Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 2

Oh that title...the creativity is just oozing out of my pores. Truly.

Both my giant exterior babies are screaming their sweaty little heads off right now because 1. our AC units went out last night and 2. It's bedtime. And, you know, they've never been put to bed before. I'm just straining my little ears for the sound of forced vomiting any moment now...

Anywho, today was a relatively unremarkable, smolderingly hot summer day here in Rome. It is odd to feel the emptiness of the city, already dwindling in the tourist category, now absent one Holy Father as of 10 am local time. It feels similar to the period from Benedict's abdication to the beginning of the conclave...except obviously not sad. World Youth Day is a joyful reason for Rome to be sede vacante (well, in the physical sense), if you enjoy camping in fields, sweating your ass off and sleeping in the dirt. Or so I've heard. But it makes me so, so happy that Papa gets to go back to his continent and really say 'goodbye' to his part of the world. Isn't God good, for this to all have been planned and scheduled before a Latin American Pope was even a twinkle in anybody's eye? Yeah.

I'm eating pre-popped popcorn and apples with peanut butter for dinner. My kitchen is incendiary and will immediately combust if I flick the gas to the stove on. It's that hot. Therefore, no cooking for days...and days. I did briefly and stupidly heat water for a piping mug of Earl Grey to round out my preggie palate, because nothing says summer evening like hot tea.

I'm so sorry, this is just awful. Let's see, weather, meal planning...what else can I bore you with? Oh, I know, how about more behavior issues with my children. Perfect.

We're experimenting with a week of 'no spanking' with the boys, particularly Joey, and if you are horrified by the thought of corporal punishment, just go ahead and click non-judgementally away right now.

Okay, who's still with me? So confession time: I'm a spanker. Not very hard, and not all the time, but sometimes it feels impossible to communicate with boys any other way...except lately, even that line is cluttered with static. Now JP is kind of little to be spanked, per se, but we do smack his hand if he does something unsafe, like stick various metal items into temptingly-shaped European electrical sockets. And his world grows dark and dim and he collapses into a sorrowful heap of remorse and anguish. It is so sad that I can very rarely follow through on it.

Joey, on the other hand, generally laughs in my face if I raise a hand to his diapered booty. And sometimes he spanks me back when my guard is down, which is 100 kinds of special. So in addition to feeling like crap for spanking my kid, I am also increasingly aware that for this special model of almost-3-year-old, it isn't working.

Yelling doesn't actually work either. Or time outs. Loss of privileges are sort of effective 60% of the time. And eating gelato in front of his face while repeatedly recounting his offenses and reminding him why he can't partake is probably the most effective, but feels truly heinous once the novelty wears off. Plus, my hips. Cooling down from the inside out has consequences, y'all.

Anyway, feel free to consider this one part cry for help, one part confession, and one part trolling for discipline strategies. Whatcha got?

horrifying photobooth session at Daddy's (air conditioned) office this afternoon. Sweet dreams.


  1. I think my most effective method of 2-4yr old discipline is putting a favorite toy up high. Today I had to put up two metal kids golf clubs (they were fighting with them) and distracted the boys, ages 5 and 2, by letting them serve themselves ice cream. They stopped fighting and screaming, at least! I better go make sure they didn't leave the ice cream on a chair.

  2. Enjoying your youthful , extremely entertaining outlook on mommy-hood! I am probably old enough to be your mother( 44) but can still relate bc I still have a 2 yo ( my youngest) .I strongly recommend Dr. Sears Discipline Book - you won;t agree with everything, as it always is with these things - but even with my 6th , I re-read parts often. It is true wisdom, overall. I think you mentioned Duggars book Love Multiplies, another one of my is Elizabeth Foss's blog ( esp, if you go to "bad days" or "discipline) tags. You are living a real dream - emphasis on real!! Baby dropping nuts everywhere and 4 yo has now tied me to this chair with a chinese jump rope. Ciao!!

  3. I have nothing. My kids are out of control. Time-outs work to some extent, in that they get distracted and start reading in their rooms... Mostly their crazy makes me wish that I spanked, but I don't think that would work either! Sooooo I'll be refreshing these comments to see what everyone else suggests!

