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4:53 p.m. - October 18, 2005
The Howling! The Mewling!
Well, it started out a quiet, peaceful evening.

I got home from work, and the house was empty. Liz, Katie and Kristin were up in Lafayette helping Niece Nurse, who just had surgery. They brought her some food for her family, and helped her clean the house, etc. That’s a nice thing to do, for sure, and I think the fam has scored some brownie points, there. (It never hurts, because she can definitely babysit when we head up to Wisconsin in February.)

I had a pretty good day at work, and was looking forward to a night of flipping between the baseball and football games on the tube. I also needed to get some stuff done around the house and corral the trash, as trash day is Tuesday.

That’s when the day kind of fell apart.

It was a little thing at first. I noticed that we were out of trash bags, both for the kitchen trash and for what we use as a litter box liner. I called Liz to see where she was and she was almost home. I told her that I needed to run out and get trash bags – as the upstairs needed de-trashed and the diaper genie needed to be cleaned out, but she said she had to go to yoga and I needed to stay home with the kids.

Ah, yoga, how could I forget?

She said she’d go out and get both kinds of trash bags later, so I felt better in knowing that the house would be trash and poop (all kinds o’ poop in our house, as you can imagine) free soon.

So Liz goes to yoga, Kristin goes to her bassinette and Katie and I get on the couch to watch “Pardon the Interruption”. Why an almost 4-year old likes to watch a show where two old, bald, sportswriters yell at each other is beyond me. (I bet it’s because I like it – and she thinks Tony Kornheiser is funny looking. Well, he is!)

And the day slowly started to unravel.

Katie has a balloon that she got at the symphony Sunday (the little kid’s symphony – she liked the balloon the best, she said) and it floats away. Katie starts to climb on top of the back of the sofa to get it, but I said no. She said that “Mommy lets her” which I know is a fib, so I tell her now.

Wail! Bawl! Wail! Howl! After about a minute, she quiets down and I get the balloon.

Then she starts goofing around on the sofa, and somehow manages to fall off of it. I grab her, and make it clear that she fell because she was screwing around and could have gotten hurt if she hit the coffee table.

Wail! Bawl! Howl! Mewl! After about two minutes, she quiets down.

Then it’s her turn on the TV– and her choice is Diego’s new show “Go! Diego! Go!” For those not in the know, Diego is Dora the Explorer’s cousin, and he’s always saving animals. It’s cute (of course) and has a theme song that Katie knows by heart after two weeks.

This gives me a chance to get on the computer. Kristin, though, gets a bit fussy, and I have to haul her upstairs. I check email and the ‘net, and then I get in an IM discussion with a neat-o person all while Kristin is on my lap, drooling and trying to punch the keyboard.

I lose track of time a bit, as I really needed to fix dinner. I haul butt downstairs, put Kristin in the bouncy seat, get the leftovers out, and start nuking away. Liz will join us later, but Katie needs to start eating so there is time for a bath and a story.

Wail! Wail! Bawl! Kristin doesn’t want to be in the seat. Sorry, hon, you’re stuck.

Diego’s over, and Katie’s dinner is ready. Mine is close to being ready, so I tell Katie to go ahead and eat.

Stall.

Stall.

Stall.

“Katie, go ahead and eat!”
“I don’t like it.”
“You did yesterday.”
“No, I didn’t”
”Yes, you did. Now eat.”

So she eats a few bites. And then…

Stall.

Stall.

Stall.

I tell her she needs to eat five bites of lasagna, and then her broccoli, then she can have a cookie. She says two bits – I hold firm at five. She says three bites – I still hold firm. She may be a lawyer one day but there’s no compromise in me today.

So she eats one bite and Liz comes back. Katie immediately starts stalling again, saying she can’t get the lasagna on her fork.

I do it for her, then she waves it around and it falls off. That’s a no-no, and that’s timeout.

So I get up and tell her she’s in timeout.

And then…disaster.

Howl! Howl! Bawl! Wail! Wail! She runs over to Liz, who basically says she has to go to timeout or she’ll be carried there. Howl! Howl! Howl! She runs into the library, which is timeout central, but doesn’t run to her place; she wants to run around all the while howling at the top of her lungs.

Liz finally grabs her, and sits down with her, telling her she has to be quiet for five minutes.

Howl! Wail! Howl! Howl! Wail!

I finished eating; start rinsing the dishes, and then Kristin starts crying again. She’s hungry. So I feed her.

Katie hasn’t stopped. It’s been 10 minutes.

I can’t really watch TV with this going on, so I take Kristin and go upstairs. Kristin is now reaching her designated fussy time (each baby, you see, has a federally mandated fussy time – and Kristin’s is between 6:45 and 7:30 every night). So she starts to cry and be uncomfortable.

So I have a 4-month old upstairs and an almost 4-year old downstairs. Both of them are crying and howling.

Liz finally takes Katie up to her room, and she STILL doesn’t stop. Liz then starts to eat her dinner, but Kristin wants to be held by her, so she’s eating with one hand and holding Kristin with the other – while I’m hearing both of my children act like spikes have been driven into their foreheads.

Kristin finally calms down, but Katie is still going at it. Over 30 minutes.

Finally, I go upstairs and grab the iPod – hoping music will drown this all out.

The cats are running everywhere, trying to escape the noise.

Well, after 45 minutes of uninterrupted howling, crying, bawling, and mewling, Katie finally calms down a bit. Her throat is starting to hurt, she screamed. She goes downstairs, goes potty, asks for her PJs and then asks for a cookie.

“You can’t have a cookie; you didn’t eat your lasagna or broccoli.”

Well, guess what happened then.

But it was only for a minute or so.

It seemed like forever – the clock was getting close to 8:00, which was kickoff. I already missed the first part of the baseball game, because of all the noise, ruckus, and fuss.

Finally, a good HOUR after timeout was attempted, Katie was calm enough to come to me and tell me why she was in timeout.

There was now no time for a bath – all she could do was brush her teeth and we’d read a story to her. She gave me a hug and a kiss and said goodnight like nothing had happened at all.

I felt like a total schlub. I felt I was responsible for the whole tantrum. I may have been a bit sharp, but she was stalling like there was no tomorrow, and after she almost fell off the couch screwing around and telling me a fib, I really had no patience left.

Liz didn’t think it was my fault at all – we just need to be firm and consistent with Katie.

But all night, it kind of shook me up. It was looking to be a bad night, especially when the Colts were behind 17-0.

Soon, though, I realized that I can’t be responsible for Katie’s tantrums when I was trying to be a responsible parent. I’m not hitting her – not hurting her – and not really screaming at her. I just raise my voice to let her know she’s in trouble. Katie just had one of those tantrums that all little kids seem to have now and then.

When I realized that, the Colts had started their comeback. There was no stopping them, and after the game (the Colts poleaxed the Rams 45-28) and some more internet time, I went to bed happy.

This morning, Katie bounded downstairs, and was happy to see me. As it should be! I just hope her throat is OK.

 

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