I Sorry. TV. Butt.

Bubba likes butts.  Today he spent much of the morning pushing butts…both literally and figuratively.

And by butts, I mean buttons, of course.

His favorite “butt” to push is the TV power button because of the extreme reaction he gets out of Chica.  Every. Single. Time.  Today his fascination with the butt gave me lots of chances to practice disciplining with peace.  I had begun to draft in my head a how-to post about timeout for toddlers when my strategy all of the sudden became obsolete:

He can now open doors.  Ugh.  A facebook friend wrote recently that this was her “least favorite milestone.”  Agreed.

But since I fear that my mom may stop speaking to me if I don’t hurry up and write something new, and my only other idea for a post is concerning my family’s recent fascination with bow ties, I guess I’ll just carry on with my toddler time out how-to.

Except I probably will have to call it something more like, “How to Discipline Your Toddler During the Four Days After They Learn To Converse But Before They Learn To Escape Closed Doors.”  I’m still not sure what makes me think I have the authority to post on this subject, but here goes anyway…

I’ve decided that disciplining Bubba started with him seeing Chica face consequences.  For about the past month, whenever she was punished, he took notice.  “Sister crying,” or  “Chica bed.”  As if to say, “Ohhhh….she’s not happy.  She got sent to her room.”  Something about his reaction made me realize that he was connecting, in a very small way, her behavior to her consequences, and then her reaction.  His observations made me realize that maybe the same might work for him.  And for about four days, it did.  Today it went like this…

Chica:  Moooooooooom!  Bubba turned the TV off again.
Me:  Ok, coming.
Bubba:  (Hops back into the chair to make himself look a little less guilty.)
Me:  Bubba, Chica doesn’t like it when you turn the TV off.  It makes her sad.  If you push the button again, you will have to go to your room.  Bubba doesn’t want that to happen.
Bubba:  Yeah.

Five minutes later…
Chica:  Moooooooooooooooooooom!  Bubba turned the TV off AGAIN!
Me:  Ok.  Coming.
Bubba:  (Rushes to the chair again.)
Me:  (Carrying Bubba upstairs.) Bubba, you made a bad choice.  It makes Chica sad when you push the button and turn the TV off.  You have to have time out in your room because you didn’t obey Mommy.
Bubba:  Bed.  Bubba, Bed.
Me:  Yes.  Bubba bed.
Bubba:  (He didn’t stay on the bed, but he did stay in the room with the door shut and miraculously didn’t cry.)
Me:  (Rushes around to get lots of jobs done.)

Five-ish minutes later…
Me:  Bubba, sit down on the floor, and look at me.  Tell Mommy why you had to be on your bed for timeout.
Bubba:  Butt.  TV.  On.
Me:  Yes.  Bubba pushed the button on the TV and it turned it off.  This makes Chica sad because she can’t watch her movie.
Bubba:  Chica sad.
Me:  You need to tell Mommy what you are sorry for.
Bubba:  I sorry.  TV.  Butt.
Me:  I forgive you Bubba.  I love you.
Bubba:  (Kisses me once on the lips and once on the shoulder.  Not sure what the shoulder is about these days??)
Me:  Bubba, go tell Sister you are sorry.
Bubba:  Ok.

Downstairs:
Bubba:  I sorry.  TV.  Butt.
Chica:  I forgive you Bubba.

We went through this exact same script at least once or twice more until he was all of a sudden tall enough to open the door for the first time.  You should have seen his thrilled, aren’t-I-so-smart grin when he greeted me in the kitchen.  He just couldn’t grasp why Mommy wasn’t quite so thrilled.

