05 February 2008


Peawhistle has been testing my patience and I do believe I've reached the end of my tether.

Let me take you back to two weeks ago. I was about to start dinner so I washed my hands before beginning. I went to dry my hands on the hand towel on the fridge when I noticed it was crunchy. I looked closer and also noted that it was stained yellow. I was perplexed. "Why the heck would the Husband clean something up with the towel and then put it back?!" I wondered. When questioned about what was on it, he denied any knowledge, leaving Peawhistle and the cat as suspects. Correctly, I guessed Peawhistle was the one with the most information. Under intense interrogation she admitted to having played with some eggs (which she had then responsibly thrown away) and then cleaned up the yoke-covered floor with the towel. Amused, I thanked her for cleaning up her mess and asked her not to play with eggs anymore. "Okay!" And off she skipped.

Two days later I find yet another crusty, yellow towel on the fridge. "Peawhistle, have you been playing with eggs again?" "Yes." "No more eggs, OK? No. More. Eggs." "Okay. Sowwy." And there hasn't been a recurrence since. At least not with eggs.

Forward to a week ago Monday. I've already described the toilet-clogging episode, which was also accompianied by her playing with the remote door-opening key to the van, resulting in a visit from the neighbor warning me that the side door was completely open for who knows how long. At least it hadn't rained. It was also around this time I discovered that someone had been taking bites out of pears in the fridge and then putting them back.

Two days ago, I found her sitting in the dining room with an empty pudding cup, spoon, and napkin (well, that was good of her anyway) on the floor while she was busily stuffing chocolate truffles from the dining room table into her mouth. "Peawhistle! You know you're not supposed to take food out and leave it on the floor. Please pick it up." (muffled by chocolate): "OK. Thowwy."

Back to three days ago. Peawhistle and I were playing on my bed when I saw an orange stain on her PJs. "What's that Peawhistle?" "Leg." "No, I mean on your PJs." "Yogurt." "That's yogurt? "Leg." "Yes. Your leg. On your leg on your PJs, that's yogurt?" "Uh huh." Great. I walk downstairs looking for evidence of her adventures with digging through the fridge to find yogurt. I found the empty container, plus spoon, in the trash. As I was rescuing the spoon, I glanced over into the dining room and noticed several colored pencils on the floor. As I went to pick them up, I saw that she had creatively and quite colorfully drawn ALL OVER a section of the dining room wall. White wall, that is/was. "%&*$#@!" I cleaned up the pencils, got out the super-duper Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and set to work. Noting that this was a big job, I used the scrubby side of the eraser. (WARNING: NEVER USE THE SCRUBBY SIDE ON WALLS. IT REMOVES PAINT.) After removing a section of paint ("%&*$#@!") I switched to the soft side, which I found perfectly adequate. After two Magic Erasers, the pencil marks are gone, but the overall color of the wall is now a pale gray. I stepped back to look at it to see if it was really that bad, and that's when I found the yogurt on the carpet via my bare feet. After cleaning up the yogurt, I was not in a healthy mood. As punishment, she was not allowed to take her lunch to the basement to watch cartoons as I sometimes allow as the occasional treat. This was met with screams of protest, mostly "NO!!!", and a refusal to eat the lunch provided, all of which I ignored for everyone's safety and sanity.

By the way, the protests have not stopped since that time, as evidenced by Saturday evening's affair. For most of her childhood I have been cleaning up her toys at night. Often the Husband helps in this endeavour, and on occasion Peawhistle herself helps, once or twice accomplishing the task by herself and without coaching. Nearing four years old now, she is more than capable of cleaning up the toys she takes out. She does not agree. I'd decided to use the time-honored solution of removing those toys from play that had not been properly put away. I consider myself a reasonably fair person when it comes to this sort of thing so I told her several times throughout the day that she would be expected to clean up her toys from this point forward. When the big moment came, however, she played instead of cleaned. I informed her of my intention to take away any toys she failed to put away. Like I was reading her Miranda Rights, I made certain she understood exactly what that meant. "Are you sure you understand what will happen if you don't clean up your toys?" "I understand." "You understand that what I take away you can't play with anymore?" "I understand." "OK. Let's clean up then." "NO!" "Peawhistle...." "No, Mommy clean up!" I went through the scenario again, trying to let it sink in more this time. Same reaction. So I started to collect doomed toys, informing her that she would not be playing with them for a long time. She excitedly started to hand her toys to me. *Sigh.* She doesn't understand. In fact, she grew increasingly pleased with every trip upstairs I made. This exact scenario happened two nights in a row and she has even seen her toys stashed in our closet. She has gone so far as to request one of the toys back, but when I explain the situation from the beginning she does not seem put-out in the least. She plays with all of her toys to varying degrees, and she has enough to last her before she feels the pinch. Last night she finally cleaned up with much prodding and coaching on my part, saving many a toy. We'll see how tonight goes.

