SNYDER: When parenting gets difficult, determination is key

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, September 2, 2020

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“You’re stupid!” I lean away from the swat heading towards my face.

“I don’t like that,” I respond, turning my face.

He steps forward, leans in close to my ear, smiles and whispers again, “You’re stupid,” then begins chuckling.

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No, this is not a scene from a dramatic movie. It’s me and my 2-year-old son.

His favorite word happens to be stupid right now, and I happen to be putting him in timeout numerous times a day, or trying to at least. 

He’s got me.

He’s not 25 pounds with striking red hair, a sweet mischievous grin, an arm for throwing (and hitting), and all the insults that include the word stupid.

One would think a mom would have figured it all out by the time the third kid came along, but that’s a big fat no.

This third kid is a tiny, determined boy that has Mommy wrapped around his finger. I’m utterly doomed. 

Let’s get back to the timeout. The kid throws things at his 4-year-old sister half the day: cars, balls, remotes, nail clippers, my Kindle, whatever.

I’ve picked the perfect spot for his timeout: a tiny hallway between two closed doors. There is no view of toys, books or TV, only the opposing end of the hallway.

I’m pretty well equipped to deal with this problem. I’m a teacher with a degree in early childhood education. I’ve done this twice before with my daughters. I can do 75 sit ups and watch “Down to Earth” with Zac Efron at the same time.

On paper, I’m ready.

But then, he smiles with his tiny white teeth, little red curls and says “stupid,” looking so adorable, and I can’t.

I’ve forgotten how to function as a maternal figure.

“Hitting hurts,” I tell him as I turn my face to smirk.

I sign, “Sit down,” and say, “Timer starts when you sit,” and wait, turning my back.

He begins to spin the childproof door knob around and around shouting, “Do you like this, Mom? Do you like it?”

My ignoring game is on point, but I’m no match for him.

Again, I turn and say, “Sit down. Timer starts when you sit.”

He lays on his back, pushing his body with his tiny spindly legs, thrashing his head, hysterically laughing.

My thought plane – How does he know that I’m laughing inside? Why is this tiny human getting the best of me?

Parenting is hard 90 percent of the time.

If I let him watch “Daniel Tiger” all day, will this stop?

Does my iPhone have enough battery life for this many timeouts?

If timeout doesn’t work and I’m opposed to spanking, what’s my game plan?

This is just a phase, right? 

Ugh, just pretend he is sitting and start the timer. 

“Oh, you are doing a good job sitting (as I help him). Let’s start the timer.”

One agonizing minute later, because let’s face it, that’s all either of us can handle, it’s time to have a serious conversation to explain that hitting hurts and it’s not a good choice.

It’s best to use our words and say, “I feel mad. I wanted that ball.”

Here goes. I look directly into his little eyes, face as serious as possible, not a glimmer of laughter in my eyes and state, “Why are you in time out?” 

He grins.

“You’re stupid,” he replies.

Ah! Send help.