“No, it’s not.” I say, for probably the thirtieth time in as many minutes.
“Ahhhhh!” She screams as she marches herself to timeout.
I walk to the kitchen and set the timer for two minutes. She sits in her chair crying, and occasionally looking up to scream at me again in frustration. Before the two minutes are up, she will have calmed down and be ready to talk about why we don’t scream at people when we want things and how we can ask to use something without it having to belong to us.
I understand. She doesn’t yet appreciate that other people happen to be people, but she is acutely, and suddenly, aware that things can belong to particular people. In the last two days she has claimed possession of my phone, my calculator, the remote, the television, her father’s tennis shoes, my hair, my stomach, her bottle, and my coffee cup (full).
She has spent enough time in time-out in the last three days that she is sending herself there. I feel a little bad, except that it isn’t about punishment, or shame, it’s about learning to take a minute and remember to breathe when we’re losing it. It helps me remember to breathe, too.
I find it interesting to watch her learn the concept of “Mine!”. She’s at that snatch-y, claim everything part. I think a lot of kids do this earlier, most seem to be in middle of it at around two and phasing out by now. Perhaps a lack of siblings delayed the onset?
I’m trying to help her reason her way through it, but I can see where the disconnect is. She doesn’t really believe that Mommy and Daddy are people. I mean she does, but she doesn’t get that we have feelings and rights and, most frustrating of all, were here first and claimed stuff before she got here. I think that last part is what makes the whole thing feel so very unfair to her.
From her perspective, the chance to claim things arose just days ago with her new-found understanding that things could be possessed. So, she is claiming things as it occurs to her. How incredibly frustrating it must be to place a claim on something only to be told that it belongs to someone else! How infuriating when they didn’t bother to tell you it was taken before you decided you wanted it! It must be very hard to be two years old.
Now, time out has done what it was supposed to. I can now breathe and see things from my child’s perspective. She is no longer crying. So, I’m back into the fray. I need to go remind my daughter that I love her.
How could I not? After all, she’s mine!