Monday, April 24, 2006

Gabriel and Julian's timeouts

I keep thinking about the child psychologist advising us to disengage, walk away from most conflicts with Gabriel, though safety issues, such as holding hands to cross the street, are truly nonnegotiable. But as I go through the day, I see one thing after another that to me is also nonnegotiable -- from serious things like not closing the car door while Julian is getting out, to things like washing his hands before dinner. I don't want Gabriel to learn that if he throws a fit, he can get out of basic rules.

Such as getting dressed. Today after swim class, Gabriel turned his head and closed his eyes when I told him to put his clothes on. He was probably kidding around, but he continued to ignore me as I warned him several times that after Julian was dressed, we were leaving. And I did -- I packed Gabriel's clothes into our bag, last, then took both boys by the hand, and led them out to the car. I'm sure we made quite the spectacular entrance into the pool area, with me holding a naked and protesting Gabriel. It wasn't until we were at the car that he agreed to put his clothes on. Is getting dressed another thing I should just disengage from?

After swim class, I brought both boys to Tonya's. It's becoming urgent now that I take care of remodeling details that I've put off for weeks from being so sick. I'm still not feeling well, but without the boys, I have just enough energy to make that phone call or visit that plumbing supply store. Also, I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist to talk about all the pain and discomfort I've been in. He called for more tests and made some good suggestions on how to treat each of various gastric ailments.

But once again, after I picked the boys up, I had a hard time getting them out of the car. This has really becoming a bugaboo -- it takes 10 minutes, lots of countdowns, reminders and threats to get them both out of the car and into the house, for one stupid reason after another. This time, Julian insisted on getting out Gabriel's side, Gabriel insisted on "holding" the door for him, but he's very close to closing the door on Julian's fingers. This devolved into a now very regular and very, very tiresome pattern. Gabriel goes on timeout for not listening, then backtalk, doesn't stay, is put in his room (I always have to carry him, and my back won't take much more of that), doesn't stay, gets locked in, he lies on his back and kicks the door, I take his shoes and warn him not to kick the door, and if he does again, he gets spanked (which has finally curtailed the kicking, it didn't used to). When it's time to get him out, he routinely refuses to listen or apologize, turning into another round of staying in his room, then locked in again if he doesn't stay. We go through this painful pattern with him every day now, for something as simple as backtalk ("You're NASTY, Mom") that starts it. And I do ignore a lot of backtalk; it's the very directed talk like that when he's just been scolded for something else (such as grabbing Julian's neck) that kicks it all off.

What would SuperNanny do? Even Julian won't sit in timeout anymore, and I go through Supernanny's method of putting him back again and again and again, and it's incredibly disruptive and exhaustive. The whole idea behind these methods is that you only have to go through the pain a few times, then the kids learn that you're not going to back down. But certainly Gabriel doesn't learn that -- we go through the painful process every time he does something bad. Julian's a little different; he gets so distraught that he won't sit in timeout, sobbing "sorry! sorry!" and trying to walk away from his "naughty spot." Sometimes moving him to a new spot, or talking to him calmly and telling him that if he sits, he can come out soon, will do it. But the whole idea that they'll eventually learn and sit in timeout hasn't happened here. I really wish I could find a way to curtail these long, and now-daily, disciplinary sessions with both of them.

I went to Tuesday Dinner tonight with our old moto-friends. It was at Hobee's, a restaurant that Dave doesn' t like, so he took the boys to Pizza & Pipes while I went to dinner alone. I used to go to Tuesday Dinner alone all the time, but it felt weird being there without Dave -- I haven't done that in years! I needed time off from the boys tonight, it was good.

Sorry, no photos today.

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