This is a test of the Emergency Child-Rearing System (ECRS). This is only a test.
So, as you may have heard, I have entered the wonderful phase of parenting that includes the words “terrible” and “two.” I have been browsing a couple of parenting books about this stage, including “Making the Terrible Twos Terrific.” This book is way big on parenting theory, which is all fine, but people, I am looking for CONCRETE TIPS. The kind that tell me what to do when my child throws herself down in the middle of a grocery store aisle and commences kicking and screaming. I mean, do I take the approach of leaving the full cart in the grocery aisle and walking out. Or, do I walk away and pretend I’ve never seen her before (I feel that I must enter a disclaimer here because I just finished watching a DVRed episode of Oprah about kidnapped and missing children and I would NEVER, under any circumstances, leave my child alone in a store. Not that you thought I would, but just sayin’.) Either way, this has not happened yet. THANK GOD. But this morning Monkey did test out a throw down on the bathroom floor because she didn’t want to brush her teeth. She started out by trying to jump and throw her arms around, and then it was almost like her thought process was, “That action did not properly display my level of anger. Perhaps I should see what happens when I throw my body down,” followed by a half-hearted throw down and a couple of leg kicks. It was so funny that I buried my head in my arms and silently laughed. Then I distracted her from her tantrum and we went on with the tooth-brushing. Disaster averted. For now.
Anyway, one of the things in the “Making the Terrible Twos Terrific” book that stuck with me was a passage about why kids disobey. In the author’s opinion, a disobedient child is just trying to pin his parents down. Basically, the kid wants the parent to be consistent, and constant wavering by the parents forces the child to constantly test the boundaries.
I’m wondering if that theory applies to last weekend. Monkey has fallen in love with coloring. She LOVES it. We have washable markers and washable crayons and she colors at her Nana’s house and usually it’s the first thing she wants to do when she gets home. Either that or reading books.
Last Friday, Monkey got home and immediately set off to coloring. I put her talent to good use and had her make a card for my grandma’s birthday. She did a fabulous job. And then, after she had filled every last square inch of the paper, she proceeded to color the entire Little Tikes plastic table. Did I mention that coloring with a toddler should be a highly supervised activity? I mean, don’t try to do anything else or just be in the same room while washing dishes or something, because before you know it, they’ll have the entire table covered in marker. It wasn’t the end of the world. The table is washable and I didn’t even get mad. I just looked her right in the face, held up her markers and the paper and said “Coloring is only for paper.”
Saturday included more of the same. Coloring, coloring, coloring on paper, and then before I knew it, Monkey was holding her sweatshirt out in front of her and coloring up and down the entire front of it. This time I was a little more annoyed. Mostly because whenever she colors, she inevitably gets some marker on her clothes and every night I have to wash the clothes out with water and then pre-treat them so it doesn’t stain. And this is when it’s on accident. A mark her or there, ON ACCIDENT, I can handle. But the ENTIRE front of her shirt, NOT on accident, is more frustrating. And she was already on her second outfit of the day after getting wet outside that morning. So again, I looked her right in the face, held up her markers and the paper and said “Coloring is only for paper.”
Which brings us to Sunday. Monkey hadn’t even been coloring on the paper for three minutes before she came over to where I was standing, talking on the phone no less, and starts coloring ON MY JEANS. What the hell!? Then I realize that she also has colored on the front of the dishwasher and several of the kitchen cabinets. Damn washable markers. I managed to get all the marks off my jeans, the dishwasher and cabinet, but not before putting the markers away for the day. I realize, I should have been supervising her more closely, but come on!
Later that day, I let Monkey color with her crayons, figuring that they do less damage than markers. She’s not thrilled about the crayons. They don’t write as easily and they’re not as dramatic. First she tried to color on her sweatshirt and did not achieve the desired effect. Plus I was right there and reminded her “Coloring is only for paper.” Then, she seemed to be trying to take off the invisible cap on the crayon, as if it were a marker, and accidentally broke it. Since that was pretty fun, she then proceeded to break her crayons ON PURPOSE. No more coloring.
I’m wondering how many more surfaces, BESIDES PAPER, that Monkey will have to test before she’s sure that I really mean it that COLORING IS ONLY FOR PAPER.