Sunday, January 31, 2010


Our friends just posted a video on Facebook of their one-year old son opening their pantry and pulling out a box of Ritz crackers. They think it's cute and yet more evidence of their son's genius. I know this because I thought the same thing when Samantha learned such miraculous feats. When they watch the video they see a child prodigy sure to cure cancer by the age of twelve. When I watch the video, I see trouble.

When Samantha became mobile we diligently child-proofed our house. Child proof locks were placed where there were chemicals or sharp things, plastic caps were placed over outlets, and locks were placed on the toilet. However, we kept most of our house accessible for her exploration. Things I didn't want destroyed were placed up high, otherwise she had free reign to take out whatever she wanted. Pots and pans, brushes and combs, were strewn about the house and I knew (because I read it in a parenting magazine)she was learning about her world and developing motor skills.

Even before Samantha came along, I knew I didn't want to have one of those houses you have to climb over an obstacle course of baby gates, or have an engineering degree to get a spoon. After all, this was their home too, and I wanted them to feel comfortable in it, to be able to really live in the house.

Things were going just fine. We marveled when she learned to open certain cupboards and difficult drawers. We were duly impressed when she figured out how to push the chairs around the kitchen to reach the counters. Then along came Ella. Two children changed the dynamics in the house.

At first it was another cute development to see Ella learning from her sister to do things at a much younger age (we had another prodigy on our hands, what were the odds?). Ella was opening cupboards and pulling out pots and bowls before she could stand on her own. She learned to walk at ten months. Before she turned one she had learned to push the chairs around the kitchen to reach things on the counter.

This is when the real problems began. She could physically do things, but wasn't able to understand she shouldn't do them. She was too young to follow directions well. She didn't understand a knife was not safe to play with, while a spoon was just fine. She didn't understand not to pull her chair up to the stove, but other parts of the kitchen were not off limits. She didn't understand not to push buttons on the microwave. Samantha never did those dangerous things because she couldn't do them before she had learned the house rules. It was still manageable, however. No need for additional child-proofing. Samantha was fairly well-behaved and I could follow Ella around easily enough to make sure she wasn't in too much trouble.

Then along came Penelope. I now was occupied changing diapers or feeding the baby and Ella would wander out of my line of sight. I would find her on a chair in the kitchen trying to figure out how to turn on the burners on the stove, or reaching for my good knives (you know, the really sharp ones in the block). She learned to take the plastic covers off the outlets, and I would find her pulling them out and pushing them back in. She learned one of the toilet locks was broken and I would find her throwing things down the toilet (she still can't flush,luckily). She learned to open the refrigerator and I would find five yogurt tubes squished all over the kitchen. (She can't open the tubes yet, but has learned if you squeeze hard enough, they pop, leaving at least a little in the tube to eat.)

We started to gradually improve our child-proofing. First, we replaced the outlet covers with the kind that automatically slide locked when not in use. We brought out the baby gate to put up in the doorway of our room to keep the older two out when the baby was sleeping. The refrigerator now has a lock on it. The chairs in the kitchen are stacked after every meal to keep the kids off the counters. Now, the baby gate is moved at nap and bedtime to keep them in their room. Today, I listened to Ella scream for me for fifteen minutes from behind the gate.

My house is no longer an inviting place for them to learn and explore. They kept testing the limits and finally went too far. We are in full lock down. Yogurts everywhere can sleep easier tonight.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Protecting Penny

When I can't sleep in the middle of the night and am in that half-awake, half-asleep state, my imagination starts to run wild and I think of all the things that could happen to my kids and how I can prevent it or rescue them.

Fire in the house is always a big one for me. As my mom will tell you, ever since the firemen visited our grade school, I've been scared of not being able to escape from a house fire. Now I worry I will escape but won't be able to get the girls out. In my mind, the fire is always in the hallway between our rooms, preventing me from running in there and dropping them safely out the window. The windows in their room are too high to reach from the ground without a ladder, so I'll have to waste precious time getting the ladder once I get out our bedroom window. And, with both cars in the garage, I will not be easily able to get the ladder that we store on the side of the SUV. Once I'm able to get the ladder from the garage to the front of the house into the bushes below their room, I imagine I'm unable to break the window, so I'll have to remember to grab a hammer or something to break it with. I always imagine their panicked little eyes, tears streaming down their faces, screaming for me as they pound on the windows, unable to open them.

