There will come a day when Penelope’s issues are too Penelope-specific and sensitive to be talked about on the Internet, and probably by that day, I’ll just be beaming my thoughts directly into your heads to be downloaded in batches once a week or so or whatever. I hope so. That would be great. But right now is not that time, and her issues, which are actually my issues, because Penny Badger don’t give a shit, are so standardly two-and-a-half year old that I’m just going to throw a whole bunch of them out here right now in hopes that those of you that have made it through to two-and-three-quarters and beyond can point me in the right direction on some of this stuff because we are just FLAILING trying to settle on some kind of sensical methods.
1. I think I mentioned this the other day, but whenever Phil and I talk to each other, she yells, “STOP STOP!” until attention is focused back on her. This also happens during the day when it’s just me and her, and she’ll yell, “MAMA, TURN ROUND. LOOKA ME. TALKA ME.” This is especially unpleasant if I’m working, because she’ll try to force her hands under mine on the keyboard and has erased some stuff before.
What I’m trying: So far, I’ve been trying the same thing that I do when she tries to do something and within half a second, screams, “I CAN’T DO IT!” and runs away having a shrieking tantrum. I said to her over and over, every day, “Do you need help? I can help you. Do you think it would be easier to ask Mama or Daddy for help instead of getting upset and throwing a fit?” And after seriously weeks upon weeks of that, one day, OUT OF NOWHERE, the heavens opened up and Penelope walked over to me and said, “Mama, I need help, can you please open my room?” Just the day before, she would have walked to her room, seen that the door monkey was on, and come screaming down the hall, “MY WOOM IS WOCKED!” and thrown herself on the ground crying. It’s still hit or miss on if she’s going to choose the screaming or the asking for help (mostly depending on how tired she is), but when she picks asking over tantrums, we praise her and throw treats into the air and give out high fives like they’re coming back into to and then going right back out of style.
So, with the interrupting, I tell walk her through the proper way to ask for attention several times a day. I tell her that when she has something to say, she should say, “Excuse me, please,” and wait until we have a moment to talk to her. I’ve told her that when people are talking to each other, she needs to wait for her turn. I’ve told her that when one conversation is finished, she can have our full attention for her conversation. I’ve told her it’s not good manners to interrupt, especially if you just want to show off that cool trick with your butt again.
I don’t know if it’s that she can’t put together that “excuse me” can be used for both rude noises and interruptions, or that it’s not sinking in at all, or that she just doesn’t want to do it properly, but this is not working. I know that she’s two, I know that this could be a phase, I know all of that, but as her parent, I still have a sort of responsibility to teach her not to be a total social knob. So, what’s the best way to handle this? Is there a way to keep a two year old from constantly demanding that all the focus be on her? Is there a way to phrase the concept that if you let us know that you have something to say, we will get to you as soon as we finish what we’re saying in a way that she’ll understand? Or should we just keep talking over her right now? Is that the most effective course of action at the moment? Because it is getting LOUD IN HERE.
2. TIME OUTS. We’ve been doing time outs pretty successfully for a long while now. She does something wrong, she gets a warning. She keeps doing it, she goes to time out. Up until recently, she only stayed in her room (since we have a floor bed, her room is zero fun – there are no toys, games, etc) for a couple of minutes, until she was ready to apologize. She understands apologizing pretty well – she even puts on a faux gentle voice and strokes my arm. It’s kind of creepy. Most times, the threat of time out was enough of a warning to get her to stop doing whatever she was doing. Time outs are used for only a couple of things in this house – safety issues and not listening. Which is to say, constantly. But it was working really well.
Recently, though, it’s not going so great. She’ll be doing something she knows she’s not supposed to do, or that she was just warned to stop doing, or that she was specifically instructed not to do, and she will keep doing it right through warnings, right through an adult marching over to her, right up until she is grabbed up and hauled away to time out. Then, once she is in the air and being carried off down the hall, she starts saying, “I WANT TO SAY SORRY! I WANT TO SAY SORRY!” As soon as she is in her bedroom, she presses her face up against the crack the door monkey leaves and yells, “I WEADY TO POWOGIZE!” So she’s figured out that she can do whatever she wants for as long as she wants or until she gets caught, because all she has to do is apologize as soon as she’s thrown into time out, and it’s back to burninating the countryside.
