I'd been warned these days were on the horizon, the ones most people refer to as the "terrible twos." My Mom has chosen to call them the "terrific twos" instead, in an effort to bring about the best possible outcome through a positive outlook (spin) on things. So far, disciplining the Monkey has been only very marginally challenging. When I see some of the behavioral issues other parents are faced with, I've thanked my lucky stars for my son's good nature and mellow temperament. But I was also acutely aware that the fabled worst toddler years still lie ahead. And while I did expect to see some change in my son (testing boundaries, exercising his will to say "no"), I wasn't prepared for
Today's New Activity: Mama Hand Forced
I'm a big fan of the Super Nanny. I like her methods of discipline because they are firm and yet completely non-violent. As much as I applaud their effectiveness, I consider spanking and even the smacking of hands to be violent acts, neither of which I can imagine inflicting on my son. I have never had the desire to strike a child, and I fail to see how it can be seen as a loving act. It seems to me unpleasant for everybody involved. The Super Nanny demonstrates effective methods of discipline using a combination of time out punishment and congratulatory reward. While I fully planned to employ both, only the latter has been necessary so far. In all his life, Monkey has experienced something in the neighborhood of 3 time outs.
That was, of course, until today.
Today he was on quite the tear, blatantly ignoring requests, then directives, then forbiddings-not-to. By early afternoon he'd had 3 timeouts (which, I have to say, I was happy about in one regard: after the first time he got up and tried to escape his tiny time out chair and I sat him back down, he didn't keep getting up. He would sit there and do this super fake cry and, after 10 seconds or so of that, turn around to look at me with the hugest, cutest smile on his face and sing out, "hiiiiiii." It took a lot for me not to laugh out loud and rescue him from even that one minute of time out and snuggle him in my arms. For the most part, I was able to resist his formidable charms until the minute was up and we'd review the rule broken, apologize, exchanged "I love yous" and hugged).
In the afternoon I'd been telling him we were going to the library and then to the park. He started disobeying again just before we left, and I told him that if he did what he was doing one more time, I wasn't going to take him to the park. And you know what? He did it ANYway! I wasn't all that shocked, since kids do this sort of dare-your-to-keep-your-word-on-that testing of boundaries all the time. But this was the first time he's ever called my bluff on something like that. Good thing I wasn't bluffing. After the library we headed straight to the grocery store and then home.
There were two factors that I know made today more challenging on its own. First was that he didn't fall asleep during his nap time, as he usually does for 1-3 hours. Second, he'd just returned from his first ever two-consecutive-night stay at his Dad's house. I know that such a change in routine has the possibility of being challenging for even the most mild-mannered and easy-to-transition children. Hopefully he will become accustomed to the new change in schedule in a few weeks' time, and I'll see the return of my Monkey-go-lucky bundle of joy.
Something tells me, however, that the coming year is bound to see more of his tests of my will. And though it's tiring as hell, I'm ready to face it. As much as I hate to see him upset, and as doubly hard as it is to discipline him when he's being suuuuuuuper cute, as he typically is, the thought of raising a bratty child overrides all other challenges. As difficult as today was, it worked to make me that much more committed to the idea of holding strong and raising a child who knows the limits and respects them. I think it will make him a more pleasant adolescent, teenager, and adult to be around.
Deep breaths, deep breaths.