I absolutely can't believe that it's only been a month since I wrote your last newsletter - that happy, wondrous description of your three year-old self. It feels like a year has passed since then; an obnoxious, snotty, rude, disrespectful year. A year full of time-outs, threats, lectures, and hitting (you hitting, not me, but just barely.)
When I ask you to do something, your frequent response is succinct: NO. When I explain that you don't say NO to Mommy, you mutter "you Mommy" under your breath. I know when I'm being cursed at, even if you're not quite cursing yet. It's just a matter of time; I can feel it.
A tiny snapshot:
You and Jack are playing on the carpet. Jack picks up a toy and you suddenly discover that you desperately, immediately need that toy. You grab it away, and huddle so that Jack can't get back to it. Sometimes you lie down on the toy to make absolutely sure he can't.
Me: Calmly tell you that we don't grab toys, and ask you to please give the toy back to Jack.
Me: "Please give the toy back to Jack now."
Me: "If you don't give that toy back to Jack, you will have to go in time-out."
You: Sullenly sliding the toy halfway to Jack, then pulling it back again.
Me: "Okay, you're in time-out!"
You: "NO NO NO NO NO NO!"
Me: "Okay, one more chance."
You: Danging the toy in front of Jack and then pulling it away and laughing.
Me: Hauling your flailing body to time-out.
You: Hitting me in the shoulder, then slyly looking to see if I saw you.
Me: Yeah, I saw you. Very stern, low-voice "We do not hit Mommy." Plunking you in time-out.
You: Leaving time-out, grabbing at my heels, wailing, carrying on.
Me: Trying to be calm but stern, putting you back in time-out, keeping Jack from thinking it's a game and playing with you. Waiting for you to sit still for a whole minute so I can call the whole damn thing off.
Me again: "Nate, I put you in time-out for grabbing toys and not listening to me when I told you to give them back to Jack. Say "Sorry for not listing, Mommy."
Me: "If you want to leave time-out, you need to say "Sorry for not listening, Mommy."
You: Glaring at me. "Sorrrrrrrrrrrr..." Insert snotty glance here.
Me: "It's just fine with me if you stay in time-out (except it's not, because we have to get to X before Y happens and the whole day's plan is shot.) But you're not leaving until you say "Sorry for not listening, Mommy."
You: "I just want to say "Sorry."
Me: "Yeah, I know. That's why you have to say the whole thing." (intended lesson: I'm in charge. Ha!)
You: "Sorry for..."
Me: "Okay, I'm done. Call me when you want to say sorry." Getting up and walking away.
You: "Wait! I'll say it!"
Me: Walking back over, sitting back down.
You: "Sorrrrrr....." Another snotty look.
Me: "See ya, buddy."
Repeat 4 or 5 times, insert more weeping (yours, thankfully, though mine is close behind), and you're finally out of time-out. We go to get ready to leave, and you refuse to put your shoes on. I calmly tell you to please come over and get your shoes on. You shout NO, I DON'T WANT TO! I calming explain that if you don't listen to Mommy, you'll have to sit in time-out for not listening.
45 minutes later, we're ready to leave the house and everyone is exhausted and frustrated. Errands are a blast. Then it's time to make you another meal and try to teach you that we don't spit food, show me the food in your mouth, get up and run around during dinner, or lick food off the table.
Here's to a better month next month.
I still adore you.