Recently my husband and I have realized that somewhere along the way of Attachment Parenting, the girls had commandeered the driver’s seat.
By age 3.5 yrs old, they had figured exactly what buttons to push to make Mama and Dada do their bidding, lest we face the wrath of Halle & Zanna.
Halle would tease and chase and push her sister mercilessly, Zanna would shriek at anything and anyone who caused her the least displeasure, and stick her fingers in her ears whenever we tried to talk to her.
Meals became a circus (not a good one), and bedtime was one of the inner rings of Hell.
When I had a parent-teacher meeting at their nursery school, their teacher recommended that I do time-outs.
Nice in theory.
What do I do, then, if they refuse to stay put? They would pop up from their time-out chairs, if put them in the bedroom, they would kick and pound the door, and peel the paint off the door, to the point that even the upstairs neighbors would start tapping on our ceiling. And while we could deal with this somewhat, by stuffing a pillow in the door jamb to muffle the door-banging noise, it wasn’t working out to be the corrective solution we had hoped.
My husband and I put in alot of prayer on this, trying to find a discipline solution that didn’t involve yelling or spanking or other harmful punishments, and still respected the children, yet wasn’t permissive or spoiling.
Then came the week of Strep. Trapped in the apartment with the twins for more than a week (it was bitter cold outside, so I couldn’t take them for car trips to calm them down), I was a frazzled wreck by the time Saturday rolled around.
My husband, being a merciful sort, gave me the weekend off. After prepping meals and meds, I was free to do as I pleased.
It pleased me to hang out at our local bookstore.
And there, on an end cap, was a honkin’ huge display of….
1-2-3 Magic! books.
It was an answer to our prayers. A discipline system that got rave reviews from readers on Amazon.com, no yelling or spanking or harm involved, easy to do, and it even got a thumbs-up from a local mom I know, who swore by it.
So I got the regular book and the kid version as well so I could get started quickly, without having to plow through the regular version first.
Then, after purchasing a timer with a happy face on it, and giving an explanation of
The Way Things Will Be From Now On
to my girls, complete with Oscar-worthy performances from their teddy bears, to illustrate what would happen if the girls misbehaved (they found this part very amusing, somehow, but still recognized that the bears were behaving just like them), and by the end of the short talk, they were able to answer correctly when I asked, “What will happen next to the bear if he does more naughty things?”
The book advised that there could be a ‘testing’ period of a week to 10 days, wherein the girls would rigorously test our determination to follow through on this new system of discipline, and boy, was that ever so!
The girls had to be bodily carried to their bedroom for timeout, kicking and screaming all the way, there was the usual door kicking, too.
And after their liberation when the timer dinged, they’d go right back to whatever it was that got them the timeout in the first place, and do it again.
So again, back to the bedroom for another timeout.
The next morning, I was on my own getting them ready for school. Halle absolutely refused to get dressed and I had to manhandle her into her school outfit.
Then I had to carry her flailing, shrieking self out to the car, while holding Zanna’s hand.
Then Halle did the “surfboard manoeuvre”. She stiffened her body like a surfboard, making it impossible to get her 5-point harness buckled in the carseat.
Tickling didn’t work, giving her a timeout wasn’t practical, taking away privileges also wasn’t working.
Like Inigo Montoya, she would not be moved.
Then she started taking off her clothes again.
Luckily, as she was doing this, I was able to fasten her safety harness. She was livid. And all the way to school, she shrieked that she was missing some of her clothes and shoes.
By the time we got to school, she was sobbing pitifully. I got her out of the carseat, back into her clothes and shoes, and carried her into school, handing her off to the teacher.
After a brief explanation of what the sitch was, the teacher understood and said Halle would be fine, not to worry.
So I left.
Two hours later, when I picked the girls up from school, the teacher took me aside and said that about two secondsafter I had left, Halle had sat up with a huge grin on her face and announced: “I’m so happy!!”
Sheesh!! What a performer!!
So onward we pressed, confident that we weren’t doing our children irreparable harm by enforcing reasonable consequences for misbehavior.