Violent

June has entered an unpleasant phase – she hits and punches Evan whenever she gets upset. It’s obvious that she does it to hurt him. Of course she goes straight into time out for hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and so on, and we always have a talk afterwards about why those things are bad – and she can demonstrate what “soft” or “nice” behavior would be. But she’s so impulsive that it seems she can’t resist responding with violence when she thinks Evan has wronged her.

I know she’ll eventually get the message that what she’s doing isn’t ok, so for now I plan to stick with the time outs and discussion – June is smart enough that she understands the concept, it’s just hard to apply. Because she’s 2.

Evan went through a similar phase at a similar age, and he grew out of it. But it started when Jarom was in Korea for an internship while I was pregnant with June, so I had a hard time dealing with it. Fortunately it seems that a lot of things are easier the second time around, and I’m not as worried about June turning into a violent criminal. (At all, really. Can you imagine?) I don’t mean that I let her bad behavior slide or that I act unconcerned – I just don’t spend extra time fretting that I’m not doing a good job of parenting. For that reason, at least.

If your kids skipped this phase, please don’t tell me. I’d like to assume it’s standard.

Hard to believe this ball of cuteness could ever be mean-spirited.

Hard to believe this ball of cuteness could ever be mean-spirited.

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Deliberate

I’ve tried my best to eliminate fussy demands in my house (from the kids, at least). From the time Evan was little, Jarom and I have maintained that we can’t understand him if he fusses when he talks. Consistency has paid off, and it makes my life a little easier by giving me a go-to response to whining.

On top of the “I can’t understand you” approach, we’ve tried to encourage language development by having Evan ask for things in whole sentences as early as possible. It forces him to think about what he’s saying and avoid that annoying “I want a sandwiiiiiiiiiich” sort of fussing. The funny thing is, when we started asking Evan to use a whole sentence when he made a request, he’d speak very slowly and deliberately, clapping his hands once for each syllable. It turned into a rather robotic-sounding sentence, with the exception of a drop in tone at the end (as with a statement) instead of a rise (as with a question). (Surely there is a linguistic term for these tonal changes. Please share if you know what it is.)

The extra funny thing is that with June talking more and more, she perfectly mimics Evan’s robotic and deliberate tone when I remind her to ask nicely for something. I don’t think I’ve done much in the way of asking for whole sentences from her, and I’m usually just looking for a “please,” so the fact that she so accurately copies Evan amuses me. June normally uses decent grammar for her age, but it gets choppy when she switches to the slow-deliberate-robot sentences: “Please… can… have… more… milk!” Interestingly, June’s sentences most often end with exclamation points.

Aside from a few small-scale incidents, the kids have been on much better behavior for the past few days. Evan did earn his stocking back and his enthusiasm made Christmas lovely (more on that tomorrow). Today, I’m enjoying my robot kids and their funny mannerisms.


Bedtime

Yesterday ended on a good note. There were some bad moments first, though. Evan was being a caveman again (running around sans clothes, underwear only) and decided to become a tiger. He does this by crawling on all fours, snarling and growling, making claws to scratch people. Usually it’s ok, but his nails were getting pretty long and sharp! So I told him he needed his nails clipped if he was going to be a tiger. He refused, threw a tantrum, and kicked me in the process. Straight into his room he went.

After Evan calmed down, he meekly let me clip all his nails (I hate doing it, but not as much as I hate long, dirty, scratchy fingernails). And the rest of the evening went fairly well. He did miss out on going to meet Santa because of the nail tantrum, and Jarom had a long talk with Evan about teasing the dog. Evan thinks it’s funny to grab the dog’s tail – which makes the dog snarl and growl. Jarom explained that if Evan teases the dog, he might get bitten, and then we can’t keep the dog. We’ll have to see how much Evan can listen in the long run, but last night he was much more careful about grabbing and teasing.

When the kids are close to settling down before bed, I let them watch my favorite episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. It’s called Sleep, and is appropriately calming. They ate clementines while they watched, were already in pajamas, and knew it was bedtime when the show was over. Since we moved into this house, Jarom and I each do one kid’s bedtime routine, and yesterday I took Evan. I figured it was good for us to have some friendly time together.

