05 May 2009

Thanks, plus: Maddie

Thank you to everyone who contributed some great ideas for the Hallmark book. And for those of you who were affronted that I asked for help, I hear you. 

I'm about 1/4 of the way through the writing, which is great. I'm trying to plow through as much as I can before I take the twins to Florida this weekend to see my grandmother. My mom and dad (who, some of you know or may recall, are divorced and have been for over 30 years) are both meeting us down there for a long weekend of Mother's Day/Mama Doris-is-turning-(turned?)-90 fun. Maddie and Riley don't know we're going yet; I usually tell them about trips the night before we leave to save my own sanity from the barrage of travel-related questions. I'm sure they are going to have a blast in Florida, as they are really into swimming lately. Bring on the sun! 

I've heard from many a parent that "Terrible Twos" is a misnomer, that the Terrible title should be reserved for the Threes. Based on Maddie's behavior of late, she's trying to spread the Terrible around to both ages. 

My normally sweet, eager-to-please girl has found her rebellious side. She's been pushing, throwing things, and slamming doors. The culmination of this was last Friday at school when Ruth reported that Maddie had (a) thrown her shoes at one of her caregivers, then (b) run down the hall and slammed the bathroom door, whereupon she (c) deliberately peed all over herself.

Just what you want to hear when you pick your kid up from school. Sigh.

I feel for her; she's obviously going through a developmental phase that's got her tied up in knots. While she's always been quite verbal and emotionally aware, she doesn't seem to be able to tell me what's bothering her. Hell, there are plenty of times when I'm out of sorts when I can't vocalize what's wrong and I've got a lot more life experience than she does. She has of late been even more interested than usual in things that older kids do that she can't yet and she spends a lot of time expressing desires to attend the local elementary school, read by herself, swim by herself, ride a bike by herself . . . you get the idea. So I think some of her acting out comes from wanting to do things that she can't. Beyond that, who knows. It could be a delayed reaction to adjusting to our new living situation. It could be the inherent angst of being almost three. It could be a desire to get some one-on-one time with me, something neither Maddie or Riley has really ever had.

To that end, tonight I'm dropping Riley off with friends after school and I'm taking Maddie out for a special Maddie and Mama evening. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet as I plan to let her take the lead, but my suggestions will be that we go have dinner together, then maybe go to the store for her to pick out a special treat—some new art supplies or something for her beloved baby Charlotte or what have you. We'll see what she wants to do.

The difficulty of spending one-on-one time with Maddie and Riley is something that has always bothered me. I think all parents of more than one child can relate. M&R have to take turns being carried, take turns on my lap, take turns talking to me (although they often talk right over one another, I just have to mete out my replies one by one). The only times they have spent time alone with me in their entire lives have been two occasions each that one has stayed home sick and the other has gone to school, and the random snippets here and there when one gets up from a nap earlier than the other. That's all. Ever.

Those rare times have been a treat for me. It's such a pleasure for me to be able to focus on one child without worrying about how my actions will affect the other. Maddie and Riley have seemed to enjoy it, too. Of course, at least half of what they say when we're alone involves wondering where the other one is, which I actually love. It makes me happy that they have such a close bond. But I also think it's time for me to make a more conscious effort to give them individual time with me. It's not easy, logistically, but I think it will be well worth it.


LauraC said...

I do think one-on-one time is great. But this topic is on my mind lately bc we just watched my friend's son (also almost 3) for a long weekend. It will be the topic for my HDYDI post today. It was very interesting to see how different twins vs singleton was. I didn't realize how much of the boys' interaction is with each other and how much they gain out of that. It's not just the bad stuff like having to wait. It's the good stuff like having someone else listen to you.

Lil Sis said...

The one on one time, though difficult to schedule is always well worth it I think, hope you ladies have fun.

On the terrible toddler times, I think you're spot on, she's wanting independence. It gets better. With mine it was so much harder with my girls at this age then my son. I have no idea why.

lots of love,

cv said...

Solid point, LauraC. (Snick's roommate here).

