The big D

We have reached the tipping point with our kids. The three of them have always been full of energy and attitude. And for a while, I must admit, DH and I had got some pride (or at the very least very hearty laughs) out from the borderline psychopathic stuff they come up with. For example:

– Two weeks ago, it was pitch dark outside in the woods while we stayed at our friends’ house in Vermont and P. stood in the middle of the night facing the the double door windows in silence. I kept calling her and she would not turn back to face me. It was unnerving, worse than the whole ‘Josh, Josh’ scenes in the Blair Witch Project. I started to to freak out big time (I believe in ghosts, there you go, I am really out in every way now on this blog) so she eventually slowly turned around with a death stare and showed her teeth a la Shining’s Jack Nicholson. I almost peed in my pants from both fear and laughter.

– At this week’s music class, the teacher did a ‘let’s imagine animals’ version of the ‘Old MacDonald had a farm song’ and asked each child to describe animals, what they’re like and what noises they make etc. When most kids came up with straight answers: ‘pink pig’, ‘grey cat’, ‘rabbit with short ears’, G’s answer (while showing his teeth jaws): ‘a big Papa Lion who eats a pig…’
P-S-Y-C-H-O. And here I was half grinning and half wondering whether I should lock my bedroom door at night time.

– At the last birthday party we attended, after L exited the party and slammed the door to lock all of us inside, one of the guests told me: ‘I assume he is one of yours too, the dudes with an attitude…’ The same guest had previously been shocked by a P shushing me down by saying: ‘shushhh Mom! If you keep talking I am not going to be very, very, very happy’ and a G running after people pretending to be a maniac crocodile.

So yeah up to now, we have been fairly lenient with the three of them because they have spunk and are funny. Except that recently their spunk has turned into insolence, aggressiveness and pure disregard for any rules. And it is no longer funny, even with a twisted dark sense of humor. G especially started to spit in our faces, bite like a stray dog, kick like a Tekken character and throw wooden toys, food, diapers, sound system speakers, shoes, etc. on the floor on a lucky day or on his siblings’ heads on an inspired day. I am getting very concerned by this primal behavior, especially after I caught him chewing a chicken bone under the dining table. Granted I myself eat cartilages and chew bones (I am Lao, it is what some of us just do hahaha) but NEVER under a table. C’mon now.

Anyway, the time for discipline with a big D has come. We have used in the past diverse strategies to discipline them or, should I say american style, reinforce positive behavior but these tricks are no longer working. Time out became a joke; they started to take the piss and time each other out on a regular basis as a game. We threatened to throw away their toys but now they happily do it themselves as to say: ‘We are not materialistic brats, we don’t give a shit’ as if…We tried the rewarding system with good points and stickers but they (and us parents too) got over it. So what was left? Empty hysterical and colorful threats delivered at the top of our lungs such as ‘Je te jure si tu n’arretes pas, je t’arrache les cheveux jusqu’a ce que tu ressembles a un bonze’ (I swear if you don’t stop, I will pull your hair until you look like a monk) or ‘Si tu continues a me frapper, je me casse pour toujours dans une ile deserte’ (‘If you keep hitting me, I am walking the hell out of the door for ever to live on a desert island).

We thus started something bold and painful to discipline our kids: discipline ourselves. So that’s how this house is going to be run from now on.

– No more ‘1,2,3, 3 and half..ok I’ll count until 5 and if you don’t stop I will not give you milk (my kids’ Achilles’ heel) before bedtime! OK, then this time you can have it but next time, beware’. It is now 1,2,3 no milk even if you turn blue, scream for murder, kick my breasts or tell me that you love me.

– No more ‘let’s get the bouncy castle out, kiddos’ at any occasion. I mean, we bought something to help us through this tough winter and they love it so much that it could have become our most prized bargaining chip but what did we do? We fucking ruined it by setting it out without being asked to because DH and I are moronic retarded pre-schoolers! Now they will have to earn the BC.

– No more screen time. No, we can’t do this. It is like suicide bombing myself.

– No more… Actually we have nothing else. Any ideas? We are desperate.

Kids messing around

31 thoughts on “The big D

  1. Have you read French Children don’t throw their food? (Amazon link above)
    No silly tips like count to 5 – my Canadian neighbour does it and it just doesn’t work!!!
    Just back to (French) basics/common sense.
    Written by an American married to a British and living in Paris.
    The only ‘education’ book I actually enjoyed and found useful. X

    1. Yes I know Druckerman and I have started to read it and although her writing style is quite entertaining somehow I (as opposed to all my French counterparts living overseas whether it was the UK, Switzerland or the States) could not connect to what she was writing about and after much thinking I came to the obvious conclusion that although I am French and have socialized into French culture growing up. This occurred mainly in the public sphere (school, friends, work etc.) but at home I was raised a Lao. Hence my starting point when it comes to many things including food etiquette and discipline is very, very different. I not saying better, just different. So although I could see the value of her arguments it did not resonate with me. Maybe I should force myself to finish…and then get back our conversation. Xo

    1. Firmness and conviction you re right and funnily enough I find the latter much harder. I always wonder: ‘I am putting them through this crap and I am not even sure if it’s the right battle to have!!’

