The Hurricane

I’ve gotten so many ‘comments’ on Blue’s photo on FB – I decided to throw it up here. Really, this needs a post on parenting a little body full of energy. We’re in it and THICK.

Lots of strategizing going one, some questioning (adoption related stuff – amped up behaviors – attachment significant?), a little refocusing, and mostly just buckling down with consistency and structure. To be honest, I’m just struggling to keep it cool. Today (well, and a few other days before this, I admit) I wanted to play it hard and stern – but I know from experience that my version of ‘hard and stern’ is not a good parenting strategy.  I don’t think it works for me – I prefer “yes” parenting to “no” parenting.  And, I know how to use the “I mean business” voice, but I don’t want that voice to become so common or ordinary that it becomes MY mothering voice. That isn’t to say I didn’t (or don’t) test the waters, but gosh going off “the plan” with time out this and time out that and “NO!” always feels TERRIBLE! There are other ways (calm and consistent would be my preference) to work the room with Blue. I’d like to save “NO!” for “Stop – he’s about to touch a hot stove!” I’m needing a little perspective here, so I can move forward with a little lift in my step.

Truth? I’m exhausted. Flat out…worn out.  My age and his status as only child most certainly play into the scene. Work and some other worries/preoccupations add grist to the mill. I think I need to make some changes to do a better job parenting Blue through this moment (yeah, because I do believe that this is one moment, to be replaced by another…and I’ll look back and wonder why the “h-e-double hockey sticks” I was all messed up about this moment? I’m a seasoned enough parent to get this intellectually, but not a seasoned enough person to have it all roll off my back right now).

Some of this stuff comes with the move from the crib to his big boy bed.  Whose great idea was that anyway? (It was mine – full disclosure). I *think* we have a little of  the “Advance” – – “Regress” dynamic going on.  Sweet Fairy Godmother mentioned, “Oh, so he’s going to have to learn some self regulation – that’s new!” Hmmmm. Yes. (Put that in brain and HOLD!) The potty has been a focus of interest too – mostly his interest – so there’s another place to advance/regress. I have noticed increasing requests for his bottle during ‘not bottle’ times (like in the middle of the day, or after breakfast). Clues – – he’s working something out. This is NOT the time to check out myself.

The thing is, I feel like I’m losing ground. Today I felt defeated by his intensity and his persistence (in throwing, hitting, objecting, redirecting, avoiding, derailing…you get the idea?). OK, well he wasn’t biting and kicking and yelling icky things at me…but we might have gotten there, or we might get there tomorrow.  Wait, I just thought about it…yes, he was hitting me. He took a stamp pad and whacked my arm with it. I think he yanked cushions off the couch and threw them on me too. In the midst of these events, I’m feeling like I’m losing my grip, not really feeling like I’m digging in and staying the course.

I’m putting together some strategies/reminders:

1. More plans on days we’re home solo – because being home is not enough for his budding little social self. I think, too, we need more faces that mirror his own reflection. I’m going to be more diligent about that. I need to find places where he and I can interact in more social environments (I mean to say, good stimulating time for the two of us that is fun and also satisfies his own social curiosities – it’s not that he’s a super social guy, but he does like to witness the world).

2. Coffee at 3:00 every day – skim latte is my preference. It WILL help with my energy. I need some help. Sad. True.

3. Some additional consequences for certain behaviors; objects that get thrown around the house just for the ‘fun of it’ will get put up and away for their own ‘time out’ (he’s not throwing things at me/us – he’s just tossing them around – – testing?).

4. I’m not a huge fan of time out, so we’ll work a little harder at “work it out” solutions. I don’t like the punative piece of time out – but I have to develop a stronger routine for “work it out” or “take a break” moments. And seriously, if anyone needs a time out, it’s ME. (We had a funny ‘work it out’ moment at the apple orchard; he refused to let anyone but me pull the wagon and he refused to walk. Finally we did a work it out plan and he got out of the wagon to walk for a bit <the plan was calm and positive>. He looked at me and said, “OK mom, now you can pull that wagon for a couple of years all by yourself.” Nice plan, Blue!).

5. IF he is going to be giving up his nap, I need some happy/quiet alternatives so I can lay on the couch/my bed/the floor/near his train table and get some easy shut-eye for 20 minutes. I’m not sure what he’ll do ‘solo’ and happily – but a rest time in his room has got to get in the picture, because I can’t go all day without my own little nap deprived melt-down.

6. Add to my list? Thank you.

7. Oh yeah, isn’t my littlest kid AMAZING? Really, verve – he’s got it!!!!

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8 responses to “The Hurricane

  1. Right there with you, mama. Notice my absence of posts lately? It’s no coincidence our boys (and my girl) are very close in age. I wish I had some great advice, but sadly, no. Consistency on my part has seemed to help over the last couple of days, but sometimes that’s really hard to do. For example, the last two times we’ve gone to the library, we’ve left with no books because of a *listening failure.* Sometimes I feel like I’m being too harsh, but for lots of good reasons, I really need to not have to ask/cajole/threaten multiple times. I have been using time outs, and I really hate them. So if you have any suggestions for how to fix “rude language” (“I said NO Mama! Stop it, Mama!” etc) without a timeout, I would really love to hear it. I do thank him when he uses “polite language” (No thank you, Mama, etc) even if it’s said a bit aggressively, but still…. As far as transitioning away from nap times, we’re starting to see that, too. Right now I put him in our bed with a gazillion books and tell him he needs to have quiet time for at least an hour, and that I’ll come up and get him after that. He’s almost always asleep by the end of the hour, and if not, my laying with him for about five minutes at that point usually does the trick.

