Well, we’re on Day Four of absolutely unacceptable behavior at Chez Nap. In the past six days we’ve had four days of unbelievable, out of control, unreasonable, tantrum and violent outburst horseshit. And I’m running out of ideas for not beating my kid.
This morning Peanut played by himself for about 20 minutes, then asked for help making a fort. I tried several different ways of helping and each time he screamed at me that I was doing it wrong. So I offered to sit back and watch, and he agreed but told me to leave the room. When I sat in the next room and watched, he yelled at me to come play with him. I told him if he could speak nicely to me, I would play with him, but that I wouldn’t respond to yelling. He asked nicely. He pretended to fix his bike, and asked me to join him. Every tool I touched, every bicycle part I looked at, he screamed that I was doing it wrong. Mind you, we never tell him there is such thing as wrong. Everybody does things differently. Everybody has different ideas. Blah blah kumbaya.
So after being yelled at three times I told him I was going to go read in another room. He sobbed he needed me. I told him I’d try one more time but if he told me I was doing it wrong or if he yelled, I was leaving. Tried. Yelled at me to stop doing what I was trying. Left.
Now he was screaming, sobbing. Not having any of this, I calmly told him I would respond to nice requests for play but i don’t play with people who yell at me: not at home, not at work, not with my friends, not with my family. He screamed at me to go out in the pouring rain and 50mph winds to get him a cookie. Amazingly, I didn’t laugh. I’m open to having a cookie with breakfast, and we have two varieties in the house. But I’m not leaving in this weather to get you a different cookie. (I held back the “You freaking maniac weird-ass hostage taker.”)
He lost it. Screaming, throwing. I calmly said I didn’t tolerate this and would be in my room when he was ready to talk calmly. He threw child-sized furniture at my closed door. (No joke. Wish it was. Little chair, little step stool, little doll bed.) I was tempted to open the door and correct that behavior, but I knew I’d manhandle the little f—er and am trying really hard to model better anger choices. Like
hiding in my roo m taking deep breaths.
When he calmed down I came out to talk. And he hit me. I used my words and he hit me again.
So I dissembled the fort. I kept responding calmly that we don’t treat people this way. That angry is okay and that hitting is not okay. That angry feels like too much but that cuddles or talking or breathing help. He hit me with his stuffed monkey and I put the monkey in timeout. And he lost it even more. I restrained him in my lap while he raged, but he sunk into a slump of sobbing after a few seconds. He cried in my lap for probably ten minutes.
After the bodysnatchers replaced the angry shell of jerk they had filled with nonsense and crazymaking with my son, I fed him, I talked to him, I played with him. And when the whole series started again an hour later, I just picked him up, kicking and screaming, and put him in the car. Because if we stayed home I would have beat him. We drove around for half an hour. And when he said he was ready to find new ways to be angry, I took him home. We ate lunch, we played Candyland, and we napped.
And I’m telling you, readers, I will not take another day like this.
This is not about me not entertaining him enough…there is a tidy house with a new project and lots of old, well loved toys available every morning. I help when asked, stay away when asked, and offer suggestions when asked. And if he’s at a loss, I initiate something fun and invite him to join me.
I’m doing my part. Now what the hell do I do with him?
Seriously. What do I do? What are the patient, gentle, respectful options? I will not be an emotional martyr in my own house.
Every evening at dinner we go around the table and ask each other: What made you feel happy today? When did you feel sad? Frustrated? Angry? Surprised? Excited?
And when Peanut asked me tonight what made me happy I burst into tears.