Monday, December 08, 2008

when they are good they are very good; but when they are bad, there isn't a word for it

After I picked the children up from school on Friday, I decided to take them to the Christmas parade on Coronado Island. I've written about Coronado before. It's a beautiful, beautiful place.

So Friday while I was there with all four of the children in their matching Christmas outfits, we were walking along the boardwalk that separates the majestic Del Coronado Hotel from the magnificent Pacific Ocean along with the scores and scores of people who had congregated to see the annual parade.

Right about that time, which just so happened to be the most inopportune time, William starts prancing and jumping around like only a four-year-old boy (who needs to use the restroom) can do. Before less than two seconds had lapsed, he loudly exclaimed, "MOMMY! I HAFTA GO POTTY!!"

And because I am not yet courageous enough to go out without a potty chair with us, I whipped out the one I had packed beneath the stroller and helped him to sit down. As William is doing his business, I was taking a glimpse around at my beautiful surroundings, while trying to shield my son from all of the people that were strolling past. When I thought that William was taking a little too long and might have dozed off, I cautiously asked, "William, are you done?" and looking up at me with a bright red face, he grunted, "NO! I. Am. Going. Poooooop!"

I'd guess that only eight people heard him say it.

Surely there were no more than twenty.

While I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to dispose of a potty chair full of poop on the boardwalk outside of the upscale Del Coronado Hotel, a group of four people that overhead my son stopped to talk with me. One of the people, a man with a slightly rotund abdomen, laughed and said, "That sure brings back memories of when my children were little. When they've got to go, they've got to GO!"

William glanced up at him and exclaimed, "Mommy look!! There is a man with a baby in his tummy!!" As soon as he said, "Mommy look!!" I knew exactly where the conversation was going and I tried to stop him from talking by opening my eyes as wide as I could and frowning. I even tried talking. But instead of stopping him, it fueled the inquiry because Elizabeth and Carolyn put their hands out and asked "Can I feel it?!" and William gave me a quizzical look and replicating my bulging-eye expression asked, "Mommy? Why are you looking at me like that? What does that mean?"

I smiled at the man and to my son replied, "That means LOOK! I think I see a dolphin swimming in the ocean!"

Today, we took the children to the store to pick up a few items that we desperately needed.

After meandering around Target for a solid 30 minutes with a cart full of goods, Charlie went to check out while I picked out several boxes of Christmas cards. As I stood looking at the various card selections, with my heart beating out of my chest because I knew that my window of opportunity to complete shopping was coming to a close, I could overhear my family walking towards the cash register.

Elizabeth had picked up a zebra striped toiletry bag and was shoving it full of whatever caught her eye. William had picked up a pirate birthday gift bag and was shoving it full of whatever caught his eye. Carolyn was trying to corral her siblings by playing the roll of enforcer. She sounded like me, in a four-year-old body.

"NO! Don't go over there! Don't TOUCH anything. Do you hear me? Are you listening to me? Come over HERE!" But then she, herself, would be drawn off to touch things, including a delicate fountain that wobbled and almost toppled when she stuck her hands on it. Despite Charlie's pleas. Despite 1, 2, 3. Despite everything we've learned from Love and Logic.

As they drew closer to the cash register, Charlie had the unfortunate job of telling his son and daughter that the bags that they had stuffed full of whatever, would not be coming home with us. And from at least 100 feet away and through the holiday weekend chatter, I could hear the screaming begin.

Charlie would later tell me that he has never in his entire life experienced a temper tantrum like the one he experienced, today. While William started to get more and more wound up, Elizabeth who had also started to throw a fit, realized that her brother was going to have a big enough breakdown to cover them both.

And so he did.

Arms waving. Legs kicking. SCREAMING.

But seeing as Charlie had a cart full of stuff that we needed, he worked his way though the line before picking up a back-arching, head banging William, and speeding out to the car.

The rest of the day - and in to tonight - Charlie has been questioning if he handled the situation well. After the children were tucked in to bed, we sat discussing our techniques and strategies and what we should be doing differently. Short of reading a host of books on the subject of preschool discipline, we are prepared to carry duct tape and a taser gun.

Seeing as my husband didn't go completely crazy in the store, I think that he handled the situation very well. Unlike me, who just today when the girls were driving me nuts over something I cannot even recall, told them that I was going to eat them whole.

Which although that may seem bad, it's probably not as bad as when I took them shoe shopping two weeks ago and bought the girls dress shoes (that less than 24 hours later, Elizabeth destroyed when she scratched almost all of the patet leather off the tops), and they were rolling on the floor and knocking items off display and I hissed if they kept it up, I was going to send them straight back to God.

Here I am thinking that I'm fit to home school. All along I was certain that four would be so much easier than three. So what happens at five? Please tell me!!

