Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Two for the Price of One, Lucky Me

First, an admission. I'm not big on Easter baskets and I've never mentioned the mythical Easter bunny to my children, not even to blackmail them into behaving better. A couple of years ago, I forgot to give the children their chocolate Easter bunnies and over a year passed before I removed the stale chocolates and threw them in the trash. No one noticed or remarked.

This year, I prepared ahead of time. I gathered four baskets, suspended small stuffed bunnies in plush eggs from each handle, nestled paper Easter grass into the baskets and place a chocolate bunny and some lollipops in each one. Then I stashed them in the front closet, right behind the vacuum cleaner.

And that's where they remain.

They children never noticed on Sunday--which could be because the younger children had candy from the church Easter egg hunt and one of the twins was ill. Today, two days after Easter, my daughter remembered the chocolate Easter bunny one of the baby's moms gave her. First, I gave her the dismembered bunny head (she nibbled one bite) and later, handed over the whole bunny body which rests in peace on the coffee table, looking like a cadaver picked over by a vulture.

My son noticed and said, "HEY! You didn't give us our chocolate Easter bunnies!" His indignant attitude annoyed me, so I just said, "Huh." And he carried on a little, but I thought, I can't, I won't present Easter baskets now because then she will have two chocolate bunnies and really, now is a bad time. Maybe later. Plus, I won't reward his stinky behavior.

Tomorrow, maybe, I'll get out those baskets, but please, Son, don't ask me again or I'll have to leave them in the closet.

* * *

My daughter has had an uneasy relationship with nap time. When she was a year old, she boycotted nap time for four straight months. Oh, she might doze in my arms while I nursed her, but if I shifted in my chair or placed her in her crib, she screamed as if a swarm of bees flew into her diaper. She'd be awake for twelve hours and sleep for twelve hours.

Then, she napped again. And so it went for some time until she stopped napping again. I began laying down with her on my bed and she'd fall asleep, quite against her will. For a long stretch, I may have napped more than she did, but the day came when she started napping alone again.

Lately, though, she has stopped napping. Sometimes, she falls asleep inadvertently, but mostly, no naps.

I do, however, insist on a quiet time. The rest of the kids take naps and while they do, she lies on my bed and watches PBS. She's allowed to come downstairs when Clifford the Big Red Dog ends.

Today she did not want to abide by our agreement. I had to insist. She shrieked and stomped and snot ran down her darling little face, but I stood firm. In fact, I plopped her into her crib and went downstairs for two minute intervals, returning upstairs to ask, "Do you want to watch The Berenstain Bears now? And when she'd shout, "I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS!" I'd say, "Do you want to stay in your crib or watch t.v.?" and when she'd scream, "I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS!" again, I'd close the door and return downstairs for two minutes.

This battle of wills lasted approximately twenty minutes, when she decided she did want to watch t.v. after all.

After dinner, I took her to the local park and she frolicked for almost forty-five minutes before I told her it was time to go. She walked to the van, no complaints, then climbed in and passed her car seat and sat in her brother's seat. I pointed out that she needed to sit in her car seat. She refused.

I insisted.
She refused.
I insisted.
She refused.
I explained, then exited the van, locked the doors and walked thirty feet away where I sat on a bench for one minute exactly before returning and insisting she sit in her car seat.

She refused.
I insisted.
She refused.
I returned to the bench where I watched her pound the van windows and scream like she was being burned alive inside the van.
I waited two minutes, then returned.

At one point, I forced her into her car seat ("You may get into your seat by yourself or I will put you in your seat.") but she unbuckled her belt and stood up, sobbing wildly.

A different parent, the kind who keeps a wooden spoon in her purse, would have beat her scrawny little butt at this point, but I don't spank anymore. I was determined to outlast this thirty-two pound human being. Outwit, outsmart and outlast.

We did this for, oh, about thirty minutes, before she decided she wanted me to hold her. (To that point, all she'd said was, "I WANT TO SIT IN THE OTHER SEAT!") I held her, explained where she needed to sit so we could go home and she agreed.

I put her in her seat, buckled her up and sped home while she worked herself into a lathered frenzy, yelling all the way home, "I WANT TO SIT IN THE OTHER SEAT! MOMMY! I WANT TO SIT IN THE OTHER SEAT!"

When we were within sight of our house, she unbuckled and clambered out of her car seat. Fine. When I parked, she refused to leave the van, so I carried her out. She struggled to get down, so I strode into the house, telling my husband, "She's throwing a fit." She trailed after me, weeping.

I put on her pajamas.
She stopped crying.
We rocked and watched Spongebob together.
And finally, bedtime.

I hope that tomorrow she remembers that she cannot win. I am a formidable foe and I cannot be beat. I am fortified with eleven vitamins and minerals and Diet Coke with Lime. Beware.


Blogger meredith said...

Hee hee hee, It's nice to hear about other kids fits...I think I'll get some diet coke with lime, that I can get :)

11:41 PM  
Blogger portuguesa nova said...

Through this pregnancy we've been chatting a lot about how we'd ideally like to handle these sorts of tantrums. I take my cue from you. My husband (who'd never even held a baby before spending Christmas with me and my family of 9 million), on the other hand, has some brilliant theories on how to prevent the tantrums from occurring all together that I would love to share with you, but I can't be sure how much Diet Coke with Lime you've had and I don't want you to pee your pants from laughter.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Amie said...

