Saturday, November 03, 2007

let the good times roll

Only when I became a parent of three-year old triplets did I realize that I have a volatile temper.

When Carolyn was sitting on the potty last week and Elizabeth was ramming her tricycle in to her, over and over and over again, and William was in the midst of breaking the baby's gymini, and Henry was crying to be fed and the dog was howling in the garage ... and I was on hold for five minutes with Target because they charged me for three boxes of diapers when I only bought two ... and call waiting was beeping with a call from my podiatrist's office .... suddenly, my head felt like a breakfast cereal.

Snap, Crackle, Pop.

I never use to yell but it seems that more and more, talking with an extremely elevated tone to my voice is the only effective way to get 3-three year olds attention. Unless I ask "Who wants ice cream?!" I might as well be speaking in Arabic.

YES. I've read 1, 2, 3 Magic. This is worthy of a posting in and of itself.

YES. I do time out. A lot. Am quite good at it.

YES. I've spanked. But I don't like doing this. At all.

YES. I've implemented a reward system. My children eat the stickers.


Try getting 3-three year olds in to the house when they are splashing in a pool.

Or, get 3-three year olds in to a car when you have some place to be and they start taking off their clothes while you are buckling their sibling in to the carseat.

Or, get 3-three year olds out of a car and in to the house - when you really have to use the restroom.

Or, get 3-three year olds in to the bath.

Or, get 3-three year olds out of the bath.

Or, get 3-three year olds to the table for breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.

Or, get 3-three year olds in to bed.

Or, get 3-three year olds to do anything for that matter.

And now ... add a baby in to the mix.

Lest I paint a terribly chaotic picture (oops, too late), there is some control to this house. But it is much more difficult to manage the mob children now than it was a mere six months ago.

There is drama everywhere.

The girls are hysterical over who gets to use the one Princess Cup that someone gave them for their birthday. I mean, they are hysterical. No one wants to use "icky" Dora the Explorer. Why would they take turns? That makes no sense. They want instant gratification. They want it NOW. Everyone is also fighting over a tiny wooden zebra, a tiny wooden alligator and a tiny wooden lion. Even though we have three of each. Everyone wants the exact same one.

After listening to the screaming and trying to break up multiple fights, I finally snap. I pick up the Princess Cup and throw it in the trash can. The children bury their faces in their hands and fall to the ground crying. I then open the back door and fling the zebra, alligator and lion over the fence before closing the door and dusting off my hands.


The neighbors must think I am positively mad hurtling tiny wooden animals over the fence and yelling "BID IT ADIEU!!" at my adorable preschoolers.

What kind of monster witch throws their child's toys over a fence?!

Here's a clue: The same kind of witch that has decided that it is going to be an extremely lean Christmas because these children have more toys than they know what to do with and they don't need any more. It will only be more cause for fighting.

Moments later, there is silence. The Princess Cup is forgotten, the zebra, alligator and lion are forgotten. The kids are busy doing something else. The baby looks at me and laughs. And then, they are fighting again, over a piece of lint that they plucked off the couch.


I grab my head in my hands and yell "Sweet Jesus in Heaven, help me. PLEASE HELP ME!!"

These children are emulating my behavior. Sometimes it melts my heart and other times, it makes me want to go bury my head in the sand. When I see them hug one another - or share a coveted toy - I want to take credit for showing them how to be kind. When I watch them grasp their hands and give thanks before a meal, I feel proud that they are listening.

But when I see them scream and hit and fling toys - I want more than anything, to scream even louder. Just to make their screaming stop. Good Lord. Why can't they just get along?! How is it possible that a 3-year old in a full fledged tantrum makes me, a grown and educated woman, have a full fledged tantrum??

How is that possible??

When we went to the pediatrician for their 3-year check up this past week, the doctor commented on the bite marks he saw on Carolyn's arm. When he asked how they got there, she pointed to William. When the doctor was examining William, a few minutes later, he noted the bite marks on William's arm and asked if Carolyn had retaliated and bitten him back?

William shook his head and said "No, dat's from Mommy."

The doctor looked at me with big eyes and I immediately felt myself start to flush. In my defense, I bit him after he was on a full-fledged biting spree and had bitten his sisters, repeatedly. Come on, doc. It's not like I bite my 3-year old son, just for kicks. Or, do I?

