Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Toddler.

Thought that after a week or so of blogging that I'd have anything to write here... but I don't really.

We've spent the last week month trying to manage the little terrorist that has taken over our home. I'm willing to get on my knees here and admit that this is no easy task parenting an independent toddler. He's independent in that he knows what he wants, but insists I aid in his efforts, all while not being able to communicate his needs very well verbally. Which then result in him assuming I don't understand or want to understand/let him express his free will and then a tantrum ensues. Which of course is not true at all. I'm all about fairness and compromise. In fact, I think that's the only way to parent a child who will become a responsible, law-abiding, reasonable, fair adult.

We're resting on about 30+ words at this point and none of those include polite words. We're working on please. He sat and kicked off his shoes and whined under a swing yesterday because he refused to say please after telling me he wanted up in the swing. It's a non-negotiable. You want something and I want something. We both need to feel respected here.

He must say the word "up", which I taught him instead of whining and motioning for picking up, about 150 times a day. At least. It's cuter than the whining, but it's now sounding more demanding. I am now requiring all of his ups be followed by a please... which he says peas and pretty much melts your heart. 

I know toddlers are demanding. And busy. And tantrum-throwing little people because they are trying to assert their independence and new learning. None of this is lost to me. But MAN. It's exhausting. 

We just bought this book. 

Not only are we reading it, but a local friend is reading it as well so we can chat and follow through with the principles together since she's a couple months ahead of us in this toddler-raising business. This book has been recommended to me by many parents I trust and admire who are way further into the game than we are. It totally feels like a game sometimes. Maybe pinball? And I'm the ball?

Some days I sit and wonder why I don't hear other parents talking about the terrible toddler times and how they have managed to keep from turning completely gray. I wonder if I'm the only one who has such a rotten devil child, but then I think about the circumstances being different for other families who have caregivers or work part time or have help from family to make it feel like less of a brain drain on the parents. (Please forget that the grammar and incredibly long run-on sentences exist in this post. And maybe all posts until Benjamin graduates college. Thanks)

I think it would be easier if I didn't spend every waking moment with the little monster, but at the same time, I don't want to run away from the most important and challenging (cliche much?) job I'll ever have. I want to tackle this head-on and show that I respect and love the little guy who we were so lucky to be given in the first place. And if you're encouraging me to get him involved in activities, we are. Between a few storytimes a week, an indoor playhouse, parks, friends' houses, gymnastics, swim lessons, and errands, we're attempting to keep him engaged. I even plan to put him in a structured 1 day/week early preschool program around his 2nd birthday. But we're not there yet. I still have to simmer down and remember he really is just 18-months old. 

But man. Some days just may call for a cocktail at naptime. No, I haven't, but don't think I haven't wished it was appropriate!

Comments about struggling with your tantrum-throwing toddler or how you handled it are totally appropriate here. I appreciate empathy. If you have perfect kids, commenting might land coal in your stocking. Wink.

19 comments:

Party of Three Heads said... [Reply to comment]

I can totally empathize with you... The 2's have been a nightmare.. but the closer we got to 3, I saw a drastic improvement. I've heard that the 3's are "trying", but I'm claiming otherwise! It does eventually get better. I used the counting system with Colston, giving him until the count of 3 to cool off, and calm down, letting him know it is not okay to act like that. If by 3 he was still acting like a maniac, it landed himself in time out. I pretty much swear by that scenario! Good Luck Momma! This too shall pass! :)

Darcey said... [Reply to comment]

Well friend you know there is a little monster who lives a few states away that is just as challenging. Layton's favorite word is "out". As in out of the house, out of the room, out of my car seat, out of my stroller...you get the picture. We have started "peas" as well and it totally melts my heart. A few thank yous have found their way recently, but it sounds so close to choo choo that we could have a duel meaning, oh well.

Oh ya...my hooligan has been put in timeout 3 times this week in the nursery at my gym for pushing a little boy and stepping on a not quite walker's head...not a proud mommy moment, but when it is survival of the fittest I can only imagine it would soon transfer to the outside world...umm help!!

Not very helpful, but I can definitely empathize...with each new stage comes new issues. I won't lie, i think 3 is worse than 2. Communication is so much better, but at that age they know what they are doing and they continue to do it. Hopefully this time around it will be reversed since things have been so difficult...one can only hope right?!

Veronica said... [Reply to comment]

You sound like you're doing a great job. But you also sound exhausted. As you should be. I truly believe raising a child - single handedly - is tough tough tough. The days where I get a visitor or a break from tending to Theo, I feel so refreshed. And I'm talking 1 hour of my time becomes "free". I often day dream of being a working mom with a kiddo in daycare, but I'm not there yet with my own separation anxiety.

