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Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

S has memorized the How To Be An Annoying Younger Sibling Handbook. Hell, she may have revised the thing, adding new chapters such as “Sitting on Big Brother’s Head – Appropriate Situations to Employ This Most Dangerous Tactic,” and “When Hurting Yourself is Worth it in the Spririt of Getting Big Brother in Trouble,” and “Let’s Make Sure Mom Drinks Tonight.” My sweet little girl pulls hair, claws eyeballs and puts her own fingers into L’s mouth for him to bite. In her defense, she only does this stuff when she’s bored. And she will handle a whole minute of boredom before resorting to these measures.

She’s most bored when L watches TV. This is problematic for me because I plug L into the TV when I have something to do. Like cook dinner, make a phone call, or not kill him. So while I’m super busy cooking, talking on the phone, or not killing, S is in the other room stirring things up. She’s instigating a monster, and she knows it. She will sit on his head, (keep in mind, she’s usually not wearing anything on her bottom half,) pull his hair and claw at his eyes until he retaliates. In his defense, he has a HUGE tolerance for this type of crap. I have seen him watch an entire Wild Kratts with his sister on his head. When he does retaliate though, he does so with gusto. A swift twist, push and throwing maneuver and S is thrown from the couch altogether. He may leave it at that, or he may leap down after her and then the two are a blur of legs and arms as they wrestle it out on the floor.

L weighs 45 lbs. S weighs 23. Fighting is in L’s DNA. S doesn’t stand a chance.

This morning, L is plugged into a movie while I try to pack up all of our stuff as we can finally head home after a week of living with my parents. We have our electricity back and I can’t wait to get back to our normal lives. S does not want to watch a movie. So, naturally, she grabs a handful of eyeball. Like a pitbull, once she’s latched on, nothing can get her off. L is screaming and I’m yanking on S but she’s glued onto that eyeball. I finally free L from her clutches and put S into a time out. She does not stay in time outs so I am re-putting her in the corner again and again and then something strange happened.

A man came in and scooped her up. He gave her a hug and asked her if she will promise to be good. Through pathetic fake tears, she promises. He then releases her back into her freedom. WTF? Who is this man? He looks like my dad, but can’t be.

When I was growing up, my dad was the scary one. When we were naughty we quickly asked our mother, “Please don’t tell dad??” I think he still doesn’t know about the brand new ski jacket I lost in the 5th grade. (Sorry, Dad.) So who’s this softy letting my daughter out of her time out? I could have used this guy 30 years ago.

I guess the moral here is that we all have to wait about 30 years. Then when our terrible children have terrible children of their own, we can do whatever the eff we want. We can be the nice guy if we used to be the mean guy. We can give them Sugar Puff Honey Crack O’s for breakfast and then give them back to their parents. We can babysit and keep them up way past bedtime. All this is to say, that one day, we will have our revenge. Good things come to those who wait.

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L really doesn’t need as much sleep as we need him to have. We need the full 12 hours of rest from him and that’s why we put him to bed at 7. His natural time to sleep isn’t until about 8:30. That’s problematic because his parents’ natural time to sleep is 9:30. One hour of wakeful reprieve is simply not enough. So, we put S down at 6:30 and tell L he’s staying up late when he gets that extra 1/2 hour until 7. Then we slog through a bedtime routine full of more manipulations, chases, battles and tears than I care to think about. By 8:00 we’re ready to be on our own, relaxing. We expect our fully wakeful son to just stay in his room relatively quietly until he’s ready to go to sleep on his own. He does not do as we expect. (Which, really, is what we expect.)

All this is a long way of saying that when he comes out of his room every 22 seconds to tell us of an urgent need for water, a last hug, a toy he forgot downstairs, a band-aid, some itchy cream, etfuckingcetera, we are displeased. Instead of hearing a cute little voice in that annoying fake-sweet voice he puts on, we hear the manipulative little devil that he is.

