Has anyone here ever read the children's book "No, David!" by David Shannon?
This book is cracking me up. The author's note explains that as a child, he once drew a series of pictures of himself doing all the things he wasn't supposed to do, and all of them were captioned with his mother's inevitable words: "No, David!" So, as an adult, he decided to take that concept and weave it into a children's book.
It is hilarious. David jumps on his bed, plays baseball in the house and breaks a vase, and he splashes water all over the floor of his bathroom. Meanwhile, the narrator-mother says things like, "No, David, no!" and "Settle down!" and "Go to your room." But at the end, as David looks forlornly up from his Time Out corner, she tells him "Davey, come here," and she wraps him in a hug and says, "David, I love you."
Awwww. That's what William always says at the end of the book. (He hugs me, too.)
As for me, I was drawn to the book because I find myself saying, "No, William!" an increasing number of times each day (in an increasingly louder voice), as my toddler explores his independence. His currently infuriating activities are limited mostly to throwing his sippy cup off the highchair tray onto the floor, screeching loudly and joyfully whenever I'm trying to have an conversation on the phone, and dragging every single piece of tupperware out of the one kitchen cabinet without a latch. This is the life, right? Yes, Life with a Toddler.
William already knows he's not supposed to do certain things. But you know, I think he just likes to get a rise out of me by doing the things he knows darn well he's not supposed to do. For example, he's well aware that he is not supposed to toss things off his highchair tray, but he reliably does so anyway. And I have to admit, that's the one thing that really drives me nuts. It doesn't bother David so much, but for some reason, it just makes me so mad! I always have to pick up the spoon/fork/bowl/sippy and wipe up whatever's left behind, and then I have to either get him a replacement or take it away altogether. And when I sternly say, "No, William, we do not throw our sippy cup off our highchair tray!" he just laughs and laughs. Argh!!! Nothing has solved this problem yet. Not ignoring it, not scolding, not ending the meal. Argh argh argh. I know exactly how the mother in the "No, David!" book felt.
David has suggested it's time to institute Time Out when William doesn't stop with a stern "No, William." I'm new at this Time Out thing, so I'm not really sure what to do. How long does a toddler get Time Out? How do you get them to understand what you're doing? And God, how do you get them to stay in the place where they're supposed to be having time out? Is this really going to work?
I've tried it once a few days ago. I plopped William down in this little wooden chair in the living room and turned it toward the wall. I told him, "You're having Time Out right now." He immediately began to slide down and out of the chair, so I had to pick him back up and plop him back down again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sort of defeats the purpose if I'm having to interact with him every five seconds, I'd think. Finally after about two minutes of this, I let him go. I had intended to let him sit there and think about what he'd done wrong for a few minutes (what? is that hysterical laughter I hear from all the experienced parents reading this?), then I'd hug him like the mother in the book and say, "William, I love you." But, he just gleefully ran off shouting, and I sat down on the floor and sighed.
Don't worry. I hug him and tell him I love him all the time. And I do love him all the time. But sometimes it's hard to say those words after your child has just swept a tidal wave of food off the highchair tray, spattering the walls, floor and nearby cabinets. Sometimes, I just find myself helplessly screeching, "No, William, NO!!!"