Temper Tantrum Or Demonic Possession? You Decide…

Last weekend, Cassie threw one of her infamous melt-down screaming fits. For those of you who think my child is a darling angel who would never do such a thing, I present the evidence that says otherwise:

This particular screaming fit was started by the fact that I unfairly denied my child the chance to wash her own behind after telling her three times she needed to finish up in the tub or I was going to finish up for her. If you listen closely, you can hear her screaming, “I want MAMA! Don’t leave me ALONE!” Meaning, “I want the nice woman who bought me ice cream earlier in the day, why did that other mean old witch put me in my bedroom for a time out?”

Obviously, I was enjoying this too much. But it got even better when I finally let her out of her room and then once again told her no, she was not going to wash her own behind, I had already done it for her, and besides, the tub was now drained. This precipitated a second screaming melt-down, of which I only managed to record the tail end. Had I pulled out my recorder a little earlier, you would have heard her scream, “IT’S UNFAIR!! MOMMY MAKES ME UNHAPPY!!!” However, I did manage to get some closing comments ouf of Cassie that I will treasure forever:

Who Needs Family Portraits?

Who needs family portraits when you can take pictures like this:

Don’t you just love this face?

And how about this one?

Yeah, yeah, I know one of the pics is out of focus, but consider the subject. So forget those professional photographers, parents. Kids look best when they’re mess- er, natural.

Posted by Picasa

Looking For Replacement Family?

It’s so nice to see I’m not the only mom who has a “challenging child.”

East Coast F’Lakers: Seeking new family:#links

Cassie told me last week that I was ruinging her life. She said it with a smile, but I know after suffering through numerous time outs and other punishments for things like hitting, temper tantrums, refusing to brush her teeth, etc., she’s probably ready to go looking for a new mom. I have threatened to sell her, but I’m not sure how much I’d get for a perpetually pink prissy princess-obsessed preschooler.

Okay, try saying that last bit five times fast.

Disciplining My Four-Year-Old

We’ve been having some problems lately. Cassie is starting to test the limits of what is and is not acceptable behavior. And boy, do I mean test. We’ve had open defiance, full-blown melt-downs, hitting, whining, etc. I have been at a loss as to what’s been causing her bad behavior, and also at a loss as to how to handle it.

It used to be a simple matter of threatening to take away Cassie’s movie time or her treat to get her to straighten up. But for a while now, she hasn’t bothered to eat enough dinner to earn a treat, so that obviously doesn’t matter to her. And since she started taking karate, she doesn’t have enough time in the evenings to watch a movie, so yanking that is no threat either. I suggested to Michael that we refuse to take her to karate class, but he pointed out that it’s a physical activity (which she needs) and it’s purpose is to instill a sense of self-discipline in children, so he won’t agree to that tactic (and yes, we both have to agree to the punishments; otherwise we end up undermining each other while trying to discipline Cass).

But we’ve got to do something. Things have just gotten out of hand. Cassie ended up in time out three times last week, once for telling her teacher “No!” when she was asked to be quiet. And then this week she hit another child in the face with a toy when that child refused to share with her.

What to do, what to do? The thing that bothered me the most about all of this was that I was hearing about most of these incidents from Cassie herself, and not the teacher. I don’t always see the teacher when I come to pick Cassie up, so when Cassie tells me she ended up in time out that day, I’m forced to decipher her 4-year-old babble to figure out why. That really doesn’t help. The “No!” incident was apparently bad enough behavior that the teacher took time to tell me, and I made Cassie apologize on the spot for that. But then two days later, as we were leaving the school, Cassie told me she was back in time out again for refusing to wash her hands, at which point I got out of the car, hunted down her teacher and told the woman that I wanted to know every time Cassie misbehaved. Why this surprised the teacher is beyond me, but her response of, “Oh, so you’re one of those parents who cares!” did not leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Yes, I care. On Tuesday, when I found out about the hitting incident, I made the teacher write it up in a note. I get notes all the time about how Cassie needs to practice writing her X’s or her Q’s, or she needs to practice writing her name. But I’ve never gotten a note because she was in time out. “We don’t normally write notes for things like that,” the teacher explained.

Well you do now.