What happens then?

Do their heads start spinning around on their shoulders?


  1. the short answer is YES! sorry! My oldest just turned 5 and OMG.....

  2. hmmm...maybe the best approach is to go on the offensive and be proactive rather than reactive? as much as you wanted to go to target as a family, perhaps only sending one adult would have made the whole situation avoidable? that's always my strategy ... although i hated having to separate and not do "family" events, it was easier in the end. (and still is!)

  3. You bust me up, J. Your kids are going to have a great sense of humor.

    Or so they'll tell their therapists.

    Your adoring fan,

  4. At 5, they go to Kindergarten, and the world becomes right again. :)

  5. Hey Jen - what happens at 5 is that it really and truly does get easier.

    My boys were absolute monsters at 4. I wanted to give them away almost daily but worried that they would just be returned.

    They are now 5-1/2 and are sooooo much better. I can take them anywhere and do almost anything with them.

    You'll get there - it does get better!

  6. 5 is easier than 4 but then again, I have twins, not triplets. And my twins are the youngest of my 4 children, so...I guess I've got nothin' for ya. Sorry. ;-)

    Your threats are so much more creative than mine. I LOVE the "send them straight back to God" line! I may use it.

  7. OOOOHHHHHH! Duct tape and a taser. Never thought of that but it sounds like a really good idea. Gotta love it when they embarass the hell out of ya!

  8. I think you're doing a wonderful job with your children. :)

  9. Send them straight back to them whole. OMG, every time I read your blog I laugh my ass off. I think you and Charlie are wonderful parents, and your kids are great. Oh and yes, at 5 their heads do spin around, and somtimes pop right off, (super glue along with duct tape and a taser are a mothers must)!

  10. Four is about the worst age there is. Though I haven't hit the teenage years yet, so I might revise at that point. I try to do most of my shopping without the kids... can you split them up, take one of them to Target with you as a special outing with Mommy that involves a stop at Starbucks afterward if they are very good in Target, and leave the rest home with Charlie?
    Your Coronado story had me rolling in laughter. -Anita R.

  11. With five comes a bit more understanding about responsibility and the way things are supposed too be. Also, embarrassment. Five year olds get embarrassed, which can turn into them being able to understand why saying a man is pregnant, isn't really acceptable.

    At four they are reactive and do things just to see what will happen. i.e. how quick your eyes will bug out and you head will explode. Five is better. Six is amazing. The verdict is out on seven, since we've had that for two days here, but so far, seven seems okay too.

    I have only one four year old and I'm about ready to sell her to the circus, every single day. I can only guess how crazy yours must be.

  12. 5 is sooooooooooooo much easier than 4!!! SO.MUCH.EASIER.

    My SIL told me years ago that ages 5-12ish are a total breeze and so far she is right. My 6 year old twins require a fraction of the time and energy that my 18 month old singleton does!

    Love the Christmas outfits...they all look adorable!!!


  13. It's not you, it's Target. It's the type of place that can turn, otherwise normal, well behaved(ish) children into devil spawn.

  14. LMAO.. Sorry J. Love you!

    I told A some crazy shit, too.

    So, if you end up in hell, you'll be in good company. Lol!

  15. When you have five, will you still blog to let me know?

    Man, I'm so glad mine are a year older than yours. I've picked mine up by the torsos, left the cart in the aisle, and drug mine to the car before, kicking and screaming. Good times.

    Then mine turned four and stopped acting like the spawn of Satan. I'm not sure I know what this means for YOU. Muhahahahhahahha

    You got to check the Las Vegas marathon on my blog today. This guy ran the whole marathon barefoot, dressed like Elvis. We were standing around the 20 mile mark, so he had been running 20 miles barefoot already. Maybe you should try that next time. I'll get you an Elvis outfit. :)

  16. one suggestion for you -- get a potette. it is a take along potty that folds very small and has disposable bags, very reminiscent of bags for dog poop.

  17. First, thanks for the Hanukkah shout out on Twitter...LOL!

    Second, sounds like you guys handled the Target situation how I would've handled it!

    Third, the fat guy in Coronado deserves to be called preggo, if he was that big! Haha! Maybe it will turn his life around and inspire him to live healthier!

  18. You got 4 kids dressed up so beautifully, and you are looking to US for ADVICE?! Please share how you did THAT and still managed to want to go out with them!!

  19. Five has been easier than 3 or 4 for my oldest. My second little guy is 4 now and he's just a breeze at any age... such an easy kid. Now we'll have to see what happens when the two sets of twins hit that age. I can tell you that 2 years old with the first set is like trial by fire. I'm scared.

  20. Oh man...I can't imagine some of that. lol

    But, I agree...kudos to your hubby for not losing it!