Clearly, I have an over-active imagination. But as a parent, as soon as you leave the hospital you start to worry about how to protect your child from the all the bad things in the world: car accidents, abductions, getting burned by the stove, falling against the table and splitting their head open, the list is endless.

The one thing I didn't think of was how to protect Penelope from her big sisters. They love her (well, Ella mostly loves her, unless she's jealous), but they're so small they don't quite understand how to be gentle.

Samantha is generally okay. The biggest problem with her is when she wants to hold the baby. She imagines the baby is uncomfortable and wants to move her around. She is physically strong enough to lift Penelope, but she is too small to support her head, so as Samantha shifts her, Penny's head lolls about while I try to support it and remind Sam not to try to move the baby. "But Mom, she didn't like it like that".

Ella presents more of a problem. She's a more physical child to begin with, so a kiss may end with a head butt. She also is jealous at times and will pinch, scratch, and hit Penny given the opportunity. Today I was cleaning Moon Sand off the table outside and had set Penny, sleeping in her carseat, behind me. I heard Ella say "Rocka, rocka, rocka" and turned to see her sitting in the carseat, on top of Penny, rocking back and forth. Penny slept through the whole thing without making a sound (and without injury).

On top of trying to manage three small children and meet their constant needs, I have to remember to protect Penny from her sisters. When she's awake, I carry her in the Bjorn. Setting her down results in injury. When she sleeps, be it in her bassinet, carseat, or bouncy chair, she is in our room, safely behind a baby gate. If I do need to set her down when she's awake, for example, to change Ella's diaper, it has to be in her crib. I'm doing an okay job so far, no hospital trips, yet. But, Penny does have a few scratches and red marks on her face from when I thought I could get dinner ready with the two older girls in front of the television and Penny in the kitchen in the bouncy seat. (Ella really moves fast for a relatively novice walker.)

I'm waiting to see how it goes as Penny becomes more awake and wants to not be restrained all the time. My guess is she's going to become one tough little kid.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


A new baby brings with it a large number of firsts in a very short time: first cry, first time Mommy and Daddy hold baby, first day, first night, first poop, first bath, first car ride, first day home, first time your sister hits you (followed closely by the second time your sister hits you).

Many of these are great photo opportunities. I have each of them documented seventeen times for Samantha, as her baby album can attest. (Here's Samantha. Here's Samantha two seconds later. Oh, look! Here's Samantha two seconds after that.) With Ella, I caught all of them, but maybe not quite as many pictures of the same thing. I realized, cute as they are, it really isn't necessary to document every second of their lives. With Penelope, I'm having a hard time catching some of the firsts. She does something and I don't have the camera handy, or I'm too busy chasing the other two around the house to take the time to get the camera.

One of my favorite firsts is the first smile. For me, it's one indication that a little person exists and is starting to interact with things around. There's not a lot better in the world than having a baby smile at you.

Penelope started smiling two weeks ago, but I am having a hard time catching it on film.Penelope is not fast and loose with her smiles like her sisters were. She is more reserved, smiling only when she really means it, not just because you smiled at her first. She usually smiles only one or two times a day, and only one or two smiles at a time. She doesn't smile for five to ten minutes at a time. For that reason, I am just never prepared for the smiling with my camera and by the time I get to the camera, she's done. Opportunity lost. What am I going to put in her baby book where it says "Picture of my First Smile"?

Today, I finally caught the elusive smile. It does exist. So now I have exactly one picture of her smiling. Good enough for the baby book, but I can tell Penelope's first photos are not exactly going to be the actual first time she does somethimg. I guess that's the fate of third children. I guess it will give her a reason to tell her therapist how her mother ruined her life.

Wardrobe Malfunction

Sometimes I wonder why I bother getting the girls dressed in the morning. One of the most challenging parts of the day is getting them ready for the day after breakfast. We get dressed, brush teeth, and brush our hair. There is always some kind of resistance. They minimally run away for a little while, and frequently, at least one of them is screaming or crying about something. It generally takes about a half hour to get everything accomplished in order to be semi-presentable, and it takes about a half hour to undo all that work.

Ella and Penelope have legitimate clothing issues because of their ages. This morning, for example, Penelope had a diaper blow-out requiring a new outfit. Ella decided to go for a swim in the dog bowl. She also frequently has leaky diapers.

