Sometimes it is so hard to keep your cool. Say, for instance, when you have three young children screaming at you. It starts off with one and usually the other two are just empathy screaming.
A little girl in our neighborhood was supposed to come over to play after nap time today. We haven't played with her in months and I know Richie was really looking forward to it. After nap time, I sent her Mom a text message to see if she could come out to play- a family friend had an emergency and they were no longer home.
I hate being the bearer of bad news- it just never goes well. Richie started crying. I tried to reassure him and tell him I understood his feelings of disappointment. It seemed like I just made things worse. I don't think I can properly explain the ear-shattering screams that can come out of this little guy, but trust me it was bad. Of course, Lily starts crying, too. Then Sophia joins in just for good measure.
"I'm not going to talk to you anymore until you calm down," I informed Richie.
"BUTTTTTTTT MOMMMMMMMY I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED TO TELLLLLLLLL YOUUUUUUUUUU SOMEEEEEEEEEEEETHINGGGGGG!"
The screaming followed me wherever I went. I'd take a step to move away and Richie would anticipate my movements and somehow be right in front of me screaming, "MOMMMMMMMMMMY," wherever I went. So I finally parked myself against the china cabinet to wait for the screaming to subside. As long as it's not destructive, I'll ignore it. Then he started poking my stomach rapidly, "I NEED TO TELLLLLL YOU SOMETHINGGGGGGGGG!" Although it definitely didn't hurt, it definitely was not appropriate behavior.
So, I did the only thing there was to do. TIME OUT. Oh, man, time out. Four more minutes of screaming until the buzzer rang and he was calm again. I explained to him again the exact reason he was sitting in the little wooden chair in the corner,
"I put you in time out because you were aggressive and poked Mommy out of anger. Please apologize."
"But, I'm upset and you were ignoring me."
"I understand you're upset, but it's never appropriate to be physical with someone when you are angry."
"Richie, if you can't apologize to me, you will sit in time out until you're ready."
"But, I, but..."
So I walked away and reset my timer. Immediately he screamed,
"No! No! I'm ready to apologizeeeeeee!"
He screamed at the top of his lungs for 3 minutes how he wanted to apologize. He screamed and screamed and screamed some more. I ignored him. That sort of apology would mean nothing. It would mean, "If I scream at Mommy enough, she will come take me out of time out." It would be empty and worthless. He got up and physically attached himself to me 3 times, when he only had one minute left of his sentence each time. So instead of an additional 4 minutes, he clocked an additional 13 minutes time onto his time out. When he finally served his time and calmed down, I again went over and explained his inappropriate behavior and asked for an apology. This time, he apologized right away before trying to explain himself.
It's all about semantics with Richie. He wasn't hitting, he was poking. He didn't throw it, his hand kicked it. Sometimes, his intelligence just gets him into more trouble as he tries to convince you that he's found some loophole in the rule and he actually did nothing wrong.