We have generally had a well-behaved Baby Genius, despite some occasional minor tantrums and a general getting into things. He is a good boy, or “goy!” if you ask him, and we like that about him. Part of that is probably simply that we’re pretty laid back about what he can play with so long as he can’t hurt himself or anyone else.
Unfortunately, that hurting of others has become a problem lately. BG loves our cats so much that he can hardly contain himself when they are around. If one of them is up on the sofa, he’ll come along and lay his head on the cat, saying, “Awwwww! Awwwww!” While we have been working on the finer art of petting for some time, he still just sort of places his hands on the cats and pushes. It looks like his variation on rolfing–something that might be therapeutic but not exactly soothing or comfortable. And when this is all he does, everyone is fine. The cats tolerate him. Our old lady cat, Cleo, even purrs and loves him back.
But sometimes our son gets overstimulated with the cats. Sometimes, he gets so excited about them, that he can’t help but grab onto their tails with both hands and pull with all his might. Typically, this happens when the mom watching him is out of the room, and we hear a cat under extreme duress.
These episodes have resulted in BG’s very first time outs. They just haven’t been necessary until now, but now we’re putting him in time-out sometimes three or four times a day. Of course, these moments are appropriately brief. We place him in his crib in his room, repeat “No tail, BG! No tail!” and then close the door to his room. Sometimes he cries his way through the time-out, and sometimes he stands in his crib and giggles or babbles the entire time.
When we go back in to retrieve him after a minute or two, though, we always ask, “BG, why are you here?” He looks up at us with his big blue eyes, and requests, “Up!” So we ask again, “Why are you here? Why did Mommy/Mama put you here?” And usually after three or four times, he replies, “Tail.”
So he knows why he’s there, and I honestly think he even understands that what he is doing is wrong (I mostly think this because he has been known to go pull a tail in retaliation for not getting something he wanted). But he keeps doing it. The cats have gotten to a point now that they are fairly scared of him and run when they see him coming. Maybe this is best. Maybe it’s best that he has no contact with them at all for awhile until he can control this crazed urge to pull, pull, pull. I don’t know, and J and I are at a bit of a loss. We want the gentle, sweet, loving side of our son to prevail, and to see this side emerge is admittedly a little scary. Is it paranoid that I wonder if this is pre-serial killer behavior?
Worries aside, we have to get him to stop, so once again, readers, I ask for your infinite wisdom. What would you do/have you done about kids pulling tails? How do we get him to stop–short of wrapping the cats’ tails in barbed wire?