But last night, I had a decent amount of wine. I was in a good mood. Also, yesterday I had 7 full child-free hours! So, I was in a really excellent mood. Instead of just yelling upstairs, I went upstairs. Instead of just unceremoniously marching him back into his room, I smiled at him, held his hand, and sat on his bed.

He then explained to me that he and his two teddy bears are lions. The big teddy bear is his brother lion and the little teddy bear is his baby son who he has to take care of. And they are a family. But they had no food to eat. And they already ate all the sticks. But they were still hungry. So they ate his brother, the big bear. They cut him right here and here and drank up all his blood, because that is what some people do. He then lovingly set up a bed at the foot of his own bed in which he tucked the small bear, his son. He sang a lullaby, kissed him, and gently covered him with one of his own lovies. His own lovey, people! 

After this whole strange scene I left thinking, “What a loving, caring and imaginative son I have!” Normally, I’d leave a scene like this fretting about my blood-sucking-sociopath 4-year-old. But like I said, I had a decent amount of wine.

Moral of the story? I think the moral is that I should drink more, but that seems like a weird moral. I’ll have to look further to see if there might be some other moral in there somewhere.

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L comes up with new, crazy-ass ways to be bad on a daily basis. It’s 9:45 PM and we hear him walking around after he had been sleeping. I go upstairs to check on him. He’s happy, gives me a big hug. His hair is wet. Really wet.

“Why is your hair wet?”

“Because I’m so cold.”

Hmmm. Not a good answer. I go into his room to tuck him back into his bed. His bed is soaked. The whole bed. From pillow right on down.

“Why is your bed wet?” No answer. “Did you pee?” (All over it?) No answer. I need to investigate further. I go into the bathroom where I find a soaking wet towel in the sink. Shit. What did he do??

Back in his room I begin to strip the bed. As I do I feel my blood pressure increase. My temper rises. Suddenly I’m seeing red. Here I go. I’m about to lose it…

“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO LIVE IN A HOUSE WHERE YOU HAVE ACCESS TO A BATHROOM??? ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO START LOCKING THE BATHROOM DOORS? WE’VE ALREADY LOCKED AWAY YOUR SOAP AND YOUR TOOTHPASTE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED WITH THOSE, BUT NOW YOU CAN’T EVEN BE TRUSTED WITH PLUMBING??!!”

I can tell I’ve lost it completely. I am now officially crazed. I can’t stop. My anger is overwhelming. I keep screaming. It’s like a freight train. Unstoppable. L is crying. As I move around his bed, remaking it, I step on something wet. Underpants, lying next to a wet pair of shorts.

“What’s this?” No answer. “WHAT IS THIS?”

“I peed.”

“How did you manage to pee in underpants and shorts when you’re wearing a pull-up?” No answer. Uh-oh. Here comes the red again. I can feel the surge, my heart pounding. Suddenly I’m screaming again…

“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?? WHY DO YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO?? WHY DON’T YOU THINK? DO YOU THINK I WANT TO BE HERE SCREAMING AT YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? DO YOU THINK THIS IS WHAT I WANT? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BEHAVE?”

I went on and on with no sign that this tirade was ever going to end. T finally came in and ushered me out of L’s room. And now I’m here writing this while T finishes with L upstairs and puts him back to bed. Adrenaline flows through me. My hands shake as I type. I still don’t know the full story of what happened: what was water, what was pee or why. All I know is that I seem to be hanging on to the very last shred of the last tiny millimeter of the end of my rope.  I no longer have a cushion of patience, understanding or perspective.

I am well aware that I overreacted tonight in a big way. I screamed like a crazy person. Like a very bad mother. My throat hurts. I’m sure my neighbors heard through the open windows, even though their houses are far from mine. L is now back in bed sleeping, not 15 minutes after this whole episode. Clearly he was not terribly distressed by my tantrum, which only means that he’s seen it before. That he’s not shocked like he really ought to be.

This is The Ugly. This is what happens here that I’m sure doesn’t happen in your houses.

