More Teenage Attitude . . . from a three year old.

I wanted Evan to pick out a color for an art project, and zombie Evan was watching a cartoon that was sucking out his brain, sip by sip. (Ok, it wasn’t THAT bad; it was Go, Diego, Go.  And when did we start watching it so much?)


Me: Evan, what color do you want?  Red, blue, or yellow?  (no response)  Evan?  (no response)  Evan.  (I moved straight in front of the TV.)  Evan. What color do you want?


Evan: Mommy, GET OUT OF THE WAY!


Me: Excuse me?


Evan: Mommy, get out of the way!  I’m watching TV!


Not anymore.  Click.


Me: You’re not going to watch TV until you are nice and polite.


Evan: (Stomping out of the family room, up the steps) I’m going to my room! (Just so we’re clear; Evan has to go to his room to deal with any temper tantrums)  (Evan stopped outside of the family room and turned around) I’m sorry, Mommy, for yelling and saying get out of my way.  (He came back to give me a hug and kiss.)


Me: I know.  You were just upset.


Evan: Now.  Get out of my way!


I think we have a failure in communication.

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A Word on Family

When Evan tried to discipline Sean with a spanking, I stopped him.


Me:  Are you Seanny’s Daddy?


Evan: No.


Me: Are you Seanny’s Mommy?


Evan: No.


Me: Then it’s not your job to spank him.   You’re Seanny’s brother.


Evan: I’m Seanny’s Evan!

The beginning of time out

I thought I would reminisce about the first time I tried the time out chair.  A little before two, Evan was throwing temper tantrums and hitting, so I would just drop him in the pack-n-play for a minute or two.  That was punishment enough.  But as the new baby had the pack-n-play with the bassinet up, I had to think something new, leading me to remember the wing back chair I picked up a yard sale.  In hind-sight I should have gone with the wooden chair that we have now, but I was afraid that at two years of age Evan would fall off the chair without arms.


One day I decided that today was the day to stop Evan from hitting.  No more hitting.  No more hitting Mommy because I was afraid that Evan would hit baby Sean.  (Another unfounded fear because Evan didn’t start wresting with Sean until Sean was mobile.)  So Evan hit me, I dragged and placed him in time out for two minutes.  It took 45 minutes to get him to sit for two minutes.  As many of you moms know or any one who watches Supernanny knows the process of dealing with a child who won’t stay in time out so I won’t waste time in describing the situation.  I am nothing, if not stubborn.  He hit me again shortly after getting out of time out.  Back in he went.  At least this time it only took a half an hour for him to sit in time out.  Through out the afternoon, we battled against each other.  He must have been in time out six more times.


Then later in the afternoon, just before dinner.  Evan shouted, “Mommy!  Let’s play time out!”


Please read that sentence again and absorb the enormity of it. 


My jaw dropped as I wrote a letter in my brain to all the childcare experts out there.  “Dear So-and-so, I tried time out like you suggest to have my son turn around and think it was a game.  No there was no laughing, smiling, or chasing on my part.  Now what do I do?”  I wondered what I could do instead.  Let my son be a bully?


That night we went to dinner with some friends.  As dinner was winding done, with Evan on my nap, I told an amusing antidote.  Evan spun around in my lap, trying to put his hand over my mouth.  “Shh, Mommy.  Be quiet.  You’re in time out.”


Well, that’s something.  To put it in a little perspective, Evan didn’t hit me the next day.  We use time out as regularly as we have to.  So persistence and a little stubbornness go along way in parenting.

Another Peeing Incident

Or peeing during time-out as a way to protest your “unfair” treatment.

Tornado E’s pressing buttons AGAIN.  He’s pressing MY buttons again.  Yesterday he was in time out four times.  Three of those times were for hitting or pushing Tornado S . . . hard.  I held my anger and put him in time out.  The second time he went into time out, he learned to spit.  Tornado S, who was watching Tornado E (fascinated that his brother was actually sitting still for once), also learned to spit.  Awesome.  Then when it was time to discuss the time out, I noticed Tornado E had peed.  When I asked him why he peed, he giggled.  That’s right, he giggled.

Then the third time he was in time out, he was still naked from the last time out and peeing session.  I watched in horror as he bore down and pushed out his piss.  The little brat actually did it on PURPOSE.  So I jumped down into the foyer and tried to cover his penis and make him stop.  Why don’t I just reverse the Colorado River while I’m at it?  So I stopped the time out clock (after washing my hands) and handed him some paper towels to clean up every drop of piss.  Then he was back in time out for four minutes. (I’m trying a longer punishment when he hurts Tornado S.)  To pass the time, he started to spit again.  I told him to stop or he was going back into time out.  He did it a couple more times.  Resisting the urge to slap him, I heard the time out beep.  I talked to him about hitting Tornado S and sent him back to time out for three minutes.  Finally time out was a punishment as he pleaded his apology from the time out chair.

So now what am I going to do with a boy who pees in protest of his time out?  My mom suggested a spanking, but I have used that discipline only in life threatening emergencies like walking in the street or parking lot.  It worked too.  Even Tornado S will not walk into the street.  But I’m not sure if I want to use that kind of discipline unless it’s my only option.  Of course, two of my parenting books have no mention of peeing as a protest.  On to the third and final book.  Any suggestions out there?

Picky Eater

My husband tells of how he used to HATE to eat.  HATE.  When he was a kid.  He didn’t want to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  He hated coming in to eat dinner, to stare at dinner and try to swallow it down.  He naturally assumes all children are like that.

