Monday, September 29, 2008


There is a story my mother-in-law has often told me. About BigGeek when he was 3 years old so. They lived in Iran then and BigGeek would play with the kids in the neighborhood. One of the kids belonged to a baggage loader and one day, BigGeek went to this kid’s house and ate some ice-cream. When my mother in law came to know about it, she was not happy. The loader’s family was not rich and ice-cream was a luxury. So that BigGeek did not attempt imposing on the family in the future, she decided to teach him a lesson. “Don’t you get ice cream in our home?” she asked him. “Is what I give you not enough? Do you want more ice-cream? Here, eat this.” She said plonking a huge brick of ice cream in front of BigGeek. The 3-year old, either did not get his mother’s sarcasm or got it but ignored it, in the end, however, he calmly proceeded to finish the ice-cream. One huge 1-liter brick. I have often laughed at the story – my mother-in-law has many such incidents to retell, but yesterday I almost sought solace in it. This post is going to be long. Consider yourself duly warned.

So yesterday, the day was going in a pretty routine fashion, when Chip came holding a bag of caramels (a part of the anniversary gift we got from a dear friend). “I want to eat some candy.” He said. “No, Chip, no candy, not now. It’s time for a nap.” I replied. That was enough to send Chip into a nuclear meltdown. He stomped and whined and cried. I ignored and restated my position. A few minutes later a quieter version of Chip came up to me. “Can I pee in my pants?” he asked me, defiantly. He was pushing my buttons. “Go ahead. You know where you are supposed to pee, I am not going to tell you.” I was exasperated. A few minutes later, Chip came back, with a hop in his step, wearing a fresh pair of pants. I was aghast. Thinking he was just fooling, BigGeek went to his room and found his old pants and undies, soaking wet, carefully placed in his hamper. Chip was summoned and sent to his room with a good sounding. “Think about what you have done.” Chip was whining and crying. But BigGeek shut the door to his room and told him to come back out when he was ready to apologize and behave himself.

A few minutes later, the crying turned to a request. “I want to go do poo-poo.” BigGeek, thinking it was just a ruse to get out of the room, told him to stay put and do it on the carpet. “You peed in your pants, you can poop on the carpet.” But the whine grew and a minute later, BigGeek thought Chip really did want to go. So he opened the door and told Chip, he could go to the bathroom, but had to return to his room after he was done. Chip went to the bathroom and sat and five seconds later, ran back to his room, declaring he was going to poop on the carpet. We were convinced, he was pushing our buttons, he really did not want to poop, but had just wanted to get out of his room. BigGeek turned his back and we went about doing our chores when few minutes later, Chip proclaimed cheerfully. “I am do-ne. I am do-ne.” I could not believe it. Chip had actually pooped on the carpet. I had never seen such defiance from him before. Never. At this point, I totally lost it. I smacked his bottom and told him I refused to clean his bum and the mess. I was not going to take him to India to attend his uncle’s wedding. He was to stay home while his father and I went by ourselves. At that, he started howling. We let him cry for 20 minutes. He said he was sorry that he had pooped on the carpet, but I would not budge. He said he felt like throwing up – he was crying so much – but I still would not let him step out of the room (the door was open) BigGeek cleaned the mess while I fumed. I told Chip he was to go to bed. His father and I would decide in the meanwhile what was to be done about him. Chip cried himself to sleep. It was hard for BigGeek and me to be so hard on him, but he had to learn his lesson, we thought.

An hour later, he woke up and behaved like everything was just peachy. Like nothing happened. I have him his milk and his snack and told him that he would be allowed to go with us only if he managed to behave and not throw tantrums. One more tantrum and he would have to stay back. “V-mawshi will come and give you food, but otherwise you are on your own. You can eat all the candy you want. You can watch all the TV you want” I told him. He agreed to behave himself and I thought, this was it, when an hour later he came downstairs and told me he had eaten some homeopathy pills and he was sorry and he would not do it again. I sniffed his mouth, sure enough it smelled of homeopathic pills. I went upstairs and asked BigGeek if he knew what Chip had done. BigGeek replied yes and that he had talked to Chip about it and Chip had asked BigGeek not to tell me. BigGeek had told him, that he would not tell, but Chip HAD to ‘fess up to me. Which is why Chip came down and told me what he had done and had apologized. I had enough of this. I took some blank sugar pills and told him he could eat all this “medicine” and when he was done, I would take him to the hospital and let the doctors deal with him. He started crying again, but in a few minutes started picking the sugar pills, enjoying the “candy”. I had reached the end of my tethers. I sat down Chip and told him this was it. I had enough of him. I was going to tell the recycling guys to take him and bring me a “nicer Chip.” Chip went awfully quiet. “Am I trash?” he finally asked. I looked with a lump in my throat at BigGeek and saw tears in his eyes. Three years of father hood and I had never once seen BigGeek’s eyes misting like this over Chip. “No, Chip, you are not trash, but you certainly behave like it sometimes.” I said quietly. He was still mulling over it. “Well, if you put me out and when the trash people come, I’ll ask them, am I trash? They will say, no, you are not trash, you are Chip and they won’t take me. I am not trash, I am Chip.”