I’m so sick and tired of fighting all the time, of the constant vigilance I have to keep with L, the nonstop battles over every little thing all day long every single day. It’s just too hard. It feels so unfair sometimes. Like I was given the wrong child. This kid needs a better mother – someone with more patience and kindness. I give up.

Hello, Universe? You made a mistake. You didn’t give me a challenge I could rise to, but one that has totally destroyed me. Please check your records and make the appropriate adjustments. 

OK, the adrenaline has subsided. My tantrum is over. Now I’m just stuck with the shitty emotional cocktail of failure, weakness, guilt and sadness. Really, what was the big deal all about? He played with water? What the fuck is the matter with me anyway?

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Here’s a problem I have: I like to be expressive, really expressive. In the English language there are few words or phrases with more oomph than “fuck” and “Jesus Christ.” So, naturally, I say these and some other unsavory words a lot.

I realize that people might find these words offensive. Sorry. I don’t mean any offense. They’re just words to me.

I realize that some people might think I lack creativity if I can’t express myself without resorting to these. Maybe I do. But I like these words, and choose them on purpose.

My frequent swearing hasn’t been a huge problem for me since I was a kid myself. Back then, I got in trouble a lot, and there was not a single authority figure who was at all interested in my defense of, “But they’re just words!” At the ripe old age of 35, I’ve gone many years where the biggest repercussion I’ve suffered from my language is that I’ve probably repelled some people and made some lousy first impressions. Not terrific, but not a big deal.

Suddenly though, these very words are coming from the mouth of my 4-year-old. He is a frequent user of “damn” and “Jesus Christ;” thankfully, he’s backed off on his use of the f-word. For the first time I’m hearing these words in a different way. They’re fine coming from me to add some extra punch or humor, but from my preschooler? They sound so so wrong.

I could probably kick the habit, in front of the kids at least, if only I could avoid being aggravated, angry, frustrated and physically hurt. Considering who my 4-year-old is, avoiding these things is just not in the cards. So, do I teach him to do as I say not as I do? That would have bugged the hell out of me when I was a kid, so no. Do I stop saying them even when I step on a Lego after finding L stealing gum from my purse? I just don’t see that happening, so no. Do I teach him that there’s a time and a place for different kinds of language use? This is what makes the most sense to me, and it’s what I actually believe, but is there a time and place for a young kid to swear? Probably not.

I think I’ll just have to add this to my growing list of parenting fails. Unless he stops swearing, L will see the inside of many principal offices, just like his mother did. For his sake, I hope he quickly accepts that certain language is just not acceptable in certain situations. I hope that he does not take his mother’s childhood position of: I will continue to say these words to express myself until all the people around me realize they are just words, so they can lose their ridiculous, artificial power.

Hmm, I wonder where he gets his stubborn streak and his penchant to disobey authority?
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Baby Haters?

Actual Facebook status of a college (clearly childless) friend:

Note to all you parents out there: if you can’t get your baby to stop crying for more than 30 seconds at a time throughout a 2 1/2 hour flight, maybe you should hold off on flying because people like me hate people like you. On an unrelated note, I think it’s about time for a vasectomy.

After a mix of comments, none of which were a hand reaching out of his screen and smacking him, he followed up with:

Listen, I’m not anti child, I am anti shitty parent. If you can’t shut your kid up for more than 30 seconds on a 3 hour flight, I guarantee you that all 20 people sitting within earshot from you think you aren’t trying hard enough.

Am I naive to be shocked by this? Am I so far gone into parenthood that I’ve forgotten how people without kids think and feel? Did I feel this way? Is it normal?

My question to him was, “How exactly should these shitty parents make their baby shut up?” I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

Do childless people really think parents can make our kids and babies do anything? Or is it just a matter of not thinking it through? Obviously we can’t make them do anything. If we could, parenting would be easy. We could make them eat what they’re served, make them go on the potty, make them behave in public places, make them go to sleep and make them stop crying. If only!

Then again, that would mean that our children had no wills of their own, that they were not their own people, that they were not capable of exerting themselves or having independent thought. I’m the first to raise my hand to tell you that my kids’ will and independent thought are often entirely frustrating to me, but I’m still happy that they have them!