A couple of weeks ago, she BIT me. She hasn’t bitten me in I don’t know how long. She never had a real biting phase. But she BIT ME SO HARD, and I saw red because it hurt. I picked her up and I put her in her room and the whole while, she’s yelling apologies. This was at the end of a ridiculous day of behavior from her and Phil was already on his way home, so I just left her in there while I cleaned up the play room. She kept yelling at me about how she wanted to help clean, and I kept yelling back, “YOU BIT ME!” I may have been holding a slight grudge. After everything was picked up and I was looking at less physical evidence of her bent for destruction, I went to collect her from her room and I asked, “Are you ready to apologize?” She came over to me, stroked me arm, and said in her fake soft voice, “I sowwy I hit you, Mama,” then ran past me down the hall. SHE BIT ME. NOT HIT ME. I reminded her 87 times, yet still, mechanical apology, escape.
So now how do we work time outs? She’s got time outs set in her head that she sits there til someone comes to get her, then says what have becomes apparently meaningless words and runs off. Should we set timers instead? Do we still require an apology? Do we need to reexplain apologies? What do you do for discipline for 2/2.5 year olds? Is there something other than time out that’s more effective for different types of things? Like breaking known house rules, ones WE KNOW SHE KNOWS (being rough/mean with the dogs, coloring on not paper, going out the back door) vs stuff like not listening?
Threw all these THROW pillows outside on the patio, parents made me bring them back.
When it’s MY kingdom, I’ll tell you what.
3. LASTLY. What are the best toddler underpants? I got a couple of packs of Hanes or whatever they were at Target, but after going through the dryer, the elastic got a little snug at the waist so they’re hard for her to get up and down. Maybe ones with a wider band of elastic at the top rather than a thinner one? I’m totally going to put underpants in her stocking. I mean, Santa is. Because that kid bit me and stuff like that doesn’t going unnoticed.
There are no pictures of Penny in this post, so if you are here solely for the Penny, you should just move on before you’re suckered into reading actual WORDS. From ME.
This may just be a north east thing, but I am reasonably certain that my life – and the lives of most people who grew up in the same general area of the country as I did – can be divided into two equal parts. Times when the Van Scoy Diamond Mine jingle was stuck in my head, and times it wasn’t.
Since I could not imagine being without it, I got over my irrational fear of being told to fuck off by a company in email form and I sent a letter. I said how much I like the product, how I tell everyone about it, how surprised I was by the issue (holes had developed where the clip attaches to the cover), since it is otherwise such a quality product, and that I assumed I must have had the bad luck to get a faulty cover – something I truly believe. I attached pictures and explained how I’d only been using the pillow as intended for a couple of weeks, since Penny was totally anti-boob for so long. I asked if it was possible to get a replacement.
In less than 30 minutes, Jenny from the My Brest Friend… people… had responded and said they would certainly send another cover and had never seen an issue like I was having, confirming my suspicion that I just had the rotten luck to get a random bad seed. I was totally blown away by the awesome response. There was not even a hint of “screw you!” in the email and my new cover is on the way.
Now, you’d think that this experience would turn me from someone who silently stews over broken products to a letter writer, but you’d be wrong. I just REALLY LOVE THIS PILLOW SO HARD that I overcame my pathological and unreasonable fear of corporate customer service people telling me where I can shove my faulty item and laughing all the way to the bank with my reasonable amount of money for this ONE SPECIFIC INSTANCE ONLY.
Seriously. It’s a really good pillow, you guys.
I give Penny a pacifier every once in a while. Now and then. When she really seems like she needs it. A couple of times a week. I mean, maybe more like a couple of times a day. An hour. Okay, look, that baby needs a damn cork. If her mouth is open, I stuff it in there before any sounds can come out. I just felt like I needed to clear the air between us, Internet, and get that skeleton out of my closet.
I have been thinking, and I am pretty sure that the Internet – as a whole – is a dude. I don’t mean that everyone on the Internet is a guy, I just mean that the collective Internet as a whole is most definitely male. Here is my irrefutable evidence: sometimes, a person just wants to bitch about a problem or issue or something insignificant and easily solvable but still annoying, and the Internet never lets that happen. The Internet must suggest a solution, or the Internet will die from the effects of not suggesting a solution.
You know who else dies from having to just listen without trying to jump in and SOLVE when there’s been absolutely no indication that the speaker is looking for a solution?
Men. Men die from that.
The Internet also has an incredible capacity to make me feel like an asshole for WAY longer stretches of time than seems reasonable, given the size of the issues. I am pretty sure that no one who uses the Internet/social media on the regular can address every bid for their attention. Everyone – no matter how big or small the blog or how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends – can always answer every single thing. Obviously, this becomes harder as your numbers are bigger, but I am telling you from way down here on the tiny numbers end of thing – decimal point numbers, even – that it’s just not possible to read and respond to everything out there. So you – everyone – miss things, and then you feel like an asshole.