The fact that you've been a SAHM for 18 entire months, holy cow woman, I'd say a cocktail is in order! But then there's the whole caring for the little one and all, and being buzzed I don't think would be suitable...even though I've seen it be done (and don't approve!)

Please and thank you and big (huge) in my book. I don't remember at what age, but my dad stopped giving us what we asked for if they weren't included in the first try. He'd just say no. And I remember it hitting me like a bolt of lightning, and then say "may I...please..." and he would still say no. I remember thinking it was SO unfair, but man, do I respect those principals now. Daniels nieces and nephews are hugely misbehaved and have zero manners. They'll say please If you constantly say, "what do you say...?" after their failed attempted. But thats not teaching them anything! Other than they'll always get what they want no matter how they ask! Ah! Drives me nuts!

Following through is huge. Teaches kids that they're in safe hands. Boundaries create a safe environment, and kids push them to ensure they're safe. If you say no, and then seconds later change your mind or crave, the kid will know they run the roost. And kids should never have that much control especially when they're so young. They'll get fearful and insecure, and more tantrums will insue...but some parents still give in because they think they're making the child happy.

I'm not speaking to you directly in any way! I know you know this! I'm just venting out what I can't say to a few family members who are way ahead of me in the game who have let their kids run loose for years with lack of structure or discipline!

Laura McCannell said... [Reply to comment]

Yup, honestly, I think being a f/t mom must be so friggin hard all the time. I find it stressful on the weekends when I'm on Grace-duty and am EXHAUSTED from the week... But work definitely seems like a "break", at least physically, whereas when I'm home I can't choose to ignore my toddler, the way I choose to ignore phone calls and reply to emails as I deem necessary.

But seriously. Exhausting.

Grace is just now starting to be picky about food she will eat (pasta/bread/carbs/cheese) versus what she will not tolerate (meat, vegetables). It's a lot of work and the fake-crying is overly dramatic and frustrating.

I think you are doing everything correctly.

And you are an awesome mother.

And Benjamin (and Andrew) are adorable.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

As an educator, David is all about the love-and-logic approach, so that book wins you big points with him.

As a parent, I'm all about cocktails at naptime, so that wins you big points with me.

I'm totally with LJ about the "breaks," too. My college students can wait while I check e-mail or read blogs or browse Pinterest, but my toddler cannot wait. Or I feel guilty doing that stuff instead of actively interacting with her. And yet... being on full-time Zuzu duty is totally exhausting. She has been so whiny and demanding this week, and I feel bad because I know her teeth are bothering her, but it's truly a relief to know that I will have six hours on campus dealing with people who don't grab my legs and drool on me while screeching when they want something.

Do you do sign language with B? Not that it is the problem-solver people claim it is. Yes, I think it helps Zuzu communicate with us, but this evening I had to intervene when she was slamming the French doors between this room and the dining room and when I took her hand to guide her back to the play area, she TRIED TO BITE ME.

Toddlers are sociopaths. That's the real problem. You're the primary caregiver for a sociopath.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

Brooke... hands down, best comment!! The problem really is that you are a primary caregiver for a sociopath.

Oh Brandy, I have no word other than, can I borrow the book in 7 months? Maybe I should read it now to prep. Sending love and dreams of red wine your way!

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Way to go, teaching him words and holding out until he can communicate with the words he has! I feel so silly extraverting for my toddler once he's calmed down, "Oh, you mean 'Want drink please'! Can you say that, 'Want drink please'? Good job." Clap, and mentally clap hand to forehead. It's so simple, why don't they say it, right? Luckily, from a language acquisition perspective, 18-24mo are HUGE: single words to 3+ word sentences, past tense, possessives, etc.

Have you had the walk of shame yet? That's my blood boiler. You know, when we're having fun at the library and the choice of sharing or taking turns is ignored, meltdown ensues, and this mommy carries her kicking, crying kid to the car... while every parent watches. It's hardest to leave groceries to send the message that 'this behavior is unacceptable for public and we'll try again when you're calm'. Luckily, we've all been there at some point.

Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

I totally relate to this! Apparently Addalee got the message that she's two now and she needs to start acting like a "terrible two." Yikes. The child is pushing buttons I didn't even know I had. Her thing is hitting. Everything. And everyone. It's exhausting. I'm a full time SAHM top, and I know some time we I'm spent. I find myself daydreaming of my high stress computer networking job sometimes! And I never dreamed I would say that!!

I don't have any advice. I'm in the midst of the same storm. But I can tell you that you're certainly not alone. And that I tgtink you're doing a great job.

Emily said... [Reply to comment]

Check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Honest-Toddler-Childs-Parenting/dp/1476733716

It's so funny, it helps with the "want to pull your own hair out" kind of days.