  4. Jenny,

    My oldest also acted like he wasn't bothered by any punishments: time-outs, yelling, spanking, toy jail. None of it. But the thing is, it's a scam. You can't let them scam you. Not being punished is empirically better than being punished. It just is. They can act like they don't care, but they do.

    It's mostly just that some kids naturally care what YOU think and how you feel, and some kids don't. So with those kids, you being upset just isn't motivational to them at all. That's what doesn't bother them. But calm but firm and consistent use of whatever punishment (or combination of punishments) you prefer WILL eventually work, because it's in HIS best interest, not because he cares how you feel.

    It's easier said than done, of course, but you've met Jack, he's quite civilized now. And I love when I see him doing things for me or his siblings because I know that for him, it's a decision to love, not something that comes naturally to him. Or it's fear of those consistent punishments. But either way. It works.

  5. I only started reading Dobson's "Dare to Discipline" and he is really into spanking. Like, a lot. I need to get back to it because there actually was a lot of good stuff in it, that I have found helpful. It is the polar opposite of the Popcak book (which made me feel like the worst mother ever- so I can't really recommend it) and Dr. Sears. Abigail is too defiant (she's definitely into the trying threes) for the likes of AP-style discipline it seems. I tried and it failed horribly. As for Dobson's, much of the capital punishment was over the top for me, though. See for yourself...

  6. I'm loving the gelato strategy. Good luck!

  7. We used to spank our almost 3 yr old & 4 and a half yr old. Or more specifically, I used to spank. My husband very rarely did it-and he was pretty soft compared to me. But, like you, it never seemed to work & I felt awful about it. I tried to limit spanking to "big" offenses like biting. But it just didn't seem to work. And I hated when they would see that look in my eye & scream, "please don't spank me!" Now we don't do spankings or even time-outs! And yeah, our kids aren't perfect but instead of punishing them, we communicate. Our 4 yr old may be slamming her door & screaming she hates us, but why? Often, if we give her the opportunity, she will let us know why she's hurting & then apologize on her own about her behavior (even if it takes a little while). I read the book "Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids" and it just changed my perspective. Now I yell less & enjoy my kids more. Seriously, it's insane. I still have moments. But I'm just calmer overall & so when someone acts up, I see it differently. Like another commenter said-you may not do everything in the book-but it's got great neurological research to back it up & practical tips for every age. I highly recommend it! Good luck Mama!

  8. I'm a John Rosemond fan. He's got a great book called Making the Terrible Two's Terrific - I've read and re-read and re-read it with each kid. It's applicable to 3-year olds also (as he says the "terrible two's" are really the "terrible 18-months to 4 years"). A horrible parenting truth that no one ever tells you, for fear that no one will ever have children, ever. Either that, or have cute babies and then sell them into white slavery to avoid the toddler phase. Whatever. I have 4 boys and my second was IMMUNE to discipline. Completely immune. He just did what he wanted. He would rather take the punishment and do the "fun" thing. But eventually, he realized that the punishments would never go away and he started adjusting. I did a couple things with him, including spanking and time-out. The most effective was Rosemond's "ticket" program. You focus on only one or two behaviors that that you want to change. He gets 3 tickets at the beginning of every day. If he commits one of the offenses, he loses and ticket and gets a timeout. If he loses the 3rd ticket, he spends the rest of the day in his room, minus any fun distractions (only coming out for meals). I only had to do it once and he started getting the message, It was amazing how he could control himself once two tickets were gone and he was in danger of losing the 3rd. He's now almost 15, and while he's still my "wild child", his behavior is great.

    1. I second John Rosemond. We do a variation of the ticket method (family rules posted on fridge with little stick figure drawings for my non-readers and then a chart with 6 boxes: 3 chances and the little jail bars in the 4th box which is a half hour time/out/calm/down time, 5th box is a little TV crossed out which is no screen time for the rest of the day, 6th box is a little bed, which is early bed time). It is working better than spankings ever did for my boys (and my 5yo has always been a challenge). Message me if you want me to email the chart I made up for us!

