After reading the scenario below, you will be presented with a multiple choice selection to respond to said scenario. You will have three seconds, though usually less, to answer. Answer carefully: your selections are being studied and filed away for future reference by absorbant-minded toddlers. NO PRESSURE.
THE SCENARIO: Barely 17 month old boy riding the giraffe, holding a water bottle, minding his own business. Barely 17 month old girl is apparently not satisfied with the countless other toys/books available and stalks boy. Boy is otherwise oblivious to said stalking. Girl tries to yank water bottle from boy’s hands while simultaneously leaning into him in the hopes he might fall off. Or disappear. Boy screeches, stiff-arms, then slams his flat available palm into the back of girl’s head. Girl digs deeper. Boy falls to floor and starts crying as girl mounts the giraffe with the water bottle.
THE TEST: Do you…?
A: Go to boy and comfort him but also with a “hands are not for hitting” something or other, leaving girl without any immediate ‘consequence’ to her actions, effectively giving her ‘permission’ to have done what she did.
B: Go to girl, take back water bottle, say something like “it’s his turn right now, we don’t take things away from each other” or something like that, then take girl off giraffe and help boy back on, then telling boy “hands are not for hitting”. Warning, likely to result in girl melting to floor in a crying heap.
C: Laugh. Then either A or B or K knowing it’s irrelevant because they’ve now seen you laugh and you’ve sent a totally wacked out message by doing so, mainly that hitting or taking something might make Mommy laugh so let’s do it again!
D: Try not to laugh by feigning eye contact as you pick a point on their foreheads while thinking of something mundane, like laundry, or that last time you had to disinfect a vomitous living room.
E: D and A
F: D and B
G: C, then E
H: C, then F
I: Grab the camera and take pictures! Warning, usually accompanied by C.
J: All of the above, basically achieving the same result as C.
K: None of the above, because since they can’t exactly TELL you what happened, you can pretend like it didn’t. And at least get the dishes done before their bathtime so you can sit down after they go to bed for the first time since four that morning.
L: Any of the above while trying to figure out how you’ll handle something like this the next time.
THREE SECONDS. Go!
Any given moment in twin toddlerhood is a teaching moment, and most of those moments the parent is the one learning something. At-risk-of-life-or-limb moments are no-brainers in that I’ll do what it takes to make them safe, even if grabbing them abruptly ends up startling them to tears (like when one of them was heading down some playground stairs, backwards, while watching birds, while not holding onto the bars, while generally NOT PAYING ATTENTION to what they were doing). But it’s the in-between stuff that’s difficult. I mean, who to go to first – the offender, or tend to the offended? What if when the offended was protecting themselves in the only primitive toddlery ways they know how, the offended then caused on offense to the original offender? Which actions to address? Which to consequence? Which to ignore? Let them fend for themselves, or intervene?
The weird thing is, I know what my disciplinary expectations are, it’s just that effecting the change IN. THE. MOMENT. is far more difficult in practice than it is in my head. I’m not saying every incident warrants action or learning from, but as a toddler rookie, my learning curve is steep!
Rachel is a working mommy, toy broker, kitchen bitch, and birther to 19 month old boy/girl twins. Fodder for her childrens’ future therapy sessions is chronicled over on Rachel’s blog, Motherhood.Squared