I don't like you anymore!

She doesn't like me anymore, apparently

My mom (whom we are visiting) has five cats: Earl, Perry, Sally, Wilfred, and Heinz. (I know, I know - the woman is spending my inheritance on Fancy Feast and scratching posts.) Heinz, the newest addition, is a blondish-orangish kitten born on my sister's hobby farm. Although I keep telling my daughter that we are dog people, she is fascinated by and enamored with kitties. We do have a cat at our house as well, but Ella Fitzkitty has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to children.

Of the five cats, two are pettable. Sally will bite and Earl will scratch. Earl will let you pet him, but only on certain areas of his body (I learned that the hard way when we visited last year, though the scar on my hand did eventually fade). I've instructed the kid not to touch him at all. Perry has an advanced degree in hiding, so we don't see him much. That leaves Heinz and Wilfred. Wilfred is very sweet and welcomes the attention. But here's the tricky part: Wilfred and Earl are identical. Both are smoky grey. The only difference between them (besides temperament) is that Earl's tail is slightly fluffier. A is mostly interested in Heinz the kitten, though, and cannot resist the temptation to pick him up and carry him around.

The other day, the kid poked Earl in the head even after my mom and I explicitly identified the curled-up cat as he-who-shall-not-be-touched. When she did it again, I put her in time-out. A folded her arms, stuck her lower lip out, and shouted through tears, "I don't like you anymore!"

I am not sure what the intended effect was supposed to be. I imagine I was expected to say, "Well in that case, punishment rescinded! You're free to poke the cats." I mean, anything to avoid the alienation of affection, right? But alas, I'm made of sterner stuff and tacked a minute onto her sentence. If there's one advantage to not having become a mom until the age of 35, it's that I have, in fact, been around the block a few times.

I've been hearing this "I don't like you anymore!" exclamation more and more lately, usually when she's in time-out. I don't particularly love time-out as a discipline method, but I've been unable to come up with anything more effective. Her dad and I don't spank her. We give umpteen warnings for each infraction. We take away privileges, toys, whatever. She gets time-out once or twice a month, usually under circumstances where we feel we can't let her call our bluff one more time.

One time, she did something naughty while IN time-out and then I was truly baffled as to what to do. It was like the day Twitter was down and everyone wanted to tweet about Twitter being down. She had smuggled a marker into the time-out corner and then colored on the door. She denied it, but she still had the marker in her hand so it was an open and shut case. I opted to put her to bed early.

So, fellow 'rents out there . . . what sort of discipline would you impose when your little buttercup does something you've specifically asked said buttercup not to do? The time-out bit is only marginally effective. Stockades are illegal, right? Okay, just checking.


Chris Blitzer said…
Sweetie...Just wait until she is in her teens and early twenties and blames you for everything...LOL! If I could count the number of times my girls said the same thing...
Sam said…
My kid is still a baby so I can remain in denial about my sweet boy ever saying such things to me. But my sister's daughter often tells my sister that not only does she not like her, but she won't be sitting next to her anytime soon. Her exact words are, "I'm not going to sit next to you!!!" She means business!

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