Samantha is a different problem. She is fast becoming a fashionista, and has very particular ideas about what she should wear on any given day (usually a dress of some kind), spending quite a while pulling things out of her closet and dresser to create her ensemble (leaving the unwanted strewn about her room for me to pick up later). Lately, we have been having the same argument every morning. She wants to wear a dress and I insist she wears pants under it as it is cold and rainy right now. She does not like to ruin her look with a pair of pants that don't match as far as she's concerned. (She can wear bright horizontal striped pants with a polka dot shirt, however.) After all that hassle in the morning, within an hour, she has changed into her Ariel pajamas with her tiara and dress-up high heeled princess shoes.

I'll keep trying to get her into real clothes every morning. Maybe one day she'll keep them on for even half a day.

*photo of Samantha's favorite outfit.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just Ella

My middle child, Ella, is fast approaching two years old and is trying to grow up quickly. Since the new addition, she has decided to act like a big girl instead of regressing. She has gone into a big girl bed, started fighting at bedtimes, cut her 2 year molars, and started using two and three-word sentences. When her big sister, Samantha, does something or gets something, Ella is right there with a "Me too, Mommy". She doesn't want my help putting on her pants or her shoes anymore ("Me do, Mommy").

This weekend I came to the realization she is also losing her baby moniker, Ella Bean, and becoming just Ella. When she was born, I nicknamed her Ella Bean in the hospital. I called Samantha Peanut, so Bean kind of fit (Penelope is Pea). Also, Ella Bean sounds like L.L. Bean (so clever, I know). It caught on and Ella became Ella Bean to everyone. Sean and I, Samantha, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, even our friends called her Ella Bean. My mother-in-law particularly seemed fond of it, and I rarely heard her use just Ella. It was cute. I commented to my sister-in-law a couple months ago that I hoped she liked it, because it looked like she would be Ella Bean when she was thirty.

Well, this Sunday, my mother-in-law came over on Sunday, as she usually does, and addressed her as just Ella, not Ella Bean. At that moment, I realized I rarely used Ella Bean myself anymore and, in fact, no one did. Sean calls her just Ella, Samantha says, "Ella pinched me!". Even my mother-in-law has stopped using Ella Bean routinely.

I think it has to do with her fast approaching terrible two's. She can be a little stinker sometimes, hitting, pinching, and biting on purpose, grabbing food off the counters, and terrorizing the pets. Ella Bean is not a fitting name for a little stinker. But, I like it, and losing it is making me realize I'm losing my second baby.

I'm gaining a head-strong toddler. She can be naughty, but she's also a little ham who loves to dance and sing the Dora theme song. I'm looking forward to seeing who exactly just Ella is, but I will miss my little Ella Bean.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Laundry Troll

One of my favorite fairy tales is the one about the poor cobbler who wakes every morning to find an elf has visited his home overnight and mended all the shoes for him. We have a related creature visiting us every other night, the dreaded laundry troll. Instead of a helpful creature like the shoe elf, he is malevolent, filling the hampers with dirty children's clothes.

Now, you may be skeptical that such a creature exists, but I have seen the proof. In addition to two full hampers of children's clothes that somehow appear overnight even though I just washed the kids' clothes the day before, there are other telltale signs that our home is infested with a naughty little creature, possibly more than one. I clean the mirrors in our bedroom, the next morning there are little handprints and fingerprints all over them. This leads me to believe he lives in my closet and dirties the mirrors when he comes out. He also helps himself to food in the kitchen. I know this because I wash the kitchen floor on my hands and knees one day, the next morning there are crumbs and sticky little drops of who-knows-what all over the place, although they are mostly under the table (at least he sits at the table). He's also very hairy, as one would expect a troll to be. After sweeping the floors one day, the next day they are covered in hair. (Mostly white and gray hair, if you were wondering what color he is.)

He usually visits at night, but on occasion I believe he comes during the day, too. Today, for instance, I had just finished sweeping the floors and vacuuming the carpet. I left the room momentarily to replace the little area rug in the nursery. When I returned, there was Life cereal crushed all over the couch, carpet, and hardwood floor. He's very quick and quiet. I neither saw nor heard anything and was completely surprised when I re-entered the room.

Now I am on the lookout for troll extermination techniques. There must be something to be done about such a pesky little creature. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meet Tut

We have a new cat. Yes, we chose to add another pet to our household now, with 3 small children, a dog, 2 cats, and a really gross sixty gallon fish tank. My husband thought he was being sneaky. Someone at work knew someone looking for a home for three Sphinx cats. Knowing I wanted one, since I am obsessed with hairless animals, he asked me at 11 o'clock at night, right after I had gone to bed after a long day, thinking I would say no because it wasn't a good time. I considered saying no, but in my almost nine years as a veterinarian, I have never come across a Sphinx up for adoption, so I couldn't pass. I chose a nude male (versus a gray one)and Sean surprised me by bringing him home the next night.