And you (I) come up with elaborate plans to not feel like such an asshole – like trying to keep track of each person who comments and how many times you have recently responded to them, specifically, so that no one person is ignored all the time and — okay, you know what, I had a lot more to say about this, but I walked away to feed the baby and now I’m over it.
Basically, I’m an asshole is what the whole thing boiled down to.
You’d think that since I decided not to finish this part of the post, I’d delete it. You’d think that, but I’m not going to. It’s because I’m an asshole.
SPEAKING of feeding Penny! I dry her diapers on the line – sometimes it’s actually faster than the dryer, what with the negative humidity and all. The outdoors is actually SO DRY that it’s thirsty enough to drink diaper water. Clean diaper water, but diaper water nonetheless.
Anyway. I obviously have to go outside to hang up the diapers, and while our clothesline is kind of secluded, our back door faces the neighbors behind us, and we think that maybe she runs some kind of in home daycare.
It used to be that before going outside to the line, I just had to look to make sure the next door neighbor wasn’t outside smoking (because God forbid I have to politely nod to someone. I’m at the point of social hermitude that not only do I not want to have a conversation, I do not even WANT TO NOD at someone). Now, since Penny and also because of the herd of children across the way, I have to stop and check myself at the door, because apparently, I just walk around with my shirt all hiked up now, completely unaware of the fact that my shirt is all hiked up. I’ll be in the middle of something and discover my shirt all hiked up and have to stop and think back to how long it’s been since the last time I fed Penny and you know what? Sometimes it was a long time ago!
Also, kind of related, one time, just a little bit after we brought Penny home, I took out some trash and I came right back in and I said to Phil, “Hey, you know what would be good? Next time you see me heading to the front door, say this to me:
‘Self-check – are you wearing pants?’
That would be helpful. Because this time I wasn’t.”
Two things I DO NOT DO: “Deep Ocean, Vast Sea” and “Samophlange.” If you know what I’m talking about, you KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.
So I’ve had this question I’ve wanted to ask for a week or so, but I’ve avoided it because I kept getting pre-mad at the comments. I do that sometimes. I’m asking anyway, though.
When am I going to be able to do stuff, and how does it happen?
I mean, Penny will be two months old in just a couple of days. If I get anything done during the day, it’s maybe a load or two of laundry, which is basically getting negative things done, because all I wash is load after load of Penny’s clothes. She has more clothes than anyone and certainly doesn’t need her clothes laundered every day in order to avoid going naked like Phil and I do, but her clothes get dirty in a way that will fester. So I wash Penny’s clothes, over and over. When Phil gets home, I run around like a mad woman, taking a shower and making the gross tea I drink a skrillion times a day and sometimes cooking dinner and anything else I can cram in before it’s time to start my 30 minute long preparations for bed.
Anyway, a lot of things in the house are just going undone, or left for Phil to do when he is home, which isn’t terrible because the house is a shared responsibility, but it’s generally understood that the person who is home all day should at least be tackling most of it. And of course I have a pass because I have a new baby, but this kid isn’t exactly showroom fresh anymore, you know?
I just do not seem to be able to make good use of the time between naps and feedings, or at the moment, finding any way to predict when naps and feedings might occur or how long they might last, or what to do on the days that she JUST WILL NOT ALLOW HERSELF TO BE PUT DOWN for NO GOOD REASON that I can see.
I figure there’s got to be some combination of the baby settling into a predictable pattern and me getting the hang of navigating around her that will eventually come together, but should it have happened by now? I mean, when did it happen for you? When did you start feeling like some kind of competent adult again?
Don’t give me any of that “ho ho ho, aren’t you cute, you silly first time parent! Kids take all your time FOREVER!” I get it. I have a kid. She will continually require a large share of my attention. GOD I want to poke you in the eye so hard when you act like that, you know?
I figure the dishes eventually started getting done in your house without a background soundtrack of screaming and despair and a background smelltrack of stale milk and poop. I feel like that should have happened by now, though, you know? At least a little? Or is it still months away?
You can tell me if it’s still months away, as long as you’re not all CONDESCENDING about it, because let me tell you, my fuse is about THIS LONG (I’m making a tiny span with my fingers) and my well of creative insults is QUITE DEEP. By that I mean that I will probably call you sack of cat assholes if you so much as hint that my ignorance of the fact that my life will NEVER BE GOOD AGAIN is in any way adorable.
Seriously, though. When was it that you realized that, holy shit, I’ve actually been handling life and my adult responsibilities towards my household and personal hygiene quite well for a while now?
Also, all those people who left when they heard there wouldn’t be any Penny pictures are huge suckers.
“Get out of my shot, asshole.”