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Posts Tagged ‘son’

L demonstrated his lack of a firm grasp on numbers when he explained how he’ll always be older than S:

L: She’s only 2. I’m 4 now but soon I’ll be 5:30.

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Grandma recently took L to visit his great-uncle in a nursing home. It was time for weekly services, and L seemed puzzled by the congregation’s prayers:

L: What are they doing?

Grandma: They’re praying.

L: [Looks totally bewildered]

Grandma: L, do you know what praying is?

L: Yes, lions prey and jaguars prey….

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How boys play:

L: Here, S, take this magic wand.

S: ‘tay.

L: And this one is mine.

S: ‘tay.

L: And now… FIGHT TO THE DEATH!

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New mantra that I will share with L when he has a 4-year-old son (assuming we both live to see the day, and that my mantra is true enough for some woman to have kids with him):

He does not have a permanent personality disorder; he’s just 4. He does not have a permanent personality disorder; he’s just 4….

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WTF Tapas

Lately L wants to know not only what animal he is eating, but what part of that animal. He became upset yesterday over ham. Not because he was sad that he was eating pig, but because he was sad that the pig’s face had been removed.

Along these lines, when he asks what animal he’s eating, he checks to make sure he understands by doing an impression of the animal.

“What aminal is this from?”

“That’s chicken.”

“As in bok-bok chicken?”

“Yes, as in bok-bok chicken.”

These conversations have permeated S’s consciousness and now whenever she eats anything, she says “bok-bok” and does spastic chicken flapping with her arms.

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One of S’s favorite songs is Wheel’s on the Bus. Her favorite part is the horn going “toot, toot, toot” complete with horn honking motions. In our house, toots, and tooting have a whole ‘nother meaning. (Can you see where this is going?) Whenever S passes gas, she excitedly acts out honking a bus horn and shouts out “toot, toot, toot!” It’s so cute, it makes me just want to feed the kid beans.

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I’ve mentioned before that S has nothing interesting to say, and yet she talks constantly. I’ve tried explaining to her what ought to be said aloud, and what is not interesting enough to say. For example, while driving in the car in the afternoon, it is not necessary to observe, “Me no see moon.” One need not list all the things one does not see at a given time. I answered, “Me no see elephant.” She is not learning.

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Conversation with T at 6 AM this morning (we aren’t the happiest people at 6AM):

me: I ordered S her own clock so she can know when it’s morning.

T: What? Why?

me: What do you mean why?

T: Can’t we just rig one?

me: Rig one? With paperclips, weights and rubber bands? WTF are you talking about?

T: No, I meant with a lightbulb and a timer.

me: OMG, you’re a crazy man. She can have her own clock. She’s her own whole person.

S: Ya! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy, me me own person! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy! Daddy, me me own person…

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me to T: Maybe you could take L to the market with you and he might S-L-E-E-P in the car.

L (extremely excited): Does that spell “guns in the car”?

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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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Motherhood is a multifaceted job – much like a gemstone that you hold in your hand turning in the light watching the angles and corners and surfaces glimmer and shine different, unexpected ways, only with more poop. As a mom I’m both hero and villain. I’m playmate and disciplinarian, teacher and student, and a bunch of other less glamorous things like chef, maid, coffee-chugger, insomniac, bathroom coach, and budding alcoholic. I have more roles than I can list because new ones arise every day. Am I an expert nail cutter, splinter-getter-outer? I am now. And, as a feather in my lovely mom-cap, as one last sexy thing I do, I plunge toilets. Often.

Indoor plumbing was not made with L in mind. His small body produces surprisingly unflushable waste. And to exacerbate the unflushable situation further, he apparently cannot learn the appropriate amount of toilet paper one needs. Although he frequently throws his dirty toilet paper in the garbage, (Oh, yeah, I’m also dirty toilet paper garbage digger. I’m so hot.)  he does sometimes remember to dispose of these enormous bunches of paper in the toilet.

We all watch the toilet flush murmuring “please, please, please” under our collective breaths.

Usually I catch it in time before an actual overflow. I can plunge while holding that ball thing up in the back while defensively body checking small curious people out of the way. Sometimes I’m too late. Then I’m standing in a growing puddle of horror, while plunging, and screaming for small curious people to go far far away.