One of our other cats is relatively easy going, while the other is not. She is mean and does not like new cats being introduced into the house. It has not stopped us from bringing home cats in the past, but she really hates it. We also have a crazy Boxer mix that does try to chase cats that are not ours. It was going to be interesting to see how this new addition fit in (and if he got eaten or attacked).

Well, I am happy to report, he has taken over the house. He is in charge. He gets on all the furniture (including the tables and kitchen counters that none of the other cats get on). He eats like its going out of style. He has taken over our bed, burrowing under the covers at night to keep warm. Apparently evicting the other two cats that used to share the bed with us every night and now are nowhere to be found. He has even dominated the dog, using her as his preferred heating device (my husband is a close second). The dog is confused by this and not sure what to make this bold cat with no apparent fear of her.

His original name was Tangent. Not well liked. We pondered names and King Tut won, mainly because I chose it, it starts and ends with a T like his original name so maybe he'll respond to it, and the kids can say it easily (including our budding linguist, Ella). Sean is holding onto Mr. Nudey Booty, but I predict that name will go the way of the ancient Egyptians eventually. Tut, however, is here to stay.

I mostly wrote this post to try adding pictures to my blog and you have to admit, he is photogenic.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Apparently, I'm Crazy

I have come to this conclusion based on the reactions I get from people when I'm out in public. With an almost six week old, I am rarely out in public. So far I have gone to a birthday party and to my oldest daughter's preschool with the baby in tow. It comes to a grand total of seven times that I have ventured out of the house with all three kids by myself.

Each time, I have received at least two comments from strangers leading me to believe I am crazy. The comments include, "Wow, you're sure busy," "You're brave having three little ones," "That's a big family," and so forth. The comments aren't so bad, but the looks that go along with the comments give away that they think I am crazy. They are the same looks you would give passing a homeless person on the street muttering to themselves, eyes open wide, mouths agape, stunned disbelief.

Now, I admit, life around our house is definitely a little crazy at times. It took me forty minutes to get socks, shoes, and jackets on three little girls and get out of the house this morning. However, it's already getting easier to manage the three, and as Penny develops something resembling a predictable schedule, it will only get easier.

So, I hope I see these same people who feel it necessary to make unsolicited comments and be judgmental in a few years when I have three big girls who are in the process of developing a lifelong close friendship that they're more reasonably spaced two kids won't have.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our new Rug Doctor

We decided to buy a Rug Doctor to clean the one room with carpet in our house after months of discussion. We previously rented one from the local grocery store for fifty dollars plus buying the cleaning solution and renting the attachments to clean upholstery. Although we cleaned the carpet only two or three times a year, it really needs it almost monthly with 3 kids, 3 cats, 1 dog, and 2 adults. So, we finally decided it made sense to own one and ordered it. It came last week. We've both been itching to clean the carpet, but haven't had time, plus it's been raining. Not an ideal time to clean a carpet. Today, however, Ella, the 20 month old, and the dog, decided today was the day to give it a whirl.

Ella is obsessed with dirty diapers. She does not like wearing them. Once she has soiled a diaper she announces "Poop!", regardless if there is poop or pee in the diaper, and proceeds to strip, leaving the offending diaper on the ground and running around the house stark naked, avoiding a new diaper as long as possible.

This morning at breakfast she announced poop and I told her we would change the diaper after we had eaten and cleaned up the kitchen. After eating, she left the kitchen while I put the dishes in the dishwasher. Moments later, she started saying poop over and over again. I told her from the kitchen we would change the diaper when I finished with the dishes.

I finished and left the kitchen only to almost step on an empty diaper with smears on it on the carpet. The stench of poop made me choke a little. I looked around for the offending poo, only to see smears on the carpet but no actual piece of poo. I assumed the dog had disgustingly made short work of it and smeared it around in the process.

So, after vacuuming up enough Cheerios and crackers to feed a small nation from under the furniture, out came the Rug Doctor, baby strapped to me in the Bjorn. Not an easy task to keep the other two off the wet carpet and out of my way, but they behaved relatively well.

After the incident, I called my husband at work and he reminded me the dog probably rolled in it. Sure enough, there was poo on her collar, her shoulder, and her back. So off to the bathtub we all went to bathe the dog.

