Babies are cute and cuddly…

…but they grow up.

Awoke yesterday morning to a small child climbing onto our bed. Cowboy hat, cat mask, and Mardis Gras beads which he was swinging over his head and cracking like a whip. I greeted him sweetly as I got smacked with beads and mentioned that necklaces are for wearing, not hitting. He said, “But that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m in the mood to hurt somebody.”

He’s nothing if not self aware.

It got much, much worse from there. I offered to take him to a playground to get out his energy (at 7am. Because I know how these days go.) He refused and tried to antagonize me by throwing clean laundry from the basket onto me. I refused to take the bait and offered to brush his teeth for breakfast. He took of his socks, threw them, then SCREAMED “Go get my socks!”

Um, no.

For the next 30 minutes, he kicked and sobbed and screamed at the top of his lungs that I should get his socks. I calmly replied, each time, that he took off his socks, he threw them, and he could get them if he wanted. After he screamed even more loudly, I left the room, explaining that I don’t stay in the same room as people who act this way, but that I’d be happy to play with him or talk to him when he’s calmed down. He slammed doors and began to throw books. I escorted him out of my room and told him he could not be in my room if he was unable to control his anger. I told him asking for a hug was a great way to help get some calm when your anger feels like too much. He hugged me and clawed at my back. I stood up and told him I wouldn’t hug someone who tried to hurt me. He asked for another hug. I squatted to give him one and he pulled my hair with his teeth.

This went on and on and on for almost an hour, with me calmly removing myself and him escalating. I had more patience in reserve because the day before I had screamed at him when he bit me, and had grabbed him so hard (to tell him that hurting people when you’re angry is not okay), that Spouse noticed abrasions under Peanut’s armpits at bathtime. Carrying luggage on your shoulder through the whole Denver airport kind of broken capillary marks. Peanut said they didn’t hurt, and there were no bruises, but I was horrified and mortified and guilt ridden. So the next morning my remorse allowed one full hour of bullshit to get only calm, measured, parental responses. Because I’d rather teach him that freaking out doesn’t have any benefit, and that controlling anger is a useful skill. But I’m a terrible role model. Awful. Horrible. Trying to reform. Feeling penitent when small person has trouble with anger because he has two quick-tempered, often angry parents. Who have vowed never to hit or hurt him for all the reasons that wielding violence and fear do not work. One of whom just totally failed.

And then he stopped. After an hour of shouting at me and holding me emotional hostage he asked, “‘if I get my socks would you please put them on?”
Yes, I will.
“Thanks. Can I please have a blanket so I can lie down on the couch? I’m exhausted.”
Ya think?

And after Spouse got back from his morning track meet I left the house for the rest of the day. I had several projects to finish this weekend, including a reread of a book I’m editing, and I just couldn’t bear another day of anger and screaming and nonsense. It felt so good to sit in the car reading, to wander a grocery store slowly and without having to explain/correct/process/direct anybody else, it overwhelmed me. Why do I never get any time to think or be alone?

This…THIS…is what happens after I get a week of really impressive fun and tolerable behavior from my intense, persistent, sensitive, shy, empathic, high energy kid. An hour of screaming and biting and hitting. Most days are a mix of wonderful and terrible. If I get more than one day of wonderful, I pay in spades. [All the people who are impressed with his behavior on trips? THIS is what we get when we arrive home and he needs to decompress from all that “being good” (which we never label or praise it but which members of a different generation can’t seem to resist endlessly extolling).]

Gee, after mornings like that, why do I seem so scared to have two?

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21 thoughts on “Babies are cute and cuddly…

  1. holymoly. you tell me what flavor ice cream and hard shit you want, and i’ll fire up the blender. this calls for the frozen mugs. we’ll sit and stare out the window at the stars with a lovely woodburner behind us.

  2. Ah, jc, it would be an honor. We could have frosty mugs of Kahlua milkshakes and talk about books and the world. Of all the adult conversation I would value…ah, damn. I started fantasizing about a normal life again.
    TKW, it *is* normal. But nobody says it. That’s why I don’t want to talk to the lying liars who lie about how much they love parenting. Love your kids, sure. Love parenting? Destructive and corrosive malarkey.

