Toeing the Line

Would toeing be spelled with an “e” or without an “e”? It looks funny.

We’ve been struggling. Lia has not been able or enabled to overcome the big S word…Sneaking. She sneaks gum, candy, the iPhone, my cellphone (when I can find it), medicine… This week has had particularly fragrant (not, not flagrant) episodes. She dumped my bulk-sized garlic powder in the dining room, the bulk-sized onion powder in her room, and late last night added the bottle (luckily NOT bulk-sized) of powdered charcoal to the floor in her room. Devo spent the first half hour of his day scrubbing charcoal out of the carpet. Charcoal doesn’t come out of the carpet. (Any ideas? Help!)

I’ve tried spanking, I’ve tried timeout, I’ve tried making a big deal out of it, I’ve tried underplaying it, I’ve tried lectures, I’ve tried appealing emotionally, I’ve tried guilt tripping, I’ve tried scare tactics. (Not all at once, you understand). And nothing has worked. Or helped. Or made a significant change in a positive direction.

This week, when I found her climbing up into the medicine cabinet AGAIN, I started to get seriously worried. Worried about Lia, and worried about me. Somehow this constant sneaking has triggered an instant anger response in me. Way out of proportion to the crime. I’m not angry often. Irritated, sure, but not angry. Being angry is unpleasant. And scary. Particularly when it is aimed at a precious darling 3 year old.

And then there is Amelie, who has been exercising her fit-throwing capabilities. And fussing. And squirming.

So last night I went back to Raising Godly Tomatoes. And Elizabeth, bless her heart, has given me some tools. Here’s the plan:

Lia is henceforth ‘tomato-staked’. That means she is always in the room with either myself or Devo. And (this is the kicker), we are watching her. The idea is to catch her before she gets into something she shouldn’t be touching. Also, there are a number of small non-compliances that need attention. Prompt unyielding attention.

Amelie is no longer allowed to throw a fit. If she’s old enough to learn to throw a fit, she’s old enough to learn to control her temper.

Leilani operates under these rules: getting angry is NOT AN OPTION. Being irritated is NOT AN OPTION. Losing my temper is NOT AN OPTION. Etc.

So, with these resolutions, we headed this morning right into the middle of the storm. Not even out of our pajamas yet.  I asked Lia to pick up the towels and washcloths she had scattered around her room last night when she should have been sleeping. She said no. She got a gentle swat on her bottom. I said, “Don’t say no to Mommy.” Then I asked her again to pick up the towels. She said no. She got a gentle swat on her bottom. It only took her about 15 minutes of this to decide that she really did want to stop crying and obey. Then she sat down and happily folded and stacked her washcloths.

Meanwhile, Amelie wants to help Devo by wading into the charcoal mess. I told her “No” and lifted her up and put her next to a toy basket. She went back to the charcoal. I gave her a gentle swat on her bottom. She arched her back and shrieked. I said “No” and gave her a gentle swat on her bottom and put her with her toys. She went back to the charcoal. After about ten minutes of this (and luckily, after Lia had changed her tune), Amelie decided that she didn’t like this at all and launched into a full blown tantrum. So, on Elizabeth’s advice, I held her to me and gave her gentle swats when she threw her body around and said, “No, we don’t throw fits”. And she screamed for about 10-15 minutes before she decided she was done. Then she settled down and we cuddled happily for another 10 minutes.

And then we had a very nice day.

As for me, I am always so thankful for resources that empower me to be a better person. Just having someone suggest that getting irritated or angry with my children is not an option releases me from the pattern.


5 thoughts on “Toeing the Line

  1. Thanks for posting this. I really needed to hear it. You are a constant blessing to my mothering soul, Leilani. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  2. Leilani,
    I laughed & cried reading your adventures in Motherhood & remembering what a Joy you were as a youngster!! (You were a very determined young lady as My Trisha was & still is today). Thank you for your posting’s as I needed a reminder how to handle our little Niko.(age 2 1/2) It has been so long since I have had to deal with the tantrum’s and not obeying me. I too have tried so many different way’s to handle the Terrible Two’s ( I always thought 2 year old’s have nothing on 3 year old.), but what a precious joy Niko really is to us. He is the happiest little boy we could ever ask for and we are so grateful we get to help raise him.

    Love you, Auntie Michele

  3. Pingback: Bedtime « spinning in my teacup

  4. Pingback: Raising Godly Tomatoes « spinning in my teacup

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