It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Back with a vengeance

One of the tots, who will remain nameless, has returned from a lengthy family trip of some six weeks, all energized and ready to mix it up again with her friends have fun at Mary’s settle back into her usual routine give Mary the professional challenges she needs to keep her on her game.

In the past 48 hours, this little one has:

– begun screaming from the moment she exits her house, to the moment she enters mine (and then some), “I DON’T WANNA GO AT MARY’S HOUSE! MAMAMAAAAAA! I DON’T WANNNNAAAAAA! MAMAAAAAAAA!!!”

– when that doesn’t work, she just screams. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA …

– when presented with a stack of 8 puzzles, placed on the floor between three children, she lay her torso atop the stack so that nobody could touch them. She couldn’t play with them either, but that’s NOT THE POINT.

– when another child approaches to give her a hug, she shoves them.

– when presented with food of any description, she glowers at the plate.

– when asked a question, she turns her back and refuses to hear

– when complimented, she turns her back and refuses to hear

– when praised (and lord only knows it’s not easy to find something to praise this week) she (are you with me yet?) turns her back and refuses to hear

– when she must speak, she whispers so softly it is impossible to hear. If you place your ear very close to her face, she merely hisses. “Ssssssss….”

– when sat on a lap to hear a story, she leans forward and covers the page with her body

– when sat beside me to hear a story, she puts her hands over her ears

– she has bitten (unsuccessfully; I removed the other child before the teeth closed), hit (successfully), kicked (successfully) and scratched (unsuccessfully) every other child in the house, at least once.

– she has hidden toys, not because she wishes to play with them, but only because she can

– she has tormented the cats

– she has (bless her heart) sat herself down on the quiet stair for extended periods of time.

In short, she has reverted to all the pre-daycare behaviour patterns, and then some. We saw the screaming and physical aggression last year; we did not see the hiding of toys or pet tormentation. See how much more mature and sophisticated a year can make them?

She’s just had six weeks with her family, and THAT is where she wants to be, NOT HERE, and she is SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF and we are all to take that VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED, and if we do not, there will be SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES. The world is not cooperating with her script, and the knee-high despot is NOT PLEASED.

Oh, well. We trained her out them before, we can train her out of them now. Moreover, it should be quicker this time, because she’s not learning it all from scratch.

But, sheesh. The holidays are over. Welcome back to reality, Mary.

January 8, 2008 - Posted by | aggression, tantrums, the dark side


  1. You know, this a big part of the reason that when I was on maternity leave with LS two years ago, I still sent BB to day care three mornings a week. He needed the routine, I needed the break, and I didn’t want to have to start from “scratch” when he started going again after three months. Not that I think he would have behaved this poorly, but it would have been hard on him.

    Just out of curiosity, what are the parents doing to help resolve these problems?

    Comment by BookMama | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hell hath no fury like a toddler pissed off. And totally why I couldn’t do what you do. Occassionally, sure…but for a living…no way.

    Comment by Sheri | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  3. Ooohh…that hissing trick would definitely get to me! Bleh!

    Comment by Kendra | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  4. I had the same response as Kendra. Ew Demon child.

    Comment by Haley | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. So, I’m just curious… Is this a result of the parents and the way they treat her when they have copious amounts of time with her? Is she just an ill-natured child? What’s the root of the problem with her behavior, do you think?

    Comment by sassybelle | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  6. I look forward to hearing how to correct those behaviors (since my little darling does some of that passive/aggressive stuff as well). We count and take away privileges at the end of the count (or for some things, no counting at all — privilege lost on the first offense), but adding more arrows to the quiver would be helpful.

    Comment by midlife mommy | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  7. I have found when we have Pumpkinpie out of daycare for too many days running, she too decides she doesn’t want to go back, and I have a hard time getting her there. Not like this, mind, but that’s not her nature. But it is why we continued to take her to daycare for part days over the holidays, even though we were home. It seems weird and maybe not nice, but it keeps her in routines that I think are important. She just gets to go in later and come home earlier, but she still gets to go play with her friends for a few hours.

    Comment by kittenpie | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  8. Aww… I actually feel sorry for the poor kid. It hurts to learn how little control we have over our own lives. It’s hard as an adult, and maybe even harder as a toddler (less control, wilder emotions).

    (And the hissing thing? That’s pretty clever and funny!)

    Of course, I sympathize with you, too, Mary. Good luck with the re-programming. You both deserve hugs.

    Comment by alikander | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  9. BookMama: I often suggest the same thing for maternity leaves. Not full-time every day, but two or three half-days a week, just to keep them familiar and comfortable. Here, of course, the maternity leave is a year, which is a lifetime to a toddler!

    Sheri: And this is a particularly strong-willed toddler, too.

    Kendra: LOL There are times when you just have to Walk Away. “Walk away from the toddler, Mary. Just Walk Away…”

    Haley: Oh, there have been just so very many things. How could you pick just one??

    Sassybelle: Good question, which I can only speculate upon. I have my theories, of course.

    Midlife Momma: This child is the queen of Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face. I mostly let her suffer the consequences of her spitefulness. It requires a lot of patience on my part, but it generally works.

    When it’s aggression against another child, I intervene immediately and firmly. There is never any reason to hurt someone. “You may be angry, but you may NOT hurt people.” Time-outs for that, during which time the injured party gets lots of attention and the aggressor is most studiously ignored, followed by an opportunity for the two of them to play together — with my very close, warm and positive attention.

    As for the strategy of removing privileges, it would depend on how you define the word. If “privilege” is being able to eat snack with the other children rather than alone, and the removal of a privilege is having the toy just used to wallop another child taken away, then I do use them. But privileges like “you scream now, no TV after snack”, no, I don’t do that. Consequences for toddlers need to be immediate, tangible, and direct, and often privileges are none of those things.

    Kittenpie: As I said to BookMama, I often suggest that parents send children a couple of halfdays a week during extended absenses from daycare. It makes things so much easier all round. I don’t think there’s anything “not nice” about it at all.

    Alikander: I understand her distress, and I sympathize with it. It’s reasonable enough, really. What I have absolutely no sympathy for whatsoever is how she chooses to express her feelings. “You may be angry but you may not scream,” is a perfectly reasonable expectation for a 3.5-year-old, as is “You may be angry but you may not hurt the other children.” The hissing? It’s a weird kind of passive-aggressive, and I can ignore that.

    She’s very clever, yes. But I don’t find aggression and malice very funny, no, no matter how young and cute the perpetrator. Lots of children her age have these feelings but manage to express it without harming others. She’s three and a half, not a year and a half, nor even two and a half.

    Comment by MaryP | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  10. We just spend 12 days on vacation, and I tried to keep their schedule as clase to normal (day care’s rules) as possible to avoid this situation upon return. But we were on the road, and didn’t always succeed. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as bad for the short time. But the little bit of rebellion we got about drove me up the wall. I don’t envy the work you’ve got ahead of you.

    Comment by ktjrdn | January 11, 2008 | Reply

  11. I’ve been on parental leave for 8 months and the toddler is still in full-time daycare. What I have to cope with on the weekends is just too scary to think of doing all by myself even for an entire day. We want to cut back to 3 days a week, but first I need to spend a few weeks organising the house and setting up a manageable routine or they will eat me alive.

    Also, every time I wonder if I have the child from hell, I recall some of these posts and breathe a small sigh of relief.

    Comment by Kat | February 8, 2008 | Reply

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