  2. I can relate! We are having some obedience issues with Crazy Pants and he bites and hits. We definitely do the 1,2,3 thing and that seems to be helping. I also limit TV and have been considering doing away with it all together. One thing that really helps with behavior is lots of outside time. That is tough in the winter. I am also working really hard to expecting compliance when asked to do or not do something. Basically, if I set an expectation, I have to be prepared to make sure that it is followed through. We are nearing his third birthday so I am getting prepared 🙂

    1. Yes the freaking awful winter has not been helping at all . Especially G who is very outdoorsy and physically active. Fingers crossed spring will help smooth things out. As for following through my expectation that s where I think I have been struggling because sometimes one of them does a thing say jumping on their bed and throwing the soft toys and I don’t have an issue with it. I would not pick the battle except that then the 3 of them do it at the same time and the levels of noise and mess become unbearable. So I am always torn between they should stop this now and it s not their fault that they are almost 3 year old triplets…

      1. Woah. For some reason I have never put it together that you have toddler triplets. Good grief woman, you are my hero.

        Don’t worry about being the bad guy. There is a time and a place for rowdy behavior and that is outside. Its hard in the winter, but even if it were only one of them, it would be too much. Then the soft toy turns into a wooden block and you’ve got a window to fix or a face to stitch up.

        Right now I am working on sticking to my guns, too. I will tell Crazy Pants not to do something or to do something, then I will think about what he is asking to do and decide, “well, it really doesn’t matter either way” and then he’s off doing what he wanted. The behavior itself probably isn’t a problem, but I am then setting up that it is OK to not obey me, which is not good. So I am working on making sure I am committed to what I am telling him before I say it and then always following through. Tough stuff, but so worth it. I hear 3 is THE WORST.

      2. I agree with you big time. I actually don’t have triplets but 3 year old twins and a 22 month old baby who is so tall and big compared to his siblings that they actually do look and act like triplets 🙂

  3. I am in no position to offer advise. My only child is still young and we are working on discipline ourselves. I do find that less TV makes him calmer. I think sticking to your guns about what is not allowed and the consequences of their actions will pay off in the long run. Consistency is key. I think that is probably my issue. Good luck.

    1. Thanks ! They get between 2-3 hours a day but while two of them are pretty chilled about the cartoons, G gets really absorbed by them so indeed maybe less screen time would improve the situation with him.

  4. I think some of our threats have gone pretty colourful too! Unfortunately they seem to have stopped working so in looking at new solutions – recently reviewed a book called ToddlerCalm where she doesn’t actually use punishment (not permissive either) it’s fairly interesting if harder work. I’m still working on what I take from it…

  5. I used to ask these sorts of questions of parenting boards. (I never did find one that wasn’t nasty and dumb, by turns.)

    The key thing I’ve learned and the only thing that always works and the one thing people rarely say is to stand back and ask why the problem is happening. Then try to solve that problem.

    So when someone says, “Oh, kicking sand at people? Remove them from the playground immediately!” don’t just say well she’s got four kids, she should know. Because it turns out that if your child is kicking sand *because he wants to go home now* then removing them from the playground immediately is a bit like buying them a lollipop for getting sand in the other kids’ eyes and will make the problem worse, not better, and in fact if you want them to stop you actually have to *refuse* to remove them from the playground until they demonstrate an ability to play nicely (followed by a polite request). And if the person with four kids snorts at the fact that you are responding to sand-kicking by sending your child back into the playground instead of removing them from it, you should know that this person is dumb. Not that this is autobiographical or anything.

    Obviously if you read my blog you’ll know that we struggle plenty and I think you can’t get around that although if you find out anything different, pass it on. Any solution requires much repetition and you have to keep adjusting as they grow as well. I have to find ways to pace myself so I can maintain enough discipline, otherwise I undo myself with exhaustion and the desire for a quick fix.

    So. That’s all I have. Why are your kids acting up?