I took Cassie and her note to karate class that evening, and made her hand the note to Sensei. At over six feet tall, he is an imposing figure to small child. His voice is deep, and it sounds like thunder when he’s not happy. Cassie got only a fraction of its full force as he read the note, but I think that was enough. Then she had to come home and show the note to her father as well. She’s kept her nose pretty clean the rest of this week.

I could have just let Michael and I handle this, but obviously our disapproval doesn’t matter as much to Cass at this point as someone else’s, like say Sensei’s. So I’m thinking if enough adults show disapproval of what she does, that may work better than just yanking her movie and treat every night (although she now automatically losses those privileges as well if we get any more notes). We’ll see how it works.

Surviving the Mega-Super-Duper-Galactic-Colossal Princess Tantrum

We had a real special evening here on Monday. I was in the kitchen heating up dinner. Cassie had dragged her father and Sam upstairs. I called up to say dinner was ready and a moment later I heard all this screaming coming from Cassie’s bedroom. Michael came downstairs with Sam a few minutes after that and sat at the table.

Me: Where’s Cassie?

Michael: She’s having a ‘princess’ moment.

Me: Huh?

Sam: Oooooooooooo… phbtz!

Michael: She wanted to wear her ‘Belle’ costume. I said yes, but she should put it on over her clothes because I knew dinner was going to be ready soon. She got undressed anyway and put on the dress and then started pulling out all the accessories. I told her that we didn’t have time for that. She could have them after dinner. She started to fuss. I said that when you called for dinner, I was headed downstairs with Sam. Thirty seconds later, you said dinner was ready, and now Cassie is upstairs screaming because I didn’t put her jewelry on her.

Cassie (upstairs in her bedroom): Aaaaaaaaaagh! Aaaaagh! Daaaaaaaaddy! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaddy! Eeeeeeeaaaaaaauugh!

Me: Holy cow…

Sam: Ooooooooo! Ooooo! Ooooo… phbztt!

So Michael and I sat down to eat dinner. A few minutes later, Cassie came downstairs, carrying an armload of Disney Princess accessories – jewelry, tiara, scepter, shoes, etc.

Cassie: *Sniffle, sniffle* Mommy? Will you put my accessories on me?

Me: After dinner. Right now you need to sit down and eat.

Cassie: No!

Me: By the way, young lady. That dress is too loose on you and the neck hangs too low. You need to wear a shirt under it.

Cassie: No I don’t! Belle doesn’t wear a shirt under her dress!

Me: Belle isn’t my daughter, you are. Go put a shirt on and come eat.

Cassie: Noooooo! Nooooo! Nononononononononono!!

Sam: Oooooooo! Ooooooo! Ooo! Ooo! Phbttz! Blah!

Me: Either put a shirt on or I will take away the dress.

Cassie ran upstairs, still screaming. Michael, Sam and I continued with dinner to an accompaniment of screaming. After I had fed Sam and eaten my own dinner, I trudged upstairs. I found Cassie sitting in the middle of her room wearing a t-shirt. The dress was lying on the floor.

Me: Cassie, put the dress on and come eat.

Cassie: *Sniffle, sniffle* I w-w-w-want my ac-ac-ac-ac-cessories.

She got up and went over to her pink treasure chest to pull out yet another armful of princess junk. I shook my head.

Me: You may have the accessories AFTER dinner, young lady. Right now, you need to put on your dress and come downstairs to eat.


Me: No, and if you argue with me any more, I’m going to take away all your costumes for a week.


Cassie threw herself on the floor and had a category 5 tantrum. I walked over, picked up the Belle dress, and then gathered up all her other costumes. It took me a total of three trips to get all her princess stuff out of the room. I shoved it in my closet and shut the door. Cassie continued to scream and foam at the mouth while I headed back downstairs.

Michael: So, how did it go?

Me: Cassie has lost all her costumes and accessories for a week. Starting next Monday, she will be allowed to earn them back one at a time. When she stops screaming, she can come down and eat dinner.


Sam: Ooooooooooooo…

And that was the Mega-Super-Titanic-Intergalactic Princess Meltdown. Hope you enjoyed the story. I wish I could find my clothes underneath all that princess crap.

The Little Mermaid and The Not-So-Little Mermaid: A Cautionary Tale

A few folks have mentioned that I didn’t make many posts last week. Sorry. I spent most of my computer time searching for a new web hosting service. I finally found one I liked, and now I’m looking forward to a redesign of my computer graphics site. All this digital painting is really getting my creative juices going, and I’m eager to put together a new site with a new portfolio some time the beginning of next year. Meanwhile, I owe you folks for the missing posts from last week, so here’s an extra long one to keep you happy.