But you know what? It worked. He hasn't bitten anyone, since.

Seriously. Life was so much easier before the kids had any teeth or could talk.

Something I've learned over the past 36-months is that it is really tough work, this parenting gig. How my mother raised seven children that had to pass through the preschool years before arriving in to adulthood, is worthy of a really grand prize. Whenever I talk to her, she laughs and laughs that one day my blog postings sound like I'm on the top of the world and the very next day it sounds like I'm ready to suck on a gas pipe. That's pretty concise. And accurate.

But something else I've learned is that naughty children?

They taste just like chicken.


  1. Oh my dear, I love, absolutely love, how you see the world. I ask one question- you may marvel at your wonderful mother's skill at raising all those children, but I ask - did she raise three of those of the same age or was it spread out over several years? I think you are doing spendidly, and thank goodness you can come on your blog and let your frustrations out through your fingers - what a stress relief that is!

    p.s. Deep breaths hun - slowly in, now out, in now out.

    Only what - 20 more years before they are adults? hehe You can do it!

  2. What an honest and hilarious post. You make me both dread and look forward to Cooper turning 3. but first, I've gotta make it through the terrible 2's!

  3. Coming from another mother of trips + 1, (Hi, I live just north of you in So. Orange Co.) the year my kids were 3 was really tough. I lost my temper all the time. It is a tough age with triplets. They didn't magically become angels at four either, but this year has been a lot easier despite ritual defiance and annoying preschooler behaviors.
    I love reading your blog, not just to commiserate, but for the healthy dose of humor. Hang in there... keep counting to ten.

  4. Long-time reader....don't think I've ever commented :). I often feel like all I do is yell (and I don't even have triplets!)...and I'm not much into reading parenting books-but a while back on the Today show they had an author on who wrote a book called ScreamFree Parenting. I'm thinking of checking it out myself Anyway-just thought I'd throw that out there (not that you have a bunch of free time to be reading! lol). Hang in there...I'm sure they'll be on to another phase before you know it :).

  5. You crack me up! I scream too and lose my temper. 3 @ three is hard! Thanks for the good laughs and hang in there!

  6. Ahhh... How I dread next year.

    Fwiw, I bit Will... He never bit another child again. Did I feel good about it? HELL NO! But drastic times call for drastic measures... And if one of my kids has bitten his brothers until they bled, it's drastic.

    And just think, soon enough, they'll be in school :)

  7. You don't have a volitile temper - you have three year olds in your house! Totallly not the same thing...

  8. When my husband gets home I am making him read your last post. It is so right on what my life is like right now. I'm a mommy of 2 year old twins plus one infant and yesterday I woke up without a voice. My husband says it's from all the yelling and I'm embarrased to admit he is right. When did I become the type of mom to yell? Anyway, it's post like your last one that make me feel sane. :)

  9. I am a new reader to your blog. I enjoy your blogs so much. First of all, I can relate so much. I have a 2-1/2 year old and a newborn. I am impressed with your writing. It makes me feel like I'm in the moment with you and you are so humorous. Also I'm impressed with your parenting abilities.
    I think biting back is ok. I've done it. It's called love and logic. He can understand that type of consequence better.
    Didn't mean to make such a long comment. Just simply wanted to say you're doing a great job and I love your blog.

  10. You are not alone. Some days I get a sore throat from screaming back at them. My children are like attacking pit-bulls. I feel like I have to break their concentration to stop their screaming.

  11. So I'm normal!!

    I could have written this post! It seems like all I do is yell these days. And loose my cool over silly stuff! (the bickering and whining and the NOT listening)

    I was really hoping that 3 would be easier, but that hope is fading.

    I have almost 3 year old twins and almost 1 year old singleton. I can relate to alot of what you write, minus a toddler.

    And I so do enjoy reading your blog! You don't candy coat it and I love it!

  12. Oh, and I know of another triplet mom who bit her daughter to get her to stop biting.

    This daughter (she was 2 1/2, I think) would point to the bite mark on her own arm and say 'Bad Mommy, no bite' but she never did it again!

  13. I don't think I could handle 3 three-year-olds for a whole day/night. And YOU do it day in and day out with no extra help AND a baby! Honestly I don't know how you have any sanity left. I can completely understand your highs and lows.

