When the Naughty Step Isn’t So Bad

As many of you know, I go to work in the mornings after dropping Cookie Bear off at pre-school for 9 am. This means I work later as I usually don’t get to work until 9:30-9:45. As a result, I miss dinner most nights since I don’t get home until 6-6:30.

Well, last week I had to come home early from work to relieve the sitter because Mama Bear had her “Back to School Night.” Therefore, I had to get dinner ready for the three kids.

Peanut Bear and Junior Bear, both in first grade, are good little eaters. As long as they don’t have a snack too close to meal time, they’ll eat everything in sight. Cookie Bear, well she’s a different story. See, she didn’t get her nickname because she liked vegetables.

Anyway, that night I made chicken cutlets with a side of broccoli (okay, you got me, I didn’t actually make the chicken cutlets, but I did warm them up). At first the twins moaned, but ate. Cookie Bear, well, it wasn’t that easy. Once she saw the food, she immediately started crying, saying, no yelling, “I don’t like chicken! I don’t like this (the broccoli)!”

The outburst and defiance continued for a few more minutes and when it became clear none of us were going to eat in peace, I sent her to the naughty step. A few minutes later I went to get her and explained that she had to finish everything on her plate if she wanted to join us in playing the game Trouble after dinner.

Trouble… huh…I should have seen this coming.

Anyway, as soon as she sat down, she said she was going to eat the chicken, but not the “green stuff.”

Peanut Bear tried to show her that it wasn’t that bad, even saying, “Look, I don’t like it either, but broccoli will help you grow big and strong.”

Amazing how Peanut Bear is like a little mom.

Well, Peanut and Junior Bear finished their food and went downstairs to play. I stayed with Cookie and true to her word she finished her chicken and left the broccoli. She sat there just starring at it. I reminded her she wasn’t going to be able to play Trouble if she didn’t finish it and I started to clean up.

It was at this point something incredible happened. Something I never thought in my wildest dreams would ever occur.

As I was at the sink, Cookie Bear got out of her seat and went straight to the naughty step. When I turned around and didn’t she her and then found her at the naughty step, my heart broke for just a moment.

Here was a four-year-old girl who was willing to not only give up her chance to play a game with her brother, sister and dad, but would rather sit at the naughty step voluntarily than eat her broccoli.

Unbelievable! If the Green Giant could see this now his “Yo-ho-ho” would be more like “Oh-no-no.” On the other hand, the Keebler Elves sure would’ve been proud, that’s for sure.

Think about that. Cookie Bear would rather sit by herself at the naughty step, a punishment, than eat broccoli.

Once again, I didn’t anticipate that response and was left at a loss. Why is nothing easy? Just eat the broccoli!

I told her she didn’t have to sit at the naughty step, because she didn’t do anything wrong, but she stayed there until her sister came upstairs with the game Trouble. Cookie then got off the step, but I had to stay true to my word and she wasn’t able to play.

I left the broccoli out on the table in front of her in case she changed her mind. But the strong willed little girl also stayed true to her word and 45 minutes later (let me tell you Trouble is NOT a quick game) the broccoli was still there. And she was fine with not playing the game.

I did let her have a bowl of cereal before bed because I didn’t want her to go to bed hungry, but that was it. I don’t know if that was right or wrong to do, but I have to give that little girl props. She stuck to her guns.

A week later I still can’t believe it. She would rather go to the naughty step and watch us have fun instead of eating broccoli!


Not Everyone's been a Papa Bear Fan

I was dropping Cookie Bear off at pre-school today and our neighbor was dropping off her youngest child when we got to talking and I was reminded of my early days as a Daytime Daddy. She was saying that her son is enjoying the beginning of his first year in pre-school and I got to thinking about how my first year of pre-school went.

Well, it wasn’t actually my first-year in pre-school (I don’t remember that), it was my first year at pre-school as a parent -- Peanut Bear’s first year at pre-school. I told our neighbor how much Peanut really enjoyed the school. She liked it so much, that she almost got me arrested or at least a visit from DHS.