Evan gets to pick some books – 3 on a normal night, 1 if it’s really late or he was naughty, lots if I’m feeling generous. Last time I asked Evan to pick up things in his room, he refused (this happens a lot, have you notices?), so I moved all the books into my room. It means more clutter in my room, but it also means June isn’t destroying books anymore… At any rate, I picked Evan’s books last night: Olivia, Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, and Up and Down.

Next come songs. I don’t have a set number of songs to do, so it depends whether Evan chooses really long or short ones. Recently he wants the “silly way” of doing song – if we do “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” I let him jump in with random words like octopus, ceiling, ketchup. We end up with something along these lines: “I’ve been working on the trampoline, all the live-long sister. I’ve been working on the camera just to pass the ceiling away. Can’t you hear the pony blowing, ‘Rise up so early in the milk’? Can’t you hear the T-Rex shouting, ‘Dinah blow your Christmas tree’? Dinah won’t you sneeze, Dinah won’t you sneeze, Dinah won’t you sneeze a dinosaur? Dinah won’t you closet, Dinah won’t you closet, Dinah won’t you closet your cereal? Someone’s in the spaceship with Evan, someone’s in the Pteranadon I kno-o-o-ow. Someone’s in the castle with Evan, strumming on the old snow boots and singing fee, fi, fiddley-i-o, fee, fi, fiddley-i-o-o-o-o, fee, fi, fiddley-i-ooooooooooo…pooping on the old caveman.”

Yep, that’s about right.

Surprisingly, after we finished reading books last night, Evan asked if he could lay down and close his eyes. For whatever reason, he’s been sleeping in his closet for the past week, so he curled up in his blanket in there and asked for the Rudolph song. And even though normally, we’d do prayer and talk about tomorrow next, he just wanted to sleep. So I let him.

He did wake up 3 or 4 times with a bad dream. He came into my room the last time, and was cuddling with me until he got over his dream and realized he wasn’t in bed anymore. Then he got angry when I said it was still bedtime, and he couldn’t watch a movie. Thankfully Jarom stepped in and told Evan he could cuddle with us or go back to bed. He scooted over by Jarom and they both fell asleep, and I moved Evan back to his own room a little while later.

June also only wanted one song last night, and then laid down and told Jarom, “Goodnight, love you, see you tomorrow!” Then she pulled her blanket up, grabbed hold of the tag, and closed her eyes.

All in all, bedtime went pretty smoothly. Here’s hoping for more easy nights!


Terrible

This past week has been draining. I hoped the kids would be on better behavior after the weekend, but no luck so far.

Let’s see…this first one will be a TMI for sure. Skip it if you have a queasy stomach or you don’t have kids. On Tuesday, June took a nap like usual. When she woke up, instead of coming and telling me useful things like “Mama, I woke up,” she took off her clothes and diaper, pooped on the floor, smeared it EVERYWHERE, and then dumped her cup of milk all over it. Guess how fun cleaning up wasn’t. I put her in the bath, set to work cleaning and running laundry, and discovered that June can climb out of the tub onto the counter. She was giving herself a new bath in the sink. I suppose that isn’t too bad, just water everywhere, but while I was dealing with her, Evan was terrorizing the dog. He likes to knock on the door because the dog freaks out, thinking someone is here.

On Wednesday, the kids were both being their usual slightly-naughty selves. Evan demanded that I put on a movie for him, and I said no. He shouted, “Fine, I hate you! June, I hate Mama, so let’s go camping without her.” I try to not let things like that bother me, but HE IS ONLY 3 YEARS OLD. So young to exclude me from camping trips! That night I had YW, and Jarom took the kids with him on a hunt for a frozen 12-lb turkey. After he finally got back (and said the kids were mostly great), my sweet friend Alitha let me come over for hot chocolate even though it was late. It was so nice to get out of the house and have a break from children!

On Thursday, I had plans to meet up with Kimberlee for dessert and thank-goodness-we-left-the-kids-at-home in the evening. Before I left, I told Evan that I wanted to come home and hear that he was a super good listener. And he was! Jarom said Evan was really good (although June made a few messes). That gave me hope for Friday.