Chip must have seen the color drain from my face, as I crept towards BigGeek and buried my face in his shirt. I totally broke down at that. I was heartbroken, exhausted, exasperated even defeated, yet there was a small pride in this mother’s heart. He had stood up to me and reasoned with me, calmly. Chip walked to me and gave me a kiss and said “I will be a good boy, ok? No tantrums. I won’t pee in my pants and poop on the carpet. OK?” “Well you better be” I said composing myself, “because if you are not well-behaved, you are staying home and not attending your uncle’s wedding. Also, until then, you are off candy and off your favorite movies as a punishment for your behavior. You are grounded, dude.” He nodded and BigGeek pulled him in his lap and I gave him a kiss. This will be a day to remember and I hope we reach a stage when we can laugh over it and tell Chip’s kids this story the way BigGeek’s mother tells his story. And yeah, I hope it’s a stage, this defiance. I need some new strategies to deal with it. I am woefully unprepared. I thought teenage is still a decade away.


the mad momma said...

:) i'm sorry you had to deal with that dottie. the brat does it too. and then i say something cutting and he replies in all innocence and the *I* feel like crap.

oh well - atleast we're preparing for their teens....

big hugs to chip and his mommy

Anonymous said...

Arggh, Its sounds really funny when you writy it down, when he said He is Chip not trash.

I have had buttons push by all 4 kids at various times and I have a few methods of dealing with them

1)send them to their room and think what to do

2)Count to ten and breathe so that I dont kill them

My mantra is "This age/stage will pass"

desigirl said...

you did good, dottie. stood your ground and made him realise his mistake. credit to u both that he stood HIS ground and made his point loud and clear too.

wipe your tears babes - your boy's got a sound head on his shoulders.

IBH said...

Plain hugs to you both M says we are preparing for their teens...:)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am delurking for the first time. I have a very difficult and defiant 5 year old. He pushes our buttons all the times but boy some days are so bad I get emotionally drained. The book you had mentioned in your earlier post 'Raising Your Spirited Child' has helped me understand him. I keep re-reading this book and it makes much sense. I hope things get better for you. We take everyday as it comes :-)

DotThoughts said...

mm: thanks.. ach. why us?

asaaan: you are my hero. I have said that before. how do you keep your sanity. its hard with one for me :) And it ended sounding witty, I guess I am getting healed!

deej: i am going to print this comment out and put it on my fridge. thanks, girl!

IBH: lol. I shudder to think what teenage years will bring.

anon: its a great book. I have to do a review on it.. Yesterday I told myself I am going to read the book again. It has helped me understand wehre he comes from too! Hugs to you too.

Neera said...

I hope you and I are able to read this after a year and finally say "So it really was a phase!" I have been meaning to do a post on similar lines about Vansh - u know all these threats - one more naughty thing and u r not going to the mall/park/friend's house with us worked till some time back, not so any more. The pushing buttons thing and then laughing at it is growing by the day. And oh potty at the time of naps/sleeps - tell me abt it!!
But yes I can feel your pride in the fact that he reasoned with u calmly.
I shall watch this space for more ideas - what works particularly well for us is diffusing the situation with humor because I can see that his motive is to intensify it so that patience runs out and we scream at him or threaten him with the aforementioned threats.

Anonymous said...

First time commenting on your wonderful blog. My son is 3 and I can completely relate to the situation. Hang in there, you'll get your "revenge" when you tell this to him when he is a teen ;)


Preethi said...

uhoh.. these kids do push our buttons dont they. Now prepare yourself for a long comment!!
A couple of weeks back Cheeky went for his very first soccer practice.. every time they asked him to do something he would not do it and when they tell him no come do this (for eg come sit down) .. off will run Cheeky to Mommy rubbing his eyes in mock tears!
A little while later he started telling the coach you are bad when he was asked to do something he did not want to. And still later when kids were lining up to take turns to kick the ball he was upset that he was not first in line.. After a while of this, I got tired (M had lost it long before and I had reasoned with him that maybe this was overwhelming for Cheeky) and finally I stomped home in the middle of the session Cheeky in tow. As I got in the car I told him I had nothing to say to him as he had nothing nice to say to anybody.. but then the situation of course got explosive.. kicking screaming and crying.. we got home and I was so frustrated with him.. I packed all his toys in boxes and put them away.. every single toy.. I told him he was grounded.. he could not leave the house, watch TV or get any of his toys back till he behaved! It worked.. he was very upset of course but calmed down and moped around.. A day later one toy came back out.. Once the weekend was up his toys were back in place again!

