Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trouble at the Water Cooler

Since we live in the country and drink well water I get our water checked every year to make sure it's safe for drinking. Turns out that we have way too much fluoride for anyone under the age of 8. This means that I need to use bottled water for Caleb to drink and to cook his food with. We recently bought a water cooler for this very purpose. Plus because it's cold water my hope is that Adam will begin drinking water instead of iced tea all the time.

Why oh why don't they child proof the cold "tap" the same way they do the hot one?!?!?!

I can't tell you how many liters of water Caleb has spilled all over the floor. He really enjoys drinking a little bit of water, dumping the rest on the floor and going to the water cooler to put more in his little glass. As cute as he looks carrying his cup (and mine, and basically any other cup that is within his reach) to the water cooler to put a bit of water in, I don't enjoy the mess that this makes. My floor is soaked, my son is soaked, my feet get soaked, our chairs are soaked, and it's all with freezing cold water! Not to mention that Caleb slips and falls on the flood of water.

Caleb had a huge fascination with the garbage can for a while and with a lot of patience and repetition, he learned that the garbage is dirty and off limits and not a toy. He will now put garbage in there if I ask him to and is (usually) really good about not taking it back out. This same strategy is a little more difficult for the water cooler. He will grab his cup and my hand and bring us to the cooler, puts his cup on the little shelf, then makes sure I'm watching while he puts water in his cup. This is the tricky part: he's allowed to put water in his cup while I'm there to supervise, he's not allowed when I'm not there to supervise.

Cute side note: I was away one evening and Adam was playing computer while Caleb played around the house. I came home to find about 10 cups, filled with anywhere from a centimeter to an inch of water in them, all on Adam's desk. Apparently Caleb was on a mission and wanted to make sure his papa didn't go thirsty!

I tried to "baby proof" the water cooler to take the temptation away from him. I check my house constantly to find stray cups and put them on the counter out of Caleb's reach. This worked for about a week. He then discovered that water can go in all the plastic containers that he's allowed to play with in the kitchen (great entertainment for him while I'm cooking dinner).
Another method that I tried was when I was in another room I moved the chairs in front of the water cooler and then put the table in front of them so he couldn't move the chairs out of the way. This only lasted 2 days. His little arms can slip between the backs of the chairs with a cup or container and presto! Water everywhere.

Needless to say this has been very frustrating. I've never had to deal with this much "defiance" before. Partially because Caleb just isn't a boy who gets into a lot of things and partially because this toddler stage means a whole bunch of new developmental adventures to deal with. It's hard to have so much patience with him sometimes. I've tried these different measures and he still gets into trouble and it's hard to react with the love and support that I know I'm supposed to give him. There have been a number of occasions where I kneel beside him and tell him very sternly that the water cooler is not a toy. He either just doesn't seem to care or he gets scared of me and cries. I don't want to resort to him being "obedient" out of fear. I want him to understand consequences.

I've looked into all sorts of "methods" of disciplining and "training" a child with things like this. I don't like most of the responses. I don't want to spank him for something that he obviously doesn't understand is not allowed and I don't want to give him a time-out because he's just too young to understand why he would be getting one. I would rather he stop playing with the water cooler because he understands that it's not a toy and/or because mama will be disappointed in him if he does...

I'm going to end this entry right now because I don't want it to get too long. Those are just some of my thoughts and frustrations about the concept of discipline at this point. I've been doing a lot of reading and praying about this subject and God is steering me into a good direction on how to deal with this. I'll share some of those thoughts in my next entry.

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