My brothers and I loved to eat.  Of course, we hated certain foods.  Like fried okra.  To a one, we hate fried okra.  We would walk into our grandma’s house, smelling the delicious smell of fried oil, mouths watering over the thought of fried chicken, mock chicken legs, or chicken-fried steak.  Only at dinner we would be greeted with fried okra.  My baby brother actually threw up once from eating it, and he was never forced to eat it again.  Tim and I were so jealous.  I can’t even eat fried bananas because it’s the same texture.  Yuck!  But back to loving food, we would race through our meal because seconds were up to first come, first serve.  In our teen years, we would compete on who could eat more at the buffet.  And to this day, we still sneak treats from the kitchen, devouring like a swarm of locusts as we converge on my parent’s house.  (Of course, I’m the only one who gets dirty looks from my mom because I still have weight to lose.  Thanks mom.)

Since Evan became a toddler, the discussions of our youthful eating habits are very popular at our house. 

Husband: I hated my mom’s cooking.  I think she was a bad cook.  The only thing I liked were her breads.  Your mom is a better cook.  Better than you.

Me: Hey!  I use the same recipes!  But she is good.  Mashed potatoes, fried chicken, enchiladas, chimichangas, potato soap.  Mmmm.  What did you eat?

Husband: Casseroles.  Lots of casseroles.

Me: Well, that explains it.  Yuck!  That and one pot dishes.

Husband: Yeah, I ate a lot of those too.

Me: Really, there are only a few good ones.  She was cooking with her time.  Everyone did casseroles or one pot dishes back then.  Goulash.  Yuck!

Husband:  I hated steak as a kid!  I hated steak!?  Who hates steak?

Me:  Mmm, steak.  The only time we got steak was when it was on sale and we were going camping at The Cabin.  Nothing like a t-bone over an open flame.  But anyways, your mom had brain surgery in ’69, didn’t she?

Husband: Yeah.  She lost her sense of smell.

Me: Well, that’s an answer.

And yes, we have this conversation several times a month.  Because Evan eats sparingly.  He likes meat but won’t touch a vegetable.  He likes raisins (we’re stocked), grapes, and watermelon (what will I do when summer is over?).  And of course, he inherited my sweet tooth.  And I’m at my wits end.

The other day I served mozzarella-spinach stuffed ravioli.  I swear I have seen him it it before.  Sean was woofing it down, and Evan stared at the plate and asked what it was.  Mini quasidillas.  (ok, Lying is bad.  but really?)  He nibbled.  He nibbled.  Then he saw the spinach.  “Yuck!  The green stuff is yucky!”  Fine, don’t eat.  But the rule stands as you don’t eat dinner, you don’t get anything else.  Until you ask your dad for cereal.  And he says “at least it’s healthy.”  Awesome.

My husband and best friend say that there are just picky eaters out there.  Well, swell, but they have to eat more than a dozen things.  And the hell I’m raising a picky eater.  Not in my household, not when I am armed with my mom’s recipes. 

Then the experts say not to force your children, not to beg.  After 15 times, they’ll learn to love it.  Ok, how do I get him to try it once, twice, the fifth time.  My dad insists that I don’t force Evan to clean his plate because he doesn’t want Evan to eat after he is full.  Where was this logic when I was a kid?  Remember the fried okra?  And I have stooped to pureeing and hiding it in the foods, which my grandma thinks is crazy.  Hey, I still serve vegetables.  Besides, it makes the meal fuller, adds more vegetables, and is helping me loose weight.

So I finally found some options to try to makes him eat, as I watch the Supernanny demand the kids eat vegetables before they leave the table.  Ok, again, I don’t want to force past the fullness.  And as I tell my mom about one crazy scheme after another, she said, “I thought you were going to try the no thank you bite.”  Oh.  Right.  I forgot.

So tonight,  I was determined.  Damn it.  He was going to eat a bite of everything.  The chicken, the rice, the cucumber, the spinach.  And it was crazy.  He loved the chicken.  As it was a new recipe with a soy sauce-honey glaze with sesame seeds, I was worried.  He ate the rice.  He even took a few bites of the cucumber, dipped it in his milk, and took a few more bites.  (At one time, he loved cucumbers, then he stopped six months back.  I serve them a lot hoping for that love to return.)  Then he was done, and I asked him to take a bite of spinach.  One bite.

So began the two hour ordeal.  My husband left to work in the home office, as I tried to entertain Sean, clean up dinner, and force Evan to eat one little bite of spinach.  Evan didn’t want us to play, didn’t want us to watch TV, didn’t want us to blow bubbles or dance.  He spilled his milk on accident.  I got him a new plate with new spinach.  He had to go potty.  He had to be naked.  He wanted his daddy.  He was too cold.  He needed a sweatshirt.  He needed a diaper.  He wanted his daddy.  He wanted to hold his mother’s hand.  All the while “Eat one bite of spinach.  One bite.  A no thank you bite.”  “No, thank you, Mommy, spinach is not for me.” 

Finally I told him grandma would have made me eat the whole thing.  My son did not believe me.  Not Grandma.  She’s a saint. She’s so sweet.  And I remembered what Bill Cosby said, “These people are getting old, they’re going to be judged.  They’re trying to make it up.”

So we called Grandma and Papi.  And they talked to him.  Then after they hung up the phone, I had an idea.  I explained my idea to Evan as I handed him his no-spill juice glass.  I got the tiniest bit of spinach on his fork.  I jammed it in.  I forced the straw of the juice into his mouth, clamping his jaw to make him sip.  I kept saying drink, drink, it’ll make the taste go away.  And the kid didn’t spit out the spinach.  And we were so excited!

And am I crazy?

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.


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.