Saturday, January 9, 2010

Terrible Three and a Halfs

Why didn't someone warn me about the existence of this phenomenon? I thought I was finally out of the woods with H, that he was finally starting to calm down, but no. Maybe it's because of the additional attention R is getting now because of the shenanigans he's pulling as part of the terrible twos, but something is definitely making H act up.

It's all about getting his own way. It was a little bit cute when he refused to leave the security area at O'Hare until he got a full pat down. (I got one because I was wearing R in the baby carrier and they had to test the straps.) It was borderline funny when he decided he was not going to get in the car to go home from the supermarket because Stewart had refused to put him on the belt at the checkout lane. H said he wanted someone to buy him and he would not go home until that happened. He finally accepted my explanation that I had bought him, and that he had been on sale that day for $5, when ordinarily he was $10. We then proceeded to walk the mile home from the supermarket, since Stewart had left for home with the perishables ages ago. And when I write walk, I mean, one of us walked and the other one was carried piggyback all the way home.

But absolutely unacceptable was his decision to start unbuckling the seat belt to his booster seat and getting up to stand at my shoulder while driving. Not only did he take this dangerous step for his own life, but he even unbuckled the seat belt attaching R's car seat to the car. I had no choice but to take drastic measures. I put out a plea on my local mom's message board asking for the loaner of a toddler car seat. I switched out H's seat for the toddler seat while he was at preschool and the reaction was immediate. H knew that he was being punished and felt the humiliation keenly. He cried and protested that the baby seat was for R, and that he wanted his seat. I told him that he was being punished and he assured me that he had learned his lesson. I congratulated myself for disciplining without spanking or yelling and, after one trip driving around town, switched H back to his booster seat.

Do I never learn? The lesson lasted all of two and half days before he unbuckled himself again. This time he said he did it because he had to pee. I know he's going to be conflicted because of all the mixed signals but basically we pulled over and I put him into the baby seat. Now he's going to think it's ok to pee in his pants, but at least he will be alive. There is definitely something to be said about living in a city where you don't need a car. At least you can avoid all the car seat drama. With R, I've basically thrown in the towel and promise him an M&M every time he gets into the car seat if he stops fighting me. Of course, now I've conditioned him to expect this and am rewarding bad behavior, but I'm just about done.

I have to fight them all day long, whether it's because they want to drink juice instead of milk or turning off the TV after their allotted viewing time or brushing their teeth with--horror of horrors--mint toothpaste when the tube of their favorite Trader Joes fennel one has been left at grandma's house (and why is this toothpaste sold out at the nearest 3 TJ locations?). And the worst part of it is, my good friends who have two boys (8 and 4) tell me that it doesn't get better. The boys keep fighting each other and fighting with the parents, just on different things. I really wish I had had close friends with sets of older kids before I had mine. The only close friend I knew had a daughter who was so angelic and smart that she blinded me to the nitty gritty that is toddler angst. I don't know if I would have done it differently, but at least I would have gone in with my eyes open, knowing I was in for full frontal assault.

To think, this all happened just in the first week of 2010. Does not portend well for the year, or the decade. I need a dose of Joel Osteen.

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