I hate this job.

This job, and so many others like it, is what it means to be a grown-up. As a kid I really wanted to be a grown-up. I had romantic ideas of doing whatever I wanted (ha!) whenever I wanted (haha!) and staying up late (hahaha!). I thought I’d wear fabulous clothes (snort!) and lead and exciting life (sob!). Had I known that being a grown-up actually entailed so much toilet plunging and other people’s body parts and fluids then I might have relished my childhood a little more. I might have enjoyed my irresponsibility, the fact that the buck never stopped here.

What are your responsibilities that let you know you’ve finally arrived at adulthood?
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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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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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WTF Tapas

S finally said her first sentence! As a reprieve from her usual pointing, shouting a word and screeching, she said, “There’s bubbles in the bath!” We’re all very happy. She followed this up with pointing, shouting “bubbles” and screeching.

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In the car L suddenly exclaims: “Mommy, I saw 2 bears!”

me: mm-hmmm. (clearly I pay a lot of attention.)

L: No, not bears. Um, what are those things?

me: dogs?

L: No. I know. Bullies. I saw two bullies!

me: Bullies?

L: Yeah. But not the people kind. The other kind. With horns.

This is when I died of cuteness as I realized L calls bulls “bullies.”

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My kids drop things like cereal and gold fish on the floor like it’s their job. S is great about helping clean up. I’m always torn whether to make L clean up though. On one hand, he should because he dropped them, on the other hand, if he’s anywhere near them he is guaranteed to step on 5 and kneel on 8 making what was once an easy object to pick up into crumbs crushed into carpet. No amount of telling him to look where he steps and kneels helps. What is up with that?

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I’ve mentioned before how much L prefers T over me. T is like a rock star around here, and I’m like, uh, well I guess a servant that you really need around but don’t like that much. Anyway, the other night two things happened to illustrate this. First, L had a complete meltdown because he wants to marry T and he’s upset that T married me instead. (WTF?) Second, L comes out of his room after bedtime and says to me from the top of the stairs, “Mommy, can you please tell Daddy a message for me? Can you tell him that I love him more than you? I mean, that I love him more than I love you. OK? Can you tell him that?” Nice.

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Exactly what I feared would happen has happened.

I’m not worried that L might have some diagnosis. I’m not thrilled about it, but I’ve come to terms with the possibility.

I am worried that he will be given some arbitrary diagnosis, that may or may not be correct, but that I can’t trust because of how quickly it was assessed. I fear wasting our time. I fear bringing L to specialist after specialist. I know L and I know there’s a limit to what he will handle when it comes to me dragging him to dr’s office after dr’s office going over the same old crap.

Today we met with the first of what might be a long line of specialists. And I didn’t leave there feeling comfortable about what happened. At all.

I filled out a pile of paperwork about L last night and handed it over to the Dr when we arrived. He glanced at the paperwork, barely after meeting me and L and said, “Yup, it’s a clear-cut case of ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). That’s it. 30 seconds into the 2 hr appointment and this guy had his mind made up. Nothing I presented or said, or even the fact that L behaved beautifully for 2 long, boring hours would alter his first impression. He referred me to a behavioral therapist, is going to send over his notes diagnosing L with these problems, and told me that he expects I’ll be back within a year to ask him for meds.

Now, L might well have these issues, but not because this schmuck said so.

I’m so angry. Obviously this is a very emotional subject for me, and for this Dr I’m one of thousands of moms with a kid with these types of problems. I get that. I know that my case is only special to me. Nevertheless, each child is an individual person and even if it is that cut and dry, can’t the guy at least pretend that what I have to say, other than what I checked off on his paperwork, means anything?

The worst part about it is that L was sitting there the whole time. Behaving well. Playing quietly. Drawing pictures. Acting entirely not like his normal self, but listening to every damn word we were saying. I just feel miserable about the whole thing. The more time that passes, the worse I feel about it.

