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Maybe I'll Send Him to Military School

First, he made sure I was watching. Then, while I fed Molly on the couch, Jack took his plate of little cheese sandwiches and dumped the whole thing over the side of his high chair. "JACK!" I said angrily, but he smiled sweetly and threw his sippy cup over the other side. What could I do? I was feeding the baby.

Later that afternoon, we were watering the flowers in the front yard. The baby needed to eat, so I said we needed to go inside. Could he go inside please? It's time to go inside. Let's go inside. WE ARE GOING INSIDE. I had to drag him into the house and up the stairs by his shirt sleeve. I couldn't pick him up because I had Molly in the carrier. What was I supposed to do? Leave him in the front yard while I ran inside to put Molly in the crib?

I don't know if he's reacting to the new baby or just being a sixteen-month-old. Maybe he's perpetually waking up on the wrong side of the crib? Whatever it is, Jack and I are engaged in a massive war of the wills lately and I'm pretty sure I'm losing. Today was Phillip's first day back at work and when he came home I was close to tears. When I worried about how to manage two kids, I'd been thinking about schedules and coordinating naps and doing the newborn thing all over again. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to control the older one on account of being busy with the little one.

But you know, I am bigger than he is. (And after this baby? I am a LOT bigger than he is.) I am in charge. I set the rules. I AM THE MOM.

So how do I get that through HIS brain?

I raise my voice, I take things away, I distract, I change the environment, I swat hands, I hold his arms down, and now I'm trying Time Out, recommended by every single one of my mom friends. I'm trying very hard to be consistent, especially when it comes to high chair crimes, which are the ones that drive me craziest. I have a designated corner in the house and I make him sit there, holding his shoulders so he can't squirm away, and count the seconds. If the whining is anything to go by I know he hates it, but I haven't done it long enough to know if Time Outs deter him in any way. I'm not expecting much, seeing as how all of my discipline efforts so far have been met with smirks and laughter.

Half the time, I think he is just being a kid. He wants his blanket, or he doesn't want his hair washed. He's annoyingly curious about the dishwasher and he doesn't want to take a nap. Fine! I can deal with that. But the times when he deliberately pushes my buttons and joyfully celebrates his success at doing so? Do you think Phillip would freak out much if he came home to find Jack running the roost and me holed up in the bedroom with a gossip magazine and a bottle of wine?

I felt so stupid when a friend watched me try to keep him away from a hot oven and marveled aloud at his disobedience. "I can't believe he laughs when you say no!" she exclaimed. But I'm doing my best here. I'm experimenting to see what works, while trying to be as consistent as possible. I keep hoping he's just reacting somehow to the new baby, but I'm guessing that's wishful thinking. SIGH.


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