This is just a phase

He’s testing me.  He wants to see if I really mean what I say.  He wants to see how far he can take this.  He wants to see what this button does to mommy.  It’s not yet 8:00 in the morning.

It’s Tornado S.  He’s two.


His eyes lit with daemonic delight when Tornado E showed us his tower of every single Lego built up.  It was taller than Tornado E.  I grabbed Tornado S, trying to make him play another game with him, trying to distract him.  But the moment I let go, TornadoS was running.  I yelled, “NO” in The Voice.

Tornado S knocked over the tower.

I demanded an apology.

Tornado S said, “no” with a smile on his face.

Time Out!

Tornado S cried for two minutes straight.

When time out was up, I asked Tornado S if he knew what he did wrong.  He shook his head, and I explained that I told him no and that he didn’t listen.  I told him to apologize to Tornado E. Tornado S walked toward Tornado E, turned to me, laughed and said, “NO!”

Time Out!


Halfway through time out, The Husband broke ranks and talked Tornado S into apologizing.  He agreed, but I told them time out was mean to be served out.  The Husband snapped about how he wouldn’t be able to work under these conditions as Tornado S resumed his very loud crying.

At two minutes, with the office door firmly shut, I went over the time out procedures again. This time Tornado S apologized.

Ten minutes later, Tornado S knocked Tornado E with a plastic train.  He also refused to apologize.  Time Out AGAIN.  That loud annoying crying again.  I thought I might have to kill someone.  I eyed the usually happy and cute two-year-old.

After two minutes, I repeated the usual time out ending. Tornado S laughed instead of apologizing.  TIME OUT AGAIN!  Two minutes of the crying ensued.  I swear I’m going to kill that kid.  Then I remembered how Tornado E pushed my resolve for a full day, and he was younger.  I can do this.

At the end of two minutes, Tornado S was willing to apologize.  We moved on.

To bath time, which was great for five minutes.  Until Tornado S was upset Tornado E was on his side, and then he hit Tornado E with a pirate.  Are you kidding me?!  Wash hair, get soap in their eyes, rinse them, dry them, wrangle them into clothes.  Mommy is ready to play.  Bring it on.

Oh, crap.  But today is Monday, which is grocery shopping day, which means I have to bring the little monsters into public.  Sonofabitch.

Let’s just say I reassured the cashier, a mother of an eighteen-month-old, that everything is a phase.  Then I plopped down three king-sized candy bars with my groceries.

This is just a phase.  This is just a phase.  This is just a phase.

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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.