Boy, are things hoppin’ at our place! We got a package in the mail today. Seems that Michael pre-ordered the latest release of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” for Cassandra’s viewing entertainment. I’m thinking the only Disney Princesses we don’t have now are Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Don’t think we’ll be getting those any time soon, either, as they’re probably locked in the vault until the next time Disney decides to haul them out and stick it to all us parents of precocious preschool wanna-be-princess girls.

Getting Little Mermaid isn’t so bad though. This is one of the better Disney Princess movies in my opinion, if only for the Jamaican crab singing his heart out about how wonderful life is beneath the deep blue sea. Granted, Ariel is yet another one of those girls who has to have her prince and does all sorts of stupid stuff to get him. She gives up her voice, gives up her legs, and (in the original story) gives up her life for the man of her dreams. Heck, if I’d been the Little Mermaid, I wouldn’t have been giving up anything for a guy. I would have just pointed to that kickin’ little fish tail and said, “Come get some sushi, big boy!” and then we’d be having some fun. But that version of the movie would have been rated NC-17 and Disney never would have made it.

So I’m not the Little Mermaid. Instead, I have become the Not-So-Little Mermaid. What’s happened is my knees are getting worse instead of better, much to my dismay and my physical therapist’s. She’s ordered me to stop all the strengthening exercises until we can get a pair of customized braces. Meanwhile, the cracking and popping noises I keep hearing as I go up and down the steps are getting really bad. Even the neighbors are complaining about the noise now. It’s very loud and it creeps them out.

In addition to no strengthening exercises for my knees, I must also take it easy in karate class (like I was doing much of anything anyway with my broken toe). And since walking is getting to be a pain too, I’ve got to watch out for that as well. In fact, my physical therapist would even make me give up going up and down the steps at home if it weren’t for the fact that the fridge is downstairs and all the working toilets are upstairs (Michael is remodelling the downstairs bathroom – it will be finished some time before we die). Gotta eat, gotta pee, so I gotta take the steps. But while the amount of stair climbing I do during the day is enough to make my knees ache, it isn’t enough to keep me from going crazy from lack of physical activity. Thus I have decided to take up swimming.

I do not have a fish tail (so no sushi for you, big boy!). I have long red hair, but being four months post-partum, it’s a mess because all the hairs that grew like crazy while I was pregnant have now decided to fall out en mass (it’s so bad, I keep leaving a big scary hair monster in the drain whenever I shower, and I swear Sam is going to strangle herself on one of my loose hairs one day). Also, I do not have a nifty clam shell bra, but I’m not going to complain about that, since it doesn’t look like it would be very practical or comfortable for a nursing mom.

Nope, I got none of the things Ariel has. What I do have is access to a 50 yard lap pool courtesy of the YMCA and my physical therapist’s approval to go swimming as it is the exercise that will do the least amount of damage to my knees. Now I do know how to swim. When I was maybe six, my grandma’s next door neighbor, whom we called Aunt Terry, would let us come over to her house and swim whenever we were in town. I think she’s the one who taught me the side stroke and the breast stroke. I also recall taking a few Y swim classes when I was about ten, so I can tread water and float on my back and do stuff like that.

Then there’s my Army swim training. Do you know what the Army calls swim training? They call it drown-proofing. Want to know how it’s done? You show up at an Olympic style pool dressed in full field uniform, right down to your combat boots. The first thing you have to do is swim a complete lap in the pool with all your clothes on, and your boots as well. It’s very, very hard. But it’s actually quite easy compared to the next thing you have to do, which is to climb up to the high diving board with a fake M-16 rifle in your hands and let some jerk who outranks you put a blindfold on you when you reach the top (no, I am not making this up). Once the jerk is sure you can’t see, he proceeds to guide you down to the end of the diving board (still not making this up). As you’re inching your way along, the jerk says all sorts of helpful stuff like, “Take another step forward… and another… and another… Whoops!” At which point you start screaming because you just walked off the end of the high dive while blindfolded and dressed in full field gear and combat boots, all the while carrying a fake M-16 (again, I am really, truly not making this up). You are supposed to hit the water feet first with the dummy rifle held high above your head so it doesn’t get wet. This is impossible of course, because if you step off the high diving board fully dressed and carrying a big-ass fake rifle, you are more than heavy enough to hit the bottom of the pool which is twenty feet deep, and then bounce back out and land right back on the high dive where the jerk is just waiting to push you off again (okay, I made some of that last bit up, but it’s mostly true). If you manage to get out of the pool with your rifle and all your gear and your boots still on, and don’t swallow half the pool water while doing it, you are considered drown-proofed.