  9. My mom said that she realized yelling wasn't going to work, so when she meant business she did the opposite--dropped her voice down low. I can say that it scared the crap out of us as kids. ;-P Not that that in itself is much help on the discipline front, I guess; good luck and prayers. :)

    Also I miss my earl grey a lot in the summer so now and then I make a pitcher of it iced. So good.

  10. Oh, I wish I could be of more help! We do timeouts, counting (she usually gets to the count of five), spanking, taking away toys or reading at bedtime... it depends on what's going on. Sometimes some punishments work better than others, but I've found that it helps to follow through so she knows I mean business.

  11. Oh Jenny! I hear you. Discipline is hard...especially hard for those of us (me) who deal with anger and guilt as a side-order to every parenting problem. I'm not even sure it would be right to say it gets better...or it gets worse. It just is what it is right now. Tough. But over time, you'll figure it out. I'm sure every mother has at some point. At least that's what I keep telling myself ;)

    My sister sent me a good book (which I haven't finished yet, so I probably shouldn't be recommending it)...but it may be worth a try when you have a moment or two?? It's called "The Well-Behaved Child" by John Rosemond. From what I've been reading (and from what my sister has relayed to me) it's a great alternative to spanking,yelling,etc. Not to shame you, but to give you some tactics that might work better.

    Like I said, I don't know...but anything is better than nothing. We'll get there ;) Prayers for you!

  12. We've got two little guys around the same ages as yours. And like yours, our littlest generally falls to pieces after nothing more than a stern "No!" But our oldest... When we find that his behavior has taken a downturn, we institute an intensive time-out period. For a few days, he gets put into time-out for every. stinkin'. little. thing. he does wrong. And when he either moves out of the corner before his time's up or he doesn't change his ways after a spell or two in the corner, he gets put to bed. It usually doesn't take too long before he realizes that mommy and daddy mean business. And life improves for a while, at least until he senses that our follow-through has gone slack again. So we repeat...

  13. We're spankers. Sometimes time out works, sometimes taking away privileges, but spanking always works.

  14. Dude - I am the worst discipliner ever (inconsistent, yeller, occasional spanker, yadda, yadda, yadda) and have been sorta, kinda turned around by two things... 1. The book Parenting with Grace, The Catholic Parenting Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Kids (title a bit cheesy - book is really, really good). The authors decided to take the writings of encyclicals and glean as much information about parenting and family life from it as possible and the result is very, very good. I am admittedly not (anymore) as much of an attachment parenter as they recommend for infants, but the rest of the book is super good. Have I said it is good? Low on the interesting adjectives around here today. 2. Charlotte Mason's books. You only need read the first for the littles, but man did she have her act together. The book is free online and can be downloaded to a Kindle free too (go to and it changed my perspective on the philosophy of parenting. I think I used to have no philosophy but just did whatever my parents did and now I've at least got something to aim for, which has changed the whole picture.

  15. Okay, so from what I've gathered from parent friends, what works for one kid might not work for others. So, for example, our daughter is a major people pleaser, so a lot of times just making our disappointment in her evident is a enough to get the point across. We do use time-outs when necessary. In general, neither one of us is a yeller, so we usually make our voices very low and quiet and stern when we're disciplining her. BUT all these things work because of the kind of kid she is, and I can think of kids she's friends with who this wouldn't work for at all. I really think consistency is the most important thing to do, but other than that it really varies depending on the personalities of your kiddos!

  16. I find the age of mid-2 to mid-3 to be my time of trying to remember that they were all like that and it came out ok. Stay consistent and remember that this too shall pass. I also try to be aware of when all interactions are tending negative to see if I can praise something... anything... just to get the day to turn around.

  17. Also, we don't tend to spank so little advice there but, Leila has some good stuff about effective spanking and discipline in general on her blog. Poke around the sidebar for both discipline and the spanking worksheet.

    The most useful bit I've gotten is to remember that you are the alpha. I'm not entirely sure anyone can really call themselves an alpha over someone under the age of around 3 but it is *really* useful when they are old enough to try to argue back and that sort of thing. The biggest parenting downfall I tend to see is parents (especially dads?) bickering with their children. I try really hard to not bicker and just *tell*


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