On the plus side, it did entertain the kids most of the morning on the third day trapped inside by the rain. Oh, the Rug Doctor works great, by the way.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bon Apetit

Dinnertime is a double edged sword around here. On the plus side there is a well-planned routine: dinner, bath, 30 min of television, books, songs, bed. No need to try to think of ways to entertain the kids, the countdown has begun to a little child- free time. (Well, not exactly child-free as the baby doesn't sleep until 10:30, but two out of three ain't bad.) On the down side, it's a lot to do with three kids, one being an unpredictable newborn and one being an almost two year old with an attitude, especially when Sean isn't home.

Lately, there has been the additional complication that either Samantha or Ella won't eat their dinner. Samantha is generally being picky and stubborn, while Ella is usually playing with her food and throwing it around the kitchen. Then they want to snack all night long. I have recently put a stop to this silliness by instituting the "this is dinner tonight, if you don't eat now there will be nothing else before bedtime" policy. I have to enforce the policy on one of them four to five nights a week, but it is being enforced and has resulted in more eating of dinner by both girls. Tonight, Ella chose to throw her dinner on the floor despite being reminded of the policy three times before all her dinner was on the floor.

After dinner, bath time went well. The two older girls were bathed while the baby sat in her bouncy seat without fussing. I got them dressed and situated in front of the television while I bathed the baby without assistance from her big sisters. I was pleased with myself as I dressed the baby. Then Ella walked in.
"More," she said, holding out a green bowl.

I thought nothing of this at first because I knew I had meticulously cleaned the kitchen and thrown out any old snacks from the day to prevent any stealth snacking. I assumed the bowl was a stray that had fallen under a couch or been hidden somewhere by one of the kids and she had found it and was hoping I would fill it for her. Then I noticed the bowl had some type of wet, brown residue inside.

"Samantha, what did your sister eat?" I asked. One of her new favorite activities is tattling, which I use to my advantage when needed.

"What?", she asked. She was too engrossed in her show to hear me.

"What did your sister eat?" I asked more loudly, finishing snapping the baby's clothes.

"Dog food," came the reply.

"What?" I asked, hoping I hadn't heard correctly.

"Dog food!" she shouted to make sure I heard her this time. "And she made a big mess in the kitchen!"

To the kitchen I went, infant bobbing over my shoulder, Ella toddling with her bowl out behind me. There was water from the water bowl all over the floor. The bowls were missing.

"Where are the bowls?" I asked.

"I put one on the counter," said Samantha. Ella went to the living room and came back with the other bowl.

Sure enough, they were both empty. There had been only about twenty kibble in the bowl as the dog had eaten dinner, too. But still, my child was so hungry she resorted to eating dog food.

"More," she said, holding the bowl out in front of her. Bon apetit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

God's Theory

They say God doesn't give you more than you can handle. My middle child is currently testing this theory. I felt that a newborn, a 20 month old, and a 3 1/2 year old was enough of a challenge. She apparently disagrees and is showing me by attempting to reach every milestone in record time.
In the last five weeks since the baby was born she has started teething with her two year molars, all four of them at once, climbed out of her crib landing head first, necessitating the transition to a big girl bed and all the fighting at nap and bedtimes that ensues, learned to open the refrigerator and get out yogurt, necessitating a lock on the refrigerator, discovered my spice rack and emptied a few new containers on the ground necessitating relocation for their protection, and now strips after, or as of today, immediately before, going to the bathroom. She pooped on the floor twice today. Once, I figured out what was going on and was carrying her to the bathroom, so she also pooped on me.

Well, God, I have news for you, a newborn and potty training are too much for me to handle. So, I refuse to potty train. She isn't 2 yet, she's still my little toddler, and I plan on keeping her that way for a while longer. So, go ahead and bring it, but I may choose not to rise to the challenge.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Early Bird Special

I'm getting old. I knew this already; more gray hairs are popping up, there are crows feet when I smile (and even when I'm not smiling), and permanent dark bags under my eyes. Every once in a while, however, something I do strikes me as downright elderly. Tonight, it was dinner.
Before kids I would have dinner around seven or later depending on work schedules. With my first born, I tried to wait on dinner until Sean came home. I soon found small children do not understand the value of waiting to eat until the whole family is home for stimulating dinner conversation. So, she got dinner around six thirty and I waited to eat with my husband. Eventually, six thirty became too late for her, so dinner for her was at six, and still I waited.