I completed my drown-proofing in the spring of 1990, just in time to attend Camp All American at Fort Brag, NC. Now let’s get one thing straight. I sucked at ROTC. Really. I was one of the worst cadets ever to wear the yellow and black patch of that proud bastion of military academics. The only reason I even made it to commissioning day was my good grades. I was a lousy cadet, couldn’t tell my ass from a hole in the ground when it came to the military, but I had a 3.4 average and I graduated with honors so they figured I’d survive being an officer somehow. Good grades were no help though when it came to Camp All American. I barely made it through by the skin of my teeth. My failures that summer were so numerous even I can’t remember them all. But I do remember my crowning moment of ignominy, one that probably anyone who was there to witness it also still remembers to this day. It was the “Forty-Foot Rope Drop.”

The forty-foot rope drop was the last event in an obstacle course that was specifically designed to kill, er, I mean weed out, weaklings, wimps, and misfits like yours truly. There was the ankle-breaking tire jump course, the virtually impossible vertical wall climb, the rope swing across the mud pits of despair, and the low crawl through a cess pool that to this day still makes me puke when I think about it. At the end of it all was the rope drop – a single strand of rope suspended by two telephone poles forty feet over a swift running stream. In the center of the rope hung a plaque bearing the Army Ranger tab. The goal was to climb up one of the poles, shimmy hand over hand along the rope to the plaque, touch the plaque, and then hang from the rope by your hands. Once in that position, cadets were supposed to let go of the rope, cross their arms over their chests, and drop cleanly into the stream rushing by below. Whatever happened, we were all told to make sure we were looking up when we hit the water, because otherwise, we ran the risk of getting a bloody nose or lip if we hit with our faces pointing down.

I was very tired when I got to the Forty-Foot Rope Drop. I almost didn’t make it up the pole, even with the help of all the hand and foot holds. Getting onto the rope was a feat that almost got me killed, and shimmying out to the plaque was an act of physical comedy that not even Charlie Chaplin could match. What really made the Forty-Foot Rope Drop special, though, was that I had to get permission to do each step from the colonel who oversaw the event. It went something like this.

Colonel: Well, cadet, you look like you’ve had an invigorating day, courtesy of the U. S. Army! Are you ready to tackle my rope drop event?

Me (gasping for breath so badly that I sound like I’m having an asthma attack): Huhn… huhn… huhn…

Colonel: I can’t hear you, cadet!


Colonel: Okay, so…?


Colonel: Go get her, cadet! Move, move!

An hour passes.

Colonel: Gol’ dang it, cadet, have you reached the top of that pole yet?

Me (from very, very high up): YES SIR!

Colonel: Well?


Colonel: Go for it, cadet! Move! Move!

Another hour passes.

Me: SIR?

Colonel: Zzzzzzzz… huh?! What? Where? Oh, it’s you, cadet. Are you there yet? Did you touch my Ranger tab?


Colonel: All right, now we’re getting’ somewhere. So what’s next, cadet?


Colonel: Hang, cadet! Hang!

(Let us pause for a brief explanation on the term “hanging.” At this point, I was supposed to slide off the rope so that one leg was dangling free. I was then supposed to execute a pull-up while carefully slipping the other leg off the rope, and end up hanging by my hands from the rope, ready to drop into the stream below. The pull-up was supposed to prevent me from swinging so hard that I got yanked off the rope by my own body weight. Keep in mind that I sucked at physical fitness in those days, and have never, ever in my life managed to do a pull-up).

Twenty minutes later…

Me: Um, sir? Request permission to drop?

Colonel: Now cadet, you still got one foot hanging on that rope. You need to do a full pull-up while slipping that foot off the rope, okay? Then you can ask permission to drop.

