Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Grow Up

It is so beautiful outside today, so warm, so Indian-summer except that it's not quite late enough into fall for sudden balmy temperatures to qualify as that. So we'll just say it's a lovely autumn day. Adelay and I made sand art sculptures on the deck today, using a kit she got at her birthday party, and I was so grateful that it was nice enough outside to be dumping all that neon sand on the grass instead of our kitchen floor. It was so peaceful, watching the sand trickling down the tiny funnel and into the plastic hearts and butterflies. About as spa-zen as a frazzled mom of three gets during a normal afternoon, I suppose.

My dear middle child has been slowly taking it out of me the last few days, and I am just so tired. I feel kind of defeated today. On our way home from the afternoon's errands, all I wanted was to have somewhere to dump him off for a while, to walk away and say, "Not my problem right now." His behavior just seems to keep regressing: the running away, the throwing fits, the hateful language whenever he's angry with me. He will scowl at me from the floor where he has hurled himself and hiss, "Fine, then I don't like you anymore!" and I will think, while carefully schooling my features into a blank and impassive expression, "Right back at you, kid."

I had to physically carry him out of a store today while he screamed, and the baby in the stroller screamed too, rudely awakened by his older brother's fit about an NFL football player Christmas ornament he had seen dangling in a Hallmark display. But it could have been anything. Once he sees something he likes, any errand, any shopping trip is brought to a grinding halt, and it's like negotiating with a terrorist to get out of the store without blood, sweat and tears (there's usually at least sweat and tears.)

Yesterday, thinking that maybe his recent bad behavior has been due to boredom, I drove over to a friend's house and picked up their little boy to come play with Eli for a few hours. At first all was well: Eli and his friend played with action figures, Jameson napped, I folded laundry and peaked in occasionally to listen to their hilarious conversations. But as usual, it all unraveled as soon as Eli didn't get his way about something (this time, it was what snack to have) and he continued whining, throwing fits, hiding, yelling at me and at his friend, etc, until finally I just took the other boy home, after apologizing profusely for Eli's rude behavior. I have never felt so embarrassed and disappointed by my own kid. And like such a failure.

We have literally tried every sort of discipline in the book, short of, you know, beating him or something, and it doesn't seem to matter to him. You can literally watch the crazy come over him, and it's like he literally can't control himself, even if we've spent the previous half hour getting him psyched up to behave well and earn a prize, redeem a toy from time out, get an ice cream cone, whatever. We're trying so hard to give him the opportunity to make good choices, to not get him stuck in this cycle of being the "bad" kid, we're talking talking talking to him, praising him whenever he is good, giving tons of hugs and cuddles, and he's still just losing his shit on a daily basis. I don't know what to do. And I'm tired of feeling like a prisoner to my own child's hysterics.


Anonymous said...

3 sucks.

There is no other way to say it. There were 2 months straight when I did not like my kid. At all. Days when within an hour of waking up, I was counting down hours until bedtime. It was a couple months of torture and I felt like a horrible mom for not even liking my own kid. & then, it got better. Not perfect but better.

I'm sorry I don't have any pearls of wisdom to share and none of this makes it any better, but I've been there.

Scottish Twins said...

Did you try that 1-2-3 Magic DVD from the library? Seriously, it works like a charm!

Gabe didn't mention anything about Eli, so no apology was needed. All Gabe said was that he had fun playing and he ate a banana. Thanks again for the playdate.

And I think you're brave to shop with kids in tow as much as you do. My kids never behave in stores very well, so it's just easier for me to avoid them. If you think about how often you're in public vs. how often he throws fits in public, you're probably doing better than the average mom. Don't feel defeated!!

I also think it's a second child thing, because after today I could easily drop David off wherever you are dropping Eli off. Sigh.

Jules said...

It may seem like forever but it will pass. You are doing the right thing to remove him from the situation or to take the treat (or friend) away. He's getting the message he just doesn't want you to know he got it. Nothing will make this easier other than making sure you are taking some time out to detox from mommy duties for at least an hour once a week.

Mimi said...

Oh man, that's too bad, for sure. Kids can be so terrible sometimes.

Elizabeth said...