    1. That is a very good point and I have been wondering what the hell is going on besides the winter being gruesome and thus having to share limited living space while they are kids are always out and about. I think the 3 have different reasons to be acting out. P I believe is ecstatic about how she now has the vocabulary and confidence to pretty much say whatever she feels like saying. I can see that she get glee from a- playing with words and syntaxes, tense in both English and French and b- getting stunned reactions from adults because she is so precocious
      To a certain extent I can deal with this and could spar against her all day long because it’s words and I am comfortable with it even when she is pushing the boundaries of decency. I am struggling more with G because it is physical, animal and I think it is partly due to major changes in his routine: his best friends all started preschool so he does not get to see them everyday anymore, the winter reducing his outdoor activities, etc. And it is probably partly due to jealousy and frustration of his little brother who is now a bona fide rival for him and his sister who can talk so well while he is struggling to make full sentences and mixing both languages too, which makes comprehension harder. I am devising as we speak strategies to address these such as more one to one time with etc. As for L it looks from where I stand purely because he copies everything his big brother does…

      1. Yes, hard to marvel at their new skill and at the same time tell them they’re doing it kind of wrong. Then again, I’ve found I can sort that out once the novelty wears off a bit.

        The bigger problems for us have been the others: hard for a kid when his friends go to school and there’s no-one on the right level to play with. And often it’s not so much peers as that slightly older child they want around. We had to adjust our routine to seek them out in the evening. I also find that P needs a “big kid” challenge for when the older kids are not there (I recently started allowing him to use a hammer and nails – he has made a Thing with some scrap wood the hardware store got him, and being able to read a bit has helped immensely).

        And the physical activity one is a huuuuuuge one for us. The boy can spend his Saturdays almost completely outside running, swimming, climbing, swimming again, riding his bike – and by dinner he’s still zipping around, fresh as a daisy. The only way I can cope is by farming some of it out (he does a karate class now) and we also got a mini trampoline which sits in the lounge and he jumps on it at pretty much all times that require “standing still” (like when he’s trying to have a conversation).

  6. This picture made my day. Laughed out loud actually. Do you ever feel like you are in this crazy land and you have no control? I feel it daily.

    1. EVERYDAY !!! Most of the times I am staring at the scene drinking a coffee and having an outer body experience so there s a cool chick with studded leather boots floating above the living room and observing this poor mama and her kids. And when she comes back, the cool chick and the after meditation mama both feel better. It is my way of preserving the sanity of ME as a whole hihihi

      1. Amen to that. Cheers to surviving this crazy life! And not ending up in the looney bin. More coffee and more wine!

  7. I love this post – and can relate…alot! D is over-rated. Seriously. Love them, reign them in a little, and hang in there – you are raising some seriously awesome people.
    Although I do agree with no screen time – it is not allowed Monday thru Thursday at our house – has resulted in major board game addiction & competition!

    1. Thanks your energizing words! Hanging in there is definitely my everyday motto. I just need to do this without losing myself i.e. be philosophical but not numb if you see what you mean, be understanding rather so fed up I don’t give a crap anymore. I am going to have to take a decision about that screen time for sure. Maybe when they start school this Fall and I see less of them and thus want more family time.

  8. You are on the right track:
    “We thus started something bold and painful to discipline our kids: discipline ourselves”
    ~ They watch and they learn, the strengths (sometimes) and the weaknesses (always)

    However, using food (milk) as a lever for discipline / sanction does not strike me as a good idea.

    Don’t discount the fact that raising young children mostly indoors is challenging. Imagine if you have a spare room which you could label ‘play room’, in which they would be allow to pee on the wall, while the rest of the house would be ‘tenue correcte exigee’



    1. Dreaming about that spare room – in fact we hope that next year or so we can afford a second/weekend home in the mountains where they can pee everywhere 🙂 Re Milk you just underline an area of disagreement between DH and I. He cannot wait to wean them off the bedtime bottle because it’s bad for the teeth and they actually do not need from a nutritional viewpoint while I am total Mama on this one and more like C’mon why cannot they have their milk? It’s like their pacifier plus it’s food!!! Anyway talking about disciplining ourselves it took many bites of my tongue not to disagree with him in front of the kids about that one… xo

  9. Wow! I also did not realize that you have toddler triplets. OMG! I am also starting to face discipline issues. My toddler is manifesting signs of the terrible twos. At first its funny, now things are not so funny anymore. He’s not yet old enough to bargain but I know that milk will be a sore spot. You are on the right track. Just stick to your guns.

    1. Haha they are actually twins tots of 3 and a 22 month old toddler. Does feel more and more like triplets for sure. Sticking to my guns is def the way to go even when you get whacked in the head by a screaming boy…

    1. Thanks! One day I will look back and think ‘what’s 4 years of my life in the great scheme of things’. Visualizing myself dancing on tables drinking tequila in my 80s is definitely helping though hahha

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