Throughout the course of the day, there are a tremendous amount of highs and lows with kids.
That’s why it’s such a loaded question when at the end of each day 3 ½-year-old Beckett asks, “have I been good today?”
Invariably, we struggle with how to answer that question because a simple yes or no will not suffice. It’s more like yes and no.
That’s because there are ups and downs with my kids all the time. There are the cherished moments when all is great, the boys are in agreeable spirits and life is smooth. On the contrary, there are times when it’s a bumpy ride and the kids seem intent on making life miserable for their parents through misbehavior, inappropriate comments and unpredictable antics.
My kids’ behavior — and whether it’s a good day or a bad day — basically hinges on listening. If they are wearing their “listening ears,” as we like to call them, most of the time all is copasetic. However, at this point in their lives, I would have to say the majority of the time they choose to not listen.
I use the word “choose” because I believe they know what they are doing when they are not listening.
Clearly, this is the case with Beckett, who knows right from wrong but often tends to the latter. That’s why I call these the “traumatizing 3s.” He knows what kind of behavior is expected from him and there are times when he clearly decides to do the opposite.
For instance, every morning a game of chase ensues when it’s time to get dressed in the morning. It mainly stems from this new desire of Beckett’s to always be nude.
There are many times he will walk in the house and begin stripping, saying he wants to be “commando.” Additionally, every time he has to use the bathroom he must shed all clothing, which always reminds me of George Costanza’s tactic from Seinfeld.
Thanks to this new proclivity, getting him dressed in the morning for the day poses quite the challenge and often confirms what I know to be true — he chooses when to listen and when to ignore.
What other conclusion is possible when I tell him it’s time to get dressed and he stops whatever he is playing with and begins running around the house frantically, saying, “you can’t catch me”?
That causes me to launch into a rant that includes a lot of mashing of teeth and biting of lips and these days lots of references to the Elf in the house (more on that later).
With the 2-year-old Carson, it’s much of the same, just on different levels.
Although he continues to laugh hysterically when told “no” or corrected, Carson follows orders better than his brother most of the time. However, he has an obstinate streak as well.
Carson just picks his battles better than Beckett.
For instance, if you tell Carson to lay on the floor for a diaper change, he will do just that and even start taking off his pants and retrieve a diaper. Beckett never did that.
However, if you ask Carson to stop knocking over chairs in the house, dumping water outside the bathtub, throwing his sippie cup across the floor or pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree, he will pretend he never heard any of it.
All of this leads me to think Carson is more of a picky listener while Beckett is an inconsistent listener, resulting in numerous references from their parents about “listening ears,” which most of the time gets a chuckle from my boys.
Doodle has returned.
That’s the name of our Elf on the Shelf, and I really enjoy this annual tradition between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year for a couple reasons.
First, the kids get a huge kick out of it, particularly the silly smile on Doodle’s face and the fact he returns to our house after reporting into Santa at the north pole in a different location each morning.
While I didn’t think it was possible, I think the curiosity over where Doodle is each morning has even led Beckett to getting up earlier every day. Since Doodle arrived, I don’t think Beckett has slept past 6 a.m., but it’s so much fun to see his face when he finally spots him.
This year has been particularly fun because Beckett now doesn’t mind searching out Doodle in challenging places. Previously, he would get upset if he couldn’t spot him in a couple minutes. Now, we can get creative and challenge him.
Carson is not much for being able to spot him, so we have to give him some huge hints, but once he finds him the smile across his face says it all.
Secondly, Doodle’s presence has become quite the behavior modification tool around our house.
Basically, whenever anyone acts up Doodle is cited with an inquiry over whether Santa is going to like what Doodle has to say each evening. The kids understand what happens if too many unfavorable reports are given to Santa (we say they will get a lump of coal under the tree instead of presents), and it does seem to make an impact.
It may be an act of desperation, but it works this time of year.
It’s to the point now all Pam or I have to do is point toward Doodle when either kid is misbehaving. They usually quickly shape up.
That’s one powerful elf.