Time cop

. February 7, 2013.

We’ve read all of the parenting advice about making sure that one enjoys a child in the moment, instead of waiting with bated breath for the next “first.” The advice is surely sound, as parents would miss the joys that come with a baby’s particular skills one day if worried too much about when she’ll develop some other skill. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed or proud when your baby develops a new ability.
A newfound weapon
I’ve found this to be the case even when the new ability clearly constitutes being naughty. Baby Dee has finally gotten three top teeth to match the two she’s sported for a few months on the bottom. And she has figured out that those teeth aren’t just useful for crunching fistfuls of Goldfish crackers.  They also make a powerful and effective weapon when deployed against a parent who won’t hand over the car keys, cell phone, or remote control on which baby’s heart is set.
I can’t help but be proud that she figured out biting all on her own. Our little one hasn’t been to daycare yet, where other kids could school her in the ways of meting out destruction and pain. So my thought is that she must have figured out, all by herself, that what grabby hands and pouty faces fail to accomplish, her bite may render. This is a skill, after all, that would surely have served her well if we were still a species that lived in trees or caves and had to hunt mammoth to make it through the winter.
I’m impressed by her logic and reasoning and at the same time, dismayed at the naughtiness. I don’t want her first friends at pre-kindergarten to shun her because she bullies them with her chompers. So with biting, and various other signs of the “terrible twos” arriving a half-year early, we’ve had to begin to implement “time outs” for Baby Dee.
Staying the course
Since she doesn’t understand – or maybe doesn’t obey – well enough to be told to sit still in the corner by herself, time outs at this age consist of a parent placing baby on their lap and sitting silently until she calms down or reflects upon her behavior. Mom has been fairly good about imposing discipline. Once or twice upon entering the room, she would tell me not to give in to my instinct to run up and hug Dee, but to instead be silent, since they were having a time out.
When it’s my turn to impose time out, however, I’ve definitely not carried my weight. After a recent chomping administered to yours truly over a dispute concerning whether she could play with some dangerous item, I took Dee to time out on a chair in the bedroom. She stared at me, no doubt trying to convince me she was falsely accused or had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. But I stayed the course, at least for the moment. Then she discovered a braided cord (a few inches long) anchored to the wall, holding up a curtain behind me. This gold-hued rope was within her reach.
In a moment, the string was in her hand, and the curtain was splashed over my head. When I freed my eyes, the golden rope was shoved into my open mouth. Baby Dee cracked a smile, and attempted to repeat her effort to feed me household decorations. I had to resist the temptation to turn time out into a tickle-fest.
Discipline, it seems, takes discipline.