Friday, July 23, 2010

Just to Be Clear:

"All other mommies and daddies are nice, but YOU are MEAN! You are The Meanest!"

This is what Annie shouted at me from her time-out yesterday (technically, her third time-out in the span of about half an hour). The yelling was interspersed with a lot of banging on her door, random screams of "No!" and various moments of marching out of her room and venturing down the hallway long before the timer had gone off to end the time-out.

You can imagine this makes it easy to finish cooking dinner so it can be ready to eat in the twenty-minute interval between when Jason walks in the door from work and when I need to head out for my long bike ride.

You can imagine this makes a day of at-home parenting feel really fun, fulfilling, worthwhile, and rewarding.

You can imagine that, when time-outs aren't working - when they actually make the child more furious and defiant and not-sorry and uninterested in listening than before! - it's hard to figure out what type of consequence would make an impression, would inspire some type of remorse and determination to try harder to be decent.

You can imagine that you'd be quite tired of having to interrupt your fun art project with your other daughter and your dinner-making to be hit, kicked, and yelled at.

You can imagine that, in the midst of the third time-out fit, you might get a burst of inspiration, based loosely on a story your father-in-law once told about how he had pretended to call Santa and tell the big jolly fellow all about how terribly a certain child was acting (a story that moderately horrified you at the time, because The Lying! The Pretending to a Child! and why would you not just Reason With Them and Give Calm Rational Consequences so the child could Learn A Happy Lesson?? and you would Never resort to Such Trickery!). You can imagine that you're pretty sure the racket coming from the bedroom would preclude the phone actually having to ring for your trick to work. You can imagine going to stand in the hallway, phone pressed to ear, and loudly beginning this conversation:

"Hello? Oh, hi Sarah!"

"Oh, Annie probably WOULD love to play with Lucy this afternoon. You know, though, she's been having a really rough afternoon. She's having a hard time listening and being kind, so I think having a friend in the mix would be a bad idea right now."

"Um-hmmm. Yeah, that DOES sound like fun. We'll have to do it another time."

"OK, thanks for calling! I'll talk to you later!"

Aaaaaaaaaand you can imagine your five-year-old-turned-sassy-thirteen-year-old coming running out of her room, flinging herself at your body, weeping, "Sorry! Mommy, Sorry! I'm sorry!"

You can imagine it, I'm sure.


  1. Is there a jolly side to this? I need some jolly in my day. Please don't tell me that my darling little jumper pants is going to turn into a scathing Heather.