Me (struggling to keep hold of the rope): Um, sir? I really think you need to let me drop.

Colonel: No cadet. That would be cheating. You got to hang first. Hang! Got it?

Me (desperately trying to do a pull up with arms made out of limp spaghetti): I really, really think we should just skip the hanging part, sir. Please?

Colonel (throwing his hat on the ground in frustration): Gol’ dang it, cadet! I told you to hang!

Me (as my foot suddenly slips off the rope while I am NOT doing a pull up): AAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE- WHAM!

When I finally came up for air, another cadet told me what happened. My foot slipped off the rope, causing my entire body to swing so wildly that I did a complete 360 in mid-air, followed by a half twist that put my body in horizontal position, parallel to stream below. I plummeted like a rock, arms and legs spread eagle. Now this all happened very fast, but I do remember thinking as I fell, “Make sure you look up… Make sure you look up!” Well, I was looking up all right. I hit the water flat on my back, making a splash big enough to soak the colonel who was standing on the far bank.

The colonel was still wringing out his hat when I crawled out of the stream. “Cadet,” he said. “That was pitiful. Do you see that sergeant major over there?” I did. It was the sergeant major from my school, as it turned out. “He’s the one what put together this rope drop,” the colonel went on. “That means this is his rope drop, and his stream that you hit so hard. I want you to go over to that sergeant major and apologize for bruising his water.”

So I straggled over to my sergeant major and said in a really squeaking voice, “I’m sorry I bruised your water, Sergeant Major Jeeter!” And Sergeant Major Jeeter just sort of rolled his eyes and shook his head, and maybe he prayed a bit too, but I was still kind of dazed from hitting the water so hard, so I’m not sure. He might have been cussing me out for all I know.

But that’s Army swim training for you. The good news is, it didn’t kill me, so I guess it just made me stronger. The even better news is that sixteen years later there is no Forty-Foot Rope Drop at the YMCA where I go swimming now. There’s just a bunch of seniors doing water aerobics as I doggy paddle back and forth in the pool, and none of them seem to mind if I bruise the water when I jump in.


Here’s the artwork for today. I’ve been working on this sketch on and off over the past week. Drawing the initial figure happened in one session, but now I’m stuck doing research for the details – the costume, the jaguar, the background (which you don’t see yet because it hasn’t been drawn). This one’s going to take a little while, but I don’t mind. I’m almost past the drawing stage with it and I plan to do it up as another digital painting. One of the two books I picked up on Friday was about digital manga, and I’m looking forward to using this sketch as an experiment for all the new techniques I’m reading about.

Pencil sketch, Temple Of The Jaguar (WIP) – 4 October 2006

Cry Me A River – A Three-Year Old’s Never Ending Stream Of Tantrums

Sam seems to be recovering from her stomach virus. She’s still congested, which means I spend a lot of time standing in a hot shower with her in my arms until she can breathe normally. I wouldn’t mind so much, but I can’t actually wash while I’m holding her, so I end up taking a separate shower just to clean up. I’m starting to get a bit waterlogged.

Speaking of waterlogged, Cassie’s really been turning on the tears lately. I never knew a child could throw so many tantrums. Some are fairly minor, just a little crying and pouting when I ask her to do something. Others have been complete meltdowns, like the one in the playground parking lot on Friday, resulting in some disciplinary action (i.e. a spanking) that led to even more screaming. Ugh.

I am so tired of dealing with temper tantrums. I know what sets them off, I can predict when they’ll happen, but there’s not a damn thing I can do to prevent them it seems. Basically, Cassie will be doing something she enjoys and for some reason or another, I’ll have to ask her to stop and do something else. In fact, we’re starting to develop a routine of tantrums, based on our daily schedule. It goes something like this:

0630 – Cassie wakes up, usually in a bad mood, and wants a sippy cup of milk and an episode of Sesame Street. I’ll give her both, but we only allow half an hour of TV in the mornings, so…

7:00 AM – I turn off Sesame Street to have breakfast and Cassie throws a fit.

7:30 AM – After breakfast, I spend some time finishing up the morning chores. Cassie likes to sit and play with her Little People or her Barbies. That’s fine, but at some point she needs to get dressed and make her bed, so…

8:30 AM – Once the morning chores are done, I pick up Sam to upstairs and nurse and tell Cassie she needs to get dressed and make her bed. She immediately proceeds to throw tantrum number two.

