Monday, March 10, 2014

"I hate you." A Parenting Milestone

My youngest son, the Wee One, is four.

He is a combination of the stubbornness and poor coordination of age 2 mixed with the impulsiveness of age 3.

He has a temper like my retired US Marine Corps father and the manipulative skills of a charming 16 year old girl.

The intensity of his rage appears undaunted by the smallness of his stature.

In the space of 30 seconds he has been known to say:

"Mama, could you please fetch me some water? My cup is empty and I am thirsty."

And then:

"Mama? Is this still today?"

And then:


And then:

"Mummammuumma garbeldygook babytalk gibberish"

It is challenging to keep up with his wildly swinging moods.

He will hug me and then mid-hug begin to choke me - yes, on purpose. He waits until I ask him to stop. He does this so often that I'm fairly certain he is testing the exact pressure at which hug becomes pain and he wants to be statistically certain that his value is within an acceptable standard deviation.

He head butts. He pinches. He bites. He yells and throws himself on the floor. He jumps straight up and down when frustrated - which would be absolutely hilarious if not for the surrounding tantrum.

He is challenging to parent.

He requires a level of sustained parenting commitment that is difficult to maintain. He needs me to be on my A-game from 5am to 8pm. Every day.

If I stay fully engaged with him, moment by never-ending moment, I can help him regulate his moods, impulses, and urges. But, I can't realistically do that. Yet another way I fail as a parent, I suppose.

Nonetheless - now you have the background for the tantrum that occurred last weekend.

I forget what was the precipitating event. He was asked to go to time out.

He refused.

He was asked to walk to his room.

He refused.

He was carried to his bed. His wails and screams echoing throughout the house. His kicking and flailing becoming increasingly aggressive as we approached the threshold of his room.

He was placed (perhaps not entirely gently) into his bed, and I took my usual seat during tantrum-time in the rocking chair.

My philosophy during tantrums is to sit nearby, letting the rage run its' course, offering support, guidance, and consequences.

As the fruit of my loins thrashed on his bed he began to yell:

"I hate this!"
"I hate my room!"

wait for it ...

"I hate you, Mama!"

There you have it.

Inside my head there was a moment of shocked silence. Then a myriad of voices began to chime in:

Sweet, motherly voice: "I think a piece of my heart just died"
Intellectual voice: "QUICK! THINK" How do we respond without permanent damage?!"
Angry voice: "That little $%*# Imma kill him."
Tired voice: "Where is hubs? I'm done."
Sweet, motherly voice: "There. We've done it. We've ruined him forever."
Intellectual voice: "What would Dr. Sears say??!!"
Angry voice: "Still mad here. Really mad."
A voice that sounded like my own: "I'm the worst mother ever."

In the end I said something like, "How would you feel if I said that to you? That's a very hurtful thing to say."

Later, Hubs made him apologize and we talked about how hurt feelings are like boo-boos and they take time to get better.

I wish I could tie this all up and say he sweetly sat on my lap later and the dead piece of my heart was healed ... but alas he continued to be a pain for the remainder of the weekend. Thanks, daylight savings time, and the truth is - he's not much for cuddling and warm fuzzies.

I suppose this will not be the last time he hates me, and I better get used to it. Adolescence should be fun.

Parenting, my friends, not for the thin skinned.

1 comment:

  1. aunt ree has it right..every mother has the difficult moments..even carlos said this week.."boy missy and jay must have their hands full with that mischevious little can see it in his face"..the nice thing is that the bad times with kids like labor pains seem to fade over the years and you soon forget the hard times and they are often over shadowed by the good ones ..stiff upper lip yogi master you will find a you mom