 

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Dear Evolution:

Why not have a boy’s brain develop at the same rate as his body? This would ensure that a child cannot reach the knife block before he’s smart enough not to get two sharp knives and hand one to his 2-year-old sister for a sword fight. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this makes some sense, yes?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Mom Who is Evidently not Always Watching Closely Enough

PS: This would also ensure that boys aren’t running around at 10-months-old. At that age they are certainly not smart enough to drive a body at those speeds.

PPS: Maybe you could also consider not having girls go through puberty until after high school? Surely avoiding teen pregnancies would help you achieve your goals as well? Just a thought. We can discuss this one at a later date.


					

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Here’s something that I find annoying: that I’m not in control of the entire world and everyone in it. I know, it sounds a bit control-freakish, and it might well be, but I think it’s annoying when other people say things to my kids that I would rather not be said.

Here’s a quick example of what I mean from just this morning: at Barnes & Noble L picks up some tool kit toy that comes in a case. He wants it. I’m paying for my book, (which happens to be The Explosive Child,) and I say, “L, please put that back. We’re not buying it.” Being my non-compliant child, he informs me that he WILL take it home and that he WILL NOT put it back. I give him a stern look and use my stern voice and say, “L, put it back please.” So far, nothing out of the ordinary for a 4-year-old and a mother in a bookstore, right?

I do realize that I’m a bitch because I think she’s stupid for saying this, and I also realize that in her own misguided way she probably had the best of intentions, but it still bugs me that the cashier said, “If you open that you’ll have to buy it.”

Ugh. Wrong thing to say. He wasn’t even trying to open it. Yet. So now he knows that if he opens it, he gets to have it. What would have taken possibly one more warning has now devolved into a chase, wrestling, crying incident as I need to get that toy out of his hands before he opens it. He’s now screaming, “BUT I GET TO KEEP IT IF I OPEN IT!!!”

I know, I know, other people aren’t responsible for my kid’s bad behavior. But, if I were in control of the entire world, this would not have happened. Worst part is, L is the thinking kind of kid. This nugget of an idea – that if he opens a toy in a store he gets to have it – will roll around and fester in his little brain and will re-emerge one day when I least expect it.

This is just one small incident. This child of mine is growing up and will soon spend a great deal of his time without me. He will not only hear what random cashiers say, but worse, his peers. His stupid, idiot peers. Please don’t be offended if you are a parent to one of those peers. I completely expect you to see L as one of your kid’s stupid, idiot peers. And he is. He will teach your sweet daughter to bend over, pull her butt cheeks apart and make farting noises. In exchange she might teach him to roll his eyes in exasperation. Or that he’s not supposed to like “girly” things. Or that he’s a loser for some reason or another. And there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

At 4, L is in his last year of learning most of what he thinks is true from me. Soon his friends, bigger kids, idiot famous tweens and non-PBS cartoon characters will hold a greater and greater influence over him. These people will say all sorts of stupid things in front of him. If I could just control everything and everybody, then this wouldn’t be a problem.
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This is not working. My home life feels like a war zone. Everything is a battle. I have tried so many ways to get through to L, and he just seems hell-bent on choosing the fight every time.

Lately I’ve tried explaining that he has a choice. When he raises his hand to hit me I calmly say, “Think about what you’re about to do. Think about what you want. Think about how you can get what you want. Think about what will happen if you hit me.” This sometimes does the trick. On a dime he will switch from a hateful, spitting-mad psychopath to a sweet, affectionate boy. (Does this mean he’s a crazy person? Who can turn such big emotions on and off like that?)

Sometimes reminding him to think about it doesn’t work. When he’s just geared up for a fight, there is nothing anyone can do but live through what comes next.

I’m sick of it.

My two children are not getting the same kind of attention, love, and affection from me. I try. I really, really, really try to give L all the positive reinforcement, all the encouragement, all the praise, love, affection that I can. But it’s impossible to do sometimes.

At least 2/3 of my interactions with him are battles.

And those that aren’t battles are just battles that haven’t started yet. I can’t play with him because when the play time ends it’s a melt down. I can’t tickle, wrestle with, act silly with, chase…. I don’t get to enjoy him the way I want. The way he would love. With him I have to restrain myself. The more playful I am, the more crazy he gets, the bigger the fallout in the end.