9:30 AM – Cassie, Sam and I are dressed and ready to head out the door. If it weren’t for the temper tantrums, I might have a shot at getting to the Y on time to take yoga class. I haven’t been to a class since the week Sam was born. This doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. I do still manage to get to the Y though, where I can leave the kids at the nursery for an hour or so while I get in some much needed exercise. Sam usually dozes in the arms of one of the attendants or sleeps in a bouncy chair. Cassie gets to play with other kids her age for an hour or so. I get to blow off some stress and rebuild my post partum body. At the end of that hour though, we have to leave, and that means…

11:00 AM – Cassie throws tantrum number three because she doesn’t want to quit playing. I sigh and do my best to make a graceful exit from the Y with my screaming child. I’m sure we’re very entertaining to watch.

11:30 AM thru lunch – Depending on her mood and my level of exhaustion, we may or may not experience various mini-tantrums. Subjects such as the lunchtime menu, getting to the potty in time to avoid an accident, washing hands before the meal, using utensils to eat, chewing with our mouths closed, etc., are all opportunities for outbursts of screaming and defiance. If I’m really lucky, Michael is home for lunch and we alternate tantrum management sessions between us until he has to go back to work. If I’m not lucky, I’m on my own with the little demon spawn.

1:00 PM – Clean up time after lunch. Cassie’s been pretty good about letting me have 15 minutes or so to clear the table and put things away, but as soon as I’m done, she jumps on me to play with her. I do my best to accommodate, but if Sam needs a diaper change or she has to be fed… well, let’s just say things can get ugly.

1:30 PM – I try to get us out of the house in the afternoons, either to run errands or take Cassie to the playground. This is the tricky part of the day, especially if we go to the playground. I can’t chase Cassie around the jungle gym like I used to – it’s just impossible with Sam in my arms – so she has to make do on her own. If there are other kids around, it’s usually not too much of a problem, but some days the playground is pretty empty (other moms aren’t crazy enough to deal with the heat, I suppose). Additionally, Cassie still hasn’t figured out how to pump her legs so she can swing on her own. Again, I can’t hold Sam and push Cassie, and since most playgrounds in this area are covered with mulch, they’re not exactly stroller friendly. Still, Cassie copes with these limitations. But as naptime approaches, I must start the countdown to let her know we’ll be leaving soon. Fifteen minutes… ten minutes… five… four… three… two… one… and we have meltdown. The screaming, sobbing, howling and kicking are unbelievable. I seriously believe my daughter is possessed at times like this and wonder where I could find a Catholic priest who would be willing to perform an exorcism on the daughter of a casual Buddhist like myself. I mean really, Cassie does all but spin her head 360 degrees and puke green pea soup all over the place as I try to get her in the car. Last Friday it was so bad I had to resort to grabbing her by the ear because it was the only part of her I could reach without dropping Sam. I had to haul that kid to the car and lift her up inside of it (by the ear, no less!), then shut and lock the door behind her to prevent her from running amok in the parking lot. She shrieked all the way home, into the house and up the stairs to her room. Then she screamed even louder when I put her to bed without any stories. As the tantrum continued, I went downstairs and collapsed on the couch until Cassie finally passed out from screaming so much.

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM – If I’ve done my job right that day, Cassie will be worn out enough to sleep for a good three hours. That gives me time to focus on Sam for a bit and do some work. If I didn’t wear her out though, Cassie will wake early and fuss and whine until I give up on any hope of getting any more work done and agree to go downstairs and play with her. We may or may not have a tantrum, depending on how determined I am to work and how determined she is to get me to play. If she sleeps for three hours though, we can skip all that and head straight to…

6:00 PM – The witching hour. Cassie wakes up and wants her movie. I must remind her she doesn’t get a movie until after dinner. She insists that she’s already had dinner. I explain she had lunch, not dinner. This little argument goes on until Michael has the meal on the table. Then we have a repeat of lunchtime’s fits and fusses, accompanied by the required time outs. This lasts up until…

7:00 PM – Movie and treat time. If Cassie hasn’t managed to lose her evening privileges by this time, she gets half an hour of movie and a small treat (usually a piece of chocolate, a bit of dessert, something like that). Or else she gets time to play with Michael or me for a bit before going up for her bath. And that’s where the trouble lies, because like all good things, this too must end, and it ends in…

