December 21, 2011

3, 2, 1

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodWhen we reprimand our toddler, there's the warning.  Or maybe there isn't, maybe it's the dictum, the trill of warning in our voices, and then we count, 1... 2...

With 3 comes the sentence: and I hate doling these out (though usually, she's already been warned about the consequence of whatever--taking a toy away from her little brother, not listening to us, etc.).

I don't like reverting to the counting.  It means I'm frustrated, and in my head, I'm not supposed to get frustrated at a toddler who's very job is to be independent, oppositional, resolute.  But the counting means that WE mean business, that listening is not optional.  The "3" lands her in the dreaded Time Out square, a spot in the hallway where the grain of the hardwood floor is perpendicular to the rest of the floorboards, a perfect size for a three-year-old tush.  It's her tiny cell of torment.  It's the place on the floor we never put toys.

Time Out is supposed to be one minute for each year of the kid's life, each minute an opportunity for the kid to reflect (?) or at least be denied the opportunity to enjoy what anyone else in the house is doing.  Soon, for us, it will be three minutes.  Three minutes for me to decompress in my own corner of the kitchen, to count down, take some breaths, try to be more patient with the next round of stolid toddlerhood.  Who's really in Time Out?

When the oven beeper sounds, she runs into the kitchen, our routine.  I'll ask why she was in Time Out, and she'll tell me.  And we hug or high five, and I breathe a little deeper, ready for the next episode.

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