Divide and conquer

Or, why I should be up for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Tad’s recent stint in speech therapy and Ane’s time at school has really brought into focus just how much these kids need time apart from each other. The difference in their ages means that, for now, there is a disparity in their behavior (a nearly 27-month-old boy versus an almost 4-year-old girl) that can’t quite be surmounted. However, our house is small enough that the common play area (the living room) has become a battlefield as well.

All credit to Grandma for suggesting elements of this, but the easiest way to deal with them nowadays (besides yelling loudly, “Who wants to watch Curious George/Veggie Tales/ Muppet Show?” and distracting them with the TV from killing each other) is to separate them.

This usually means that I wait until Ane commits a punishable offence (hitting, taunting, keeping her brother down under a blanket and trying to ride him like a miniature horse) and then send her to time-out in her room. She usually begs at this point for time-out on the stool in the kitchen, but since the bigger punishment for her is to be sent to her room, guess which one the mean, rotten and nasty Mommy chooses?

After Ane is in her room, with the door closed, Tad calms down considerably. He plays nicely and semi-quietly by himself, occasionally coming to wherever I am (usually in the kitchen making dinner by this point) to check in on me and hug me, or to play the Horta In a Blanket game (he hides under a blanket on the floor and I have to walk around him and tickle him). In short, he can act like a normal 2-year-old boy.

Ane may cry a little in her room, but then she gets distracted. Most of “her” toys are in her room because they are not age-appropriate for her brother, or because we are trying to keep certain ones (like her play food) in one contained area. So she will do a puzzle, look at her books, feed Dolly and maybe give her a play bath, or play with her dollhouse. And since I haven’t set a timer and she’s too far away to hear a beep anyway, I often leave her in there for much longer than her usual 4-minute time out.

Yesterday, I left her in there for 45 minutes.

When I poked my head in, she was playing with her dollhouse and the remains of a play food picnic were littering the floor. I told her that she was off time-out, and that if she wanted to, she could come out. She did opt to come out (much to my chagrin), but dinner was nearly ready and the Webmaster was walking in the door, so there wasn’t much opportunity to really get into another spat with Tad.

If I am going to survive this period in time, then dividing them in the name of peace is the only way short of corporal punishment (which has a time and a place), or Mommy becoming a “cranky yell machine” (a Raymond quote that my family likes) to do it. They really do need the time apart. It benefits them both to give them some space.

And it keeps me sane. Who around here couldn’t use more sanity?

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