Comparing N to Maddie and Riley you can definitely see how much more N has relied on me for immediate gratification/response while M&R are much more patient about getting responses from Snick. They have the long-standing advantage of having an extra person to meet their social needs, even if it is not an adult.

Perhaps Maddie and Riley are expecting more from Snick now that they can see all the one-on-one that N gets. Oy, this is complex!

Snickollet said...


My mom made the same point about M&R perhaps wanting more from me now that they see a one child/one parent dynamic.

It *is* complex. Specific to our situation, I think it's been great to watch Noa, Maddie, and Riley slowly start to cooperate and help each other more, and I also think it's good for me to start thinking about how to be more present for M&R individually.

Single moms, unite!


Anonymous said...

Don't feel too bad about your almost 3 year old deliberately peeing themselves.... I had an almost 9 year old girl do that to me the other day. Her mom didn't even say a word to her when she picked her up. I even heard her bragging to the other girls that she does it all the time to get what she wants. sad

Sandi said...

Fortunately I'm a teacher with the summers off, so I send each child to camp two days a week. One day together (so I can get a break) and one day separately, so they each get a "special day" with mommy.

SmileyGirl said...

Don't worry too much about the one on one time not being an option for you. I had my girls 19 months apart (on purpose) and so the only time the oldest didn't have a sister is when she was so young she doesn't remember! Deliberate one on one time is great however and something that the kiddos enjoy immensely because they feel it's special. I too have a singleton niece and it's amazing the differences - and not all good. They don't know how to share, they think the world should stop when they want to and they can be very self centered. I love her to pieces but it's just things you don't learn well without a sibling. Enjoy!

Susan said...

Have a wonderful night out with M. I think it is important and fun. I have always been one to say the "threes" were tougher than the "twos" ;) Florida sounds wonderful too.

Single Parent Dad said...

I'm hearing you, well certainly reading you, loud and clear.

I think that the terrible twos is a nonsense, and my son is going through similar to Maddy and he is four.

It must be difficult to separate as pairs, but I'm sure as their interests develop, most likely, onto different paths, it will be a more natural process.

As always, take care Snick.

django's mommy said...

I'm sorry, I couldn't get past the fact that people were affronted that you asked for help. Seriously???

OTRgirl said...

I love that you're taking her for a girls night out. That seems like a great solution. I don't remember what my parents did when we were little, but as teenagers, Mom tried to have a once-a-month lunch with each of us by ourselves. It was a great way to talk and enjoy each other. I love that you're starting early!

I've also heard the "Terrible Threes" mentioned many times. Good times ahead!

Anonymous said...

I, too, hear (and feel for) those that are afronted by you asking for help and ideas. They just don't understand abundance yet, and that probably shows up in their lives. I have been there, and sympathize. You created this blog and its following. There's enough for everyone to have their piece, in their turn. Let's all use this as an opportunity to get past the stingy and isolated mindset that is not who we are.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Yeah, the Terrible Two's and the (equally common) Terrible Three's are followed by the Fuckin' Fours.

Sorry to break it to you. :-)



Pam said...

ha ha, Supa. A friend recently told me that about the fours. Too funny, unless you are knee deep in the terrible threes. I have to agree it's about independence. My son turned 3 in January and I see him getting more and more frustrated and wanting to take control, but just can't quite get it across to me yet.
Enjoy your might with Ms. Maddie.

Anonymous said...

I think an evening with Maddie sounds lovely for both of you, but should it really include a shopping trip? I guess I am old fashioned, but I was raised to not think of material gifts as being all that important. Is three too early to start her thinking that way? Just a thought. Enjoy

mek said...

I remember when Cora turned 2 and it seemed like THAT NIGHT someone flipped the switch and she was much more "terrible" than before - though not, of course, just wanting independence...all the freaking time. She just turned three. Like Maddie she talks a lot about things she wants to do that are for "big kids" - case in point, she told me that when she turns five she wants a car so she can drive to school by herself.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely the Terrible Threes. Four is an improvement over three, but the real peace of calmness doesn't come until 5 and starting elementary school for some kids. It's normal and she can't tell you what's "wrong" because she doesn't feel anything is wrong; I wouldn't read too much into it (blaming the move, etc.), it's just the way many 3 & 4 year olds are. But one-on-one time with Mommy is a great idea and she'll enjoy it (as will you)!

