It’s all about balance, I guess. Maybe.

So first week of school for Peanut, predictably, meant first week of the worst freaking tantrums since the dawn of time. (Not seriously. He’s a low tantrum dude. But on *his* Richter scale, this weekend was off the f–ing charts.)

We had him screaming in the supermarket, knocking down boxes of Top Ramen. We had him running full tilt through the freezer aisle and opening every door, just before I caught him and flung him over my shoulder kicking and screaming to make a speedy exit. We had him whining and sobbing and yelling at us, really yelling, with every single Lego piece that did not obey the laws of physics and geometry on whatever planet this non-Euclidean, non-Newtonian kid lives on. We had a day, basically, of “I will help you when you can treat me respectfully, but I will not stay in the same room with that voice,” all day, both days. And we had him yelling at my sweet little 94-year-old grandmother, on my birthday, that she was not allowed to talk to me, only *he* can talk to me.

Clean up! Aisle Six! Some lady is sobbing about something or other, and her puddle of tears is activating the Top Ramen secret flavor packets.

I knew we’d pay dearly for the first week of preschool. I know it’s a lot of change and his world is upside down (shut up, Drs. Sears, he’s in a co-op where I’m there and everything is all child-directed, for a grand total of three hours a day thrice a week, so don’t tell me from upside down world until you’ve lived with a highly spirited intense opinionated way-too-smart kid for three and a half years, and then I’ll show you upside down world) so he needs an emotional outlet. But must *I* be the outlet? Holy Freaking Meltdown of the Social Order, Batman, we need a tranquilizer dart from Babies R Us.

Upside of the whole insane weekend of terror, though? My mom watched the new person formerly known as Peanut for an evening in which Spouse and I saw a real, actual film on a screen and had a real, actual meal at a quiet restaurant. As in feature film rated something I didn’t have to check because who cares? and menu without crayons.

More important, uproariously funny Clooney and MacGregor flick at which the rest of the audience politely tittered and I laughed so hard and so loudly that people glared at me. Dumbest movie I’ve seen in years and absolutely pants-wettingly funny. See it. The Men Who Stare at Goats. I think. I don’t care. The title’s not important. When you see it, email me about the “what are the quotes for?” line. And the sparkle eyes scene. It’ll make me wet more pants. And I only have, like, two pair that fit right now, so what a laundry honor that will be.

And even more important, we found a fabulous restaurant I’ve never tried, in whose menu I was very pleased, and with whose policy of offering wine by the bottle, glass, or 2 ounce taste I was thrilled. Because a “taste” of wine is totally under the radar of *every* hyper-vigilant American obstetrician I’ve ever met or read. No, not a sip, and not a glass. A technical, measured, duly noted on the receipt, “taste.” Spicy syrah. Lovely. From what I tasted.

Did I mention George Clooney and Ewan MacGregor? Nobody laughed but me. And you know how much i don’t care that other people on the planet are too dumb to get good jokes?

Today was not much easier with Peanut, but he slept a full nap and I had a huge pot of homemade chili at my elbow as I thought about and refused to the the 20 really pressing things on my to-do list. And instead started a new book that pleases me GREATLY.

And you know what? Volcanic bullshit from my kid on a day where I get a few hours with Spouse, and whiny exhausting understandable but unbearable nonsense from my kid on a day where I have freshly made chili and a new book is totally a good weekend. Because his bullshit is, as of today, no longer going to be my bullshit. It will be my atmosphere and my backdrop and my full time g.d. job, but I’m gonna do my best not to breathe it in and let it rattle me. Cuz, dammit, I have George Clooney and chili and twelve choices of bruschetta and Ewan MacGregor and a new book, y’all.

Ewan MacGregor.

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13 thoughts on “It’s all about balance, I guess. Maybe.

  1. Well, now I want to see that movie.

    But more importantly, that sounds about right re: Peanut. He doesn’t want to share you (first week seeing you interact with those other co-op kiddos and misplacing that onto your sweet grandmother = right on schedule). I know it’s hard but hang in there…it will get easier. He’s got to bond with some of the other caretakers, which takes a little time. Even if he knew them before, this is a new environment, with a new schedule, and, basically, just lots of NEW. Adjustment tantrums to be expected because he really can’t articulate how it feels yet. Ah, three.

  2. You got it, Inky. I know it’s totally on schedule. And we’ll make it. And I’m so grateful Ewan was there to help me through.
    I don’t know if you’ll laugh when you see it, but I have to find out. I think you might be the one everyone glares at after unstoppable peals of laughter erupt from you, but you never know…I’ll forgive you if you ass is not officially laughed off, if you’ll forgive what a huge dork I am for finding it irresistible.

  3. You had me at Clooney and MacGregor.*wiping drool off my chin…*

    Awww, that Peanut sure loves his Mama because he cannot bear to share her! I am wicked sorry about the tantrums, because those really blow, but your little man will buck up in time. You totally deserved your 2 ounces of wine!

    When I was pregnant, I longed to live in France, where doctors ADVISE a glass of wine a day after the 1st trimester. Ah–bliss!

