Friday, September 16, 2011

Naughty Is As Naughty Does

Sometimes I think it's odd how well-behaved Anderson can be. He can go days without the slightest touch of the "terrible twos". I mean seriously, he is sweet ("thanks, mommy" and "ok, sure, good idea, mommy!" come to mind), he picks up his toys most of the time, he will go get you just about anything you want, he doesn't mess with the breakable totally non-kid proof things we have everywhere, he goes down for both naps and bed with hardly any issue, and he loves to eat vegetables. I mean, how many two and a half year olds love arugula? But then, suddenly, as if being channeled from somewhere deep within, that sweet little cutie-patootie can become, dare I say it, down right naughty.

Sometimes it is the way he speaks to us-  hands on his hips, index finger pointed, nose scrunched to the side and those luscious lips in full pout mode exclaiming, "No! No! You don't!", followed by "I said NO!".

Sometimes it is the way he refuses to speak to us- ignoring us completely.

Other times it is just plain-old naughty behavior. Launching a Hot Wheel across the room. Spitting into his water cup either before or after dropping his half-chewed food into it. Head-butting anything in his path, including his baby brother. Refusing to get out of the gutter. Crying for absolutely no reason (the big, fake crocodile tears really get me). Sitting on my head. That really hurts.

And sometimes it's not even something that bothers us as parents, but I know it bothers others. Is that something about which to be concerned? Are we supposed to take action against behaviors that really don't bother us but that we can assume might annoy someone else?

What do we do? I guess we're finally at that discipline stage. The real-life, you-have-to-have-some consequences stage. I've researched, I've read, I've inquired. I've even You Tubed. But nothing seems totally right for us. Most of the time what he does just doesn't seem that bad. And our situation never matches the one in the book. (Can't they just say something like "When your child is being a whiny little pain in the a**, do this?")

Time out sounds like a good idea, but I just don't have much hope that we'll be consistent. And it seems everyone we know that use it seem to use it all.the.time. I swear their kids go into time out for picking their nose. And they come out and do the exact same thing. That doesn't seem very effective. And I just can't fathom spanking him. Not that I'm against it if it works for people (I was spanked and boy, was it effective!), it's just that I can't wrap my head around hitting my child to teach him to not do something (though I've been tempted a time or two). A flick perhaps? A stern voice and a piercing glare? A night without arugula? What do we do?!

Are we spoiling him? Are we setting a bad example? If your child is only naughty once in a while do you still follow the tactics for those whose children are like little demons every minute of every day? But then, again, don't we all have our moments? Don't we all just want the prerogative to be grumpy once in a while?

Or maybe we're delusional. Maybe he is that bad. Maybe others look at him and secretly thank the stars that they are not his parents. Perhaps we are total push over parents who are setting our kids up for massive amounts of therapy in the future.  It's so easy to look at other people's kids and identify behaviors that are totally unacceptable, but looking at your own is a completely different story.

Do we accept that it is just a symptom of the age and ride it out? And what about Baby Beck? Will he be the same or will his demeanor be completely different? Will we have to discipline them differently? Is that even fair? Will we ever figure it out?

These are the thoughts that keep me up at night. These are the things about which I worry when I need to be working. How can we be the best parents for our children if we are just flying by the seat of our pants? I don't know. I wish we had the answers. I wish there really were a magic technique that kept sweet little kids sweet all of the time. I would pay money for it. Lots of money. Until then, I suppose we'll just have to keep chugging along. Trying things out here and there until we find what works for our kids and for our family. Man, if I'm already this stressed about these things now, I can't even imagine what the pre-teen years will bring. Maybe by then there will be a "Happiest Tweener at the Mall" book.

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