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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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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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I’ve mentioned that L has a fresh mouth. Sometimes his attitude is slightly more subtle than calling me names. Here are a few conversations from yesterday and this morning that have me laughing and pulling my hair out.

 

L was given a container of cotton candy yesterday. In the car ride home, at 4PM, we had this conversation:

L: Can I please, please, PUH-LEEZE have some cotton candy when we get home?

me: No. I don’t think it’s the greatest idea to eat cotton candy right before dinner.

L: Just a little? Please? Just some?

me: Sorry, Honey. I still don’t think it’s a good idea right before dinner.

L: Why don’t you just think about it some more and then answer me.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Conversation this morning after he took a book of Spiderman temporary tattoos and ruined them all by soaking them in the sink:

me: Why would you do that? You ruined them all! That was a nice thing I bought for you. It cost money. I’m not buying you tattoos again.

L: Don’t worry about it. You’ll forget about this really soon and buy me tattoos again.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Conversation at 9:15 this morning:

L: Mommy, are you still mad at us?

me: I’m annoyed. I’m really annoyed because you two have been annoying me all day. [Not my finest parenting moment.]

L: No we haven’t. It hasn’t even been all day yet.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Now my question is whether to publish this now, or wait the rest of the day to collect more smart-assery?
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If you’re looking for a post about mouthwash, move on. This is about the fresh mouth and attitude that L has developed. He thinks nothing of talking back and saying things like “Stupid Mommy” and “I hate you!” This drives me nuts! I realize how little control I actually have. I can’t make him stop saying this stuff. All I can do is give him consequences, talk to him about how it’s not OK to say such things, and hope he makes better choices in the future. Which, so far, he has not chosen to do.

All you pro-spankers out there are getting excited to tell me to spank him, right? I honestly don’t think that would be an effective punishment for him. He’s the first one to point out if I chastise him for something I do myself. You know how I pinched him the other day? Well, he’s reminded me of it several times with comments like, “Since Mommy pinched me, it’s OK to pinch people.”  When I explain the difference between me and him, that my pinch was meant to teach him something etc, I get “Well, I can only pinch someone if they do something bad first.” I just don’t need to go there with hitting.

So, what to do? Just wait it out and hope that he one day develops the desire to respect me? Yell and scream at him like a maniac when he talks back? Ignore it?

His first reaction lately when things don’ t go his way is to call someone stupid and tell them that he hates them. So this comes up a lot.

I can feel the people out there who are thinking ‘this behavior just wouldn’t fly in my house!’ Well, why not? Because your children never tried it? Or if they did, what kind of response did they get from you to let them know they’d better not do it again?

L is not deterred by time outs, not deterred by privileges or beloved objects taken away. He’s smart enough to know that there is no real consequence – that we’ll always love him, feed him and let him live in the house. In fact, he often will infuriatingly say “But you still love me!” right in the middle of a battle.

Nothing makes me feel like a shittier mom that having my obnoxious 4-year-old show complete disrespect and disregard for me. Please tell me your kids are jerks sometimes too?

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Poor S has a disadvantage. Well, let me rephrase that. Poor me, S has a disadvantage. She has L to learn from. Now L has many, many wonderful characteristics that make him a great big brother to have, but he also has many, many annoying traits and habits, and those seem to be the ones S is attracted to.

S gets hurt a lot while following in her big brother’s wild footprints. He’s big and coordinated and she’s small and clumsy. This makes what might be a simple climb, leap and roll maneuver for L, a catastrophe and blood-letting for S.

But what’s gotten my attention lately is not the constant injury, but the mess. See, S naturally is a neat person. She’s the one who puts other people’s toys and dishes away whether they’re done with them or not. She likes things in their place. She knows where her shoes are at all times, because she puts them away. It’s in her nature. But L is wearing off on her at such an alarming rate that it’s actually changing her very nature!

For a child who never liked to have food on her hands, she has come a long way down the slippery slope of slobdom. Let’s use yesterday’s painting activity as an example. Out of desperation to get outside, but unable to because of constant thunder and lightening (despite the sunshine), I set the kids up on the porch with some paints. I provided brushes, dressed them in smocks, and went inside for about 2 minutes. I came out to find this:

I think there's a piece of paper in there somewhere.

Is that paint on my house? Why yes, it is. I found this mess somewhat alarming. Hang on, I’ll be right back with some wet rags. Just don’t touch anything…

Oh, that smock was in my way so I just took it off and painted myself.

Think all that paint will come off the porch floor easily? Neither do I.

The truth is that I should have known better. This is not the first time that something like this has happened around here. Did I ever tell you guys about this time?

At least they're working together.

What’s that definition of crazy again? Something about doing the same thing and expecting different results? I guess I qualify.

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There was a misinterpretation of results. Turns out S does not qualify for early intervention. The normal maternal reaction is probably relief, but I’m disappointed. Having her qualify didn’t make her any more behind than I thought she was; it just meant that she was going to get help and support. Having her not qualify doesn’t make her any less behind. She’s still not talking. We just don’t get the help. Boo.

The assessment covers 5 areas of development: Adaptive, Personal/Social, Communication, Motor and Cognitive. A “development quotient” (way to say “score” without saying “score”) of 77 or below in any area would qualify for early intervention. Average normal scores fall between 85 and 115 and S’s scores range from 86 to 110, well out of the range for intervention.

I was given some tips and tricks and told to call back if she does not make a huge leap by her second birthday. So, if you see me making funny sounds at my toddler, (“bay-BEE!”) please ignore.

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I spend most of my time here talking about L. Once in a while I write about S’s adorable-ness, but she definitely takes a backseat in terms of the percentage of my angst she causes compared to her brother. So here’s something you may not know about her: she doesn’t really talk yet. At 21 months old, she is waaaaaaaaaaay behind her peers. While they are putting together simple phrases and consistently naming the objects around them, S says only a small handful of single words. Words like up, mama, dada, more, bye-bye, boo-boo. It was nearly a year ago when I was told to worry that she didn’t know a cow says moo. Guess what? She still doesn’t know.

S can understand anything that is said to her. She can follow a series of directions and will point to the correct object when I name it. Her problem is clearly not cognitive. Is she just lazy? She is actually quite able to tell me a whole story with a combination of charades and simple words. She can, for example, convey that she has a boo-boo on her head because she was on the couch and L pushed her off causing her head to hit the coffee table. Since she’s so good at communicating this way, why bother talking?

Whatever the reason for her delayed speech, my it-will-work-itself-out approach hasn’t been effective (yet). So today I’m having her evaluated to see if she’s eligible for early intervention. I imagine that she’s going to fall just to the normal side of the upper limit of what would qualify. Meaning that she’s speaking at the bottom-most possible level of what is considered normal. And this will be fine with me, because I do still believe it will work itself out. It’s just taking longer than I anticipated.

Funny thing is that when L was about 19 months old I had him evaluated for the very same reason. He had 3 words, which only I could understand: “ma-em” for milk. “cheese” for please, and “do-do” for thank you. (So polite!) I set up the appointment and by the time the team of evaluators arrived at my door a few weeks later, L was totally talking. And hasn’t stopped since. (rim-shot) I attributed L’s lateness to the fact that he’s a boy, and that he was too busy figuring out how to run, jump, climb, and break dance to bother learning to talk. But not only is S a girl, she also spends a lot less time break dancing. Anyway, I fully expected her to start talking before the evaluation date, but it’s in an hour, and she wasn’t talking this morning and she’s sleeping now, so I think that’s not happening.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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