I consider us pretty lucky that we’d come this far without having to put Camille in time out. We’ve thought about it. There have been a few times it might have been warranted, but usually, persuasion has done the trick. She’s aware that time out exists because they use the technique at school (although I don’t think they’ve used it on her). She’s mentioned it before and gotten the context right, like when she tells us, “No running, you go time out!”
But we weren’t even sure how we wanted to structure time out. Put her in a “naughty chair?” In a corner? In her crib? For 10 seconds? 2 minutes? With us? Alone?
Tonight, as we ate dinner, Camille shoveled a whole bunch of food in her mouth and refused to chew or swallow it. She just sat there, with chipmunk cheeks, and danced. We asked her a thousand different ways to please please please chew and swallow her food, because we felt pretty certain if she didn’t do it soon, she’d spit it out.
But she kept doing a little dance with her fork in the air – and here’s where it gets tough. The dance is really cute. Really, really cute and she’s really funny. How can we not laugh at her? Lee and I were careful not to look at each other because we were both barely holding it together.
Nothing else was working, so Lee told her if she didn’t chew her food she’d have to go to time out. Still no response, so finally – in the sternest voice I could muster at the moment – I said, “Camille, do you want to go to time out?”
To which she replied with a resounding, “YES!”
And we just died laughing. I mean, the kind of laughter where your whole body shakes and you cry and gasp for air. The laughter had been building while she danced, and just erupted when our threat fell so flatly.
So now what to do? Time out was apparently not a threat to her, and we’d reinforced that by making it look like a big joke. I finally asked her to spit out her food into a napkin after fearing she’d put so much in her mouth that maybe she couldn’t physically swallow it now. As we sat there trying to decide what to do, Camille kept saying, “Mille go time out? Mille go time out now?”
So finally, we put her in time out for 10 seconds on the stairs. It was kind of sad actually, because even when Lee finished counting and told her she could get up, she just sat there looking forlorn. “Mille time out,” she said.
I still don’t know the right answer for how we want to discipline her and how we want to structure these time outs, but I know we got it wrong this time. But seriously, she is so cute, it’s hard to be mad!