I’m not sure timeout has the same effect when he can let himself out but lacks the self-control to keep himself in.  Or maybe the self-control is the next step that we are ready to work on now.  Nevertheless, here’s what I tried to follow and what seemed to work for those four short days…

1.  Give a clear warning.  “If you do ___________ again, then I will put you in your room in timeout.”
2.  Follow through with the consequence right away.
3.  As you are moving to the timeout spot, explain why they are going there.  “You have to sit on your bed because you did not obey.  You _____________ when Mommy told you not to.”
4.  Leave the room.
5.  After a few minutes, come back and ask why they are in timeout.
6.  Explain, in simple language, why the choice was a bad choice.  “When you did _________, it made _______ feel ______________.”  Or, “____________ was dangerous because ____________.”
7.  Ask them to apologize.  “I’m sorry for _____________.”
8.  Forgive them.  Hug and kiss.
9.  If someone else was affected, make them apologize to that person too.

I pretty much follow this same pattern still with Chica, only adding the question, “What better choices do you plan to make next time in this situation?”  Today I had to go through this with her when she called Bubba a, “Little rat,” and then lied about what she really said.

She’s usually pretty good at getting along with Bubba, but I guess today he had just pushed her butt one too many times.  Can’t say I blame her.

Image:  Power Button (178/365) © Jim Murphy  | Flickr Creative Commons

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Gift #37: Fist Pumps

He must have known.

He must have seen that I was really dragging, less than one mile into my four mile jog.  I’m sure he saw the sweat already pouring from my pink, scowling face.  Maybe he noticed that I was trying to suck my belly away from the shirt that is probably too small anyway.  Perhaps he spotted my dejected look as the group of perky, neon running ladies passed me from behind, chatting it up about pilates as they pranced along.

Yeah, I think he knew.  He knew I doubted that I could really do this.  That I was lamenting the fact that five years and two babies later, it’s just not as easy as it once was.  Maybe I’m not still a runner after all.

Most runners you pass at 7 a.m. offer a, “Morning,” at best.  Sometimes it’s a wave, or a head nod, and occasionally, nothing at all.

But not this guy.  Not this 60-some (70, maybe?), chartreuse tank-top wearing, sweatband sporting, big belly guy.  Nope.  He gave me a full-on, arm all the way raised fist pump.  Awesome.

As if to say to me, “You got this!  We got this!  We’re out here, and it’s hellahot, and we’re doing it.  Forget the prancing ladies and the ripped dudes without their shirts.  I see you, and we’re both trudging along with our bellies that used to be much flatter.  Go us.”

So I mostly got over myself at the urging of his enthusiastic fist pump.  And I slid into my now comfortable mile pace that would have before made me cringe.  I got this.

Two miles later, after I had turned around to head home, I saw him coming towards me again, still trudging in all his neon glory.  I knew what I had to do.  So as we passed that second time, I offered first my wave, but then my best, full-on fist pump too.  And I’m not sure whose smile was bigger, mine or his.

Day officially made.

As I ran that last mile, I thought about the power of a fist pump for a worn out soul, the kind stuck comparing herself to those running past.

So today I offer up my best fist pump for the worn out mommies:

The mommies letting their kids watch the third straight hour of movies before lunch time.
The mommies feeding their kids PB&J for the 97th day in a row.
The mommies letting their kids eat the dropped cereal off the floor because it’s easier than sweeping.
The mommies (and daddies!) comforting crying toddlers at 2 a.m. for the 7th consecutive night.
The mommies falling asleep during story time.
The mommies eating crazy things for breakfast like guacamole and brownies.
The mommies (and daddies, again) who find themselves saying things like, “Don’t suck on your socks…you won’t have any friends,” or, “Please don’t use your fork to scratch your armpit.”

I see you.  I’m right there with you.  We got this.

IMG_0447

Pit stains and all.

Practicing Peace

Teacher friends, close your ears.   Ok….everybody else ready?  Good.

I go back to work in less than a month.  Wow.  

Ok, you can open them again!

This morning it dawned on me that it wasn’t going to be summer forever.  I realized all of a sudden that I had to start tackling some of the tasks on my growing to-do list before it was too late.  And as soon as I made that realization, I started to feel that panicky feeling in my chest that I haven’t missed one bit in these last few weeks.

