Timeline From Hell

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“Mommy, are there timers in the Enchanted Forest?” Blue eyes looked up at me hopefully.

“No, baby. No timers.”

He smiled.

“Good. I hate timers.”

And there it was. How he really felt.

We made our second annual birthday trip to the Enchanted Forest this weekend to collect presents from the Birthday Fairies. (Confused? Check out this post.)

In the real world, however, he and I battle each morning about getting dressed. He lies on the floor. He stands on his head. He bites his toenails. He plays ninja pirate and terrorizes his sister. He picks his nose and eats his boogers. He picks his nose and wipes it on the wall. He screams, sobs, spits, kicks. Anything and everything to keep from getting dressed.

In desperation, I got a timer. He gets ten minutes to get dressed. If he doesn’t, he loses a toy.

I now have a closet full of toys.

So I had reached the conclusion last week that the timer thing was not working. I was planning one of those “come to Jesus meetings” because I cannot fight him like that and still end up running late for clinic.

Hearing his feelings about the timer, made my heart ache. I remembered my own father going stark raving mad because I showed up 5 minutes late in the parking lot from church. When I say stark raving mad, I mean near apoplectic. I have serious anxiety issues about time now.

I don’t want this for him.

He is just a little guy with a sweet heart and a wandering mind. He is not trying to deliberately ignore me. It just comes naturally to him. He is four. Not forty. I need to stop trying so hard to squeeze a kid into a grown up world. Maybe the world could give just a little?

So yesterday when I woke him up I whispered, “Wanna get dressed without the timer, buddy?” He nodded and smiled with his eyes still closed.

And you know what? He did it. No screaming or yelling. No ninja pirate. No timer.

This morning, same thing.

On the way out the door, he grabbed my hand. “Mommy, it makes me feel good when you brag on me.”

A reminder to not focus merely on the negative. Praise can be a powerful motivator, even more than punishment. I am not perfect. Neither is he.

And that is just fine.

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57 thoughts on “Timeline From Hell

  1. AW, wow, this is so heart touching. How sweet. I can feel your Love for your little boy. And yes, isn’t it awesome when we “brag on each other” the outcome we get? Now your little one will have no nightmares about the timer. You did good, Dr. Mom. (smile) Love, Amy

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  2. LOL, I love that!

    I had a teen ager once who would not get out of bed for anything. It was constant threats, whining, eventually driving her to school because she missed the bus. One day I went in her room and said, “Honey, I don’t think you should go to school today. I think it’s really important that you just take a mental health day and stay home.” Sheesh, she flew out of bed and was the first kid to the bus stop.

    Doing everything “right” in parenting is highly over rated. It’s much better to keep kids guessing πŸ˜‰

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  3. Bless his heart and your’s, too. My daughter was late for cheerleading practice once, refused to run laps as punishment, and got into an argument with the coach. She got kicked off the team. To this day, she has time management issues and she’s thirty-three.

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  4. That is beautiful! Funny, how it works suddenly, right? I was just about to suggest that you trick him into getting up earlier (which would give you a more time to play with) and telling him that if he gets ready by himself you would not need to set the timer… et voila! I hope it keeps up. It is so much better than having to “fight” all the time!

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  5. Good for you. I often preach that positive reinforcement and praise (catching them when they’re good) can be much better discipline tools than negative reinforcement. Of course, with discipline, the negative is needed, too, but it’s needed less when we respect our kids and recognize their strengths and good deeds. You’ve given a great example of that.

    I’m very lucky. Neither of my sons went through a booger-eating phase. Not that I know of, anyway…

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    • Kids without the stretch marks! Woohoo! πŸ™‚ Step parenting is even tougher than parenting, I am told. The fact that you worry about it is a good sign. You care and that is half the battle!

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      • True. They do love me and the littler one actually thinks I’m he’s real mother and calls me Mama (we’re not lying to him, but that’s what he believes in right now while he’s younger), but I don’t know what’s going to happen later on. So I’ll try my best so they’ll grow up still treating me as their mother regardless of them knowing otherwise.

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  6. Other than the booger eating/smearing, I think he’s spot on perfect. πŸ™‚ Some things don’t matter so much. I like it when you brag on him too. πŸ™‚ He makes me want to not be such a slave to the grown up world too.

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  8. That is beautiful. You clearly hit a nerve with your writing (no medical pun intended) because you have soooo many comments. I so enjoying reading your stories. They are short, concise, well written and super interesting.

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  9. My son is four too. There have been times we have left the house with him wearing his flannel Ninja Turtles footie pajamas (all seasons, doesn’t matter) because those were the only body coverings he would put on. And I think: you know what kid-if that’s what it takes for you to feel comfortable leaving the house, then have at it. He gets nervous going to new places, so we go there in pajamas. Sometimes I wish I could go in PJs too.

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