My 4.5 year old just painted all over my car with latex paint. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am asking here because I seriously would like to know if this is normal behavior!!  This is something he would have done at 2.5 or even 3.5, but he was 4 in April and acts like he doesnt' understand why I'm so upset!  He has absolutely no impulse control and it's driving us all to drink. 

 

Is this normal 4.5 yo behavior or should I be making an appointment with a neurologist to look for issues?

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#2 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 04:35 PM
 
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Um. It sounds like something my 4.5 year old boy would happily do, given the chance. He's done so many off-the-wall stuff that I've stopped trying to keep track... Then again he always has been a bit different than most kids. He's getting a bit better with impulse control but sometimes I'm just at a loss as to why he does certain things. I think he's just creative. Sometimes that artist-streak works out (like when he uses craft items!) and sometimes it doesn't (like for example, taking off all the knobs on his new dresser and arranging them in pretty patterns).

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#3 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 04:53 PM
 
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Honestly, I couldn't imagine my kids at age 4 painting on my car with anything other than water.   I would freak.out. IMO by that age they know where they should & should not put paint (or marker or crayon).  I'm sorry mama! I would be furious as well. 

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#4 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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Hmm it might be within the realm of normal but I don't think it's in the middle by any means anyway. On the other hand my daughter wrote on couch cushions were Sharpies around that age. Where did he get the paint?
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#5 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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I don't think it's so crazy. I think having latex paint w/in reach of a 4.5 yo might be not such a good idea though.

 

My first is a major rule-follower and we never had problems like this with him beyond 3 or so. My second, who's now 2.75, I can see that we're going to have to keep everything on lockdown a LOT longer. She just can't seem to stop herself from opening, exploring, destroying, smearing, breaking, and chaos-ing. And then she's all, "Sowwwy!" and cries genuine heartsick tears when she sees I'm upset. Little monkey!


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#6 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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I think that most four-year-olds would know that they SHOULDN'T do that -- but an awful lot of them don't have enough impulse control to help themselves. I don't think that's beyond the range of normal four-year-old behavior at all (unless you're seeing other warning signs wtih him).

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#7 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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My 4 and a half year old painted the bathroom walls with nail polish while he was supposed to be napping.  It was our brand new house.  He's now 15 and except for being a bit moody as teenage boys often are he's pretty normal ;-)

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#8 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks guys.  Well I am home alone with three boys many days because DH travels tons.  I have a baby (14 mos) that needs to nap, and I have to be able to leave the 4.5 yo unsupervised, until and unless I can figure out how to clone myself.  I just feel like at his age, I should be able to pop a show on, tell him to sit on the couch for 10 minute while I get the baby down.  But he will find whatever it is that is he is not supposed to find.  He KNOWS he isn't supposed to but just can't seem to control himself at all.  No matter what.  At one point I tried just closing him in his room (I know, bad GD mom) but he tore down his curtains, rods and all.  He's an explosive child definitely, but I so had hoped for some mellowing or maturing by now. 

 

Oh, he got the paint out of the garage, pried it open with a tool somehow, and went to painting.  All in about 10 minutes.

 

Thalia, what other warning signs?

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#9 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 07:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dolphin View Post

Thanks guys.  Well I am home alone with three boys many days because DH travels tons.  I have a baby (14 mos) that needs to nap, and I have to be able to leave the 4.5 yo unsupervised, until and unless I can figure out how to clone myself.  I just feel like at his age, I should be able to pop a show on, tell him to sit on the couch for 10 minute while I get the baby down.  But he will find whatever it is that is he is not supposed to find.  He KNOWS he isn't supposed to but just can't seem to control himself at all.  No matter what.  At one point I tried just closing him in his room (I know, bad GD mom) but he tore down his curtains, rods and all.  He's an explosive child definitely, but I so had hoped for some mellowing or maturing by now. 

 

Oh, he got the paint out of the garage, pried it open with a tool somehow, and went to painting.  All in about 10 minutes.

 

Thalia, what other warning signs?


I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound judgey. I just meant to say it's not abnormal necessarily, and the solution could be to keep things on greater lockdown. I know you can't have your eyeballs on him 24/7, I can't do that and I only have two. But some babyproofing- older child-proofing?- might be in order. Might mean making sure that his room is completely safe and then having him go there when you need to get the little one down for a nap. Books on CD helped me a lot at that stage. Good luck mama.

 


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#10 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 08:03 PM
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I can understand that you have a lot on your plate, but the developmental reality of 4.5-year-olds is that the vast majority of them cannot be trusted unsupervised for any length of time.  At that age, kids really don't understand a distinction between craft paint that is OK to play with and latex paint that is not (except that there's a much larger container and it looks so cool).  They also don't distinguish well between acceptable and unacceptable surfaces for their creative expression.  