Get a new Social Security card for Chica.  Schedule doctor and dentist appointments.  Order agendas for school.  Figure out childcare for the first week back to work.  Shop for school supplies.  Start planning for the first month.  And on.  And on.  And on.

As I finished breakfast and wondered to myself if I could afford one more day of putting off my list, Jay must have asked me three times if I was okay.

Yes.  I’m fine.  This is just panic mode in mute.

This all got me thinking about the new peace that I’ve been feeling and practicing and living this summer.  I really want to believe that this peace is a result of setting my heart and mind on things above, and not just a welcomed side effect of being off of work for a month.  I want to believe that Jesus is changing me into a peaceful person, a person that deliberately chooses calm and grace over panic and hurry.  Maybe most of all, I want to believe that something will be different when I go back to work.

I heard a speaker talk this week about sin.  In his section about the ways we can remedy sin and its power to harden our hearts, he pointed out some more peace verses in Philippians 4.  He suggested that in response to anxiousness we are to pray, be thankful, and think about those things that are Godly.  And here was the interesting part that he added:

The best time to practice this is when you are in the middle of it.  The second best time to practice this is when you are not in the middle of it.

So what does that mean for me?  It means that this coming month is like a dress rehearsal before opening night.  Like a scrimmage before the season opener.  Like behind the wheel before hitting the road alone.  But the real test of my his peace will come a month from now.  When I’m sending my big girl off to kindergarten at a new school, and Bubba cries when I drop him off at daycare, and I still have 47 things to do to be ready for my class of 26.  Oh, and don’t forget the laundry and the dishes and who knows….maybe moving to a new house??  Yep….it’s then I’ll know if this peace is really rooted in a changed heart or just a sparse calendar.

I once co-directed a school play.  Talk about anxiousness…but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, after a long rehearsal, I would sit down with all my little actors and actresses and give them notes from that day’s practice.  This person missed their line, let’s change this light cue, somebody needs to go find that missing prop, etc.   And occasionally (yep…I was probably a little too harsh most of the time) I gave a few positive remarks too.  We could finally hear this girl’s lines, or thanks for hitting that music cue right on time.  The point always being that they would keep the good stuff and change the bad stuff when the real thing came along.

So this whole practicing peace idea got me thinking about a few quick notes from today’s “rehearsal”:

  • Good:  Getting started on “the list” early this morning instead of just continuing to worry about it.
  • Bad:  Screaming at Chica after she asked me for help while we were trying to get out of the house on time for swimming lessons.
  • Good:  Keeping way calm during another stretch of maybe-I-should-pull-over rain.
  • Bad:  Continuing to worry (even now, as I write this) about things that I just can’t change.

Keep the good.  Jesus, change the bad.

P.S.  Ask me in a month about peace, ok?

Image:  40+251 Done-ish © Bark  | Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

Bubba Turn

Bubba has this super cute cyber buddy who writes a great blog.  Drakeson is a whole year younger than Bubba, so I figured Bubba shouldn’t have too much trouble giving it a try.  When I asked him if he was up for blogging about his day, he agreed.  Actually, he said, “Bubba turn!”

I have posted his dictated words first and then the translation for those of you still learning Toddler Talk.  I do a lot of translating these days.

Eat Mommy.  Bar.  Applesauce.  Bubba pickle.  Bubba oatmeal.  Cake no like it.  

Mommy slept in all the way until 7:00 or something.  Lazy bones.  I had to beg her to get up so I could eat.  She needs lots of reminders.  At first I asked for my usual cereal bar and applesauce.  But then I remembered it was Saturday, and we sometimes eat special things on the weekend.  So I asked for pickles and oatmeal.  I don’t really like pancakes.  Even when they put chocolate chips in them.  Pancakes are for big people.

Mommy shoes on.  Walk.  Mommy car.  Stroller.  Big water.  Night night.

