N is starting to try to assert his independence. In non-parent speak, this means he’s saying “no” to things for no apparent reason. Because I’ve already gone through this with C, I really want to nip it in the bud. He’s allowed to say “no” to inquiries (like “would you like ketchup with that?”), but not to commands.

This is a lot harder than it sounds.

The other night, for example, we were saying good night to the others and I told him (as I do every night) to “say goodnight to mama.” His response was “no.” I put him down and told him that until he said goodnight, he wasn’t getting carried anywhere.

He thought about this one for a while and then said “night, night mama..”

Last night, I found myself in another ridiculous battle. This time it was after our family bedtime prayer, and he was refusing to say “amen.” After trying everything I could think of, I said “say amen or go to timeout.”

Yes, I am an idiot.

He said “no” of course, so I took him to the time out spot and let him sit and think about it. He promptly began singing a little nonsense tune. He must have learned this trick from his brother, and yes, it still drives me crazy.

The proscribed time in time-out is one minute per year of age. So after about a minute, I went back, squatted down so I was on his level and asked him if he was ready to say “amen”.


I gave him a stern “you’re not coming out of time out until you say amen” and left. After waiting another minute, I tried again. This time he said “yes”.

“Great!” I said, “say amen”


“You can’t come out of time-out until you say amen. Will you say amen?”


“Say amen”


“Say Amen!”


Realizing that I had, in fact, been trapped in a Laurel and Hardy routine, I stopped the conversation and stood
up to walk away. “Okay. You stay there until you can say amen”


“What did you say?”

I looked over to see him grinning impishly as he said “What?”.

I don’t use the word impishly lightly. The strict definition is, I believe, “like an imp”. An imp, of course, is a kind of demon. I’m not saying he was smiling demonically, of course. At least I don’t think I am. I loomed over him and said “Say amen.”

He must have caught some ominous change in my tone. He smiled, held up his hands to be picked up and said “amen.” I took him to bed, relieved to be released from his time out. 

In fact, I’m pretty sure that was the single most idiotic time out in history. I just hope I’ve learned my lesson.

Can I get an amen?

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