Thursday, February 11, 2010

Greenwood Avenue: Where the Wild thing is.

The night Anna wore her dragon suit and made mischief of one kind and another her Papa called her “WILD THING!” and Anna said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!” so she was sent to bed without eating anything.

It was a gift from a former student, and for a long time, it hung in her play area ignored except for Halloween and when she was bored with her other gowns. Last night, she donned the pink dragon suit and spent much of the night growling and pretending to scratch and claw at the air. While we are happy that she is comfortable being both the princess and the dragon during playtime, we were NOT happy with her behavior as the night wore on. We convinced her to change out of the costume and she did for dinner, but the mentality stuck with her and affected her behavior as we tried to eat. The battles that we face each night with the kids start around 4:30 as they both want a snack and our undivided attention while we are working on transitioning from work and getting dinner ready ourselves. If we stop and play or snuggle, or watch TV with them, then dinner is delayed, and the evening gets longer and longer. But if we don’t give them %100, then the attention grabbing behavior starts. So we try to strike a balance and I have actually become pretty adept at creating meals that can be reheated while I focus on the kids, but that’s not always the case.

Last night, after a day at home doing errands, Anna’s behavior was escalating to eleven on the naughty dial. She was out of her routine because of the snow day plus she didn’t take a nap, a nasty combination for sure. A few time outs and stern warnings didn’t change her behavior at the table, so after outlining the consequences, going immediately to her room for the night, she tested us once again.

She should know better. She lives with two teachers.

If you test us, you will fail.

So after the warnings and then some farting around with her green beans, she was whisked upstairs, not passing GO, not collecting $200.

Straight to bed.

And, before you call protective services, she did eat; she just didn’t finish her meal all the way and definitely no dessert. But once up in her room, she saw a moment to escape and darted, no, FLEW downstairs to hide. This is the kid who can take 20 minutes to go down the steps in the morning when she doesn’t want to do something. She was down in a flash with her 40-something Papa in hot pursuit (no really, at this point, I was sweating). This time, I put her on the ground and straddled her so I could get her PJ’s on. I guess watching all that WWF finally paid off. And, again, before you dial protective services, I was NOT sitting on her. But at this point, she was completely out of control and beyond any kind of reason. I got her dressed and put her into bed and then the screaming started. She loves an audience, but when you leave, she knows that the show is over and reality sets in. I was serious about my threat; I was serious about her going to bed if she continued to act up at the table and I followed through with it. If I had just ignored her, I would have failed her test. While there are some battles to pick, dinner time is not one that we are willing to concede.

So this morning, I opened her door and woke her up asking if she was going to be my best girl today. She hugged me and said, “Papa… yes!” and then went back under the covers to wait for Eli to come in and wake her up (it’s their thing, don’t ask). I asked her at breakfast if she was going to be better than she was last night at dinner and she looked at me with a questioning whatchootalkin’about Willis face. Apparently, last night was last night and she is ready to move on, and so am I. It’s hard to focus on the fun times with kids when stuff like this happens, but kids have incredibly short and forgiving memories.

Perhaps we should follow their lead.