 

He sounds completely normal.  More child-proofing would help limit his range.  

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#11 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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It sounds like he is trying to get you upset.  Perhaps he resents you being busy with the little one?  IDK.  If my kids teach me they cannot be unsupervised, I don't let them be unsupervised.  So that means they are my shadow or they are put somewhere safe. 

 

Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, if you have something fun for your DS to look forward to with you when the baby is down, he will be more likely to behave himself while the baby is going down.

 

JMO.

 

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#12 of 32 Old 08-15-2011, 11:53 PM
 
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It sounds like he is trying to get you upset.  Perhaps he resents you being busy with the little one?  IDK.  If my kids teach me they cannot be unsupervised, I don't let them be unsupervised.  So that means they are my shadow or they are put somewhere safe. 

 

Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, if you have something fun for your DS to look forward to with you when the baby is down, he will be more likely to behave himself while the baby is going down.

 

JMO.

 

Tjej



Hey that's a good idea. For a while when my little one was around that age, after she went down for a nap my older guy and I would have tea and toast and play zingo. It didn't take long, was fun and relaxing. Then I'd do chores or whatever else I wanted to get done while the baby napped. But he and I got that one-on-one time together for 20 minutes or so. Could really help.


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#13 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 05:25 AM
 
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 I just feel like at his age, I should be able to pop a show on, tell him to sit on the couch for 10 minute while I get the baby down.  But he will find whatever it is that is he is not supposed to find.  He KNOWS he isn't supposed to but just can't seem to control himself at all.  No matter what.  At one point I tried just closing him in his room (I know, bad GD mom) but he tore down his curtains, rods and all.  He's an explosive child definitely, but I so had hoped for some mellowing or maturing by now. 

 

Oh, he got the paint out of the garage, pried it open with a tool somehow, and went to painting.  All in about 10 minutes.

 

Thalia, what other warning signs?


 

I agree a 4yo should be able to control themselves a bit better. If he has the concentration and skills to get it out of the garage, use a tool to pry it open, then I would assume he would have the ability to NOT paint, even if he wants to. JMO. I have a 4yo and a 6yo, the oldest being extremely creative, but neither of them drew on anything they were not supposed to after age 2. Yes, they both tried, and after doing it once and having to clean up the mess they chose not to do it again. Or to ask ahead of time - "mom, can I use your paint on some canvas?"

 

What are the consequences for him? I understand you getting mad. I totally understand, I would also be ticked to high heaven. But instead just have him clean up the mess. It is not your mess, you don't clean it up. He doesn't learn anything from that. Yes, it will take a long time, and a huge amount of effort. He will have to get the rags, get them in warm water and soap, wash off the paint.... put the dirty rags in the washing machine...  I think if he can get to the garage and get at tools to open the paint, then he can use rags and water and clean the mess. And he will learn that he is responsible for his actions, which is a really positive thing to learn. Yes, he might still do it again in the future. Or he might think - wow, that will be fun, but it will take me a really long time to clean up afterwards and I will miss XYZ.... No, maybe I won't.

 

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#14 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 06:15 AM
 
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I think that most four-year-olds would know that they SHOULDN'T do that -- but an awful lot of them don't have enough impulse control to help themselves. I don't think that's beyond the range of normal four-year-old behavior at all.

Agree.

 

I just feel like at his age, I should be able to pop a show on, tell him to sit on the couch for 10 minute while I get the baby down.  But he will find whatever it is that is he is not supposed to find.  He KNOWS he isn't supposed to but just can't seem to control himself at all.  No matter what.  At one point I tried just closing him in his room (I know, bad GD mom) but he tore down his curtains, rods and all.  He's an explosive child definitely, but I so had hoped for some mellowing or maturing by now. Oh, he got the paint out of the garage, pried it open with a tool somehow, and went to painting.  All in about 10 minutes.

 

I think your 4.5 yo expectations are appropriate in general but not for your child. For whatever reason it sounds like your child is pretty upset when you give your baby one on one time. I think some conversations about that, some specific 'big boy' activities for when baby is going down and some extra attention from mom after baby goes down could be your 'cure'.

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#15 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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It sounds like something my 7 1/2 year old would do, if given the chance. But he has autism, and in his mind it would have made complete sense. Probably something about how he found my favorite color paint and decided that it would be super nice of him to paint my car my favorite color dizzy.gif Actually, just thinking about this is making me giggle, because it does sound like something that would happen around here and he totally would have no idea that it would get him into trouble. He would be convinced he was doing something nice for me. He is very good about following rules, but if I don't tell him something is a rule then it's fair game (and really, who would think to tell a child "we don't paint the car"?!).