Rachel said... [Reply to comment]

thanks for writing this! Livia is 13 months and just starting the toddler whining and I've been realized how unprepared my husband and I for actual parenting/discipline decisions. I'm just 'giving in' to her all day, every day, to keep her happy. It IS exhausting. It sounds like you are doing great though. The payoff will be great...in a couple of years you will have a polite, thoughtful boy who will be so much fun to hang out with!

ekiwi said... [Reply to comment]

Once Quinn had the most hysterical tantrum, at my parent's house, because the ladybug "bike" she was pushing round on had a screw between the handlebars. Had. a. screw. between. the. dang. handlebars. Apparently having a screw in her line of vision that day just pushed her over the edge. Had she used it before? Oh, yes. Was the screw an integral part of the toy? Absolutely. Did the ladybug disappear for a very long time after that? You know it.

I napped when she did for a long, long time (I *may* still). Those tantrums just sucked the energy out of me.

My New Normal said... [Reply to comment]

My little Frostina is 15 months and I am starting to see glimpses of the tantrums to come. So I consider your post a warning of what's to come for us over here. I may have to check out that book when the time comes, which I fear will be soon.

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

There was a time, when I was 100% bitching to my friends about the COMPLETE lack of awareness on my child's part of how big I am compared to her. I could totally take her. Like I would totally win should I decide to shove her down whenever she acted like all requests I ever made of her were COMPLETELY UNREASONABLE. Dang these kids. Sending love. And if you give me your address (the cheapest) vodka (ever existed. It's good though. I drink it all the time.).

Teresa said... [Reply to comment]

You are definitely not alone, as many others have said. I admire your steadfast approach to using please and thank you and truly think that will lead to a better mannered child!! So keep it up! Nothing really to add, just to say that I often have flashes of my Dad's voice in my head, telling me of the epic tantrums I used to throw...mostly when Caitlin is kneeled over, head on the floor, wailing because we [insert horrible parenting here, such as removing dangerous objects from her right little grasp]. Hang in there! The sweet smiles and 'peas' must carry you through! (And the occasional midday cocktail. I totally approve!

Kristi said... [Reply to comment]

HA! So, you know my kids are far from perfect...and I learned Love and Logic in undergrad and recommend it highly, I even made Jim take a 6 week workshop on Love and Logic while I was pregnant with Joel. HAHA...my kids still have meltdowns with tears and leave me baffled as to how to respond at times. Remind me to update you on kindergarten when we see each other next (soon, please!) :-)

Anne said... [Reply to comment]

Some friends and I were taking about this the other day...one friend was near tears because she felt like the only one who was exhausted with screaming toddlers. Which, of course, was FAR from the truth.
I think these days of Facebook and Pinterest and blogging makes things so much harder on moms. I generally write about how wonderful Gracie is, because the moments (which are often) where she is throwing herself on the floor and doing "the roach" are moments that I don't necessarily want to re-live- once was enough!! But, I think everyone doing that same thing is a disservice to all of the other moms out there.
Anyway, sorry for the long winded response, but we are right there with you. Buying that book this weekend!

Danielle said... [Reply to comment]

I don't think there's anything more frustrating in life of a mother and son than when communication breaks down... as a toddler... teenager... adult... i can't imagine it gets any easier--just different :/ Ns trying SO HARD to tell me what he wants but i can't understand him. I'm trying SO HARD to give him what he needs and honor what he wants but sometimes he doesn't understand me. Sucks. big time. You're an amazing mom, doing your best, loving your child--Benjamin couldn't find better anywhere!!

Solange, Nik, Caitlin and Oliver said... [Reply to comment]

Dude, being a SAHM is so hard. So hard. You are on all. The. Time. It's no wonder you're exhausted. I don't remember the toddler times (crazy, I know, since caity is only 4.5 now....maybe I've blocked it out??) but I do know there's a light-a very bright one-at the end of that seemingly never ending tunnel where you are greeted into the land of "please", "may I?", and "thank you" on a regular basis. It is bliss. You will love it there :)
It sounds like you're doing great and B is being a very typical 18 month old. There really is only south you can do so try not to stress too much about it. Sometimes a mommy time out is all you need to decompress after a crazy tantrum. Several mommy time outs.
@Brooke. I so snorted at the sociopath comment. Too true.

Mihaela said... [Reply to comment]

I am so curious how you got him to say please. We have tried it all and he will not do if. He will walk away angry and screaming rather than say please when he doesn't get what he was whining about. I got 3 thank you's so far all appropriate but at random times unprompted. Cannot duplicate again with that either! So as far as I am concerned, you are doing better than me!