    Congrats on your civilized evening out! Can’t put a price tag on that!

  4. Don’t sweat the wine. Hope you enjoyed it.

    As the Critter is waaaay too young to be having tantrums (though nobody is enjoying his first cold right now), I have nothing constructive to say about tantrums from a parenting perspective. I have a whole schpiel I do with parents in the office, but it basically amounts to “pick your battles, keep firm rules as much as possible, and preserve your sanity,” none of which is probably new or helpful to you.

    On the other hand, what’s your new book? I’m delighted to know. I just started “Sacred Games” by Vikram Chandra, and have already enjoyed the first ten pages more than the entirety of “Ulysses.” (I wrote about the latter over at my place, if you’re curious.)

    Anyhow, hang in there, love. He won’t be three and new to school forever.

  5. According to one of my favorite parenting experts, John Rosemond, this is the time to lay down the law with Peanut. He doesn’t want to share you means he is trying to wield his toddler power. If you don’t want more of these outbursts, Rosemond says, says to do something like this: “I know you don’t want me to talk to X. That is unacceptable. If you’re upset you can either leave the room or draw me a picture to tell me how mad you are.”

    My eldest, when she was 2, had a “No Daddy!” phase. This was handled (thanks to Rosemond) in a day or two and never reared its ugly head again. (see link for more on this: http://areluctantmom.blogspot.com/2008/02/child-manipulation.html)

  6. Kitch, you know it.
    Dan, I finally cracked into The Best American Nonrequired Reading of 2008. I love that series, and the Judy Blume intro was better than most. So were the first bits.
    Reluctant, I was firm, and Peanut didn’t get his way because I finished talking with my grandmother; but I’m not a fan of Rosemond. We prefer firm and consistent that comes from respect and gentle empathy not “we are right you are wrong.”
    Fae, that’s exactly why I was so surprised at my good mood. Very few days are like this. He is just way out of sorts. Oh well. We don’t change our approach for terrible weeks. We’re still big fans of respectful and gentle and consistent. We’re lately just not fans of three year olds.

  7. Ouch, Naptime – did I say something to offend you? (Licking my wounds…)
    I understand if you’re not a fan of Rosemond (although I personally don’t think he’s as one-sided as you say). If you prefer the empathetic type of parenting check out Easy To Love, Difficult To Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey (http://www.consciousdiscipline.com/). Our public school system enforces Dr. Bailey’s STAR method and I have learned a few teaching methods from it (using “I” messages, etc.) The book is good, but if you have a strong-willed child… I found it worked only so-so with my eldest but made my youngest flip me the bird more often. What I realize is sometimes I have to use a combination of methods, even if they’re suppose to be “conflicting.” I also discovered parenting is a craft we hone.

    • Reluctant, I completely agree that we often have to blend from a variety of so-called experts to listen to our own intuition. Rosemond has said a few things that so horrify me that I just close off to him, but of course he’s not one-sided. Even Ferber has seconds of tenderness.
      Your suggestions didn’t offend me; I just disagree with many other parents on how to do this job. I do a fair amount of parenting posts and didn’t want anyone left with the sense that we have abandoned non-violent (physically and emotionally) and child-centered (which is very effective for us) for another style.

    • You’re right that we’re pretty close, Reluctant. That’s why you’re on my blogroll. But I found the same lessons in Dr. Penelope Leach and Dr. William Sears, and really appreciate the approach of Reichert and Kurcinka. Raising Your Highly Spirited Child is a book I keep meaning to blog about, but I’m too busy reading and applying to sing its praises yet. I wasn’t offended that you had a suggestion for our new layer of parenting challenge. I just didn’t want readers to rush out and buy Rosemond, since I disagree with about half of what he says. Doesn’t mean I disagree with you. I haven’t read Bailey. My next parenting read is Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting. After that, I’ll tackle Bailey and let you know what I think.

  8. Don’t know if you’re still checking comments from a week ago, but I found you via The Kitchen Witch and kept clicking “older post” because I was so enjoying each and every thing you wrote…

    My son is only 8 months old, so I haven’t had to deal with tantrums at home yet (other than the outraged-but-I-NEED-to-eat-that-power-cord, woman! variety), but my job involves working with kids 3-5 with emotional/behavioral issues (so, “spirited” is often an understatement). I have read some stuff by Kohn and really liked it. If you do as well, and based on what you’ve written about maintaining mutual respect, I highly recommend checking out Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelson. There are several books for different age groups/demographics, and there’s also a website (www.positivediscipline.org). It is the method that I use in my “social skills” classroom. E-mail me if you want more details, especially of the variety that don’t add more reading to your apparently growing list!

    • LOVE the ideas, Falling. Thank you. Don’t worry about adding to my posts…they’re so dang long as it is my readers have already decided to either love it or lump it.
      lol at the “ouraged but-I-NEED-to-eat-that-power-cord” infant tantrum. Poor little dudes, eh/ Clearly poor us, but poor them, too.
      Glad you found us. Expound at will. Keep coming.

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