I just got that "Your 4 Year Old, Wild and Wonderful" book from the library and while it didn't give me an magic solutions, it did 1. give me hope for the future 2. confirm that Eli's turdliness is totally normal and 3. confirm that we are doing all the right things. So even though it gave me no real "fixes" it did make me feel a lot better. Hang in there lady! I have HIGH hopes for 5.

Hillary said...

Some kids are just harder than others -- not better or worse, just walking down a different path. It'll get better.

Swistle said...

These kinds of stages are SO HARD and SO SUCKY, and they feel like they will last FOREVER, but they HARDLY EVER do. After awhile it's like "Oh, hey, remember that crazy stage where [child] was [horrible]? When did that stop? I can't remember!"

Anonymous said...

I know you probably don't need to hear about reading another book...but "The Strong-willed Child" by Dr. Dobson is a good one!

bluedaisy said...

I am having a very similar problem with my now 5 year old (michael). I am spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to manage his tantrums/temper. Someone mentioned 1-2-3 Magic...I read that book years ago, prior to being a parent and recently got it from the library because I needed to try SOMETHING! One feature that definitely helps- the reminder to keep my own emotions in check. The duration of the tantrum is significantly reduced if I don't lose my cool, talk too much, try to negotiate. So having a guidebook has helped me ALOT. I'm not perfect by any means but it has helped. I actually just made an appointment with our pediatrician to consult and ask questions about my behavior concerns. Michael just started full day kindergarten but he has always had this type of temperament-I'm hoping to figure out a true plan of action (counseling, whatever) b/c I don't want to be in this same place 5 years from now! Anyway, I empathize and hope that this truly is just a phase for your little guy :)

Nik-Nak said...

I hope it passes quickly and with alittle less tears and sweat :(

Tracy said...

I'm with Swistle. My kids have each had a stage like this. As sucky as it is, they really don't last forever. Especially if you don't "give in" to the behavior. Eventually, he'll get over it. But, I know when we were in the midst of those stages (ahem, are in one now with my middle child, too.) it's so hard to remember that it WILL get better. That it HAS to get better.

d e v a n said...

I SO agree with Swistle and Tracy. Absolutely. We have had many of those stages and then... poof!

Misty said...

3 & 4 are hard ages for me to take. Echoing the peanut gallery and saying that this will *hopefully* pass soon. Also, recommending 1-2-3 Magic...which you may have tried already. Not sure.

Luck. This too shall pass, as my dear old granny is known to say.

Taryn said...

Ella has been like that too lately. It's frustrating and I have no idea how to deal with it. She does not care if I do a time out, take something away from her. If we're at the park and the fit is bc she doesn't want to leave, with my oldest I could walk away and she would follow, afraid I'd leave her there. Not this one, she would let me get in the car and drive away. If anything works for you, let me know. Sorry! Yesterday someone told me she was good birth control.

B said...

Oh, man, I am sorry. This is why I don't understand why they are called the "Terrible 2's" since 3 and 4 are so much worse. It sounds like you are doing everything right. I start my kids in preschool early because they have more fun/learn new things/display better behavior overall that way. It's an expensive solution, but one I'd pay for over and over again. Are there any programs or regular activities you can sign Eli up for? Kids are always better behaved for other people. They reserve their tantrums and insanity for us lucky parents. Hope this stage passes quickly for all of you!

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

3 sucks the big one. I'm perpetually asking my 3 year old to top freaking out. About getting brushed by a stuffed sheet. About not taking a nap. About taking a nap. About not getting her way. About her socks being itchy. About her feet being cold.

You get the picture.

But, it passes. Then they eventually turn 5 and justbnever shut up.

I have a two year old in the mix who wants to do it "by myself!"

I really love the baby ;)

Now excuse me, I have to go attend to someone feeling out.

(it gets Better,,, hang in there)

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Don't know how I missed this post. But WOW I so relate.

My oldest is a .... challenge. 3 and 4 were very hard (and 5 is not that easy either). She's intense, emotional, and sensitive. These are beautiful things that I hope she will learn how to harness and balance, one day. But she's only five and doesn't know how to do it yet.

I keep reminding myself of this.

Hugs to you. Hopefully it helps to hear you are not alone.