Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Opposite of a Zen Alarm Clock

Today I ignored Cheeks, and it actually worked.

My tempestuous almost four-year-old wanted a high sentimental value ring that once belonged to my recently deceased grandmother. I wouldn’t budge. Alternative rings were offered instead. He wouldn't budge either.

The garish red plastic rose ring bought on a whim to accent an embroidered Bohemian halter-top. Nope. Wouldn’t do.

The silver band inscribed with curious Asian characters that I can’t figure out but are very much in style at Pier 1 and Cost Plus World Market. Nope. Wouldn’t do.

My own wedding bands and engagement ring. What? Are you kidding me? Homie don't play that.

I frenziedly looted my jewelry boxes like I was casing a broken glass littered L.A. corner store on April 29, 1992.

Just as I dug up a ratty old hemp necklace, the one that stinks like rotten mushrooms that I could’ve sworn I’d left at my room in the “hemp activist” house in college from beneath a clump of orphaned earrings and knotted chains, I began to wonder, “Why am I playing Best Supporting Actress in another of Cheeks’ productions? No matter what I offer him, it still won't be what he wants. Why play along? I wonder what happens when I stop.”

So I stopped. I shut my ransacked jewelry boxes and walked away.

“MOMMY, I WANNA’ RING! MOMMY, I WANNA RING!” (Repeat. Rinse brain. Wring out brain. Repeat. Repeat on auto replay until you’re on the brink of rinsing your kid in the washing machine instead of his sand peppered carpenter jeans.)


Repeat while hardly allowing for life-giving breaths in between. Repeat from the recesses of your nose to sound as nasal and annoying as possible. Repeat for a whole 20 minutes more.


Ignore child while splashing a sad one percent watery excuse for cow’s milk into your strong enough to put hair on your chest oversized mug of coffee.

Continuing ignoring child, who incessantly barks at your knees something you’re trying to tune out about some ring you’re trying desperately to have forgotten about 10 minutes ago.

Think to yourself about how this newfangled (at least newfangled to you) ignoring tantrum technique works the opposite of your notoriously difficult to wake husband’s Blackberry programmed Zen alarm clock sound – an incremental digital Tibetan bell chime that slowly dings and dongs from quiet to loud. Except Cheeks goes from loud to soft. (Who said it is better to burn out than fade away? Neil Young? Random question there … )

WHAT? Loud to soft? Is ignoring Cheeks tantrum/tirade/demand for Memere’s “heirloom” QVC jewelry actually working in my favor? Double check coffee to see that you didn’t accidentally pour Electrosol detergent into your vanishing coffee trough. Rub eyes to make sure this isn’t a dream.

Ah-ha … Perhaps negative attention IS better than no attention, as the so-called experts say. Without his big brother to dote on him and engage him all the day, Cheeks might be feeling left in the lurch, lonely, starved for attention. Any attention. Even the kind elicited by behaving like a punk.

Sneak from the black slate kitchen floor to the wooden floorboards of the living room to fold a load of ineffectively harmonized lights and darks. Hope that Cheeks won’t trail behind wailing “I WANNA RING NOW, MOMMY!” like Meatloaf with a megaphone directly in your overly sensitive ears.

Turn around and nearly fall over on your dumpy, out-of-shape junk-trunk to see that the only thing behind you is your shadow. Cheeks is no where to be seen or even heard.

Glance over to the playroom to find Cheeks appearing dejected, dumping out woven toy baskets, presumably in search of one of his sister’s gaudy plastic dress-up rings.

My first experiment with (finally, come on, I have three kids … you’d think I’d have a better tolerance for this crud) ignoring Cheeks’ negative behavior, was mostly successful, well, depending on how you look at it. Cheeks certainly wouldn’t agree.

‘Gotta go. He’s revving up for his usual nighttime terrors now. ‘Better take care of it before the dreaded domino wake-up effect has me ignoring them all.



At 11:19 PM, Blogger Lara said...

hooray for ignoring bad behavior! of course, the trick is to learn how to actually ignore it, instead of silently yelling in your head, "STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!" at least, that's the trick for me. :-P

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Lara - I adore your thumbnail photo. What great image.

At 3:02 AM, Blogger Iris said...

I am glad that you had a successful experiment........hope the success endures!

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Mama Sarita said...

Way to shake it up!

I have been dabbeling in the ignoring technique myself. But like lara said, I am screaming in my head (shuuuut UUUUUUUP!!!!!!!!).

One day this paitence thing will take root for me, I am sure of it.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger crazymumma said...

me want the ring too! sounds so good....

I think it sends a good message to sometimes just walk away. A mummy time out as it were.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Brillig said...

Had to pop in because I am a "freak" like you and gave birth at home--three times! It's so fun to "meet" a fellow crazy lady. hahaha. Anyway, I'm enjoying reading through your blog!

At 7:51 PM, Anonymous healingmagichands said...

See, the problem is, you have finally started doing the one thing that will eventually modulate this tantrum behavior. Only, it will take a while for the original training to wear off. Becuase you have trained your child that throwing a tantrum gets attention. So you will have to keep on with the ignore it all program.

My mother dealt with tantrums very early: the first tantrum got you nothing, nothing, nothing. She left my sister screaming and kicking in the aisle of a store and walked around the corner to the next aisle. Some woman asked her if she wasn't worried that something would happen to the scremaing little monster, to which she replied, "I don't know about you, but I am pretty sure I know exactly where she is. When she stops screaming, I will go back around the corner."

If tantrums don't work, the kid will stop throwing them. Period. It takes way too much energy to throw one to keep on with the tactic if it isn't successful.

Good luck!

At 8:34 PM, Blogger BlogWhore said...

ooooh yeaaaaaah. bump bump chicka chicka.

way to go.

score one for moms. zero for offspring.

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