It seems so unfair. All day long I could play with S. I get to chase her to put on her PJs. I’ve never been able to do this with L. Even when he was her age, he took the games too far. He’d run away, but not in a playful way. In a serious, I’m-running-away-from-you-and-when-you-catch-me-I-will-hit-and-kick-and-forever-try-to-escape-and-if-I-can’t-I-will-completely-fall-apart kind of way. It sucks.

And every time I play with S I think of all the good times L and I have missed out on. All the good times we’ll forever miss out on because he makes everything so hard.

I have tried lavishing him with attention and play, but he’s insatiable. It doesn’t matter if it’s one minute, thirty minutes, or three days. When it ends he goes nuts. Often he goes nuts in the middle just by taking things too far. Tickling turns into aggression. Chase turns into wrecking the house.

This isn’t fair and I find myself constantly thinking the terrible thought “Why can’t I just have two like S?” I think L has so much awesomeness going for him, but for some reason it’s like he’s choosing to just act terribly. I’m tired of it. I feel like it’s not fair to the rest of us.

Clearly I’m not handling him right. But every different thing I’ve tried has failed in a different way.

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I started writing this while T wrangled with L in his worst form. I felt beat up, defeated. I felt sorry for myself. Then I had to step away from the computer because after T came downstairs L begged, through hysterical tears from the top of the stairs, “Mommy, please come help me calm down. Please come up and calm me down.” He needed to sit on my lap and rock like a baby. He needed me to help him take some deep breaths, whisper nice things, sing him a song. And then that’s that. He’s calm, he’s happy. Obviously his emotions are just too big for him to deal with. He’s feeling out of control.

And now I feel like a shitty mom for wishing he wasn’t him but some S-like child instead. He’s just a little person trying to deal, and not figuring out how everyone else is doing it. And I’m right there beside him on his roller coaster. Going from hopeful to angry to defeated to self-pitying to sad to guilty and back to hopeful again. It’s an exhausting cycle.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Turns out toddlers have Cockney accents. Mine does anyway. This is most commonly expressed in that she now runs around saying “‘appy!” all day long. It’s clear that she means ‘happy.’ People she says this to think it’s adorable that this little child is telling them that she’s happy. She says it to check-out workers, random passers-by, just about everyone she sees. Only I know the true meaning. That is, she is not informing people of her pleasant disposition, rather she is demanding that they sing “If You’re Happy and You Know it,” her favorite song.

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For those of you who missed the Facebook post about this, I think it bears repeating. Yesterday I took L to Old Navy. Normally, I try not to take him anywhere that includes indoors/stuff he can ruin/other people/any waiting, etc. But he was in a sweet mood and we were shopping for T’s upcoming birthday, so I risked it. For the most part, he was good. So good in fact that I didn’t even notice that it was quiet for about 10 seconds while I paid for my items. Turns out, 10 seconds is exactly enough time for L to wander over to the mannequin family, undo the pants of the girl mannequin and pull them down. When I exclaimed, “L!” upon seeing this he simply responded, “I just wanted to check on her bagina.”

Words complete fail me as I redress the fake girl and get the F out of there.

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I’m now worried that L is a future adrenaline junkie and I’m going to spend my life in anxious agony as he spends his like those guys from Jackass. This worry stems from his love of ice-cold water poured over his head. I’m talking, ice-cold. For some reason, when T gives L a bath he allows this ridiculous activity. L keeps the tap on freezing, and continually refills a large container with the torture water and then dumps it over his own head. This causes him to convulse as  his body copes with the insult. As soon as the convulsions subside, he refills the bucket for more abuse. WTF?

These guys have mothers:

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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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Despite my apparently abysmal parenting (see Diana’s comment), L is growing into a good human. As you may have read, he recently decided to donate a large portion of his life’s savings to help hungry children in Somalia. His donation rounds up to $5. Some people expressed an interest in matching this. Together, we could make a big difference in the lives of people who are really suffering.

So, I tried to set up a place where people could donate but couldn’t figure out how to get the Paypal account for donations separate from my personal Paypal account, and time has just been ticking on. So, instead, I’ll just share my links with you all and you can take it from there.