Before I get into what almost led to my incarceration, let me explain Peanut Bear and the relationship I, a man who was as much a child as she was, had with her when she was three years old. She has always been a very smart, caring child, who in hindsight was probably just as insecure and in need of attention as she was confident and independent. She required, no, demanded, a lot of my time.

This was very difficult since she had a twin brother, Junior Bear, and a younger sister, Cookie Bear, who was just one at the time. There was only so much time and she demanded about 80 percent of it.

Looking back, I laugh (because it’s better than crying), but we butted heads a lot. I found myself getting in arguments with a three year old…and losing!

Anyway, getting back to what almost landed me in County Jail for 3-to-6…

Dropping Peanut and Junior Bear off at pre-school went flawlessly just about every day. Very few times did they get upset with me leaving. To the contrary, it was me coming back that was the problem.

Peanut Bear would be so upset she had to leave that she would scream and cry like the world was coming to an end.

Let me say that again. Peanut Bear would scream and cry when her dad, Papa Bear, the only Daytime Daddy in the school, would come to get her!

She would not easily leave with me! She would run back to the teacher, who we’ll call Miss Bearie, and would not easily come back to me, the only Daytime Daddy in the pre-school.

Do you see my concern here? A seemingly well-balanced child would flip her lid when her dad, a man who was home with her all day, would enter the room. You would’ve thought I was some horrible person.

Now, let me put this into perspective. I would be battling with Peanut Bear to leave and Junior Bear would be down the hallway towards the exit and Cookie Bear would be in the carrier. So I would be arguing with Peanut to come, while begging Junior Bear to stay, all the while making sure I don’t forget Cookie Bear. Can you see why I’d be sweating and looking completely guilty of whatever thoughts were running through Miss Bearie’s head?

“Miss Bearie! I love you! I want a hug!” Peanut would say.

See, it wasn’t as much Peanut Bear not wanting to come with me, but wanting to stay with Miss Bearie.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.


Vacation from Vacation

You hear that?

If you listen very carefully, you might just hear it.

Do you hear it now?

That’s right, nothing. Yes, the sound of silence. It’s a beautiful sound.

See, it was a busy summer for Papa Bear and the crew. It seemed like we were going somewhere different every weekend. If we weren’t at my parents’ house, we were at Mama Bear’s parents’ house. If we weren’t at some party, we were down the shore.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Quit your complaining. I would love to be at the shore.”

You’re right, I love it there.

Only this summer was a lot tougher than past summers. Junior Bear and Peanut Bear, now both six years-old, were like little fish. And it wasn’t Mama Bear who would spend hours at a time in the water with them. It was me, Papa Bear, the one who burns. Cookie Bear would spend time at the shore line, but by the end of August she too was coming in and need to be watched.

It got to the point when I was telling my boss about all of this he said, “You need a lifeguard just for you and your kids.” He was right. Only, I knew a few lifeguards growing up and they’re really just sleeping off their hangovers and looking at the bikinis, so I thought it best I do it on my own.

Although, on my own with three kids is not a great idea either. See, I’m sort of a push-over when it comes to the kids, so it was hard for me to get them to get out of the water. I would say, “Come on, time to get out.”

They respond: “Five more minutes.”

Me: “Okay.”

…10 minutes later

Me: “Let’s go now.”

Them: “Two more waves, dad, please.”

Me: “Okay. Two more waves.”

…20 waves later…

Me: “We really have to get back to the chairs. Let’s go. You’re turning purple.”

The turning purple thing is what got them. But once they warmed up, they were pulling at me to go back in with them.

Oh well, I could think of worse things to be doing than spending quality time with my kids. It was actually really fun. I can’t remember the last time I was in the water that much.

Honestly, though, as much fun as I had, it’s a little refreshing to have the kids back in school. It allows me to have a vacation from their vacation. Did you ever think you’d need a vacation from vacation and look forward to going to work?

They’re all (including Mama Bear) going to bed earlier now, which allows me some quality time with the laptop. There was actually a point this summer when Mama Bear said to me that I needed to start blogging again, because it seemed to be stress reliever for me. My therapy.

I think she’s right.

Even though I’m probably not the best at this, it does allow me time to sit back and reflect on the good things.