When Jesus can’t convince them, throw some marshmallows on top.

I’m quickly realizing that Harrison (8) is an easy child. He has never given us a problem at school, preschool, or church, knows how to speak the local language without any difficulties, and does not wet his pants.

I love that kid.

As for the rest of them, I think fate was trying to trick us into this parenting business and yesterday I felt like a big fat failure.

June has been doing great at preschool–until this week. I went in yesterday and the poor teachers were beside themselves with frustration. Having lived with June for over three years now, I know that there are moments when I would rather stick my head in the toilet and give myself a swirlie than deal with all her strength and willpower. One Two Three Try Not To Kill Her seems to be the method that works best around here.

This sudden burst of bad behavior has come as a total shock to her teachers. She’s eating puzzle pieces and throwing the game boards around the room, refusing to listen to anything and wreaking havoc on anyone and everyone. It’s bad, and the language barrier doesn’t help.

The thing is, I know what’s wrong with her, but I have no idea how to fix it.

Last week June came home and started telling me that one of the little girls in her class won’t play with her. She loves this little girl, she wants to be friends with this little girl, but this little girl has suddenly decided that she no longer wants to play with June, she wants to play with someone else.

Honestly, my daughter is three. Do we really have to start in on the little girl drama this early?

I know she’s acting out because she wants this little girl to pay attention to her, but she isn’t old enough to realize that this kind of behavior isn’t going to win her anyone’s friendship. She thinks she’s being funny and silly to the other kids.

I stood there yesterday and listened to the laundry list of her misdeeds, feeling red in the face and embarrassed to have created such a little beast. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes like a thousand hot little needles; can’t these kids do anything right in the German schools? What am I doing wrong here?

I assured the teachers that I understand better than anyone just how difficult she can be, and told them I wouldn’t bring her back. I think they were expecting me to argue with them on her behalf, because they got much nicer once I offered to keep her away (also all the stupid tears probably made them think I’m a big ninny who could use some outside help, which is right). They insisted I bring her back every day, that we would work on it.

After talking with my neighbor (who is smart and wise and wonderful), I think I’ve got a plan. Today June only gets to go to school for two hours. I am taking in a big bag of marshmallows and a small empty container. Every time she is good, she gets a marshmallow in the jar. At the end of the day, she can eat her earned marshmallows in the car.

I also told her this morning that the only person who matters is Jesus, but she looked at me like I’m some kind of idiot who knows nothing about playing princess. I guess that lecture doesn’t hold as much weight when you’re three. Maybe next time I’ll throw Jesus and Santa in together and see if it makes more sense.

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

I’m not so good at disciplining Rex (3). It’s not a matter of wrong intentions, it’s more like he doesn’t care. Harrison, as a five-year-old, gets stuck in the corner on a regular basis (because he’s sassy). But now and then Rex really does have it coming.

So yesterday Harrison came upstairs crying because Rex had caused him bodily harm. I wasn’t paying much attention to Harry and kind of mumbled the standard, “Oh, I’m sorry honey blah blah blah”. Then Harrison looks me in right in the glazed over eye and says, “Well, aren’t you gonna give him a time-out?”

Snap. Oh. Right. I’m supposed to give him a time out. “Uh, sure honey,” I respond half-heartedly, trying to surface long enough to play Mommy. But Rex was downstairs and I was upstairs, I didn’t really want to…

“Rexy!” Harrison yells in a cheerful sing-song voice. “Come up and see Mommy! She’s got CANDY!”

Candy? I have candy? Wait wait wait. Is my son really using candy to lure his baby brother into a web of time-out?

“It’s so yummy, come see Mommy!”

Horror, shock, where did he learn this?

“Candy?” Rexy calls out in his chirpy three-year-old voice, “I love candy!” He bounds upstairs and into my reluctant arms.

There was so much wrong with this situation that I didn’t even know where to start parenting. I’m supposed to let Harrison LIE in order to find personal justice? I don’t think so. But then again, I wasn’t jumping out of my chair to discipline his naughty little brother and a little part of me kind of respects his forwardness.

So, Rex got a time-out and Harrison got the lecture about lying. It goes something like this.

“Harrison? Where do liars go?”
“To the Devil,” he mumbles.
“That’s right. And you can’t take Mommy or Daddy or your blankie with you to the Devil. Is that what you want?”
“No.”
“Then apologize to your brother and next time, tell the truth.”

Aren’t I a good Mommy?