8:00 PM – The end of the day meltdown. This one is a doozy. It starts with Michael or I telling Cass that it’s time to turn off the movie, quit playing, put her toys away and go upstairs for her bath. This particular tantrum lasts off and on through out her bedtime routine, with pitched battles of defiance over getting undressed, getting into the tub, getting out of the tub, brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, going potty one last time, and turning off the lights and setting down for the night. On a good night, Michael is home and he gets to deal with it while I nurse Sam and put her down for the night (a monumental task in its own right). On a bad night, Michael is either working late or at karate class and yours truly is just plain screwed.

You know, looking at all this reminds me of when Cassie was an infant and she screamed all the time because she had colic. Back then, we called her “Angry Baby.” I had hoped she would outgrow it. Now I know better.

The Devil Wears Pink – An Analysis Of Little Girl’s Fashions

We got a package in the mail from my mom on Saturday. It was addressed to Cassie and Sam. Inside were a few small toys and a pink dress for each girl.

Why am I not surprised?

Cass is running around with her pink dress, telling me “It’s beautiful!” She can’t wait to wear it. At only six weeks of age, Sam doesn’t have any opinions yet on her wardrobe, but I can foresee the day when she prances about with her clothing, telling me how much she adores her new pink outfit from Grandmama.

If you look in either child’s closet, you will see an endless, monochromatic row of little pink dresses. They come in all shades of pink, from delicate pastel to magenta, but they are all pink. I think Cassie used to have a few dresses that are some other color, like blue or white or purple, but I could never get her to wear those. She’s always got to wear the pink ones. In fact, she wears pink dresses so much I had to institute a rule – no dresses, pink or otherwise, on play dates. It’s just one of those things. I think playing, especially the rough and tumble preschooler kind, is best done in pants and a t-shirt. And besides, I need a break from pink every now and then, otherwise I’ll go blind.

My own wardrobe includes only one pink shirt. That’s it. Everything else is brown, blue, black or red. I have an impressive collection of baggy black t-shirts and a few prized cherry red microfit tops. As for dresses, I think I have two left in the closet somewhere. Haven’t worn either one in ages though.

Cassie is in her room right now, picking out clothing. If I ask her which outfit she intends to wear, I’m pretty sure of the answer I’ll get.

It’ll be the pink one.

Time Warp – A Preschooler’s Understanding Of The Hours Of The Day

We just got back from my six-week post-partum check up. Everything looks good, so I can now go back to my regular routine of exercise and activities. Most importantly, I can finally take a bath instead of a stupid shower.

We’ve got a play date scheduled for today. It’s our regular Wednesday play date, including story time at the local library and then lunch at Chic-Fil-A. Cassie is eager to go, and has only asked me a dozen times this morning if we can leave already.

Days like today have taught me that 3-year-olds have a rather distorted sense of time. In fact, I don’t think they’re even in the same universe as the rest of us, temporally speaking. For example, on Monday I had promised Cassie that we’d set up her little wading pool in the backyard after lunch. I made that promise when she got up at 6 AM. Lunch is at noon and usually ends around 1PM. So Cassie spent seven hours asking me when I would set up the pool. It went something like this:

Cassie: “Mommy, is my pool ready yet.”

Me (as I sit down to eat breakfast): “Not yet, dear. We’ll set it up after lunch.”

Cassie: I already had lunch. Daddy gave it to me.

Me: No sweetheart. Daddy gave you breakfast. Lunch won’t be until noon.

Cassie: Mommy, may I have Cheetos?

Me: No, sweetie. Cheetos are for lunch.

Cassie: But it is lunch time.

Me: No, it’s breakfast time right now.

Cassie: But I already had breakfast.

Me (getting slightly irritated): YOU had breakfast, but Mommy did not. She’s eating breakfast now.

Cassie: I’m hungry. May I have some Cheetos?

Me: No, Cheetos are a lunch food. It’s breakfast time right now. You may have some cereal or a piece of fruit if you’re hungry.

Cassie: I want cereal.

(I get up and poor her a bowl of Cheerios. She sits at the table and inhales it.)

Cassie: Now will you set up my pool?

Me (still trying to finish my breakfast): No, young lady. I already told you, we’re not setting up the pool until after lunch.