At some point, probably after reading too many parenting magazines, I decided it was important to eat with her, even if I wasn't hungry. She could learn table manners by observation, and that stimulating conversation is supposed to encourage verbal skills and a strong sense of self-worth, or so I read. So six o'clock was dinner time for Sammy and Mommy, and eventually Ella, when Daddy wasn't home. Daddy was just going to have to dine alone on lukewarm food when he got home. Eventually, my body became accustomed to the earlier meals, and anticipated them with a growling stomach.

Lately, the girls have been whining, mouths agape, like baby birds for food before six. I have found myself making dinner earlier and earlier. First, five forty-five, then five thirty, and tonight I found us eating at five fifteen. Although the girls were the impetus for the earlier mealtime, I have to admit, I'm hungry, too. I feel hunger pains and look at the clock, only to realize it's only four thirty. Maybe on a day I'm not in the mood to cook or am looking for an escape from the house, the girls and I could happily join the old people at the local Denny's for the early bird special.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Chocolate Pudding Incident

Today started with the promise of a long playdate in the morning and Friday night movie night after dinner. A well planned day that would leave little time for unstructured mischief by the children and some nice breaks for a very tired mommy. It ended with pudding in hair and no movie.

My friend, Vivian, mercifully came over with her two kids at nine this morning. The baby had been up every two hours all night long, again, and I had been kicked out of the bed at five by the older two crawling into our too small queen sized bed, leaving no room for me. I was exhausted but managed to make it through breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing hair and teeth with no resistance from the girls.
Vivian, trying to escape the pounding from the siding being redone at her house, called to come over an hour earlier than planned. Fantastic! More diversion for the kids and some adult company for me. The four kids played from nine to one with no fighting. Vivian and I visited in the way tired mothers do, talking off and on, starting a story, then forgetting what the point was or being interupted to change a diaper or prevent an accident. Nonetheless, it was nice to have adult conversation and not have to play princesses again. The baby slept 3 1/2 hours (of course, when I was awake), woke once to eat, then back to sleep.
Vivian left at nap time. Ella went down fairly easily. The baby woke, and Sammy and I played with the baby for a while before she schooled me in memory. Definite sleep deprivation. Three thirty rolled around, leaving walk, playtime, a little television, and dinner before sanity saving movie night.
I initiated Friday night movie night during my third pregnancy. Sean works Wednesday through Saturday, leaving at seven in the morning, often before any kids are awake, and not coming home until seven or seven thirty, sometimes later and not before eight o'clock bedtime. By Friday, I was exhausted and cranky and decided the kids and I both needed a break from the daily routine. So we have dinner then into PJs and a movie, no bath.
I was excited at how smoothly the day had gone. There had been no whining, no yelling, no real fighting. The third day alone with three little girls,and already things were settling into a nice routine. I was home free, just dinner before movie. I had made pizza. The girls ate decently, no food thrown on the floor, hands washed, both girls went to play while I cleaned the kitchen. Perfect.
Then Sammy had to open the refrigerator and see the last pudding. "Can we share the pudding? We ate a good dinner," she asked so nicely. "Sure," I said. After all, they had eaten a decent dinner and had been good all day, and it was movie night. I split the pudding and left the kitchen to finish picking up the living room quickly before the movie.
Then I heard squealing and screaming. "What's going on?" I asked. I ran to the kitchen in time to see Sammy smear a glop of pudding in Ella's hair, her own hair covered in pudding as Ella reached into her bowl to smear Sammy's hair and nightgown (she had put it on before dinner in preparation for movie night). There was pudding on Sammy's legs and neck. Pudding on the floor. "Stop!" I shouted which caused Ella to look up at me, pick her bowl up, and toss it on the ground, arcing pudding across the kitchen. This, after yesterday's all day screaming, whining, fighting, and food throwing.
I lost it, I have to admit. I yelled and announced there would be no movie tonight and no television either as we now had to have baths to get pudding out of hair. Sammy cried. Ella kept saying, "Movie? Movie?" But I was resolute, no movie, no television. An hour and a half until bedtime and I had just taken away my own break.
My mother always tells me to never make a punishment that punishes me. I thought about that before I took away the movie. Sometimes, you have to make a point, though, and make sure they understand there are consequences.
They were pretty good the rest of the night,except for breaking the changing table drawer in the relentless pursuit of lotion. Ella kept asking about the movie, and Sammy kept explaining to her there was no movie because they had been bad. At least she understood the lesson.