  14. i am 44 years old and just got my first computer a week ago ; others take more pictures of my children than i do; i think most of my community has seen me in my bathrobe; and up until this year friends have bathed my children more than i. you ask me why? i now know that since i found your blog yesterday you of all people would understand- i have a 5yr. old boy and 4yr. old bgb triplets! i stongly concur that 3 years old has been the most difficult and post poddy training at 4 years old has its own mindbending and backbreaking days. i cried with relief when i read "dear children" and now your honest commentary on yelling; just to know that it is the developmental stage multiplied by 3 plus one and not something gone horribly wrong with our parenting. your honest commentary has providentially encouraged me. we must live close because my family was evacuated during the san diego fires. It would be grand to meet you but i know full well how difficult it is to add anything more to an overflowing plate. i'm so pleased to at least have been given your blog address. thank you for putting your thoughts and actions into words.

  15. I have to say that I refer to the year my twins were three and my singleton was 16 mos as a "dark year". The stuff that occurred was mind bending. When the twins turned 4 things really changed for me. I swear I appreciate them more since that time ended as there were times I didn't like them very much!

    Unfortunately my singleton (who was the easiest baby/toddler) had a year of "three" worse then they did. She just turned 4 in July and is FINALLY coming around.

    They develop so much that year but everyone knows it, lol!

    Hang in there! I can't imagine 3- 3 year olds as not only do they get into with the parent they also push each other's buttons immensely (boy do I know!)

    Wyatt & Paige 10/12/01
    Claire 7/9/03

  16. Oh that is so funny. I think you did the right thing. When they fight, take the thing away and get rid of it. Ask them "Do you want Mom to throw it over the fence?" You were too young to remember Betty Kohler who never yelled and she had six children. She would just look sad and Whisper their name. It worked for Betty--of course she did spend some time in the nut house.
    I remember throwing the peanut butter at the tree when Beth insisted on only eating Peanut Butter. Have you tried fainting when they fight or collapsing or crying? When they get dramatic, show them what you can do on the stage. When they fight, put them out side and tell them you will not permit it---in a whisper.
    Another thought is to put one on a plane to Noni for Boot camp.

  17. Oh, I have a confession to make. If I'm having a particularly bad day - I read your blog. It makes me feel so much better about only having one 3-year-old and a 17-month-old. I know that whatever is happening to me is happening to you in triplicate and you are surviving with your humor intact. This probably doesn't make you feel better but I wanted you to know that you are helping people, er, well, me anyway.

  18. It sounds like you could really use a break! Could you recruit your people to help with the kids and take a long weekend away by yourself? Go visit a friend or something?


  19. My dear Jen, you deserve a grand prize as well. It's amazing how such little beings can get to us. I never thought I would be the kind of Mommy to yell but the closer to three we get, the more I do. Maybe we could get you a countdown ticker until the trips go to school, of course then you'll have a whole new slew of things to deal with! Have a great weekend.

  20. I also bit my biter. You know what? He hasnt bit since.

    Dammit, do what you have to do. If that includes sending zebra's over the fence then so-be-it. Parenting is hard and I have yet to find one book that explains it all and works for all things. So until they come up with a 'duct tape them to the celing' book I will simply improvise, and sometimes improvising includes unconventional tactics.

  21. LOL Jen, I hear you! Just wanted to add a suggestion about the Xmas presents issue. I also hate buying 'yet more stuff' for my kids and when they were born, started two nice traditions. One was that everyone gets a new pair of (in our case Channukah) pajamas. Something cute/character/funny or different to what they would normall get. At age almost-7, my trio eagerly await their new Channukah jammies. We also do a whole host of other fun but useful stuff - like (and I know yours might be a bit young) sporting equipment, funky socks, pool toys, etc. Things which have a defined use AND a defined shelf life, or are just that little bit 'cool' as to not be deemed ordinary (like a pair of toe socks!).

    The second tradition is that they pick one thing to give away. I take them shopping (with a defined amount limit) and they pick something they think someone with NO presents might like. We then go together to donate it.

    I know yours might be little yet for these traditions, but it's food for thought.


    PS...there are days when throwing toys over a fence will seem MINOR in comparison. :)

  22. Long-time reader, 1st time poster!

    I love, love, love your blog! And set-up a 'google reader' so I would always know as soon as it was updated.

