I don't like you anymore!
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 I imagine I was expected to say, "Well in that case, punishment rescinded!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.