After breakfast Mommy put on her running shoes, not the flip-flops that she usually wears.  I know this means we are going for a walk.  Together we drove to Percival’s Isle where I didn’t get to walk…I had to ride in the dumb stroller.  I was hoping to stay awake to see the river where you go over the second bridge, but Mommy’s friends just bored me right to sleep.  They talk too much.

Mommy car.  That one. That one.  Eat Mommy.  That one.  Sister seat?  Home.

When we got back in the car, Mommy called Daddy to tell him we had to go to the store.  Something about a care package for a friend at summer camp.  I don’t know what care packages or summer camp are, but she sure got a lot of cool stuff.  I kept pointing out other good ideas for her, but she didn’t really like my advice.  I again had to remind her to feed me, so I got goldfish out of the deal.  I asked Mommy a bunch of times where Sister was.  All she said is that shopping is easier without Chica.  Something about not having to answer a million questions.  FINALLY she took me home…shopping took forever.

Eat.  Night Night.  Elmo’s World.

This is what I do every afternoon.  No news here.

Bubba shoes on.  Walk.  Sister play. Wilson?  Willlllllsonnnnn?   Look.  Have it.  Welcome Mommy.  Apple.  Apple yucky.  Bubba apple?  Mommy apple?  Deer apple.  That way.  Slide.  Bubba do it.  That one.  Ant.  Swing.  More.  More.  That way.  Up.  Welcome Mommy.  Hug.  Home.  Eat applesauce.  Wilson?

IMG_0382This was obviously the best part of my day…totally worth putting my shoes on for.  Mommy took me on a walk without Sister because she was playing with our neighbor friend.  This meant I actually got to walk and not have to ride in that stupid stroller.  It also meant me and Mommy could talk.  I never get in a word when you-know-who is around.

First I asked Mommy if she knew where Wilson was.  That’s my friend’s cat.  She didn’t, so we tried calling him, but he didn’t come.  When we got to the top of the street, I asked to look at the magnolia tree like Sister always does.  Mommy got me one of those dried up flowers to carry.  I thought about how cool Mommy is, and I told her thank you without even being asked.  Mommies like that stuff.

We found these little apples between our street and the park, but Mommy says they are yucky.  She wouldn’t let me eat them, and she wouldn’t try them, but she said the deer might.  I knew she was trying to distract me with the apple talk when we walked past the street the park is on, but I didn’t let her get away with it.  Once we were in there, I tricked her and said we should go swing, but really I was thinking about the slide the whole time.  She actually let me go down the slide by myself, but she sure didn’t look like she was having as much fun as I was.  Mommy gets all panicky and jumpy around that slide.  She told me to ask Grandma about it.  I’ll ask her tomorrow.

We played on the wooden playground, rode the tire swing together, and then I tried the baby swing just to make Mommy happy. She was right.  It was fun.  Mommy took a lot of pictures, but I think this is the only one that shows how fun it was.

IMG_0396

When we left the park, you know what she let me do?  She let me walk on the high wall outside the old school building just like Chica always does.   I think this means I’m big now.  I told her thank you again because she was being so fun.  Ok, nevermind.  I really just wanted a ride on her shoulders.  This was a long walk.  Then I got tired of riding on her shoulders, and thought that if I asked for a hug, she would just carry me regular.  It didn’t work.  By then I couldn’t wait to get home and eat applesauce.  I didn’t see Wilson when we got home either.  I’m starting to get worried about that guy.  Do you think he’s still my friend?

Boogie-woogie sunshine.  Bubba shoes on.  Sister ice cream.  Mommy ice cream.  Daddy ice cream.

I did my usual stand-up sit-down comedy routine after dinner.  I wonder how long they’ll laugh at the same old material.  Then something weird but wonderful happened.  I had to put my shoes on AGAIN because we were going out for….wait for it……ice cream!  Even though Daddy got me my own this time, I still tried everybody else’s.  I wonder how long I’ll get away with that too.  In the end I shared mine with Chica because I was full on all the other kinds.  Mommy pointed out how nicely I was sharing, and Sister said something about about flies and honey and vinegar.  What the what?  Girls are so weird.

