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Archive for the ‘Temper Tantrums’ Category

I’m a terrible blogger.

You know when you get so busy—so very, very busy that you just have to sit back and laugh, because it’s such a very long, twisty line of tasks and goals that never seems to end? Goals that are totally out of reach, (like finding time to put out the Fall decorations before we get to cleaning the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner), deadlines that seem impossible to meet.

That would be me.

My life right now reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from I Don’t Know How She Does It, when Kate is “distressing pies” at two a.m., trying to make it look like she had the time to pull off home baked goods for her children’s coral concert.

Okay, so technically I’m not distressing mince pies at two in the morning, and my son is not yet school aged, so I need not worry about that middle-of-the-night baking quite yet. (Although I have four rotting bananas that will NOT become bread in the near future.) My life isn’t that crazy. But I do know that list-making mentality that gets us supermoms into trouble every time. I actually can feel myself ticking things off my list: Bananas? Garbage.

And now that I’ve caught up on all my deadlines, and returned all of my emails, I’m at that point when my list of things-to-catch-up-on is so long, I’m overwhelmed by what to do first. (Well, that’s kind of a lie. Clearly, finishing this blog won.)

In the midst of this, I’ve had that moment of other terribleness: I’m a terrible parent. Really. Life is so busy that it feels at times I’m not doing an adequate job at parenting my child. Case in point: Monday is storytime at the library in our little town, and Max, quite cranky from the molar teething, seems soothed when I give him something to drink. But happily swigging, he runs up to an older boy, about three, and before I know it, I’m watching Max bite this boy’s shirt.

I scold him, remove him, and he happily goes on his way, sippy cup in hand.

Then, after a rousing rendition of “The Train Welcome Song,” Max, standing a good five feet away from me, turns towards a young girl, not quite two, named Abby. And like a switch was flipped in his little tooth-achy head, he goes after her. It feels like a slow motion horror scene: Max and his giant teeth, heading straight for little Abby’s shoulder.

Imagine this coming straight at ya!

Luckily for Abby, she was standing right in front of her mother, who stops my son and tells him, “No biting.” I then reach him as he goes for a second attempt. I’m mortified, Abby is crying and we are leaving. Fast.

I get a now very quiet Max home, I sense that he senses I am p-i-s-s-e-d. I do what any mother should do in this situation: I leave him in the playroom, call my own mother and cry.

Now, the biting thing up until this point has been limited to me and Ned. On a few other occasions where he’s opened up and bared those giant teeth to another child it’s usually been a fighting-over-a-toy thing. He’s never done it unprovoked.

It all comes spilling out to my mom. My child is the kid in school that bites. No one will want to bring their kid over to our house ever again. I’m never going to be able to take him back to the library, and face those moms. Abby’s horrified face is going to haunt me. Not to mention, the new pediatrician wants Max to be evaluated because he’s not saying sentences yet. Doesn’t “green gourd” count?

I’m fighting that stay-at-home-working-mom thing. I cannot not work, and because I do, Max’s social life is limited to a few things a week. Dammit that one of the two days this week he’s getting out to play with others, he tries to eat them instead.

And maybe it’s me. Maybe if I spent less time working and more time trying to get him to communicate with us, he wouldn’t try to do it with his teeth. I have no answers. I am merely venting. See? I’m a terrible blogger.

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Women are no strangers to the hormonal changes: we go through them monthly, when we’re pregnant, even through menopause. Lately it’s been a roller coaster around here; I’ve ditched the birth control in hopes of having another baby (eek!), and thus turned into an estrogen monster.

My body doesn’t do well with medication. Rather, just as little goes a long way and I tend to react pretty strongly when I stop taking said meds. Same goes for birth control … it’s like my body has saved up all of the vicious PMS symptoms that the pill tends to ease and the moment my ovaries get the all clear, its hormone’s-a-ragin’.

Mix that up with a toddler and … yeah, I’m saying it: here comes t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Case in point: I take Max to storytime at the library nearly every week. Twice now we’ve had to either leave early, or not go in at all due to his determination (re: tantrums). This past Monday, we get in the room fine and he is content to play with the lock and the handle of the door to the children’s room. Until we shut it. The entire class is treated to a cacophony of his cries for a few moments until I pick him up and distract him with the window blinds.

We then try to sit down and sing a rousing rendition of “Open Shut Them,” but to no avail. Max is on his back in the middle of the room, still crying. The librarian says, “Oh Maxwell, what is wrong now?” And I reply, “He’s still mad about the door.”

