So far, not my favorite.
Are there good things? Absolutely. Ethan is MUCH more independent, so much so that Stu and I refer to him as “easy” on a regular basis. But that word, “Easy”, is all relative. Does it mean he can wield a fork or spoon on his own? Sure. Clean up his toys after playing? Totally. Get dressed my himself? Yep. Sit in a chair at a table? Yes! Follow directions and know the rules? Completely.
But actually getting him to DO all of these things without a fight is typically a ginormous pain-in-the-butt-make-you-want-to-pull-out-your-hair experience. Quickly culminating in something like this:
In this instance, I think I asked him to pick up the cards he threw all over the floor. Huge drama.
Why does he give us trouble? Because he KNOWS he can make us completely crazy but refusing to do basic day-to-day tasks and loves the power he holds over us while we try to calmly talk him into doing them. I think it’s called “asserting his independence?”
Oh, and also apparently just because he’s three.
Yes, that’s right, I’m writing about how motherhood is making me a little nuts these days. Not something you see often out here on PFP, I like to keep things pretty light and positive. But after having at least three mommy-breakdowns after loooooooooong days with a child who refuses to behave in the most annoying ways, I’m waving a white flag of surrender.
One of those times, when I was exhausted and totally fed-up from one of our worst behavior days to date, the tears just started flowing during bed time…I couldn’t hold them back any longer. Ethan jumped on the bed next to me and laughed. LAUGHED!!!!!! Laughed at me unraveling and questioning every bit of my parenting ability.
It took me leaving the room at least three times—which led to him crying and begging for a book and song (which we couldn’t get to two of the times because he ran around the room or turned his light on and off rapidly while screaming like a little psycho)—after which I had to actually read a book and sing a song which is nearly impossible to do when you are so pissed off you want to scream.
And what book does he pick? The Giving Tree.
Oh the irony. Needless to say, I read through very fast and kept the emotional pauses and sappy tone out…I was in robot mode.
Stu arrived back from a work trip later that night (just in time to miss it all), and I told him the whole story…every detail of our horrendous day (which I now cannot for the life of me remember) because I was still in such shock that it even happened, and the next morning I was STILL mad. Mad that I spend every day thinking of fun stuff to do with this kid, getting him good things to eat, finding him beautiful books to read, pairing him with fun friends to play with, and he is rapidly losing any and all respect for me and our daily routine. It’s like when he doesn’t want to listen, I don’t exist.
Of course I got over it, he crawled into bed and snuggled up and said, “I love you mom”, and I melted. Putty in his hands. I hoped with all my heart that was a fluke day, one that wouldn’t be repeated. And for the most part he was better the rest of the week, still wearing me out with his need to negotiate everything, all the time.
Then our big Saturday began. This Saturday we were booked solid: soccer, the first day of the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market, and an Easter Egg Hunt at the Botanical Gardens. We went out prepared with snacks to get us happily through a very fun morning.
Soccer, surprisingly, went great.
We snacked and walked through the farmer’s market for a few minutes, played at the playground, talked to neighbors, then headed to the easter egg hunt. We were one of the many happy families walking up the ticket booths to claim our reserved tickets, smiling and excited for the Easter fun we were about to experience. And it was a blast.
We went from this:
To a total-disaster-melt-down situation in about five minutes. All over that little piece of candy Ethan’s holding so proudly in his hand.
A Swedish Fish brought our happy family day to an abrupt halt. He’d already had three piece of candy and our agreement, long before arriving at the gardens, was two. He started screaming “I WANT IT! I WANT IT!” right there, in the middle of the serene celebratory mood. In a matter of 30 seconds I tried:
- getting down to Ethan’s level to talk about the problem
- talking about the feelings he must be having, cave-man style, “You are so angry! You want that piece of candy!”, waiting for that Dr. Karp moment where Ethan gets that we understand his emotions and we have a heartfelt conversation about them, then hug.
- throwing out a consequence, “We will throw the candy in the trash if you don’t stop crying!”
- letting him cry it out…in the middle of the garden.
Diffusing the situation proved impossible. This all happened in front of dozens of families…most with understanding nods or looks of compassion. One lady called out, “That was us ten minutes ago!” It’s still so totally humiliating.
I don’t have a picture of it, we were so mad and astonished in the moment I couldn’t even begin to think about grabbing my camera (shocker, I know), but Stu picked Ethan up and carried him, kicking and screaming, out the garden gate, past the sweet ladies who checked us, the happy family, in an hour before, and made a bee-line for the car.
No words were said. Eyes straight ahead. Ethan screaming THE ENTIRE TIME.
I realize now we should have just let him cry it out in a less public area. Sure it would have been an insanely embarrassing ten or so minutes but I’m sure he would have stopped. And it sure would have made getting him in the car seat easier.
My sanity after these experiences? Nap time.
To anyone with a three year old who doesn’t nap: May the Force Be With You.
I have no idea what I would do if, after a morning of disobedience and dolling out more patience than my body can handle, I couldn’t count on those 2-3 hours of peace and quiet while our little animal recharges those trouble-making batteries.
Defying someone every 2.4 seconds will really take it out of you, I’m sure.
So I’m now immersed in some long-put-off reading that’s been waiting for me on my trusty Kindle. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, How Toddlers Thrive (thank you Julie for the recommendation), a re-read of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, and possibly 1-2-3 Magic.
I also headed out for some friend-therapy Saturday night and heard so many helpful stories and tips from the Super-moms with whom I’ve surrounded myself. My favorite, on the topic of giving consequences to kids who don’t care about consequences, was from my friend Jackie who said she would make her misbehaving son sit right next to her, holding her hand, for an pre-determined period of time. (I cannot wait to try this with Ethan). The whole night reminded me about the importance of getting out and conversing with adults after spending so much time with your toddler…I left totally revitalized (thank you Amanda).
Even if nothing “fixes” our unruly child, the effort and outside support helps tremendously. Maybe if I can FEEL like I’m on the road to fixing the problem, it will distract me until this “phase” is over. And when he’s good, he’s REALLY good. I almost forget the tough times when he behaves and listens.
I’m sure after reading this Ethan’s grandparents are SUPER excited to visit next weekend.
Common moms, lemme have it. Your favorite book or method, or story about your three year old.
You may also like:
Here’s some inspiration…
1. Gorgeous necklace I found at World Market for $16! I’m wearing it constantly.
2. Picked up this light-weight mint cardi on sale at Gap when I went to return something else. Pairs perfectly with navy.
3. If only I could pull off this mint swimsuit from Target, but I always go for black. Ugh, swim season.
4. I have similar sandals in yellow, but may need these ModCloth beauts in mint too.
5. I know, it’s a fridge. But how cute would this be on our screened in porch? Jenny at Little Green Notebook just scored one and oh man I’m
mint green with envy.
6. This polish from OPI has been on my toes since February. Called “Gargantuan Green Grape”…how can one go wrong?
7. Why do I need these mint bowls from Anthro?? Oh how lovely they would look on my floating shelves…
Still looking for a casual minty dress or skirt, let me know if you find one!