Since Maddie seems focused on wanting to do the things that bigger kids do, perhaps now is a good time to encourage her to take small steps toward that goal and show her how to start doing more for herself. For example: Let her brush her own teeth (then brush them afterward yourself, saying you want a turn too). Or, buy velcro-closure sneakers and set them on the floor in front of her feet and let her put them on herself. Or teach her how to pull her shirts over her head when getting dressed (and don't worry if they go on backwards or inside out, let it be and let her enjoy feeling "big").

In the meantime, the old adage: This, too, shall pass. Hang in there!

Eva said...

I know this doesn't help much, but I had a similar experience with my son today (32 months) -- at pick up his daycare teacher said he had been throwing things and spitting on her today. Then he told me about it, and laughed. Then he ate dirt, and laughed. In the evening he kept getting put in time out, and then I heard his generally compliant twin sister say "Mama, I threw things on the floor, put me in time out!" It's such a hard balance between disciplining one and not ignoring the better behaved one. And I have a husband at home most of the time, so I don't know how you manage it all.

mlg said...

I was pretty sure we had escaped the terrible twos with Bailey, until we hit 3/4. Then I realized that she was just saving it ALL up for me. Big time.

Now we seem to be in the hormonal, stubborn, I can't get enough of you but I don't need your advice or opinion stage. sigh.

However, on the topic of one on one time, we have just instituted "Our Day" which has been Sundays. Even as an only child she shares me with a lot of people, so Sundays are just for us. We both like it a lot.

The readers who didn't like you asking for help remind me of certain radio show listeners or TV critics. If you don't like it, don't watch it, read it, listen to it, support it. Take your ball and go home.

winecat said...

I love your idea of spending one on one time with each of them. What a special treat for all of you. Can't wait to hear how girl's night out turned out.

You're doing a great job Snick. I don't think you tell yourself that enough so I thought I'd remind you.

Angela said...

Both my children began the "terrible twos" at around 18 months and it lasted a very, very long time, I definitely sympathize with you. One on one time is really special, that's wonderful that you have the chance to have that with Maddie. Hope you have a wonderful time together, children don't need anything too fancy or expensive, even if you just go for a walk with her or get some ice cream, I am sure she will just love getting to spend time with you alone.

Anonymous said...

"And for those of you who were affronted that I asked for help, I hear you."

You hear us, but you're STILL going to publish everyone else's ideas and pass them off as your own, aren't you? You basically admitted you're doing something shameful but you don't care and you're going to go ahead and do it anyway.

Anything to make that buck, huh?

Anonymous said...

Oh, anonymous, give it a rest. Nobody offered any ideas to snick without knowing exactly how she plans to use them. Buzz off.

M in G said...


Yep, I'm afraid it's the terrible threes... When a mom friend told me that, and my son was only two, I was pissed! :) But now that my son's turned four, I'm starting to see changes for the better. It happens gradually, but you do notice it, and it feels great. You'll begin to get glimpses of that maturity at times over the next year. Hang in there.

For the life of me, I just do NOT understand why people are taking pot shots at you for writing this book. Most of the ideas people are suggesting are not copyrighted or "owned" by those people -- most of them are simple suggestions that in my opinion are either common sense, or frankly, already in the public domain. You'll gather and compile these and other ideas, and will edit them appropriately, and the book publisher will package it in a marketable way. There is absolutely NOTHING shameful or unethical about making money from this approach if people are willing to buy the book. That's how most of the publishing industry works!

Seriously, what is WRONG with you people? Sounds like pure jealousy to me!

buddha_girl said...

Buddha revved up for the hell when he was almost three. I had stupidly convinced myself that the worst of the twos would peter out, and the threes would be a joyous celebration.

Oh misled soul, Buddha Girl. He turns four in June. He's still hell on wheels. Most days, he's a loveable mush. Those "off" days?

I announced in public that he was for sale last week. I think that's it in a nutshell. There were no takers.