Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spit Happens

Toddlers and preschoolers are not merely small people. They are their own breed, with their own set of laws governing their world. Understanding this helps me find patience for irrational hair loss fears and chalk drawn murals.

But, I believe, my patience has reached its boiling point. When confronted with an undesirable situation, some young kids hit, others bite. K has chosen to spit.

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Violet Beauregarde informs Willy Wonka, "Spitting's a nasty habit," to which he retorts, "I know a worse one." I'm calling your bluff candy man. I would give anything to be writing about K having a boogie picking addiction.

Instead, here I am describing a battle I am losing. I'm just moments away from waving the white flag. 

Incase you don't have much experience with spitting preschoolers, let me fill you in on what it's like.

Backseat of the car, I'm buckling her in her car seat.

She demands, "I want my lollipop NOW!" 

"Not how you ask, and you know the rules. No lollipops in the car," I rationally explain.

And just like that, spit in my face. Directly in my face.

Now I'm a good mom. But at that moment, it takes all the willpower I possess to not slap her across the face. Lucky for her, I see the big picture. She's a little girl, who is really, really mad at me for telling her no. And the first way her little brain can think to convey this anger is to spit. She doesn't sit around thinking up all the ways she can disrespect me. She doesn't plot a plan of action to send me crazy. But let me tell you, incase you've never experienced it first hand, the knowledge of why doesn't make it any easier to endure.

She's a spitter. What next? That's where we're at. 

I've googled. Babycenter says its a normal phase, one of those "this too shall pass" ones. Once she perfects her language skills, it should fade away on it own. Countless yahoo members offer little to no help, but they sure can share their own "been there, done that" stories. K's pediatrician offers his advice, when she spits give her as little attention as possible, theorizing that she's doing it for attention. We've taken away privileges. Removed toys. I've been putting into practice techniques I learned in my Elementary Education classes from years past. 

I've had countless conversations like...

"I understand you're angry cause Mama said its bedtime. Instead of spitting is there anything else you could do to let Mama know you're mad? Could you stomp your foot and say argh? Take 5 deep breaths? Could you use your words and tell me that you're mad?"

Nothing is working. She's still spitting. 

A recent conversation with a friend inspired our most current effort to curb the spitting. It's a marble in the jar plan. Anytime K is caught handling her anger the proper way, she gets a marble in the jar. Anytime she spits instead, she loses a marble. Five marbles earns a prize. This plan has been in affect since February 1. She hasn't earned a prize yet. At the present moment, there are 3 marbles in the jar. Not writing it off yet, but the plan doesn't seem to be helping. 

I'm considering alternative solutions. My husband wants to run away to Jamaica when K hits puberty. I say I present a nice, effective trade. I go first and leave him with the spitter. I promise I'll come back...probably. Eventually.

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