I found a helpful article on ways to help here: http://saveone.net/#1745413/It-Takes-an-Army-to-Solve-a-Crisis-3-Ways-to-to-help-fight-the

I decided to donate his money, and my additional contribution, to World Food Programme.

Nearly all of the food handed out in Dadaab comes from the World Food Programme (WFP). Each year, 90 million people are fed by WFP, 58 million of whom are children. A donation to WFP goes a long way – every $1 you give provides a meal for 4 children.

One dollar feeds 4 children? L helped give a meal to 20 children?? Amazing. If you’re interested in matching his donation, making your own, or passing the word around, their donation page is here: https://www.wfp.org/donate/hoa_banners

I know this post is way off topic from my usual, but I wanted to follow-up on L’s emerging philanthropic spirit. By the way, he has not forgotten about it. He keeps asking me if his money is helping people and if people are still hungry. I would love to tell him that his generosity inspired others to do the same!

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Another special day with L ruined by none other than L. I dropped S off at daycare, took L back home and we went on a long bike ride. Back home for an early lunch and then I took him to the movies. We even had popcorn and candy – a real treat around here. He’s been to the movies 3 or maybe 4 times, but has never had anything from the concession stand. So far, the day is a resounding success. But wait…

Upon exiting the theater, I turn on my phone to find 3 voicemails. S has a fever and needs to be picked up.

This is where L turns from lucky kid out for a great day with his mom to horrible, ungrateful, evil, selfish little bugger who’s about to get what’s coming to him. He doesn’t want to leave because he wants to sit on the arcade motorcycle game, with no quarters put into it, and pretend to ride. “I’m sorry, your sister is sick and I need to pick her up. They’ve been trying to reach me for a long time. We have to go.”

He leaves with me, but pouts about it. “I never get to do anything special.” (Yes, he says this as we leave the movie theater, while we are still in the middle of a special outing. WTF?)

On the ride home from picking up S:

“Can I ride my bike when we get home?”

“No, it will be rest time.”

“Yes I can. I can do whatever I want. You can’t stop me, Stupid.”

This is when I see some movement in the rear view mirror. For no reason, after no provocation whatsoever, L’s arm reaches across and does something to S which makes her scream and cry.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing, I swear, she’s just crying.”

S holds her arm, crying and crying. Obviously L is lying. I pull the car over.

“Tell me what you did.”

“I didn’t do anything. I promise.”

“You’re lying to me. I saw you.”

“You did? Uh, I did this.” (demonstrates pinching.)

What kind of little shit of a person just reaches out and pinches someone for no reason? A sick toddler no less? So, I did the only reasonable thing that came to mind: I pinched his arm.

OK, OK, so it was not reasonable, nor well thought out, nor done with more pain to me than him but for his benefit as a lesson. I did it because I was pissed off and wanted to hurt him. Just a little.

Well, he cried the whole way home telling me that I’m stupid and mean and that I’m not supposed to pinch back no matter how bad he is or what he does to S. And honestly, I’m not sure if he’s right or wrong about all of that.

He’s now upstairs throwing things down and I’m trying my best to ignore him.

So, will our great morning leave a lasting impression on him? Will he remember his mom as the person who goes on bike rides, goes to the movies and indulges in popcorn? Or the mean lady who pinched him when she should have known better?

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L saw the news this morning and was struck by a piece on the famine in Somalia. He immediately asked for his piggy bank. He then extracted his one and only dollar bill – the only one he’s EVER had – and more than half of the change that was in there.

How cute is this piggy bank? That's L's foot print from when he was 9 weeks old. Awww.

This pile of money adds up to $4.56. He asked that I send it to Somalia to help the hungry children. I die.

Not to be left out, S came running up to me saying “More! More!” and she too contributed to the cause:

In case you can't tell, this money is not real.

So now I have to figure out how to donate this money, (just the real stuff). It occurs to me that I can capitalize on L’s charitable inclination and spearhead a kids-to-kids type of campaign through L’s friends and school to raise money for children suffering in the famine. This sounds like such an amazing idea and opportunity, but I’m not sure where to begin. Any ideas?

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