I do get him up and not crying. Go me, I am Supermom.

And then he sees the fire extinguisher.

Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser.

Here’s the thing that drives me crazy about every children’s library: When they offer classes for babies, toddlers and the like, why on earth are the rooms in which the classes meet not baby proofed? There always are open closets, cabinets without latches, outlets without covers and darn it, fire alarms and extinguishers a mere three feet from the floor. I mean, duh.

So there’s my Max, going after the hose of the fire extinguisher, and every time I grab him, he lets out a protest yell. I finally stand in front of the object of his affection to stop him, and he yells, grabs my leg, and tries to bite me through my jeans.

Now I’m sure the other moms and kids have had enough of his antics, but I am beyond pissed. I give him the futile, “Don’t bite mommy!” grab him, the diaper bag and make our exit. He of course, is protesting leaving now, and I’m angrily whispering, “I can’t take you anywhere!” I’m fairly certain the librarians overheard me.

The thing that kills me more than the embarrassment of Max’s behavior is the embarrassment of my behavior. I’m the adult. I should know better. And it’s the failure that whatever I did—reprimand, soothe, deny—went completely ignored by my son. Why is it when our children misbehave does it seem that everyone else’s children listen and respond to their parents?

I don’t know if there is an answer to this, since my mom polling indicates that all moms have been there. In the meantime, I wonder how long we’ll stay away from the library this time ….

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Oh yeah, the temper tantrums are here. And here to stay I think. Here’s the thing that amazes me about this: Google the phrase “terrible twos” and see what pops up. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now, google the phrase “terrible 16-month-olds” and see what pops up. Again, waiting ….

 

Aha, you got it right? Right? It’s like the same damn results list, isn’t it? Why didn’t anyone tell us about this!? I already know the answer to that: In order to save the human race, moms-to-be are lead to believe that the years prior to that second birthday are blissfully tantrum-free. Saves the risk of people dropping out of this whole parenting gig.

The tantrums started earlier this month, while we were in Ohio visiting Nana and the rest of the fam. The first in a series left me totally bewildered, and with a trio of fresh bite marks on my arm. (Oh yeah, the biting blog is coming up!) It’s amazing isn’t it, that transition to a demon-child that not only bites, but kicks and screams and is completely inconsolable.

The kicker this week was our hunger tantrum that imploded in the service area waiting room of our local Kia dealership. How embarrassing is it to catch the look of alarm on an also-waiting-grandma’s face, when the cute kid she was just playing peek-a-boo with is now on the floor, kicking and screaming away, while his mother is inspecting her arm for the latest teeth marks?

What to do? My method that works 50 percent of the time is to remove Max from the situation, and sit him down with a glass of water. He’s been after drinking from a cup pretty much since we started the sippy, so it will usually focus him away from his hysterics. (The other half, the backfire half, is when he wants to take said cup ‘o water and run with it, which just gives us new tantrum fuel.)

This little article Stop Temper Tantrums in Their Tracks was cute, and I may try a few of these soon.

In the end, my inquiring parenting mind wants to know WHY? Here are a few answers:

  • Failure to communicate. Kiddos like mine that are still sans words will kick, bite and scream their way to get what they want, or say what they have to say.
  • Attention, attention, attention. Tantrums certainly can achieve the attention they seek. I think this is when the walk-away- and-let-them-scream-it-out method works best.
  • They (gulp) like the excitement of aggression. Or alternatively, your child is not evil, he or she just thinks that biting or kicking is “playing.”
  • Sleep deprivation. Since toddlers don’t have a set schedule (mine does not) this can be hard to spot. They need roughly 12 to 14 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, so in some cases, adding an extra nap or earlier bed time can help reduce tantrums.
  • Separation anxiety. Although Max and I are rarely apart, I know many of my mommy readers are dealing with this issue.
  • Cavemen/cavewomen. Yep, a few docs out there say our little ones are just too right-brained, acting with just the impulsive, emotional side of their little noggins.
  • Frustration. In our house, these are mini-tantrums, whining or crying when he drops a toy, or can’t get something open.
  • Independence. Ned and I saddled Max with this one, big time. Toddlers want to start doing it themselves, feeding, reaching an object, you name it, they want to control. When they don’t get it … watch out!

Phew. Maybe I’m not a bad parent after all. I feel better. Now where is that kid? I think we need a second little nap …!

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