tags in, Evan is up again.  He can’t sleep because Seanny is snoring.  Sean does snore, but he’s a baby.  It isn’t loud.  They’re not in the same room.  And Evan has his fan on.  Nice try.  Try sleeping with your dad.  He shakes the whole house.

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