I am not sure what triggered his behavior.. new circumstances? or was the practice not what he expected? or friends? Later that week when I spoke to some of the moms at school they told me they had similar problems too! Kids using the words bad and mean and hate very often! Maybe it is just part of growing up! So far I seem to have made a point that day.. soccer practice this week went without incident! But really all I can do is keep my fingers crossed!

Rest assured its all part of growing up!! Hugs to both of you! On the lighter side though.. I have to give it to Chip.. he is quite the guy isn't he.. standing up for himself.. and he knows you too well.. Smart Brat!! :)

SilentOne said...

Woah, what a story !! That one is certainly one to be told to the future generations.

Agree with DG, you handled the situation incredibly well.. but kudos to chip too for standing his ground and reasoning so sweetly..

K 3 said...

Sorry honey, bad weekend at our house too. I am glad that both you and BG stood the ground.

No words of wisdom, just hugs and best wishes.

Shobana said...

Haven't gotten to that stage yet! but sorry it was a hard week(end). I really do wonder where that defiance is coming from...coz from ur earlier posts, Chip sounds like an angelic child.

noon said...

Hi Dottie - first of all you told the tale so well - at the end of it, I wanted more stories! :)
But I totally relate to this - my friend and I had a "deep" discussion wondering what this new phase is - aren't terrible twos supposed to be over and things supposed to get defiance is getting replaced by a slightly more grown up version at age three...
Touch points - I just read the chapter on three year olds - well, they are learning about aggression in general and aggression from other kids and it says we ought to worry only if they don't push us to the limits!
Well, nice! :)

Mystic Margarita said...

You and BG handled the situation remarkably well - I would have lost it - patience is not one of my very few virtues.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Hi here. This is the first post I read and I know I'll be coming back for more. In the meanwhile, I'll be going through your archives.

I have two boys, five and almost-two. While the tantrums, tears and defiance are physically and mentally draining, at the same time, the hugs, the laughs and sparkling eyes are uplifting!

We're all sailing in the same can borrow my oar anytime!

Usha said...

I think this is because you are dealing with a super smart kid here - a bit calvin - like. You are at a loss if you have to treat them like a young adult or as a 3 year old child. You want to hug them and give them a tight slap at the same time no?
But I think you are going to have a very enjoyable experience dealing with a super smart teenager - he is going to be a delight.

Itchingtowrite said...

huggs dottie- but oh my god, i a laughing and crying at the same time!! chip "is" so sweet

Monika said...

hugs to u... wondering what lies ahead... kids sometimes are impossible to deal with and sometimes so damn adorable

PG said...

As one comment said, you have a smart boy who knows how to reason with you. And I think it is good. Rishab's OT talked to me about it that children with a good cognitive development do question and reason a lot as they are capable of it and it can make the situation difficult for you. But you are tackeling the situation quite well, and the only thing which she told me for Rishab (but I feel it could apply to any child, and I'm sure you know it too) is a very clear and structured daily routine and clear consequences, which means repeating the consequences till they realise them. (hope what I wrote makes sense, find it hard to translate into English sometimes!)

PG said...

and just wanted to say...we are all in the same boat. Rishab comes and challenges me too about peeing in his pants, when he is angry. :D
And don't worry, you are doing every thing right. :)

Squiggles Mom said...

Oh that was a tough day. Don't have any words of wisdom but here's a hug. Deep breaths.

rrmom said...

Hugs to you! You did the right thing. Kids think that doing such things is fun and if we don't take a stand may do it again. The other day my 4 year old boy R said the same thing that he wants to pee in his pants. I told him he can do so but he has to clean the mess. He did not do it. Don't know what triggered him to ask that.

DotThoughts said...

neera: yeah, i hope so! I have to force myself to try humor when I all see is red!! But thanks for the tip. Will make an effort now.

Veena: Lol! yeah, his father even took a picture. plenty to blackmail him with:)

preethi: its so hard to get inside their heads! glad the pahse with cheeky ended real soon!

SO: you want him?

shobana: I really hope you never get to this stage. it can be quite ugly:(

noon: thassit noon. shipping him off to you. which book which book are you quoting from? pliss givbe name. need encouragement desperately.

mystic: i have no choice :( but i DID loose it this weekend.

mamma mia: I am with you. he gives the best hugs ever! Will check your space for your adventures with your boys!

Usha: yes, he is that. noone will offer to babysit him :) I think you put the finger on the situ - don't know if I should treat him like a young adult or give him a tight slap. And I HOPE you wish comes true.