I am SO there with you!

They do start to remember more though.



4:08 AM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

I told our kids the Easter Bunny doesn't come to our house- only to Grandma & Grandpa's house... (both sets of grandparents always do the Easter basket thing with cheap toys and eggs & we can't do candy because of the "special diet" etc... ) it works out better this way for everyone, and the kids don't know any different!

6:20 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

My boys were not fit throwers, my daughter totally is... I have asked people to "just please step over her" when she has, on occasion, prostrated herself on the floor of various shops... I don't freak out, I just try to let her see that nothing good will happen when she is being that naughty!

I would however, have devoured those hidden chocolate bunnies as soon as she was in bed! Where did you say they were? Behind the vaccum?!

6:20 AM  
Blogger Leslee said...

I'm so glad there are other "real" mothers out there. You make me smile because I think we're raising twin souls. Mine's 6 though.

I bought easter stuff too... still in the cabinet.

I'm one of those parents that I'll let them have the candy for a couple of days and then it just disappears (even the pounds of halloween and valentines days candy).

I TRY to handle the fits the same way you do, but I'm not as good at it as you are. I'm taking notes.

7:02 AM  
Blogger jennifer starfall said...


7:58 AM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Oh, how I remember those days. My daughter was also "strong willed." I will never forget the first time she threw a major fit. We were in a store doing Christmas shopping. I abandoned my cart and carried her kicking, hitting, screaming, bawling, snotting self out to the van and waited her out. It took 30 minutes...during which time she managed to roll under a seat and cut her head. When she calmed down and apologized we went back in to finish shopping. Only to return to the van and find out I'd locked the keys inside in my flustered state. Long story, short...we had to take a taxi to the nearest Dodge garage to pick up another key.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

I'm similar to you in dealing with the fits, although I noticed the other day that I throw in dirty looks.

Gotta work on that.

And hey, I haven't had a nap since he was 2 1/2, so my sympathies are a bit limited. ;)

8:04 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

My oldest threw some wicked tantrums. I handled it much the same way. Firm and non-bending.

Naps are rare here too.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous grace said...

My mother would have kicked my butt.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anisah said...

My son is going on 2 and he's already terrible. I love the way you handled that. I have promised my family that when the children are old enough to have nerves to get on; I'll have a tantrum when I am sleepy;when I want better grades in school; when I want them to eat their veggies;when the garbage hasn't been taken out.... I think you get the point. ;-)

10:12 AM  
Blogger Juliabohemian said...

Oh good, I'm not the only one...

I have actually locked myself in the bathroom for 1 minute, just to regain my senses before going back out to do battle.

I also don't give Easter baskets or perpetuate the Bunny myth. I feel it confuses them from the tru meaning of the holiday. Also, I hate that plastic grass.

I hide candy filled eggs and they each fill up their own bucket with them. Even if they don't find the same number of eggs, later on when they are asleep my husband and I sort out the candy and make it even.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I am glad to hear that there are parents out there that believe in consistancy. I do hope that when Camille reaches that stage I will handle it as well as you did.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Hoo Boy! I've had a few days like that. That's why we need "Toddler on Board" signs: to warn the other drivers that crazed parents are behind the wheel!

Here's one of my favorite tricks: in Oklahoma the sides of the highways are graded. If you drive over them, you'll experience a loud vibration. When my children are too loud, I gently manuever the car over the grading. The children stop to ask what is happening and I calmly tell them the car doesn't like bad noises and they better quiet down. Works every time! I especially love to use it on their friends because then my own children tell them why they better quiet down!

Not that it would have worked in your case, but anything you can do to remove yourself from the power struggle will help you find peace!

Now, go find that chocolate!

2:17 PM  
Blogger SuperMom said...

Give me "Terrible Twos" any day. I think three is way harder.

It's so nice to know that other moms get engaged in power struggles from time to time, too.

And it's also nice to know that Diet Coke with lime gives you super powers.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Dapoppins said...

I also often forget the chocolate bunnies, or worse, I end up eating them for the kids, since the only effect chocolate has on me is on my thighs.

My daughter is two...has recently started, "No! I CAN'T" mama.

We Super Moms must stick together!

2:50 PM  
Blogger Leslee said...

Oh... Jan! I never thought of that!!! Do you live in OK?

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Love it, love it, love it! I have 3 boys, 17, 16, 11. They still have hissy fits but now I can embarrass them in front of their friends...payback, it is a lovely thing :) Chris

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Beckie said...

I know you've already had a million comments on this one but I love it! I have a very strong-willed daughter who is now 6 and can still throw fits that would impress you. I have to grit my teeth and pray for grace. And close her in her bedroom. I always tell her 'if you're going to scream like that, no one wants to hear it so go ahead and do it in your room'. Chocolate always helps. I'm partial to Brach's Malted Milk balls. Mmmmmmm....do I have a bag of those around here?

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

That Coke with Lime is the world's best drink as far as I'm concerned. I'd never get through a day without it.

God bless strong willed children. Mine is not even two, and already I think I have worked up enough points for sainthood.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Journey Mama said...

You're amazing. What strength, without losing your cool.

1:04 PM  

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