Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hump Day Curse

What is it with Wednesdays?

I swear, it seems that if my kids decide to push all my buttons it will happen on a Wednesday. Today? Collegiate level button pushing.

It seemed to be the theme of the morning. Critter wouldn't come downstairs when told to so we could leave for the library, and he LOVES going to the library. I had to trudge up there to get him. Then he decides to play in the dog's water dish in the garage, and consequently gets upset because his shirt is wet. Tough luck, kiddo. You chose to play in the dog's water, deal. (We're big fans of the 'natural consequences' concept.) He tries to ply me with "I'm sorry Mama. Need a dry shirt. Sorry Mama," but I don't take the bait.

We get there, and he decides that instead of touching the tree I told him to wait by while I get Little Bit out, he'd rather sit on the rock 10 feet away. I could still see him. That's not the point. The point is he didn't follow my directions. We had to have a little meeting of the minds right there and talk about listening and obeying, and that if he disobeyed me in the library we would have to leave. "Yes, Mama" says my angel-faced boy.
We get inside, sit down close to the back (hugely-pregnant-me, on the floor, Indian-style, with a toddler on each knee...gettin' the visual?), and make it through the first half of the program. There is another child sitting on a wooden cube stool nearby, and one empty stool, so Critter decides that he should take this seat. Just as I realized what he was doing he was out of my reach and headed for the stool. We were in the middle of that rousing toddler fave 'Open Them, Shut Them' and I was a bit distracted, what with the complicated handmotions and all.

OK, so he sits. Well, then Little Bit decides that he, too, should sit there, and begins struggling to get up and over there. Not only that, but other children start to get up and wander, as well. Maybe as a result of Critter's lead, maybe not. Whatever the cause, it's getting disruptive. Then Critter starts calling out, "Hi, Mama" ...just to taunt me, I'm certain. I call to him quietly, he hears me, looks straight at me, but ignores me . I whisper (read:hiss) "Come here or we will leave right now." He doesn't budge, continues to stare at me.

While all this drama is taking place, poor Miss Margaret continues to sing the song and starts reading the story, as if nothing is happening. So I haul my body up, all the while holding Little Bit in the death grip, because he's still struggling to get away, and I know where that will lead if I let go of him. I go over to Critter, take him by the hand and start to lead him away. He, in true defiant toddler fashion, goes all limp-spaghetti-kid on me, so I have to literally drag him through the back past all the good little children and their horrified mothers.

These mothers weren't horrified that I was doing something terrible to my child, because I wasn't.....well, except for the almost pulling his arm out of socket thing...not really just kidding. I was truly the picture of restraint: never raised my voice, didn't yank on him, didn't rush him, nothing like that. All very calm.

No, they were horrified that I actually got up and left with my kids, even if it did make a scene.

Many of these are women who, more often than not, will struggle through the story while their children scream, whine, cry and make a terrible racket. While all this goes on they are continally asking these kids, "Honey, what do you want? Do you want to....(insert any of the following): sit over there?, your snack?,... drink some water?,... go outside?.......?"

It's story time, people! The list of options is pretty limited: sit down, listen to the story, sing the songs. If what you want isn't on that list, get up and go somewhere else so the rest of the group can enjoy the program.

I know they're only toddlers.
I know they don't always understand completely.
I know that sitting still for extended periods isn't a honed skill for toddlers.

However, it's only 15 minutes, the activities are varied, and my toddlers DO know: exactly how I expect them to behave, and what will happen if they don't do just that. They are usually very compliant and well-behaved, following the rules to a 't'.

Take last week, for example. We were in the library courtyard with another mom and little boy. This boy decided that he would throw good-sized stones from the bottom of the fountain into the top of it. His mother apparently had no problem with this, and that's her prerogative. However, this is a strict no-no for my kids: we look at the fountain. Someone went to a lot of trouble to set up that fountain for us to look at and enjoy, and if all the rocks from the bottom go into the top, it will stop flowing. Being the usually good Critter that he is, my child just stood next to Little Bit and they both watched this little boy, occasionally looking over at me. I could tell he was wrestling with the dilemma of following suit, or following the rules he knows. Critter then came over to tell me what the little boy was doing. I told him I was proud that he was following our rule of just looking at the fountain. See? So.very.good.

It just seems that every so often, maybe once every few months, one of them will feel the need to test out those boundaries and rules. I guess that's the life of a toddler: check in with the parents every so often to make sure all the rules still apply. The answer is always YES.

But why, oh why must this testing always seem to come on the days that are 107 degrees, when it's especially hard for me to be consistent, when it would be soooo much easier just to give in? ****Sigh****

When we got to the car, Critter began to cry that we didn't get to hear the story, and so I explained why we had to leave.
Me: "Did you come sit down when Mama called you?"
Critter: "No, Mama."
Me: "Did Mama tell you we would leave if you didn't come?"
Critter: "Yes, Mama."
Me: "Will you come when Mama calls you next time, so we can stay for the whole story?"
Critter: "Yes, Mama.......I love you." (that last part kills me)

Next week? I bet we'll make it through the entire story.


Blogger Carrie said...

Kudos to you for getting up and leaving! My nephew turned 2 Saturday and he knows how to behave for the most part but when he crosses the line or throws a tantrum at a restaurant or wherever, someone gets up with him and takes him outside so the rest of the place isn't disturbed. Being single, I really don't have the full appreciation for the challenges of raising children. But I do believe in a saying of my mom's:
"You can raise your kids so that only you love them, or kids that everyone loves" so true.
Good job for sticking to your guns! The pictures are adorable!!!

3:25 PM  
Blogger MMC said...

And yes, it does appear that Little Bit is flicking the bird in the top shot.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Kami said...

I'm sorry, but as cute as he is, I find it hard to believe that he's such a trouble maker. ;) I too have taken my kid out of places, and I am sooooo proud of the restraint I show!

5:03 PM  
Blogger cassie said...

I feel ya sister! When monster #1 and flipper were little we NEVER made it through a whole storytime!

5:17 PM  
Blogger mrtl said...

You're raising well-mannered and behaved young men. Good on you for sticking to it. It is the harder way to go.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Good for you, sticking to your guns. It's harder in the short-term, but much better for the long-term.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Sounds like the right response to me; I'm just surprised the other moms were horrified. I'd expect them to fully understand (and commend) your actions.
I do have to say, though, that different toddlers have different personalities, and some respond to discipline better than others.
Love the photos, by the way!

8:40 PM  
Blogger Monkey said...

good for you... :)

and the pics are adorable!!!


10:02 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Good for you!

I think you handeled the situation beautifully. You threatened and followed-through.

Those pictures are precious!

9:07 AM  
Blogger TBG said...

You are a good mama. I am so sick of everyone letting their kids do whatever they want instead of following through. And I am sure that is why you have well behaved children. Unlike most of society out there.

Who knows I dont have kids but I hope to be the consistent mom and not the mom that lets her kids decide what they want to do!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Mama Duck said...

They DO know how to push until the last drop, don't they?

My nearly two year old is a master of jacking around while we're trying to leave for any kind of appointment where we have to be there at a certain time. She. Just. Knows....

And agreed! Kudos for the follow through!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Queens said...

Critter has your eyes! SO cute!

1:40 PM  
Blogger song said...

ever noticed that when mums are grumpy, they post really cute photos of the kids?

Must just be to remind us of something...

2:45 PM  
Blogger Nap Queen said...

Your kids are adorable and I congratulate you on your parenting skills. If there were only more like you....

1:28 PM  

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