Saturday was the worst day of parenting we have ever had. Being cooped up inside for the past few months due to Snowmageddon or whatever else the weather reporters are calling it, we finally decided to brave it and get to the Rainforest exhibit at the Cleveland Zoo. It started out as a wonderful time, the morning was fun watching monkeys and bats and porcupines and all kinds of other animals. Ella named all of the turtles. We played I spy at all of the reptile displays since they were either hiding or they blended in perfectly to the bark and moss surrounding them. We really enjoyed watching the lizard who could move his two eyes different ways at different times. Then lunch happened, which was the start of trying times. Pax was in a high chair and so Ella wanted a high chair. Then the high chair we got her was missing a strap so we got a different one. This second one had the strap but one of the buckles was broken. So I got another one. And every time one of us got up from the table Pax would start screaming because he thought we were leaving. Ugh. So of course people started staring, which, whatever, I mean come on, we were all parents there, and they should know better than to stare.
But we managed to get through lunch and as we were leaving we had to pass through the gift shop to get out. This became the fatal flaw. Ella saw these silly band necklaces. One was pink and the other was blue. No problem, we had already talked about this before we left the house and agreed we would buy her something small. Decision time came. We know she likes blue better so Erica tried to convince her to get the blue one. But over and over again Ella protested, “I want pink!” So pink it was. Now both the kids seemed to be in good spirits and they were asking to go back through one more time. So we started down the path to the monkey exhibit and it wasn’t ten minutes later when…THE meltdown. At the top of her lungs, and like she has never been disciplined a day in her life before, Ella starts shrieking “I want the blue one! The blue necklace!” with tears streaming down her face and at this point it was already impossible to try to reason with her. We darted off the main trail so we could park the stroller and deal with her, but she would have none of it. Shouts of “No” and “Stop it” and “I want…” followed as her arms made feeble attempts to hit us. Well, we tried to put her jacket on and take her outside (to go to the car) but she just screamed even louder (which I thought was impossible, but she proved me wrong). So we picked her up and carried her to the door and then wrestled her coat on her because even though everyone must have thought by now that we were horrible parents, we didn’t want to prove them right by dragging her out in freezing temperatures without a coat on. Oh, now of course we were both feeling like miserable parents and like we couldn’t do anything right, we were “those” people who never discipline their kids and are acting like spoiled brats in public.
Disciplining children is hard. We are re-evaluating everything. What can we do differently? Obviously what we are doing isn’t working. We have house rules, she has a responsibility chart, we use time outs, and stern lectures. We have not been spanking because we will not be able to use any sort of physical punishment when Macy comes, so we don’t want to have a double standard with our other children. Escept on Saturday, once we got to the car I sat her down in the back seat and set her in time out. I explained to her she was going to get a spanking for yelling and screaming and most importantly for hitting us. She calmed down after just a few seconds in the car. I felt calm, and I sat next to her and asked her if she knew why she was getting a spanking. She did. I spanked her two times and then hugged her and told her I loved her. It always breaks my heart to do that.
We are at a loss, lately it has been a lot of Ella yelling and being mean. I’ve tried to explain ‘kind words’ as please and thank you and talking quiet. She understands but constantly has to be reminded. She is demanding and tries to boss us around. And it doesn’t look like anything will get through. I asked some parents on Twitter what some alternatives to spanking were and they suggested taking some toys or valued items away. I’ve even been searching the web for discipline how-to’s and self helps on parenting. Dr. Phil’s website…anything! I know there are some systems out there like 1,2,3 magic and green, yellow, red but it’s always the question, “What do you do when you get to 3 (or red)?” What options do I have other than time out? Because she just sits there and uses her imagination and plays. I think she personally likes time out. So I don’t know, but I better stop writing and let you all talk now…I’ll be reading and re-reading all of your comments. PLEASE HELP!
(P.S. My daughter is not always horrible, and Erica and I are so thankful for the times of the day when she is cute and sweet and hilarious. )