Friday evening, Jarom came home from a rough day at work and I told him to go out and do something with friends. He left for a few hours and the kids decided to really show me what they’re like. None of this “super good listener” business. No, they got a can of peaches with a pull-tab lid, opened it, and dumped it on June’s floor. (Thankfully, it’s wood, not carpet.) Then they got my salt and pepper shakers, took them apart, and dumped salt and pepper all over the peach mess. I did manage to get them in bed and asleep by the time Jarom came home, so at least I had a chance to sit down and read in the lovely quiet.

On Saturday, Jarom was working on his car all day. He was already outside when I woke up, and he’d even brought donuts for us! The kids and I were supposed to meet Kimberlee at the mall play area, but Evan refused to look for his shoes – I haven’t got a clue where he put them, ANY of them, and he was so belligerent and naughty that we had to stay home. I tidied up the living room and finally set to work cleaning the kitchen. The kids were watching a movie. Haha, just kidding. June was shaking a bottle of mustard all over the living room. It got on the floor, the wall, the couch, the tv stand, the dog, the doghouse, and June. Evan escaped unscathed, which makes me think he knew perfectly well what was happening and moved out of the way. They both got sent to their rooms. I’ve been talking with Evan about how he’s often an accomplice to June’s escapades (if not her coach) – even if he isn’t the one doing something naughty, he knows he needs to come tell me when she’s making a mess. So the rule is that he gets in trouble with her.

After cleaning up the mustard mess and finishing the kitchen, and getting lunch for Jarom and all his helpers, I needed a nap. I mistakenly thought that Evan had gotten the message that he should tell me if June was being naughty. Nope, they somehow got some highlighters and colored all over the walls in the kitchen and both kids’ rooms. I was furious. Evan told me that he and June would never, ever be my friends. I was still furious, but I was also worn out. I started crying – to which Evan jumped around in a circle shouting, “We beat her! We beat Mama!”

As a 2-year-old, Evan was (for the most part) sweet and mild. Age 3 has been much more difficult. I thought at first I was wholly to blame, since I was stressed and busy finishing school at the beginning of the year. But even when I’m nice, attentive, patient, and helpful to Evan, he’s stubborn and surly and defiant. In short, he is me. And the Terrible Twos have only been the Terrible Threes, which has recently coincided with June’s Very Terrible Twos. She is devious and wild and uncontrollable.

This morning, Jarom got up with the kids. When he left for work I stayed cozy in bed for a few more minutes before getting up to face the day. And I found that June had gotten the parchment paper and unrolled most of it. Fixable, thankfully. She had a few more moments of mischief and I put her down for a nap. Evan settled down to watch a movie (he usually does while she naps, so he asked as soon as I put her to bed). There was a period of quiet. I began to think maybe June was the real trouble after all.

But…I asked Evan to go brush his teeth, and instead he squirted toothpaste all over the bathroom. He said it was for a party. I made him clean it up, and sent him to his room. That’s been the only major incident today. So far.

The kids are just terrible! I must be doing something wrong. Or else they just love seeing me get riled up. I know – I should stop reacting.

You try, when your living room is covered in mustard!


Contest

Let’s play a game called “Things You Don’t Want To Hear Your Not-Potty-Trained Toddler Say As You Walk Out Of Your Room And Step In A Puddle.”

Ready? Go!


Training

June has hit the magic age where she wants to use the toilet and she’s old enough to learn. I’d love to get her out of diapers, soon – but I have no idea how to potty train her! Any suggestions? Remember that I’m low on energy lately, so if you have a method that requires very little involvement on my part, you’re the winner. (Let me clarify: an effective method.)


Disgusting

Things you never want to hear from your toddler, especially when the kids are playing with the door shut while you read a great book:

“Mama! June took off her diaper and pooped on the floor!”

To my friends who don’t have kids, sorry for the TMI. To my fellow parents, young and old, you’re welcome for knowing it’s not just you. (And not just me, right?)

Also, after the kids played in the pool outside today, they were briefly in just diapers before getting dressed again. Evan has come up with the name “Nakedbottoms” – I’m not sure if it refers to him and June as superheroes or just as regular weirdos. He runs through the house shouting, “We are the Nakedbottoms!!!” (This appears to have replaced his usual “Go team Hillery!” which I believe is inspired by Team Pteranadon of Dinosaur Train.)

So there’s your look into my life today.