Anthony and I had a particularly rough day yesterday. Maybe my temper was shorter than usual because I’ve felt so bad this week, or maybe I just reached the inevitable breaking point with a toddler who is fully entrenched in the terrible 2s. Whatever it was, the Battle over the Beads erupted shortly before naptime and continued through most of the afternoon.
You see, Cera has become very interested in jewelry making and has been busily creating necklaces and bracelets for her friends each night before bedtime. But Thursday night, she forgot to put her bucket of small wooden beads in her room, and Friday morning, unbeknownst to me, Anthony decided to use the beads as coal for the coal cars on a train he was making. Apparently, the trains must have derailed because when I walked into the living room from the kitchen after making lunch, there were beads strewn from one end of the house to the other.
“Anthony, after lunch you need to pick up those beads,” I said. “They belong to Cera.”
“OK,” he said, as he happily munched on cheese and crackers and slurped up Ramen noodles.
But when he was finished eating, it became apparent that he wasn’t going to follow up.
“Anthony, please pick up the beads,” I said.
“No,” he replied.
And so the battle began. I pleaded, I yelled, I put him in time out – all to no avail – before finally pulling out the ultimate weapon – I threatened to take away his hockey sticks.
And still he said no.
So I put all four of his sticks in a garbage bag and tossed it on the back deck – near the trash can but not quite in it.
Anthony collapsed on the kitchen floor, wailing.
“I want my sticks!” he cried, throwing himself onto his stomach and rolling around as if he was in actual physical pain.
I felt terrible. But if this got through to him, then it was what needed to be done.
“All you have to do to get your hockey sticks back is pick up those beads,” I said.
“No!” he screamed.
“Anthony, pick up the beads,” I repeated.
And again, “No!”
So I walked away and let him continue his tantrum sans audience.
Throughout the afternoon, I reminded Anthony that he could have his hockey sticks back when he had cleaned up his mess.
But by 6 p.m., it ceased to matter. Because by that time, my little hockey fanatic had started to improvise. He played first with a mop, then a quilt hanger and finally a golf club.
I guess I can take away Anthony’s sticks, but I’ll never be able to take away the game.
So, how did the battle end? Without being asked, Cera cleaned up the beads. And Anthony got his hockey sticks back today after exhibiting much better behavior.
As for me, I guess I need to come up with a different method of punishing a toddler. I’m certainly open to suggestion.