And then there was today. We were at Flopsy's house while her mother and I worked on music for church. Flopsy and Peawhistle had the rare tiff, usually with Peawhistle declaring, "NO!" to Flopsy's requests to play with her. That, of course, bothered me greatly (we then had chats about being nice and polite). However, nothing could compare to the wrestling match between Peawhistle and me when it came time to go home. Screaming, shoving, scratching, and running away on her part, anger and extreme humiliation on my part. Never have I had such a difficult experience with her before in getting her to go anywhere, even home after an equally enjoyable time elsewhere. And it's not as if she wasn't going to see her the very next day, either. As punishment, no cartoons today, which, as we all know, is more a punishment for the parent than for the child.

*Sigh.* Again.


Benteti5 said...

Who said 2's were terrible, right? My oldest was great until about 4 which is where your daughter sounds to be and no punishment worked for him. He simply didn't care. I don't know how many toys I threw away right in front of him. And you're right, some punishments definitely punish the parent more than the child. I realized, after some time, that punishing him didn't work. I began to completely ignore, for the most part, negative behavior and praise profusely good behavior and since he is a pleaser this worked better than any punishment. Hope this will help. If not, it is probably a phase and you won't have to pull too much hair out.

Ryann said...

We have been having problems with the girls sneaking food also. They love to get at it and eat it before we find them. However, most times they tell us what they have done. So we came up with a fruit bowl that they are welcome to eat from at any time provided they eat all of it-not just a few bites. Seems to be working well so far!1

Abby said...

Thanks guys. It's not like I'm starving her or something either, but when she won't eat dinner and barely touches breakfast I suppose she's going to get hungry at some point. I'll have to try a fruit bowl or like unto it.

And Kristi, I see what you mean about the punishments not working; that's becoming readily apparent (although we're up to two days straight of willingly and pleasantly putting toys away). But like when I ignored the egg thing the first time and instead thanked her for cleaning up the mess she made, I got a great reaction, but she felt unhindered in doing the same thing again. I worry that if I don't make it perfectly clear that she can't do those things that she'll translate that into implicit permission/approval. Also, I can ignore the tantrums at home, but when we've overstayed our welcome at a friend's house already and she still won't leave unless physically forced, what is to be done? I have a difficult time discerning where the line is of what I can safely ignore to hope the behavior stops on its own and what needs to be dealt with immediately.

Benteti5 said...

I know what you mean. Why is being a parent so much harder than becoming a parent? I think PW knows that playing eggs on the floor is not acceptable. She's just trying you. About the tantrums, you're right, those cannot be tolerated. A mom who tolerates 3 year old tantrums is a mom who tolerates 8 year old tantrums and that is not pretty. I am a strict believer in positive and negative re-enforcement. If a kid has a tantrum in the store and still gets what he wants, that is positively re-enforcing a neg. behavior. You already know this. Be tough. You have to win. You win the first few times, she'll learn. Hopefully. I disagree a little about the fruit bowl. I don't let my kids graze. If they don't eat the meal provided, they are hungry. They can have a snack after school and sometimes at night, but not if they don't eat meals. It's easy for me to have such great parenting ideas for others' kids. Isn't that how it goes:) I'm sure parents have ideas for me too. We're much better when Daddy is home also. When he's gone most of the year, things fly out the window sometimes when I forget the crazy pills.

Benteti5 said...

Nevermind, don't follow my advice. My kids are on my absolute LAST nerve today. Thank goodness for school!!

Misty D. said...

As a professional, let me tell you how to do it:

Be a nanny, quit, and then don't have kids.

So, since you didn't follow that advice, here are some things I have learned in regard to raising toddlers.

1. Nip tantrums in the bud. I had a lot of those with the kids. It seemed to be the first thing they would try me with. I had Zero Tolerance for it. I've left a grocery store with a cart full of food before due to a tantrum.

2. Food is one of those gray areas. Benteti5 is right, in my opinion, that it's not a good idea for kids to graze, though, you don't want to be in the habit of saying "NO FOOD FOR YOU!" With the kids I nannied, I would ask them every two hours or so if they were hungry. If they answered yes, then I'd ask them what they were hungry for, how hungry they are, etc. Then, you can help PW gain a healthy appreciation for food. It'll help her recognize when she is hungry and eat appropriately.

3. I did the removal of toys and television, too. But I was a little more "horrible." Instead of playing with their toys, I'd ask if they would like to read. They'd pout and say no. Then, I would tell them that fine, I was going to read (usually something appropriate to their age, in case they changed their mind) and do so for the alloted time. They'd either have to amuse themselves, or read with me. Sucked to be them. That's when one kid discovered her love for spinning around in circles, making up songs, and seeing how long she could stand on one foot.

Oh, and post something new, why don't you?!