 

HOWEVER, I keep a very tight leash (figuratively, not literally) on him. We have alarms on all our doors (including the door that leads to the garage) because he does escape. I'm generally either in the same room as him or I'm peeking in on him every 5 minutes to make sure he's not getting into trouble. He doesn't have many chances to get into too much trouble before he's caught.

 

In your situation, it sounds like he's wanting attention. Could you try planning something super fun for the 2 of you for after the baby goes down? Maybe have a special snack for him while you're putting the baby to sleep? A special toy/movie that he only gets to play with/watch during that time?


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#16 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh he absolutely had to clean it up.  Unfortunately though, after sitting in 102 degree Texas heat for an hour  (before I found it) it had dried and caked on and had to be scrubbed off with major force, so he couldn't have cleaned it all up himself.  And we had planned to go somewhere fun for dinner after baby's nap, which was cancelled because we had to spend time cleaning the car.  My repeated rule that I am constantly saying is "paint and colors are for paper only".  If I were to randomly ask him "where do we paint and color?" he would answer "paper only".   It's not that the rule hasn't been made clear.

 

Honestly after 14 months (since baby was born) of trying to be everything to everyone and talking through all of these incidents and talking to him ad nauseum about how hard it is to have a baby brother and how we get to go do fun things if baby gets a good nap, etc. etc. etc., I'm now battling depression, exhaustion and major mommy burnout because these things happen constantly.  I just need to know if there is something wrong with the fact that my 4.5 year old, who is capable of dressing himself, wiping his own bottom, making his own breakfast, but he can't stop himself from destroying things. 

 

I do try to spend one-on-one time with him.  Here is how that usually goes:  we sit down to color together, for example.  I start coloring something, he says "no mom, that's not right, you're supposed to color this, or it shoudl be that color" or then he gets angry and frustrated because I'm not doing things the way he thinks they should be.  So I give up and just try to be near him while he's coloring, but then he will start coloring on the table.  I really am questioning whether there is something else going on with his brain, but I don't know where to start in finding out.

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#17 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 11:44 AM
 
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Dolphin, I can hear the exhaustion in your words. I'm sorry you all are having such a hard time. I hope you are getting help with your depression, etc.

Please hear this the way I mean it - as a fellow mom who has been at the end of the rope! I don't think the problem is impulse control. Have you considered he might be depressed? It sounds like he is really trying to control his environment and you. He is grasping for anything to control. My suggestion would be to find a good child psychologist that does play therapy. Alternatively/in addition you could ask your pedi for a recommendation for a good child neuro. If you have specific concerns such as autism you could get an evaluation from your school district.

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#18 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks pbjmama - I appreciate your response.  I am on the verge of crying all the time, so I know I have to get something under control here.  We moved to a new house in a remote (to me) neighborhood a few weeks before baby was born, and the change has been brutal for all of us, but I know the 4 yo and I have take it the worst.  I have a call in to a psychologist - I'm willing to try anything at this point.  Thank you.

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#19 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 02:28 PM
 
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I do try to spend one-on-one time with him.  Here is how that usually goes:  we sit down to color together, for example.  I start coloring something, he says "no mom, that's not right, you're supposed to color this, or it shoudl be that color" or then he gets angry and frustrated because I'm not doing things the way he thinks they should be.  So I give up and just try to be near him while he's coloring, but then he will start coloring on the table. 

 

It is typical 4yo behaviour to want you to colour things the way they want it to be coloured.  The problem is we aren't mind readers.  It does not sound to me like he needs an evaluation.  It sounds like he is crying for your attention & he's found that doing certain things gets him attention, even if it is negative attention from you.

 

Stop giving up when he is telling you what to colour or that you are doing things the wrong way.  being near him is not the same as doing the activity with him.  When you are doing something with him, treat him like a little person & ask him how you should do xyz instead of doing it the way you think it should be done.  Ask him what he thinks you should do.   give him some control & it will overlap into him not needing to take control in other things.

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#20 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 02:37 PM
 
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My brother did something similar at that age with spray paint, the basement walls, and the dog. He has ADHD. I'm not sure if that is true in your case.


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#21 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 03:53 PM
 
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I have a 4.5 year old and while he hasn't done something to that degree (wow, that takes some planning!) he truly lacks impulse control and good judgement. His older brother is 6 and was MUCH more responsible at his age. I just looked outside and he was standing on top of our minivan dancing while his friends watched eyesroll.gif so I can't say painting our car would be completely out of the question.


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#22 of 32 Old 08-16-2011, 04:44 PM
 
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My daughter absolutely would not have done that at 4.5.  But, at age seven she carved her name in her dresser.  She was mad at me.

 

Most kids will go ruin something of yours when they are mad at you, but, I don't think it's all that normal for just every day behavior.  The random "oh, I guess that was a bad idea" behavior... or misjudging the washability of paint or something I can understand.  But, I don't think you should be dealing with this kind of thing all the time.

