Joy, Sometimes Sweet

Time Out Or Time In?

I keep this list of things that I want to write about.  Right now this list is about three pages long and four years old.  Like a good stew, I just keep adding new stuff to the top.

This morning, I was looking at that list and decided to scroll to the very bottom to see what was on my mind four years ago and what I saw was this:  “Time Out or Time In?”

If someone were to find this list after my death, it would lead to the only logical conclusion. She was nuts.

I remember the day I typed that sentence. It was at the end of a long day with a very busy and very curious toddler.  He was at that stage where he was into everything and trying to dismantle my house and my life bit by bit.

He was not quite two, but on that particular day he was being very two. I had a playpen set up in my breakfast room which functioned mainly as a toy bin or a temporary holding cell for the boy should something arise which desperately needed my attention.

At some point in the day, it all became too much for me and I plopped his little butt down in the playpen.  And then I sat at the breakfast table with my head in my hands. I would have probably cried but that would have required more energy than I had.







When I looked up, he was systematically dropping plastic toys over the edge of the playpen onto the tile floor one at a time. And having a fantastic time.

I realized at that moment that he was in Time In. I was in Time Out.

He clutched the sides of the playpen and bounced up and down with glee.  He looked at me with that goofy drooly smile and squealed the squeal of pure delight.

“Mahmahmahmahmah” he cooed to me in baby baritone.

He reached for me with his fat little hand. My heart melted.

I leaned towards him with my elbows on my knees and my face in my hands and marveled at this exasperating, perplexing, intoxicating angel/devil child.  I breathed long and deep and I smiled back at him and tried not to cry.

And then he threw a block at my head.

31 thoughts on “Time Out Or Time In?

  1. Toddler boys.
    There is really nothing like it. I used to say “I can’t decide wether to kiss him or kill him.”
    The kissing took less energy, so that’s the option I would take.

  2. I’ve told Michael several times that he’s going to play in his room because daddy needs a time-out. They can enjoy themselves no matter where they are, if they’re of a mind to.

  3. Oh that is wonderful and hilarious. . .and a little painful. . .and SO TRUE. I watched this play out between my own boy and girl. Victoria–three years Thad’s senior–would systematically sort and organize her little play kitchen/house area. Thad would systematically destroy it by opening every door/bin/hatch and throwing every single thing in a nondescript pile on the floor.

    They love each other.

  4. My husband said someone told him that as a parent you will never love so deeply or be so frustrated – sometimes at the same time 🙂

  5. I practically inhaled this post. I am at that stage RIGHT NOW (only with two older kids thrown into the mix). How can something so exhausting be simultaneously so intoxicating?

  6. Oh, it’s so good to hear that you, in all your enjoyment of parenting that you are always sharing about, have also had days like this. My little guy, and don’t get me wrong, I love him to death, but he’s 18 months, and some days….yeah. He just gets the best of me by 9 am! 🙂

    * * * *
    Here’s the thing about the terrible twos – they are terrible and they are terribly wonderful, a perfect example of the fullness of life.

    Yes, Sean has gotten the best of me many times. I enjoyed many a meltdown when he was that age. Oddly enough I would love to do it all over again. ~AM 🙂

  7. What I have always loved about Sean is his sense of fun and happiness. Even “time out” can be fun for him. It says a lot for a little boy to enjoy himself that much. You will have to admit that a joyful child is lots more fun that one that whines!

  8. Oh, AM, I am SO THERE!!! 10 months pregnant with #2 and #1 is 22 months old. I am caught in this daily web of being adoringly transfixed and in awe of what God has done and then 10 seconds later wondering, “WHAT HAS GOD DONE?!”

    But I think you’re onto something…I just need time-outs more often.

  9. I love it! But my question is when he threw the block at your head, did it leave the impression from the block there. My oldest threw a block and for about 3 hrs my husband had the imprint of the letter M on his cheek! Not good. But you are right sometimes we parents need a time out too.

  10. Yup, love sometimes hurts. 🙂

    I can tell you’re in love with your little prince as much as I’m in love with mine.

    Great story.

  11. My son just leaned over my shoulder and said “Antique Mummy? Like what you find in tombs?” So I guess that would be “time In”.

  12. Thanks for finally getting that one off your list. I have a 15 month old, and oh, how I can relate.

  13. I have been in that exact same spot so many times that I couldn’t describe them all. God makes them cute or we would kick them to the curb after about a month.

  14. I have an awesome story involving a toddler boy and our trip to buy a timer for time-outs but I have sworn to never tell it again.
    Which is a shame. It’s a GOOD story.

  15. Hahahahaha!!!! I’m in that very stage with my last baby…a boy almost two. As crazy as it is, it’s my favorite stage, and I’ll miss it when it’s gone. Even the block-throwing.

    * * *
    Yeah, when they wrap their arms around your head and suck on your nose, it kind of makes up for everything else, doesn’t it? I’d do it all again in a heart beat. ~AM

  16. Awww… And now look at that sweet little boy of yours. Gives me hope! As I was reading this, my 11-month-old managed to drag 2 wine bottles off the top shelf of the rack and nearly kill himself with a metal-framed family portrait that was on top of the wine rack. When did he get so strong and so TALL? Time to move baby proofing a level higher and get out my Pack-n-Play. Thanks to your gentle counsel though, I think I’ll just put in the SOFT toys.

  17. My 13-month-old is starting to push boundaries like nobody’s business. Well, really he’s just been such a sweet little baby that these glimpses of toddlerhood are very foreign. Either way, we have those days when he just needs some perspective time, so I put him in his playpen with two or three toys and he seems much happier. Some days I empty a bag of ball-pit style balls into the playpen, and he entertains himself for about 30 minutes with picking them up and dropping them over the edge. Great to get some time to get something done around the house… if I’m willing to hunt down all of the plastic balls later!

  18. Dear Lord, you’ve just brought back memories of when my now-over-forty-years-old son was an infant.

    I’d give a few thousand dollars to have just one of those days back.

    Just one, mind you. Not all of them.

  19. I have a list of things I want to write about … or, rather, I have many lists. I either (a) can’t find the lists or (b) can’t read my writing.

    Wish I could find them or read them, so that they could take me back to a vivid, memorable moment like this.

    Wonderful storytelling, woven with wisdom; punctuated by sound effects!

    You are so good!

  20. I so miss those toddler days, and the baby days, and grade school days. I imagine I will someday miss the teenage days.

    Time-out for parents are a wonderful thing. My mom still tells how she locked herself in the bathroom to keep from killing my older sister.

  21. Oh how true. Smiling at the sweet child that is making your hair fall out… But hey, EVERY SINGLE MAMA I know has been there.
    And it is so worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *