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January 13, 2010

The worst part of parenting, other than putting eye drops into a toddler’s eyes, is discipline. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. Part of the reason is that many of us don’t know how to discipline. It is a total mystery to us. And once the terrible twos set in and your sweet one year old suddenly turns into this little beast who makes faces, rolls her eyes, turns her back on you, doesn’t come when called, throws things suddenly out of anger, is stronger than should be allowed and refuses to be either potty trained-diaper changed or bathed… are faced with disciplining.

It has to happen and it has to happen quickly. But what is it that you should do?

Although this may sound like a good intro to a magazine article I do not have the answer to that question. In fact, I am genuinely asking: WHAT DO I DO?

You see, over Christmas Principe saw his daughter throw a temper tantrum for the first time. And it was a doozy, remember? The problem though is that he didn’t only see that one-he saw several. Especially in Toulouse where Queenie just couldn’t seem to handle getting into a car, not having french fries, taking a bath, seeing that her choo-choo movie had ended, etc.

Now, I will admit that things got bad. They got out of control. We also ended up going into the emergency room in France only to find out that she had a blister on her eye due to the festering pink eye that her parents were dumb enough to think would go away with daily cleansing. Okay. So maybe she had a reason to be upset with us. The fact that she is as of yet widely nonverbal doesn’t help matters, neither for her nor for us.

On the trip back to Madrid the weather was bad so we didn’t want to stop very often. When we stopped for gas we interrupted her nap in order to put drops in her eyes and to eat. Needless to say, she didn’t eat. Not right away. Just as Principe and I finished our sandwiches that took the sandwich counter half and hour to get to us, Queenie decided to eat. Then it started to snow. And she decided to poop. Principe was nervous about getting caught in the mountains and not being allowed to continue on to Madrid and Queenie’s behavior wasn’t helping things. Her not wanting to go with him while I went to the bathroom made him fly off the handle. I admit that it sucks when she decided to have mamitis (a dependency on the mom), but I also understand that her not being able to say what it is she wants instead adds to her frustration. But it doesn’t matter to Principe. At least it didn’t then. Back in the car he went on a 15 minute venting rage about how we must be doing something wrong with Queenie because her behavior isn’t normal. We aren’t consistent in our discipline, because we haven’t had to be before. Up until now her discipline consisted in being told not to touch something and when she pushed the limits she received a swat on the hand. It always worked. She still doesn’t touch anything she has been told not to touch. Over Christmas she pushed her cousin down hard and immediately received a swat on the hand and was taken out of the room. She cried, but she didn’t push her again the entire vacation.

NOW, is a different story. And Principe is right about certain things, so I allowed him to vent. When he tried to vent again two hours later I cut him off. Why? Because even though he claims it isn’t a lecture at me it feels like it is. So far I am the only one who has actually disciplined Queenie. Principe has said no, yelled no, gotten frustrated, lectured, etc, but has never actually taken true action. He has never placed her on a time out (which I am so bad at and need help with, seriously. I don’t know how to do it), has never swatted her hand, had never gotten down to her level to explain something to her, has never cradled her closely in order to allow her time to settle herself down while still being firm in telling her stop crying and relax, etc. He doesn’t discipline.

Well, this morning he went off again. And it got to the point where I felt like I was dealing with two cry babies. It’s a good thing that he wasn’t able to see me during his lecture as he went out the door because my eyes were closed and my lips were praying a prayer of patience in order to not scream at him.

Here’s how it started this time: Queenie sleeps badly. Always has. She started to sleep a bit better over the summer but now she has reverted to sleeping badly again. I, being pregnant with a pitched sciatic nerve, had made some poor decisions in how to deal with her waking up: giving her a bottle again, holding her or, the worst, allowing her to snuggled with me in bed. None of these things were a problem to Principe until now. In fact, I apologized to him for allowing her to sleep in our bed a little while ago because we don’t sleep well when she does and his reply was filled with compassion for my bodily state and exhaustion. BUT SUDDENLY TODAY HE HAS A HUGE PROBLEM WITH IT.

Queenie woke up numerous times last night. Probably 4-5 times. The second to last time I placed her in our bed. She slept do badly that she flopped all around and finally woke up at 6:40am, thinking it was time to get up. I sat up, held her, tried to give her a bottle and thought she was asleep when I painfully stood up to take her back to her room. She wasn’t asleep though. Upon placing her in her bed I told her it wasn’t time to wake up, that is was still night-time and she was to go to sleep. That worked for two minutes. Once I sat on the toilet she was crying. When I came out Principe practically shouted, “Don’t pick her up, just let her cry!”

To which I nastily replied, “I AM!” as I was already in the room. His voiced turned hurt and he asked me not to yell at him. I didn’t say a word. I am learning to not say anything when my mind is throwing daggers at the person in question. What I was thinking was: don’t have an opinion if you aren’t going to help with the action. You see, in the last 26 months he has rarely gotten out of bed at night. RARELY. He is the one who works outside of the home so I let him sleep. Result: Queenie only goes to bed with me, is only consoled at night by me and I am the one responsible for all night-time related activities.

For 45 minutes she cried. Principe seems to think we should start letting her cry it out until 8 o’clock each morning until she learns to not wake up until that time. I’m not so sure that will work. He also wants to let her cry it out if she wakes up at night. I can agree with that in most cases, sure. But letting her cry for 45 minutes when it is already morning and you haven’t even gone in to check if throwing a bottle at her or telling her to go to sleep, etc, will work? Not so sure.

At 7:30 Principe got up because her cries turned to her calling him. But when he got her out of bed and took her into the living room she cried for mama. He wouldn’t let her go. Then she cried when he changed her diaper. Then when the cartoons ended. Then when he tried to snuggle with her. When the alarm went off at 7:50 I got up. Principe was pissed and went into his “We-have-to-change-something-because-we-aren’t-doing-this-right-she-can’t-be-like-this-when-Nerea-comes-because-you-won’t-be-able-to-handle-it-she-has-to-learn-to-allow-me-to-consol-her-WE-HAVE-TO-DO-SOMETHING vent. Twice. I started to remind him that he is the one who has traded watching soccer for putting her to bed and traded sleep for getting up since she was a baby, but stopped before I finished. What good would it do?

And this morning has been terrible. To the point where I think she may have an ear infection or something. We have a doc’s appointment in two hours to see. If it isn’t anything other than the twos, well, then, I have a long stretch ahead of me. Why me? Because I’m not so sure anything is really going to change except for me learning to discipline.

Got any pointers?

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2010 2:44 pm

    Every child is different… I’m sure you’ve heard that from tons of other parents and parenting “professionals.”

    Our toddler is very random in how she decides to sleep, but we discovered in ALL things: discipline, sleep, meal times, bathing, etc… CONSISTENCY is KEY! Without really knowing how it works, children at a very young age learn how to manipulate. So, consistency individually and consistency between you and Dad.

    Another thing to help is have an open discussion with Dad on what your expectations are, what his expectations are, and how you can both cooperate with all these things. When you divided the tasks and decide who helps who at what time of day/night it will signifcantly cut down on resentment, grumbling and division among yourselves. And it will help your children to see that her parents are united and consistent. 🙂

    Hope this helps.

    Feel free to visit my blog:

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