    As for the biting, my sister did the same thing to her daughter. I cringe every time she tells me but just like you, she never bit again. Sometimes an 'eye for an eye' really seems to work.

    As for throwing things over the fence, I think it is a great idea. I am a teacher and any time 2 (or more) students argue over a toy, I say, 'I will give you a minute to figure this out or else I will take it away from both of you.' Most of the time, they would figure out how to share but I definitely have taken away my share of toys.

    M. Kate

  23. Jen,

    I have two really good triplet mom friends with triplets that only weeks apart in age from your triplets. All last year, when we were at dinner together, or meetings together, or at functions, I KNOW they were wondering what had happened to me and how I'd lost control? They never said it to my face, by I KNOW they thought it. Don't you remember the balloon incident at Trader's and me dragging Amanda across the parking lot because the balloon was the WRONG COLOR? Or the Sam's Club receipt incident?

    I'm happy to report that at dinner on Thursday night, the other two triplet moms were complaining about what has happened to their children? How could the fighting be so bad?


    I'm also happy to report that we've finally turned a corner here and like my other triplet mom friend told me who has 6 year old triplets, "You have to get through the threes, to get to the fours. You'll understand once you've been through it. I can't believe all my little people are still alive. It's a miracle."

    So buckle down and get ready! You've got one hell of a year to survive!

  24. I never used so many swear words before I had children (at least in my mind)
    Does that tell you how I can sympathize with you.

    You're doing a great job.

  25. One of many cuzzins'11/4/07, 4:53 PM

    Hee, hee, hee!

    I love the biting part of your story. It brings back memories. Yes, I also bit my child and it did the trick. We never had any biting issues after my tasty mouthful.

    I never threw any toys over the fence, but had a similar tantrum of my own. It was a Sunday and my 3 year old was doing something in Church. I can't recall what, but I know he was being very disruptive and embarrassing me during Mass. I carried him out, threw him in the carseat and gunned our family van out of the Church parking lot. After burning rubber into our garage, I picked up a snow shovel and dramatically shoveled piles of his toys into a garbage can. The poor kid stood dumb-founded. He was in such shock he couldn't even cry as he watched in horror.

    Later when I cooled off, I felt like a terrible mean mother. But, if I ever wanted to make an impact on him, I simply reminded him of the day I shovelled up his toys. Immediately, his behavior would improve. It was a costly lesson, but it left an impression...and, he never acted up in Church again.

    You have set the bar. The kids now know you mean business. The fence is still there and more stuff will get hurled if necessary. The experts say rewards and positive reinforcement is the preferred parenting style, but every now and then a negative consequence is needed to emphasize your point.

    Don't doubt yourself, don't beat yourself up and don't sell yourself short. You are doing a phenomenal job!

    Regina ;)

  26. Tracy in Minnesota11/5/07, 10:48 AM

    I don't know if you'll come back and read a comment on an older posting, but I just had to comment. I'm so glad to know it's not just me! My youngest of four is currently 3, and I frequently say he's ensuring his position as the youngest in the family. At least, with three older children I have the knowledge that this too shall pass, but there's always that nagging little feeling -- what if it doesn't?

    I've found myself heartily glad that we live out in the "exurbs" where the neighbors cannot hear the yelling and screaming -- of either my kids or myself. I'm sure Child Protection would feel the need to get involved if anyone overheard us some days.

  27. Oh bless you. I always wondered why they called it the terrible twos when it's the threes that are the real trouble. And you've got 3! I figure they just have to be alive and they'll get to 4, eventually.

  28. It's one of those you've-got-to-laugh
    -to-keep-from-crying things!

    I have had ONE three year send me into a frenzied mama tantrum on more than one occasion. Having three bounce off each other is something I can only marvel at while reading your blog.

    You'll pull off this whole parenting gig with grace, humor and four lovely children too.

  29. I teach preschool and everyone always says I don't know how you you do the 2 year old class but guess what I would do anyday over the three year old room. Take deep breaths and I don't believe any of the books work personally. But if you are into doing art I have some great ideas. you email me at

  30. so jen I was just reading my comment that and I did not spell my email address correctly. It is I am at home sick and let me tell you this yesterday I lost my voice at work and who do you think ran the room? Me or the 8 two year olds the latter.