As for the crying baby on the plane, I hope that before I had kids I was smart enough to know that despite how entirely annoying to me a crying baby might be, there’s nothing that the parents could do about it. Those poor parents were surely trying all they could think of, and certainly felt the judgement of all the people around them. I’m positive that the parents were more stressed and unhappy about the whole ordeal than anyone else, baby included.

As for my college friend, not sure if I want him to get that vasectomy immediately, or to have a baby of his own!

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I want you all to know that I read every comment I get here and on my FB page and every single email. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the feedback, support, advice and points of view. There are too many awesome points for me to respond to each one, so I’m writing this as a general response:

  • Yes, I am still going to go forward with having L evaluated by someone who is not that douche-bag doctor we saw the other day. My objective is to find out what makes L tick, so I can help him tick in a way that will not piss me off is more socially acceptable.
  • You’re right, all kids behave worse at home. I should be happy and proud that L can behave so well at school. It does mean, at the very least, that he’s not a psychopath, sociopath, or any other kind of terrible-path. And it also shows that he trusts me enough to never really sell him on eBay.
  • I will try to look at L’s ransacking the baking/junkfood cabinet and the freezer at dawn today as a step towards his becoming an independent, self-reliant man. (Damn, some of you are very glass-half-full people!)
  • I had an aha moment today when I read this comment:

….I’ve found my kids doing the exact same things. They ignore rules they’ve known for years, make messes just for the sake of being messy, and misbehave for me while acting the angel for everyone else. I’ve also come to realize that every time they act this way, it’s because they know they can get away with it. I realize I’ve fallen into the parent trap of frustrated speech, not following through, and trying to plead with them to do what I told them. When I follow through with discipline and kind words, all goes back to normal…

Dean is totally right on. Things were bad with L a year ago, I got really strict and mean, things got better. Things were so good that I thought I was out of the woods. I let my guard down. I let small things slide. Small things snowballed into an avalanche of bad, and now I’m here. Time to bring back mean mommy. This will not be fun, but will probably provide blog-fodder.

So, watch out, L! Mean-Mommy is back. And Daddy’s going to bring back Hammer-T. I will try very, very, very hard not to react emotionally. I will suppress my inner combustible self. I will be nonplussed, calm, and mean.

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I had a long conversation this morning with the director of L’s daycare that should have made me feel better, but just made me feel worse. He’s been going there part-time since just before S was born – so just over 2 years. They know him well and know that I struggle with him. They see him at drop off and pick up and how he acts (out of control and obnoxious) and have always told me that he’s completely different the second I leave.

I told her that I’m getting him evaluated and asked if in her opinion L might have ADHD or some similar problem. She said no, absolutely not. She has seen kids with ADHD over the years and L totally does not fit the bill. He listens to the teachers without defiance. He is excitable, but is quickly and easily settled down. She said that he is 100% within the normal range of behavior for a 4-year-old boy, that he is not one of the kids that needs to be spoken to more than once.

However, she sees how he is with me. She said she’d like to see my drop offs be much quicker so that L and the other kids don’t think that sort of behavior is at all acceptable there. I try to get out the door as fast as possible but L hangs on me, hits me, insists he’s going with me, opens the door and runs outside…

So, I should be happy that L is so well behaved in school. That he is able to hold it together, to listen, to engage and interact well with the kids and teachers. I should be happy. But I’m miserable. What am I doing so wrong to make him so so so bad with me?

This morning, he did not come into my room as he normally does around 7. Was he sleeping in? Nope. He had opened the baby gate at the top of the stairs (which most adults can’t manage) and came downstairs and helped himself to cookies, chocolate chips, shredded coconut and 2 popsicles!. He made a massive mess – coconut and melted popsicle all over the place – and he ate almost a whole package of cookies. This is blatantly against any and all rules and he knows that. He seemed proud of himself when I discovered it all. I’m so shocked at this level of badness that I still can’t wrap my head around it.

I don’t know what to do. He is so out of control.

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