Wednesday, August 30, 2006

His Defiant Behavior

Tommy has developed a little attitude problem.

I read that it's normal for four year olds to become defiant. That they want to do more on their own, have independence and all of that great growing up stuff.

But honestly. There are days when I want to rip my hair out. Days when I want to just take the screaming Tommy and deposit him outside and lock the door.

He's just...well...everything you ask him to do he'll say no. And not in a haughty voice either, in a sweet little voice. I'll ask him to put on his shoes and he'll say, "No Mommy." Just like that. Then he'll peer up at you with those blue eyes and you don't know if you should punish or gather him in your arms.

It's "no" for everything. Even to Tom, which is bold of him, because Tom won't take any lip from anyone. Especially not his own child. Me, I'm more lax, I admit that, I let him get away with more. I do this because I carried him in my womb, felt his kicks, birthed him out, cradled him close. To yell at him is like a pain my heart.

"To hell with your pain in the heart," Tom will chastise. "He needs to know who is boss."

We've gone back and forth on the proper punishment methods. Tom is all for spanking.

"I was spanked when I did something wrong and I learned quick. Sometimes I even got the belt," Tom would say, which would cause me to wince. I couldn't imagine a belt against my baby's skin.

I admit I have spanked Tommy. I'm not going to lie and say I haven't. When he's shouting and carrying on, my hand feels like it has a life of his own and it'll come barreling down on his behind. It does little to Tommy though. He'll carry on as though nothing happened but I'll always regret it, my hand burning in shame, wondering how I could strike my own flesh and blood.

"I don't like spanking," I told Tom boldly. "It's wrong."

He let out a breath and then sighed. "Then you figure out something."

Lately it's been the naughty step and having a toy taken away. Tommy told Tom no yesterday, when Tom asked him to be quiet. Tommy paused in his running and jumping and looked right at him.

"No Daddy," he said in a sweet voice. "No."

Tom jumped up from his seat and rushed over to him. "What did you say?" he boomed.

Tommy paused, eyes wide in fear. He's never afraid of me, my voice is not deep enough.

"How many times have I said not to say no to me? How many times? That's it, go on the step. Now," Tom shouted.

"NOOO!" Tommy howled.

Tom lifted him up and set him down on the step. "You stay here for four minutes. And I'm taking your power rangers away."

Tommy began to scream and cry. "NO. NOOOO. SUPERMEN! SUPERMEN!" he wailed into the step.

He has a habit of getting up before his time. He'll slowly walk out in the living room, face blotched from tears, eyes wet..

"Did I say you could get up? Did I?" Tom will ask him.

And the tears will start again as Tommy walks back to the stairs.

He'll eventually calm down. He told me in a sad voice, "No supermen today."

Today Tommy threw a massive fit. We went to the park and played with Ethan and Christopher. I warned Tommy he had five minutes. When those five minutes were up I said it was time to go.

"Five more minutes!" Tommy pleaded, hands clasped in front of him.

"No. I gave you five minutes. Let's go," I said sternly.

And then the screaming began. The entire way home. He screamed at the top of his lungs as I pulled him along. He went limp a few times, resting against the sidewalk, shouting that he wanted to go back to the park.

"Stop it, Tommy. Just stop it," I hissed.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" came the reply and he went limp again.

He screamed even louder when we got home.


So I said I was taking his blocks away. And he loves his blocks so he flipped out about that.


First I hid them in the closet. But he found them. Carried them back out into the living room defiantly and started to build something. I snatched them away and hid them in another closet. He found them again. Did the same thing.

So I put them on top of the fridge. And oh, did that make him mad. He tried to climb up the fridge, gripping the handle, legs going up and down against it, trying to get a footing.


"Now come sit on the naughty step," I said a la Supernanny. I took his hand and led him over. Then I got down to his level, explained what he did, and left.


He carried on for a half hour. Screaming. Shouting. Wailing.

Four-year-old for sale, does anyone want a four-year-old?


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