I wish I had had my phone in my pocket the other day when I put my son in a time out. The kids were fighting again. They get along pretty well most of the time, but sometimes one kid will place a Littlest Pet Shop pet in the wrong room in the Pet Shop house and all hell breaks loose. Or one will say the word “lettuce” three times in a row for no reason and the other one will have a meltdown over it, which of course prompts the first one to say “lettuce” even more and louder. Whatever. They play sweetly most of the time until they don’t. And when it gets too ugly, they have to go in their room to cool off.
What’s interesting is that sending them to their (still shared because I am the slowest decorator ever) room effectively ends the fight, because now they have a common enemy: Mean Mommy who put them in there. So on this particular day, my daughter completed her time out quickly and easily and was allowed to come out and go back to playing. My son, on the other hand, clearly felt that he was the wronged party, and that the time out was unjust. No one can be more indignant than my son when he feels that he has been wronged. Why, oh why, was my phone with its video recording capabilities sitting on my desk instead of in my pocket where I could have recorded his hilariously indignant tantrum for your listening enjoyment? It went something like this:
Mommy, you are the rudest mommy ever. We never EVER give time outs, so I am going to put you in a time out and never, ever let you out. I am so angry at you, Mommy. You did the wrong thing. Let me out of here right now! Aaaaaggggghhhhh! (At this point, he is kicking the door as hard as he can over and over). I am so angry and frustrated right now! You are naughty, Mommy. You are going to get a long, long time out, because when I say “let me out,” you have to do it right away, you understand me? UNDERSTAND ME, MOMMY? No time outs, EVER AGAIN! You are so rude, Mommy. Are you kidding me? Mommy, are you KIDDING me?
It went on for several minutes. And it just kept getting funnier. I love that the worst things he can think to say to me are that I am rude and naughty. His tantrums won’t be as funny if he learns to cut deeper, with words like hate. He won’t learn that from me, but eventually he will probably learn it “on the streets.” I appreciate the innocence of this tantrum, the pure expression of emotion without trying to hurt. I love his logic that it is naughty to give time outs, therefore he will give me a time out for breaking that rule. I love that he is using his words to tell me he is angry and frustrated, as if the feet pounding on the door didn’t clue me in.
He eventually calmed down. Maybe he was just taking a breath, but as soon as I heard a few moments of silence, I opened the door. I asked if he was ready to come out, and he said he was. He informed me in a calm voice that I was rude for giving him a time out. I answered back calmly that no, I wasn’t rude. I was the mommy and it was my job to help him not to fight with his sister. We kind of agreed to disagree, and he went back to the play room.
Not two minutes later, he called me in. “Mommy, I have to tell you something.”
I braced myself for an explanation of the new proposed house rules, rules in which time outs are rude, and kids are in charge of mommies, and dinner is always eaten on the floor while playing.
But here’s what he called me in to say: “Mommy, I love you so much.”