First, I want to thank the friends that commented on Facebook and on my blog with your wonderful suggestions. I will try them all. Feel free to lend any other helpful tips that you've learned by trial and error.
I just had a few other thoughts about this stage and age and the last blog on this subject was getting too long.
Theo has picked up on what he has to do to get a reaction out of us. I don't know what he's hoping to achieve because it isn't a pleasant reaction, but I'm seeing an ugly pattern that I don't exactly know how to curtail. Whenever Theo isn't getting his way, he'll do something just to piss me off. That's the way I see it anyway. I'm not sure what his true intentions are. I'm thinking he just wants to show me who's who in our relationship. He knows the things he isn't supposed to do, so he'll go straight to one of those no-no behaviors when he's not getting what he wants and before you know it, he's in double trouble.
Theo has some cardboard touch and feel flash cards and he knows he's not supposed to bend them or chew on them.
Me: Theo. NO! Don't bend your flash cards. Not nice. You will hurt them.
Theo: bendy bendy bendy, Ha! Ha!
Me: getting up, chasing after him, Hey. I said no!
Theo: running faster, bendy bendy, Ha!
Me: catching him, snatching the card out of his hand, I said NO. We don't bend the cards. Not nice. Turning away, feeling like the victor.
Theo: runs to pick up a MegaBlock, attempts to pound it into Dexter's soft spot and gets within an inch of doing just that before I grab his wrist. He looks at me as if to say in a sinister voice, If you don't let me destroy all my stuff, I'll destroy everything that matters to you. Bending a flash card doesn't seem so bad now, DOES IT LADY? Muuuuahahahaha.
Okay, Theo doesn't have a sinister voice. But if he did, it would be perfect for those moments. Time out ensues. Did he win, after all? Because you know the time out debacle is him getting lots of attention for acting like a crazed lunatic.
I feel a disclaimer coming on. Let me back up a second. I don't want to paint a picture of this terrible little boy. These frustrations I'm having last moments. There are certainly times when Theo can be completely darling. Sure, he's frustrating a lot of the time right now. But he's also smart and amazing and cute and funny and and and and... you know. The list goes on. I love him like crazy. I can't imagine being more proud of any accomplishment, ever in my life, than my kids.
Point is, I feel like I'm losing ground. I want to be a good mom. I want to raise good kids that turn into good grown-ups. I want them to feel loved and I want them to have everything they need (and then some). Every piece of me wants to spoil them rotten but at the same time, I want them to know what earning money means...to value of their belongings and each other. I want them to respect me and love me. I want them to look up to me. I want to be the one they run to when they need a hug. I want to be a good role model for them. Not through yelling, smacking their hands, and shoving them into the corner. So I guess what I'm asking is this: Is it too early to worry about all this? Or too late? From what I hear, it's only going to get worse. A. Lot. Worse.
I need advice about what to do in those moments. The real crazy ones that make me want to scream into my pillow. Hey. I should try that - maybe Theo would think I was just crazy enough not to mess with. Eh, probably not.
p.s. Dexter laughed, for real giggles, last night. Sweetest sound and best feeling ever, when your baby laughs like that. Why can't they always be that adorable?