Cassie: But I just had lunch.

Me: No, you just had breakfast. I gave you cereal, remember?

Cassie: DADDY gave me breakfast. You gave me lunch.

Me (trying hard not to lose my temper): No sweetie, you had two breakfasts. Daddy gave you one breakfast, which you didn’t bother to eat, and then Mommy fed you again because you said you were hungry.

Cassie: I’m still hungry. May I have Cheetos now?

Me (starting to pull out my hair): No. Cheetos are for lunch.

Cassie: But I just HAD lunch.


(Cassie sits very quietly and pouts for a few minutes. Then she perks up.)

Cassie: Mommy, if you eat Cheetos, then it will be lunchtime.


My advice, don’t ever get into these discussions with kids unless you are prepared for some serious mind bending arguments. Otherwise, you’ll go crazy.

My Amazing Three-Year-Old – The Secret To Surviving Life With Child Number Two

I decided to forgo yesterday’s blog entry in order to finish off a short story for ERWA’s Blasphemy theme week. The writers’ group dedicates the first week of each month to a particular theme and I decided to see if I could actually start and complete a story in the five weeks between Sam’s birth and the upcoming theme deadline. The astonishing thing is that I did manage to complete the story and get it posted to the group. I don’t think it’s my best work, but it got done, which is all the proof that I need to know I’m back in the saddle again.

Yes, I think I’m back to a normal life, or as close as I’ll ever get, five weeks after Sam was born. It took a lot of work and a lot of help, but hey, it’s currently 9 AM and I’m dressed, Cassie’s dressed, everybody’s had breakfast, the laundry is folded and all my morning chores are done. Just as soon as Sam finishes nursing, I’m headed out the door for a 30 minute appointment with the jog stroller and my neighborhood walking path. Life does not get any better than this, boys and girls.

So how did this happen? Well, I owe a lot of this success to my oldest daughter Cassie, who’s only 3 ½ years old. Cassie has not only made life easy for me the past five weeks, she’s actually gone out of her way to help me. Now I’m not saying we haven’t had some temper tantrums and whining and all out fits, but for a three-year-old, Cass has been pretty amazing. For starters, she knows how to entertain herself. This is a huge help when I’ve got my hands full with a hungry baby. Right now, as I nurse Sam and type out this entry, Cassie is sitting on my bed reading some of her books. She makes the occasional comment to me, and sometimes asks for things I can’t possibly do at the moment (like run downstairs and get her milk, tie her shoes, etc.), but for the most part she’s keeping herself busy and content.

Cass has also been pretty good about helping out. If I’m stuck in the glider or on the couch, I can ask Cassie to get me something and she’ll usually find it with no problems. Sometimes she’ll give me that vacant stare and shoulder shrug that says, “Cassie’s not in right now, but if you’ll leave a message…” but for the most part, I can ask for something and usually get it.

What other amazing things does my big girl do? She dresses herself most mornings, or cons her daddy into doing it for her. I will admit, she does make some unusual outfit choices. Personally, I wouldn’t wear a Disney Snow White costume with purple sneakers, orange socks and hot pink swimming goggles, but if Cass thinks she can pull it off, who am I to stifle her sense of style?

Cassie also makes her own bed. Sometimes she’ll pick up her toys. She can shoo the cats out of the room if they’re being pests and she’s gotten very good at telling me when it’s time to breastfeed Sam or change her diaper. She also likes to announce when Sam farts, but I’m not really sure that qualifies as helping.

Perhaps the most astounding thing about Cassie is her ability to go potty all by herself. That makes all the difference in the world, let me tell you. I only have to worry about changing diapers on one child, and I don’t have to constantly prod Cassie to use the toilet. She knows when she has to go and will do it by herself. When we’re out, she’ll even ask to be taken to the potty if she needs. We have had a few accidents, but not enough to be a problem.

My girl is so smart! So well behaved! So astonishing to me! It’s hard to believe that she was once a chunky little baby like her sister, who spent most of the day lying across my lap as she sucked the life out of me through my nipples. How did this happen? When did this kid get so big and so capable?

I don’t know, but my advice to any mom thinking about having child number two is to make sure child number one can stand on her own two feet first. You’ll be ever so grateful when you’ve got a little helper ready to lend you a hand with your new screaming bundle of joy.