Monday, 4 April 2011

The Time For Time Outs Has Arrived

Time Out.

Surely one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. Dave Brubeck and Co. Take Five and all those other very hummable ditties.

Time Out has a new, less jaunty meaning for me these days. Apparently it’s not unknown for small children to misbehave. Wife-features and I are keen to keep our Toddler on the straight and narrow and the time for time outs has definitely arrived.

Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed is fast approaching her 2nd birthday and the ‘terrible twos’ are, we have discovered, a real thing. The other day she booted Wife-features in the face while resisting a nappy change.

We’ve had a few sleepless nights of late but the interruption to sleep is the least of our worries. If the only way to settle TWMBO is allowing her to sleep sandwiched between mum and dad inevitably we are given a 6am alarm call in the form of a jab in the eye sockets or the kind of kick in the kidneys a grumpy horse would be proud of.

But how to discipline a toddler without scarring them for life?

Most guide books suggest a ‘naughty step/spot’ but we’re struggling to think of one. Perhaps outside in the street leaving her at the mercy of passers by. Or there’s the tiny attic where we stash the Christmas decorations. A few minutes squashed in a cupboard with nothing but smiling Santas for company and I’d sharpen up my act.

So far we’ve been using her cot-bed. Sadly there are occasions when she realises her penitentiary has a bouncy mattress and before you know it she’s hopping and giggling. Actually, just seeing a parent look serious seems to be enough to shake her so a naughty spot might not be needed.

Recently on a visit to Castle Greyskull (Aberdeen) I was in a stationery shop (not a stationary shop - all shops are stationary except for ice cream vans and those mobile grocers that tour the islands) that was full to the brim with teeny tiny fripperies and colourful, sparkly books, pens and paper. I therefore had to sympathise with the wee guy about five years old being lambasted by his mum. Why do you keep touching things? Why can’t you stand still? Perfectly reasonable questions, I don’t think so.

It was as if she’d taken her dog to the butchers and ticked it off for straining its leash.

I felt bad thinking so judgementally but if I’ve learned anything in the past two years it’s that some situations become hideous with the addition of a wriggling child and it’s better to get the heck out of Dodge than battle on with your tether in tatters and the world scowling at you.

I lived for some years in Germany and over there there’s a cultural difference when it comes to correcting bad behaviour. I don’t think I ever saw a kid being told off, let alone receive a smack. It may have been different behind closed doors but in public even the raising of a voice to a youngster was enough to shock society.

Maybe they’re on to something. After all, their trains run on time and they don’t have street litter.

Anyway, keeping our Toddler in check is probably a bit futile. She’s already turning the tables. The other day she was persuaded to finish her tea with the promise of a chocolate spread sandwich for pudding. I asked if I could have a chocolate spread sandwich as I’d finished my tea. TWMBO looked shocked and said: “Choccit sammidge for me. Choccit sammidge not for daddy!”

That’s me told!

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