Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Hurricane

This is one of those posts I am writing for OAP Me. When I am old and aged, I will want to remember my children before they grew up and stuck me in a nursing home where I was forced to talk to boring old people ("Goodness! Back in my day, 'spam' wasn't something you got over the email, it was canned ham. We ate a lot of it when I was a child. It was cheap, and we didn't have a lot of money, but we did have a cat. Later on we had a dog. That dog was such a beggar, always hanging around the stove waiting for scraps, especially fried ham.. what was it called? Oh yes, Spam. Goodness! Back in my day, 'spam' wasn't something you got over the email...")

The Hurricane. He's 4. I get it. He's "busy." "Busy" I can handle. Openly defiant, bossy, mouthy, giving attitude, not listening.. I didn't really sign up for that. I signed up for one of those easy kids that other mothers seem to have.

The absolute worst crazy-maker: he specifically, repeatedly, does things he knows are wrong. Oooooohhhh, things like getting in his sister's face, getting into/playing with things that aren't his (laptop, phones, drawers, MY TRUCK, etc.), ripping all the pillows off the couches, dragging toys into the kitchen when I am cooking supper, and generally making a giant mess or a lot of noise (usually both) wherever he is. I know all of this is little stuff. It's just frustrating to be constantly saying the same things over and over.

He's still in the stage where he questions everything. "Who was that on the phone, Mom?" "What did you talk about?" "Did you talk about diapers on sale at Superstore?" "Tell me what your conversation said." I find that to be trying, at times, when I'm focused on something else.

Most of the discipline stuff that They (The All-Knowing They from the Fake Institute) recommend hasn't work until quite recently. I have tried the Usual Stuff. (And by "tried" I don't mean half assed it for a couple days and then gave up; I usually gave it at least a week or two to see if things improved.)

Time out? Just started working for us. Previously, I would have had to hog-tie the kid, as he was constantly leaving his time out chair. Hard to do when you've got a baby hanging off your boob and a toddler wandering around testing the strength of the furniture. With her face.

Taking priviledges away? Also only just started working for us in the last 6 months or so. Before that, he could not care less if we took away every toy, movie, tv show, special treat, and scrap of fun in his life. He did not have a currency of any kind.

Spanking: Oh yes, I spanked my kid. I'm not embarassed or guilty about it. However, it no longer works for me; the last time I spanked him, he laughed. Obviously, he doesn't take it seriously anymore, so I don't use it anymore. I still think it is a useful tool in the discipline toolbox. For a long time, it was the only way to get that child's immediate attention and let him know I was Serious Business. (Flame me if you want, but I don't buy into this "spanking is abuse" nonsense. Abuse is abuse; spanking is not.)

Soap in the mouth: tried this for potty mouth. Didn't work. Blew up in my face. "Mom, if I say a bad word can I have soap?" I shit you not.

Every moment I have spent seeing red and breathing hard and reminding myself that he's only four, I'm the grown up; he is my son and I would miss him if I went to jail; all of it is totally negated by the fact that he is my sweet child, my shy one, my thinker, my empathizer. The kid who wants to make sure everyone is part of the fun and no one is left out but is too shy to join in play until he is asked. My constant eater, who already needs to get a job so we don't end up in the poorhouse. My naive one, the one most like me, who believes what people tell him, even when he shouldn't. Like tonight, when he came into the bathroom sobbing so hard he could hardly get the words out, "The Giant Robot Daddy told me that my real Daddy went to Venus today and he's not coming back until tomorrow is that true Mommy?"

All of it sticks in my heart as I see him starting preschool in a couple of weeks. I want to go with him to make sure that the other kids like him, and accept him, and make sure he's not being bossy. I want to hold his hand and introduce him to the other kids; quietly remind him that he must be a good friend if he wants to have a good friend. I want to spare him the anxiety of being shy and feeling left out if no one asks him to play. I want him to listen to the teachers, and love learning and feel good about himself.

I know I can't do any of that. I have to let him go on his own and struggle his way through structured learning and finding his place in the pack of wild animals known as preschoolers. I can't believe my baby is going to school. This is a tough one.


  1. OMG, I could have written the exact same post about my 4 year old boy. He actually told me once, "I WANT soap in my mouth." Yes, the soap did not do anything for the potty mouth....luckily, it has gone away for the most part. Every once in a while he'll throw out a zinger in public, like "Damn it!"...ugh! My son is SOOOOOOOOOO frustrating, and like you, I feel like all I say is just repeated over and over and over ALL DAY. I must say "Do you understand me" 80 times a day. Glad I am not the only one.

  2. I'm struggling with my youngest--again, lacking in currency. And I'm with you on spanking. I've learned I can't use that if I'm angry, though--it loses it's disciplinary effectiveness and just teaches them to hit when they're angry. So I only use it when I'm calm and can tell them why I'm doing it.

  3. "I didn't really sign up for that. I signed up for one of those easy kids that other mothers seem to have."

    Classic. Pure poetry my dear. I think you just wrote a greeting card.

  4. My mom always talked about exchanging me for one of those "easy" kids.

    I can tell, through all the ripping your hair out annoyance he causes you still love him with all your heart. And that's the best you can do!

  5. Kids seem to find all the really fast and effective ways to agitate their parents when they hit 4.

    Rosebud makes me mental with the sly little grin she sports when she is openly defiant. She truly thinks it's funny. Which is why I'm now attempting to give her less reaction - positive or negative. She delights in getting a response from me, so if she doesn't get it, the reward for acting up goes away.

    But I've now become a firm believer in the idea that each kid requires a different set of processes to address their specific behaviours. Which means I'm totally off the books and out of The They Institute. Scary times.


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