Bubba bed.  Sister read.  Belly book.  Mommy night night.  

I wasn’t very tired when Sister started reading to me tonight.  What’s up with her trying to put me to bed this week, huh?  Anyway, she read my favorite, the Belly Book, and a bunch others.  But I just wasn’t tired, so Sister had to get Mommy.  Then they both helped me go to sleep.  Bonus.

Hmm….I wonder if I play my cards just right, if I can get all three of them to put me to bed tomorrow night.  I think I’ll give it a try.

Gifts #35 and 36: Peace and Salsa

We were already late.
I had to drive because my bathing suit had gotten the seat too wet for Jay.
Then it started to rain.  Hard.  Like the maybe-I-should-pull-over kind of rain.
There was a cop following me.
“MommyMommyMommyMommy,” came from the back seat in typical Bubba fashion.
The this-is-a-test beep was on the radio, only it wasn’t a test this time.
Flashing lights from an accident up ahead.
Still raining.
Knuckles getting whiter and whiter.
I remember something I forgot to bring for dinner.
Still late.

And then it hits me.

Let the peace of God rule in your hearts….and be thankful.

I’ve been working these verses of Colossians 3 over and over…in the car when Chica doesn’t protest too much, when Jay will hold the tattered paper and follow along, when I’m sitting in the rocker beside Bubba’s bed waiting for the right moment to exit.

And it’s slowly starting to feel like the message of Christ (at least this tiny little piece of it) is seeping down from my lips to my head to my heart.  Dwelling richly in me.

Ordinarily, during a car ride like this, I would have been thinking any and all of these things:

I can’t do this.
I hate driving in the rain.
Shutupshutupshutup, this is already hard enough.
He should have just driven.  His knuckles are probably as white as mine.
How dumb do you have to be to forget the salsa when serving Mexican?
Late. Again.

Ok, so if I’m honest, I guess I really did think all of those things.  But after just a pass or two, I consciously made the effort to breathe in the peace and breathe out the thankfulness.

The rain slowed down.
The little people remained calm.
We were late, but it just didn’t matter.  Our new friends are full of grace.
And she had salsa.

Two jars, actually.

Image:  Rain © Knick Banas  | Flickr Creative Commons

The Night Chica Did My Work For Me

I believe I’ve hit a new high in the adventures of parenthood.  I’m camped out in the hallway, drinking a glass of wine, eating ice cream, and listening to someone else put Bubba to bed:

It’s Chica.

Yep.  She’s been asking for a few days to try to put him to bed one night.  Each evening I have had some reason why it was a bad idea (he’s too grumpy, it’s too late, Mommy’s too grumpy, etc.), but tonight I could think of none.  So I gave her a few basic instructions: get him in bed, read him 3 or 4 books, say a prayer, turn the light out, and sit next to him until he’s asleep.  Then creep out of the room, and you’re done!  Oh, and when if it doesn’t work, don’t get upset, just come get me.  Half of the time it doesn’t even work for Mommy.

The first five minutes was brutal as he wailed over and over, asking for me.  I was sure she hadn’t bargained for the screaming and that she was going to throw in the towel after a minute or two.  But much to my surprise, she stuck it out.  And gradually I could hear less of his protests and more of her reading.

The sound of her working her way slowly through familiar books and the image I had of him sitting on the bed, waiting patiently for her to figure out the tough parts was just too perfect.  So though the dishes need to be done and the laundry needs to be folded, here I sit, listening and waiting:

Ok, Bubba.  Time to get in bed.  Here, I’ll help you.

Hand, hand, fingers, thumb.  Dum ditty, dum ditty, dum, dum, dum.

Are you having fun, Bubba?  Ok, I’ll keep reading to you.

Boom boom boom, Mr. Brown is a wonder.  Boom boom boom, Mr. Brown makes thunder.

Lay down, Bubba.

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?