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#23 of 32 Old 08-17-2011, 10:45 AM
 
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I don't know if it's just us, however all child proofing was thwarted by the little people of the house.  Closets were locked, cupboards locked, cleaners put up, knives stowed away up high.  That just wasn't enough.  Sippy cups were turned over onto electrical devices and the drip drip caused an electrical fire.  I had a 7 yr old stomp on the hood of my new mustang... why?

The locked doors were broken into by using a stick... A STICK!  WTH?  I got locked out of my bathroom for an hour once and I never thought to use a stick.  Nail polish was swiped while mommy showered with her usual audience and they painted the dogs back... all while I showered all in the bathroom singing songs... 

 

Don't be hard on yourself.  They do these things.  You can plan and try to stop their bat crazy behaviour but they'll get you in the end.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post You can plan and try to stop their bat crazy behaviour but they'll get you in the end.


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#25 of 32 Old 08-17-2011, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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love this...thanks for keeping it real:)  sometimes i think people must think I'm totally negligent for the things my boys do, but you are so right - they find a way!!

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I don't know if it's just us, however all child proofing was thwarted by the little people of the house.  Closets were locked, cupboards locked, cleaners put up, knives stowed away up high.  That just wasn't enough.  Sippy cups were turned over onto electrical devices and the drip drip caused an electrical fire.  I had a 7 yr old stomp on the hood of my new mustang... why?

The locked doors were broken into by using a stick... A STICK!  WTH?  I got locked out of my bathroom for an hour once and I never thought to use a stick.  Nail polish was swiped while mommy showered with her usual audience and they painted the dogs back... all while I showered all in the bathroom singing songs... 

 

Don't be hard on yourself.  They do these things.  You can plan and try to stop their bat crazy behaviour but they'll get you in the end.



 

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#26 of 32 Old 08-18-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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My 6 yr old sprayed some green lawn repair spray all over my white van the other day!  And he knows it is a no no b/c he did it once before and got in trouble lol. 


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#27 of 32 Old 08-19-2011, 10:08 AM
 
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It is typical 4yo behaviour to want you to colour things the way they want it to be coloured.  The problem is we aren't mind readers.  It does not sound to me like he needs an evaluation.  It sounds like he is crying for your attention & he's found that doing certain things gets him attention, even if it is negative attention from you.

 

Stop giving up when he is telling you what to colour or that you are doing things the wrong way.  being near him is not the same as doing the activity with him.  When you are doing something with him, treat him like a little person & ask him how you should do xyz instead of doing it the way you think it should be done.  Ask him what he thinks you should do.   give him some control & it will overlap into him not needing to take control in other things.


This. Have you tried, over an extended period, to give him "good attention" and to not give him "bad attention"? What I mean is he plans to do something over a long period and does it does not sound like an impulse control problem to me. Sounds like screaming for attention, whatever attention I can get, because new baby is around. Example: He does something drastic like ruin the car. Instead of getting mad, you give no attention. You are totally neutral. You messed up the car, here you clean it up. He pretends he can't clean it. You show him once, you tell him to do it, and you go about what you were doing. But then when he does something positive, you give attention. Wow, that was so nice of you to share XYZ with your baby sister. You were so gentle. Thank you.... He colors a picture and says you should as well. So you do it, and also say what great lines or colors he chose or whatever. Point is if he gets no drastic feedback for the negative stuff, but gets lots for the positive, he might try the positive route more often. And good luck it is so hard when you have a baby and a small child at the same time. Hard to juggle. It does get better though!

 

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#28 of 32 Old 08-22-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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Eh... this positive reenforcement stuff only works sometimes.  I did it with my girls and now that they're older they try it on me.  "Oh mom can you make me a sandwich, I know you're napping but you make much better sandwiches than dad and I would really appreciate it".   It's all just another form of manipulation. 

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#29 of 32 Old 08-24-2011, 09:14 AM
 
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My very sweet, intelligent and obedient daughter inscribed her name in about 20 places when we moved into a log cabin.  With a sharpie...I was still finding these little "tags" when she was 12 and we moved again.  I was shocked that she thought this was OK. (she wrote them all at 8..)

One time a group of my friends and our children had a dinner party- the girls were about 4- we thought they were upstairs playing and they got into the bathroom and got into nail polish and hairdye and forever changed the bathroom of the host- yikes!

 

I think it is well within the range of normal to do crazy things when you are going through changes- move/new baby- just keep on keepin on Mama.

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#30 of 32 Old 08-31-2011, 10:09 AM
 
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I am totally no help.

 

But I just wanted to say that the title of this thread made me burst out laughing.

 

Keep the humor...they are only little once. :)


"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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