    That’s the little I’ve got, mama. Like I said, I’d love to hear more about your “work it out” strategies.

  2. I hear you! We had a rough spell late August (and several times before that). We ramped up routines and incorporated more sensory rich activities like swimming, bike riding, swinging in blankets, long baths with back rubs, crunchy and chewy foods, fizzy drinks, etc. We put Melaku back in a crib and our sleep problems were instantly fixed. (I’m weak when it comes to sleep issues b/c I like my sleep!)
    I think the afternoon coffee is important and taking care of yourself in general is important. It’s amazing how sensitive kids are to our moods and preoccupations!
    Can you “baby” him in any other ways? The twins respond well to rocking and holding. They also each pick out a few books before bed. Dad reads their books to them in bed before turning out the lights. They share one fun thing from the day and Dad tries to end with a compliment. Another idea is to tell your child something great about them and make a smiley face on their hand with a marker – they take that message with them to bed.
    Hang in there. This too shall pass…

  3. I really do think this has a lot to do with Blueberry being in the midst of a major developmental growth spurt. My thinking is that you’re doing everything right. We certainly have days where P is ‘helped to take a break’ (as in “I see you are really frustrated and forgetting the house rules, let me help you lay down to take a break for a few minutes”) I like the concept of always giving the child the benefit of the doubt- like they didn’t mean to throw the toy but that they just forgot the rule. And naptime? Are you seriously thinking of eliminating it?!?!?! If so, you are a brave soul. P can go for a day or two without a nap (if necessary) but I think she will be having nap/quiet time until she’s at least 5 (knock on wood).
    I also think this has something to do with the seasons changing. I bet you are inside more than you were- and I bet Blueberry isn’t able to be as physically active inside. We struggle with that too. I’m going to start taking P to the aquacenter to swim on cold and rainy days.
    You’re such a good mama. I respect you so much- I am sure you will find the magic combination that works (and then when things change you will find another magic combination!) Big hugs to you and to Blueberry. *and buna at 3:00? absolutely! I have a buna at 10:30 and tea at 2:00 so that I can do my mothering thang. 🙂

  4. Whenever we have times like this, I step back and see if we are following our own house rules. High structure, high nurture. And then remind myself that when the kids are acting out, they are feeling out of control and maybe scared of new developments and it’s my job to narrow their worlds and make them feel safe again. Consistency with meals, sleep, routines, tone of voice (the hardest). Cause then it’s easier for them to be helped and help themselves through whatever the transition is. Sometimes the world that needs to be narrowed/ simplified is my own.

    Hang in there.

  5. “Mommies drink coffee!,” Em declares often, to whomever will listen. And how. I am soooo with you on being an exhausted, mid-40s mom. For us, it’s the darn sleep thang rearing its head, again and again and again. I don’t even have the energy to strategize a solution….

    I remember mentioning to my mother a friend describing her rocky marriage at one time, and mom just commented, “oh yes–it sounds like a marriage in a house with a 2 year old.”

    M, please be as gentle and accepting with yourself as you are with so many of us. You are doing a FANTASTIC job. Seeing our children struggle, and not being able to resolve their struggle for them, is painful — but it is not a failure. We can love them and try our best, which for us includes thinking seriously what our options are and researching and soul-searching in the hopes of finding an answer. But I am starting to think that so many of our books, internet chat, reflection, are really just our ways of warding off the existential dread of uncertainty—and that there is NOT an answer, nobody HAS an answer as to what is the RIGHT thing to do for our children all of the time. In fact, maybe, within fairly obvious boundaries, there is no “right” thing–just different paths, different possibilities. Dr. Aronson said to me once, “you have got to stop thinking of these things {we were talking health issues} as good or bad. That thinking will trap you. They just ARE.”

    You’ll intuit an approach that works for you both. Maybe it’s consistency, maybe it’s not. My personal thought, reading my own struggles into your words, is that it’s not bad parenting for kids to get treated differently on some days rather than others, because life is kind of like that. If everyone is having a bad week, maybe eating ice cream for dinner one night IS okay. And maybe it’s not at all.

    Ah, big issues…. teaching our little children structure, but going with their flow…. yes, I too am exhausted … call in reinforcements for a day or two?

    Lots of love.

  6. When I get upset with Zufan she mirrors me, and gets upset right back. She’ll say, “you are not being nice to me!” It spirals out of control. So we try to use our “sweet voices,” which can be quite hilarious.

    I’m exhausted, too. Sometimes it is just too much. Zufan is radically different from my other kids; I thought I had parenting down until she came along. So if you find the magic bullet (other than full-on attention and full-on outpourings of love and patience at all times), share.

  7. I have no advice. Just hugs and sympathy and an offer of alcohol the next time we get together…

  8. still in it (most days) still dont know what the hell i am doing (most days), still go to work and try to tell other parents how to do it (hee hee hee). I think you are an awesome, present mom and baby boy is going to rock the world!!! Some things that worked with lucy in the past, letting her “cook” with old, expired food, coffee grounds, mixing to her pleasure. Got her calmed down, gave her some sensory input, was fun to watch, the mini trampoline, I read that saying “uh oh, lets try that again~” as a redirection works well as well as whenyou have to say no to something to say “No, and very quickly, before a reaction, proudly exclaim “WOW!! Le Le GREAT JOB at accepting no for an answer!!!!!” this works really really well for lucy. really well. now she pats her own self on the back for “accepting no” and really we’ve had some wonderful no “no’s” afternoons lately. gotta run!

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