Monday, March 16, 2009

Buttons? Consider them pushed.

Earlier today, I sat at my kitchen table, muttering to myself like a crazy woman. As Owen kicked and screamed upstairs, I devoured an entire sleeve of Thin Mints and listed my potential career options. Yes, it's been a rough afternoon.

People say that the threes are harder than the twos. I would tend to agree. The smarter they get, alas, the mouthier they get. Owen, when he is seeking attention, is a delightful mix of an Abu Ghraib prison guard and Jillian Michaels, the trainer from TV's The Biggest Loser.

Owen, thanks to a book given to him by my mother, has learned the phrase, "Go Away!" He is really, really taken with this phrase. He'll sing it to himself as we drive here or there, "The farmer and the go away!/ The farmer and the go away!/Hi Ho, the dairy-o/The farmer and the go-away!" This is don't mind, although I don't love it, either.

Owen really pushes my buttons, though, when he says "Go Away," knowing full well that it is both rude and unnecessary. For example, when he finished his applesauce. I asked him, "Are you all done with your applesauce or would you like more?" See, providing choices! Mother of the year!

My son replied, "I'm all done with the applesauce. Go away, Mommy. Watch Dora NOW!" He then turned to Joel, who was nibbling on a teether. "And, you, Joely. You stop chewing RIGHT NOW!"

The books say that parents need to be consistent. If certain words are unacceptable, than certain words are unacceptable. However, the "Farmer and the go away" song does not raise my blood pressure and cause my eyelid to twitch. Owen's little tirade did.

I scooped him up, and placed him on the step for time out. He proceeded to yell at me from the step, "No, Mommy! You quit it!" I ignored him. Then, not getting the reaction he so desired, he threw my loafer at the wall. My muddy loafer, since it was rainy and awful outside, leaving a muddy footprint on my wall.

Just so you know, people really do see red.

Once again, I scooped him up and placed him in his room, and told him that he was not to leave the room until he heard the timer go off.

As I set the timer, and returned to the kitchen to give Joel the rest of his applesauce, I heard the hard slap of wood hitting tile. I walked over to the foot of the stairs, to see my red-faced, teary son chucking train tracks down the stairs.

I know that he was looking for attention, (since I was so rude as to feed his brother instead of play with him) and I was continuing to give it to him. I didn't care. He Will. Not. Throw. Things. Down. The. Stairs. I stomped up the stairs, opened the door to his room, and saw him huddled in the corner. I grabbed him by the shoulders and said something like, "If you throw anything else down the stairs, you will BE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE!"

I have no idea what I would actually do if he threw anything else down the stairs, since my arsenal pretty much runs out after "go-to-your-room." Nevertheless, I looked possessed enough that he was quiet.

And I was ashamed. How do things escalate to this point? I finished feeding Joel, while feeding myself the previously-mentioned Thin Mints and a healthy dose of guilt. I questioned myself---Did I do the right thing? What should I have done? What is wrong with me? Why do I get so angry? Do I need to put him in time out every time he says, "Go away"? Or just when he's rude? What have I done wrong to create such a rude child?

The timer went off. By now, Owen was quiet. He said, "Mommy? I'm ready to go downstairs?" I told him to come on down.

I asked him why he was in time-out. He said, "I said go-away."

"Is it nice to talk like that?"

"Baby Joel, stop bouncing!" he replied, correcting Joel, who had the audacity to bounce in his...jump-a-roo.

"O-wen!" I said, trying to keep my voice calm "Is it nice to talk like that?"

Owen said quietly, "No." Then, he smiled and said, "Sorry, Mommy! Sorry, Baby Joel!"

"It's okay, buddy," I replied, figuring this is the best I'm going to get for now.

"Mommy?" Owen said, bouncing slightly in his jogging pants, "Let's play Legos."

"Okay," I responded. And just like that, everything was okay. You can learn a lot about grace from a three year old.

Someday, Owen might say, "I hate you," or make me a talking point in therapy.
Thankfully, though, we're not there, yet.

Hopefully, I can learn to be one of those textbook parents, who discipline without breaking a sweat. I'm not there, yet.

Despite the fact that this was a shoe-throwing, Thin-Mint binging kind of day, Owen and I still see the good in each other. We haven't learned to hold grudges, yet.

I pray that we never do.

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