Don’t worry, Bubba.  I’m just going over here to get some more books.

**********************

At roughly the 30 minute mark, she crept out of the room with the most surprised look on her face.  “I did it!  He’s asleep!”  I celebrated with her, and then sent her downstairs to tell Daddy.  She hadn’t made it past the first three steps before the wailing kicked back in.  But this time he was calling her name.  Be still, little heart.

So, as we often do, she went in for round two, rereading each of the books, this time with more confidence.  Soon she was out again, and this time he was really down for the count.  “It was like magic!” she exclaimed.  Yes, Chica, you are magic.

After we had read her two stories and said our own prayers (“God, thank you for letting me get Bubba to sleep so good.”), she asked me an interesting question.  She asked me if I was more proud of her brave jump off the diving board today or of her putting Bubba to sleep.  It was a tough call, but I went with bedtime.  I told her that I thought she was very determined and that I could tell that she really loved Bubba.

And finally (because I have no other ideas for ending this post??), I leave you with a limerick:

There was a young girl who read
Three books to get Brother to bed
She turned out the light
And called it a night
“You’re hired forever!” Mom said.

Gifts #22-34

Six months ago I started a list of gifts for which I was thankful.  I’ll admit I haven’t made any progress on the written list since then.  Today when I thanked God no less than six times for Elmo’s World, I thought maybe I should add Momo to my gifts.  This, of course, got me thinking about other things that made me thankful today, so here we are…

22.  Elmo’s World.  That fuzzy red guy walks a thin line between endearing and annoying, but today I’m thankful for him.  He’s able to get both kids to sit still for 30-ish minutes at a time so I can maintain a sense of order and sanity (read: load the dishwasher and shower).  Today he also convinced Chica she wants to play the violin.

23.  7:30 a.m. naps.  Actually, it would be more correct to say that I’m thankful for Jay who makes 7:30 a.m. naps possible.  Both kids were up by 5:30, and by up I mean begging to play playdough, Barbies, and ball…all at once.  Since I had been the one enduring the early morning torture, he let me escape back to bed for an hour.  So thankful.

24.  Drizzly mornings.  The last two days we have found fun things to do outside, even while it’s raining.  I would dare to say the park might be more fun in the rain…cooler temperatures and way less people make for a great visit.

25.  New friends.  Just this week I e-mailed an old friend (who unfortunately lives 1,700 miles away) about how hard it is to make new friends.  Today at playgroup there were these glorious few minutes of time where the chaos was at a minimum and we made a tiny real connection as we talked about our families.

26.  We haven’t sold our house.  Yep…I’m choosing to see this as a gift.  It means as we begin to look, there’s no real time crunch.  Today we looked at two houses.  Both had things we really liked, but something pretty big we would want to change.  I’m telling myself it’s a gift that we don’t have to hurry and pick one.

27.  Colossians 3.  I’m still working on the verse about forgiveness, but I had lots of good chances to practice that one today.  A little experiential learning, maybe?

28.  A favorite college professor.  I’m so thankful I’ve kept in touch with her and for the ways she keeps encouraging me all these years later.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

29.  1:00 p.m. naps.  I believe one can never nap too much during the summer, don’t you?

30.  Babies that finally fall asleep on their own.  It’s been a long time coming.  If you’re that mom who feels like it may never happen, I promise…one day it will.

31.  Bubba’s sense of humor.  He is clearly an entertainer.  Every night as he waits for his dessert of “i-keen” after dinner, he gets busy making us laugh with his funny faces and new words.  This has recently become my second favorite part of the day (after nap time, of course).

32.  Elephant and Piggie books.  Read them.  Seriously.

33.  The public library.  Today we didn’t take Bubba….just me and Chica.  SO the way to go.

34.  Old friends.  The ones that rescue you when you can’t take even five more minutes in your crazy house.  The ones that go with you when you have to do something scary. The ones that make work feel more like a slumber party than real work.

What are you counting as a gift today?