You can’t tell by looking at him (because seriously just looking at him you want to grab this kid and hug him till he fights free) but:
Pancake is a screamer.
Always has been.
Whereas his brother just needs a quick hug, knows to ask for it, and then takes a deep breath and moves on …
Pancake just DOESN’T.
I’ve talked about it before. And for a little while, THIS worked to help with the screaming.
But now it doesn’t.
For one thing, now he’s smarter.
He will not go quietly, nor be brushed off.
I love that about him.
Now, when I tell him NO, he asks WHY?
Now, when he wants something I don’t have, or don’t want to give him, he says, LET ME SEE!
He says these things at top volume.
And for long, protracted periods.
Lots of tears and snot and ruined meals and mornings while he screams and cries and throws things and the rest of us try to hear ourselves think.
He’s a passionate kid.
With a great set of pipes and extraordinary willpower.
It can make the best of us nuts. And I am way way way NOT the best of us.
- I have experimented with extinction.
- I have experimented with attachment.
- I have followed basic Harvey Karp. Pancake has no interest in making a deal with me anymore. Deals are for suckers, apparently.
- I have tried and failed at time-outs. There is simply no sure way to keep this kid still short of shutting him in his room and that does nothing but freak him out worse.
- I’ve even tried spanking. (Cue story of my mother telling me she never spanked us and me and my sister bursting into great gales of laughter.)
But here’s the thing:
SPANKING DOESN’T WORK.
At least not the way I do it.
I have spanked all of my kids exactly once, and they’ve all found it hilarious.
All of them. Clearly I am not doing it “right.”
This is okay with me.
Better that than THIS. I mean for CHRIST’S SAKE (and I say that with great irony as they purport to be Good Christians) WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE? Someone ought to take a switch to THEM and lock THEM in a closet and hose THEM down in freezing weather. WHO DOES THAT TO CHILDREN? I MEAN, COME ON! AND IN THE NAME OF JESUS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
IMO they can go to hell.
Which leaves me with:
Two nights ago, about 60 minutes into one of Pancake’s tantrums, I finally lost my cool and screamed at Pancake so loudly to BE QUIET AND PUT ON YOUR PAJAMAS! that Diddy came running into his room to say this:
Mom, you have to be nicer to Pancake!
(Sometimes she’s an absolute ROCK STAR, don’t you think?)
I don’t know if this counts as nicer, but here’s what I said next (and to Diddy’s credit, I said it MUCH more politely):
Pancake, if you don’t stop screaming and kicking RIGHT NOW I am going to throw your Ducky in the trash and the garbage man is going to take him away.
Lemme give you a little insight into DUCKY:
Yep, that’s me, my four kids, my husband, and DUCKY in that caricature we sat still for on Father’s Day this year.
DUCKY is part of the family.
So the idea of DUCKY going away … welll …
I have never seen a kid shut-up so fast. His whole body stilled. He looked at me, and then he put on his pajamas and got into bed and didn’t make another sound.
Then he slept through the night.
For the first time over a month.
CLUTCHING THAT DUCKY.
I have now used that Ducky & the Garbage Man threat (which is the title of my next album of we’re really talking here) several other times, including such instances as yesterday’s morning whine-fest, last night’s dinner tantrum, and yesterday’s toothbrush fight when I took away the tube of toothpaste he was using to paint the walls of the bathroom.
No screaming. No hitting. No ignoring him or shutting him in his room.
Just threatening to take away the lovie that means most to him in the world.
I am conflicted about this.
- On the one hand, I am thrilled to have found a way to help my kid regulate his temper – I mean, it’s pretty amazing how quickly he can stop crying and screaming when he wants to, which gives me hope that self-regulation is something he is capable of (I mean, truly, I was getting a little concerned).
- On the other hand, I am a little worried that I am scaring him to PIECES to get him there. The look of shock on his little face the other night was … well, pretty damn deep.
But the quiet-ing response is Pavlovian to say the least.
I wonder how long it will last.