  3. I had a day like that not to long ago where my son who is 2 & 1/2 freaked out when I went to put his pj’s on. It had been a long day and I lost my temper. I was restraining him so tighly he had red marks around his ankles so he would stop kicking me. It was rough.

    Here is the thing…You are awesome because you recognized it and…you are brave because you talked about it.

    Me…I skated around the issue without talking about the red marks on his little ankles. I sucked huge that day.

  4. Jen, it breaks my heart not just because we hurt them despite our best efforts, but because I almost want to throw up my hands and say, “why do I try so freaking hard if it’s going to devolve to this?” Why not ignore my kid and smother him with TV and Hostess products and let him actually write his own rules for our house? It’s easier and I won’t get so angry.
    Maybe.

  5. because we both know that the easiest way is usually the wrong way :) But somedays we need those easy days and we should allow them when we need to.

    *Big Hug*

  6. yuck. yuckity yuck yuck. maybe it’s planetary. i had to pick up mimi, carry her upstairs, and lock her in her room this afternoon until i did not want to beat her cute little bottom. bad bad bad baby bubbleducks. there’s always tomorrow, right? or the day after that. preschool can be extended, ya know!

  7. Please, please forgive yourself for the angry respone. I call bullshit on the whole “I’m a lousy role model” line. That you are dealing with challenging behavior with more patience than I can fathom right now (I need to take deep breaths when Critter spits out his carrots, for crying out loud) is a testament to the quality of your character and your parenting.

    You’re doing the best you can and hanging in there admirably. Forgive yourself.

  8. I agree with Dan. We all fail; but it’s the getting back up that makes us better. It’s that role model you are showing Peanut.

    I’ve had those days. You can’t stop the little ones from going crazy, and you’re trying so hard not to take the bait, but really all you want to do is be immature too. I’m glad you got out after that. I was stuck here. Errrr. Tomorrow is always a better day.

  9. J Sorry you had a similar day. We had three in a row and it stopped. Mostly because I’m numb and just sigh and leave the room.
    Dan and Fae, I agree that we all screw up. I’m embarrassed mostly that I am penitent the next time he goes apeshit instead of seeing it coming the first time. Not very self aware for someone with lofty goals.
    And Dan, mealtime behavior is where I have the least patience. Deep breath for spit carrots—yes. Then comes the “I want carrots, please.” When you ask raw or cooked they choose, and when you serve them they change to the other; then they want macaroni. Then they won’t touch the macaroni and want cereal. Then they push the cereal around until you genuinely think your head might explode. Then they want the car.

  10. Oh, Naptime…I want so much to hug you right now and possibly call you by a fond nickname. How do you feel about Nappy? Or, perhaps, N-time?

    You. Are. An. Amazing. Mom. And yes, I would say that as a fellow mom who has (already! and he’s not even a year old!) lost her cool in ways that she swore she never would. But I also work with toddlers and preschoolers for a living, specifically those with behavior issues, and I can tell you that you did everything right. That hour might have been hell, but I am so impressed that you held in there. I wish the parents I work with could be 1/4 as patient and consistent.

    Regarding the less-than-ideal moment the day before? If it helps, can you see those moments as opportunities that you can take to teach Peanut about how to handle it when one is…less than one’s perfect self, let’s say? So you do the repair work: you acknowledge what you did wrong, you apologize for it, and you try to do it differently next time. If you never make mistakes yourself, Peanut won’t have the chance to see how to handle mistakes.

    Thank you for saying the quiet, awful truths.

    • Oh, thank heaven you said that, Evenshine. I totally forgot there will be a new someone to beat up once TBA arrives. Phew. Nothing like pushing one terrorist into the other and letting them take the plane down together while I parachute out. (Sincere apologies to anyone who is sensitive to that metaphor. I’m just feeling all Dirty Harry today.)

  11. But here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to have two: once they hit a certain stage, they’ll direct all that yelling and flailing at *each other* instead of you! Score!

  12. I was so afraid of having a second kid that I refused until I couldn’t refuse any more. The baby is a month old (yesterday) and it has been the best month of my life. I couldn’t be any happier with the baby. Now the eldest? He’s definitely on my nerves on a regular basis still, but it’s nice to have a baby! He’s just so predictable and easy! Diaper? Check. Nursing? Check. Sleeping? Check. Rinse, repeat.

  13. Pingback: Holy handful, batboy! « Naptime Writing

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