children, mommyhood, terrible threes

Believe Me

Little T.Puzzle woke up this morning with one foot planted on the road to a peaceful, four year old-like existence, and one foot firmly entrenched in the terrible threes. Just like his Mommy, he is not a happy camper first thing in the morning. Of course Full Speed takes after Mad Dog. He pops out of bed, puffs his chest out and flexes his arms (ok, Mad Dog doesn’t do that, he simply enjoys the first light of a day in a positive way I will never understand).

Everything I asked of little T.Puzzle was shot down with a blunt refusal, a cross of his arms and a bad, bad attitude. Of course Mr. Happy Full Speed has to throw his two cents in about the subject.

“Mom, T.Puzzle is just being contrary,” he states. “That’s why he’s not listening.”

In our house the word contrary and children go together like pepperoni and pizza.

“Full Speed, leave your brother alone. You know he doesn’t like mornings and you used to be just as contrary when you were his age (and then some),” I reply.

He looks me dead in the eye and says, “No, I wasn’t.”

Oh really? Who are you going to believe?

Full Speed flexes as the boys return to the car from \’helping\’ Mad Dog grocery shop.
children, mommyhood, terrible threes


My friend who reads my blog regularly (thank you, thank you) came over for lunch. She is raising boys as well and while hers are much older, she has much wisdom to dispel on the subject. Of course I am all ears. I implemented some of her suggestions with varying degrees of success. The first one was to simply tell Full Speed my expectation and to do so only once. If he complied then he would be rewarded, if not then no reward.

When we arrived at school I told him that I wanted him to say ‘good morning, ma’am’ to the school’s receptionist. Oftentimes he is running about talking silly and he doesn’t address her properly. I told him this once and he didn’t do it. I didn’t make a big deal but later that day I told him that meant he didn’t earn a privilege he had wanted. The next day it clicked for him and every day since. He stops in front of the reception area and greets her with respect. So, there’s my progress.

My friend’s other suggestion concerning my constant power struggle to get little T.Puzzle’s shoes on before we head out the door, was to put his shoes on while he is watching his morning cartoon. That way he is distracted and the shoes are on when I shut down the tv and it is time for us to leave.

I put the show on, grabbed the shoes and with great care and stealth tried to slip on his shoes. In the instant he saw me and the shoes he gets up screaming from the couch and runs away to hide.

My friend never once suggested that I be the one to run away and hide, but I’m telling you, on the days that start with tantrums, ‘I nots!’, and general defiance, it doesn’t seem like a half-bad option.

I’ll keep listening, learning and trying different things. Eventually something will click or we will have to move to a place where it is culturally acceptable be barefoot.

children, mommyhood

My Winning Strategy

Since T.Puzzle has turned three, I’ve been holding my breath for the dissipation of his terrible twos. Most Moms you talk to tell you the threes are worse but that has not been my experience. Like a fine wine (you know I had to use a wine reference) T.Puzzle’s older brother has gotten better with time. I’ve seen the same phenomenon with him. It’s groundbreaking and exciting.

However, and you know in the land of my boys there is always a ‘however’, he still likes to sass me, say ‘no!’ to just about everything, test his behavioral boundaries and throw raging (although less frequently) tantrums.

I went upstairs to inform the boys that dinner was ready. They were watching T.Puzzle’s  current favorite Thomas the Train movie, ‘Hero of the Railways’. They had not had a snack and T.Puzzle had taken a lengthy nap (hallelujah!) so I suspected they were famished.

Full Speed is game and he darts downstairs. T.Puzzle, well, he’s a different story.

“I not hungry! I not eat!” he proclaims.

I shut off the movie and tell him it’s now or never.

“I not eat! I not eat! I won’t go!” he cries. By this time angry tears are spewing from his eyeballs and he has dropped into the wet noodle formation. All caregivers are familiar with the wet noodle defense. His thirty-four pound body is now lying in a floppy heap on the floor. I have to clean and press him (I made sure to use my knees to protect my lower back) but I manage to get him off the floor and carry him all the way to the kitchen table.

He sits there in a huff. Everything Mad Dog and I offer him is, ‘I not want that. I not like that. I NOT EAT!’

Yeah, it’s getting really pleasant and fun. I’m just about to drop the hammer and send him to the corner when he picks up a piece of chicken and tentatively puts it in his mouth and begins to chew. Before you know it, he is putting the food from his plate in his mouth so quickly he looks like a robotic conveyor belt. He’s eating everything in sight. Before Mad Dog and I can even sit down to eat our own meals he’s asking for ‘MORE! MORE!’

I have always known that a good rule of thumb when raising energetic, active boys is to keep them well fed at regular intervals throughout the day. If this fails me and believe me it has, my other rule of thumb is to drink wine at regular intervals throughout the day. Either way I’m a winner.

children, parenting, terrible twos

The Sorry Moat

We went to a park we’ve never gone to before today. It turns out to be very cool. It is constructed mostly of wood and is shaped like a castle and a fort. It is huge. I tell Mad Dog I won’t be able to take the boys to this park by myself. I would lose track of them easily and heaven forbid, one of them might fall into the moat (okay, there isn’t a moat but how fun would it be if there was one?).

After chasing them at length through the sprawling castle compound, we casually redirect them to a smaller, more confined area. That way Mad Dog and I can sit on the sidelines and have a complete view of their shenanigans. The weather today has been pitch perfect so it feels awesome to sit back and catch a cool breeze (apparently there are some cool breezes to be found in Florida, who knew?).

Full Speed plays for a bit then heads over to us to negotiate his release back to the castle playground. He’s very logical about it. “Why doesn’t one of you stay here to watch T.Puzzle and the other comes to watch me at the castle?” We rail against this as we are tired and want to stay put. He shrugs his shoulders and darts back off to play.pa293440

In the meantime, little brother T.Puzzle has befriended a mild-mannered toddler girl. They are playing nicely at first. Then, he starts to make animal sounds at her. He’s growling and barking. She’s game and returns the favor. For some reason this angers him. He cocks his arm back and lets loose on her. I jump immediately to my feet and chide him to not hit. He instantly drops in to the ‘I-am-sorry formation’. This means his arms are limp at his sides and he says ‘sorry’ over and over. Sometimes I wonder if he even knows what the heck he’s supposed to be sorry about. I make him apologize to the girl and give her a hug. She cringes in fear until she realizes his intentions are actually good. Then he is brusquely escorted to time-out. He refuses to stay put. He is shimmying his little butt all over the place except the designated point of punishment. When I scold him for that, he picks up some playground mulch and chucks it at my head. Guess what? Playtime’s over.

We head to the car and I’m carrying him like a sack of potatoes (albeit it a highly emotional, screaming sack of potatoes). I drop him next to the car (not on his head, no need to call any authorities) and let Mad Dog take over. Eventually, T.Puzzle really is sorry and gets his act together.

I’m upset and feel the steam of anger rising in me. I have a hard time letting bad behavior like this go. I need to take a lesson from Mad Dog. He claims he has selective memory and only recalls the good in life. He also claims this is the secret to a good marriage. I have to agree but sometimes I’d rather just toss somebody in a moat and call it a day.