Punishing Quinlan used to be a no brainer. I'd point to the corner, flip the egg timer, and that was that. Then came the high knee stomping, 5-alarm screams, and door slamming.
But lately, she goes into these soap opera dramatic rants, all of which start with "I never." "I never get to play with toys. I never get to watch a show. I never get to eat 4000 bags of candy" she says in a whiny, angry little voice, through a frowning face and wrinkled nose.
The only thing missing is "like the other kids." I'm sure that's due in a few weeks.
At first, I took the intellectual approach, mostly because I enjoy attempting to rationalize with four-year-olds, or jersey cows. It's basically the same.
"Well, never means 'not ever' and the last time I checked you actually do watch shows, play with toys, and eat way too much candy. You are the weakest link. Goodbye!"
But surprise! That didn't work.
So then I just started to get annoyed (again, intelligent mom tactic there), and so I would just say "You're right." "You live a terrible horrible life with no toys or television or candy. And I make you bring in water in large buckets that you carry on your head from the manual water pump that's two miles away."
Shit. I should just start in with the whole "starving kids in Africa" speech and get it over with already.
Finally, I figured out that she was angry (duh!) and was just spouting off her mouth in her own preschooler way (duh!), and so I did the trained therapist (hello!) thing to do and acknowledged her anger, and offered her a few other really boring and appropriate things that she might say instead, you know, like "I'm really angry right now."
And actually, it went over pretty well. Sure, she included her 4 year old expletives in there, like "OH MAN" or "THAT STINKS!" but at least we lost the whole "I never" thing.
That is until a few days ago when I heard "I never get to do anything."
*cue primal scream*