ITW: don't laugh. don't laugh. I thought you were my friend :( now I know where your loyalties lie. sigh.

monika: this was a very un-adorable pahse. I am scarred by it :)

PG: always look fwd to your thoughtful comments! Yes, I tihnk I need to repreat ad infinitum. So, it does seem to be quite to common thing to pee deliberatly in your pants to show anger. Thanks for sharing that bit with me, pg. All this while I was wondering if he has a developmental problem.

squiggles. deep breaths taken :)

I love Lucy said...

I have no idea what to say except hang in there and *hugs*.

Tharini said...

awwww. I can understand your feelings of exhaustion and wanting new strategies. May I suggest a book I am currently reading...I am finding it pretty amazing and very very simple to follow. Am going to do a post on it...but will mail u the name of the book.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

And with the ever-so-cute look Chip used to ask if he could stay longer at our house, I almost cried!
I learned it the hard way too not to challenge the girls, T2 esply, with something I don't want them to end up taking on

Vinita said... which makes one think.
The reason why your MIL still tells that story is because as a parent she still feels responsible for the way Big Geek was punished and also for the fact that he would WANT to eat ice cream at those people's house.

Kids live in the moment..only the present tense. Big geek must have forgotton the punishment but as a mom she feels repsonsible that she took away his enjoyment of eating ice-cream at his buddy's place. For him it was a simple act of eating ice-cream and enjoying it but as a parent we see much more in it .

Same with chip .. he is not being defiant. He is just trying to feel that he has some control over his little world. So if he can't eat candies at aleast he can pee in his pants. No body can take that away from him. Trust me dottie he is not even trying to push your buttons. At this stage its just about his own little world and trying to make sense of it.
But we as parents start imagining the worse (as to if he is acting this way at 3 how will he act at 13) and take it as a sign of disrespect and disobedience.

The best thing at that time is not to "lose it". Easier said than done though. One more thing to do is when we feel that the situation is getting out of control treat him as though he is your neighbor's son. Then even if we are angry there is still that line of respect which we never cross, our voices are not raised and we feel calmer too.


NainaAshley said...

Take a deep breath! This too shall pass..its just a phase. He was probably just having a bad day. Even we adults have that.

Neera said...

@Vinita : when we feel that the situation is getting out of control treat him as though he is your neighbor's son.

Excellent line Vinita!! Shall remember and use this in times of need. Thank you :)

raindrop said...

I sense your anguish, and it makes me want to reach out and hug you. I don't have kids, but you guys sound like great parents to me. It's clear you act in sync, with his best interest in mind, and that's probably the single most important thing you could do. Chip seems very balanced, but his primitive child's sense of right and wrong doesn't extend to matters of hygiene. To a child, it would seem rather arbitrary to have a special place to 'go potty'. His only real transgression was his disobedience of rules he doesn't understand just yet.

Unrelated, but have you ever read Steven Pinker's 'The Blank Slate'? I think it provides brilliant insight into the evolution of the human mind.

Anonymous said...

oh gosh, it was a really difficult situation! hope this phase would pass away soon..good luck to you and hugs.

Shilpa said...

Dotmom - All I can say is you are both good parents. This too shall pass...

Vinita - loved your advice. My infant son still has a couple of years to go before he reaches/begins all the emotionally challenging (for us parents) phases. When the time comes, I hope to remember such wonderful advise - creative ways of handling the situation...

Kodi's Mom said...

Vinita: I loved your advice and how you phrased it. the trick, i think, is to remember and practice it at ALL times, especially the critical ones.

Dottie: came here to say 'I totally hear you' and 'similar pushing buttons here' - but after reading Vinitha's comment, don't want to use that phrase anymore. as Neera said, someday hopefully we'll all look back at this phase and laugh.

George Andrews Moolekary said...

Hi Kodi's mom, I read your blogs Karma Calling and was touched by your description of Chip's tantrums.

Mama - Mia said...

i am just very stunned and realising that my easy time is coming to an end too!

i think you were incredibly level headed for someone so angry! i would havestarted bawling lot before and ofcos smacked Cubby senseless! sigh!

but he kept his wit about, didnt he?!

love the honesty in your posts.



shweta said...


It happens to me son too really pushes me to a limit..
But somehow..I might be wrong..I have learned another way to stop all this.. I mean a small tantrum leading to really big & unwanted If my son asks for something at wrong a candy..I just either give him 2options to choose from either he gets a really tiny bit & brushes soon after or he get full candy at the time when I feel it is right..luckly we have been able to resolve issues right at that point..depending on his mood he chooses any one option.
This way atleast no tantrums & no uncessary & unwaranted actions need to happen ! Just a thought !
Yes there can be situations where you cannot really give 2 options..but wherever it can..It has been a bliss !!