My son has a temper. Maybe it’s normal three-year old behavior, maybe it’s not. I really have no idea. Regardless, he has a short temper. All three year olds have temper tantrums – C does too. When that carefully constructed tower falls to the ground, man that really does set them off. Or, god forbid the dog jumps on the table and eats the remnants of the lunch they didn’t want, but actually do want (it’s an ongoing issue with one of our dogs who is desperately seeking our attention as well) – yeah, meltdown city. I get it. It’s normal.
But B’s behaviors are out of my league. I never acted that way as a child (always the rule-follower). My sister never acted that way as a child. We grew up in a very peaceful, easy-going household. To my knowledge, my husband didn’t act that way as a child. And so when you have no experience with something, it’s hard to take control of it. Not all days are bad, not all frustrations result in a massive meltdown. But it’s hard.
Since my last month of pregnancy, B’s high-maintenance behaviors have increased in intensity. It’s one of the reasons I stopped blogging (I wanted to and could not find the words) – my exhaustion was partially from being up with an infant. But it was equally caused by this boy. He started hitting again, really hitting. Purposely. Shoving, throwing. He has plenty of words – he speaks very well- and he uses those, too. He argues with me like a 13 year old. He backtalks in a way I didn’t know 3 year olds could. He never agrees with anyone, always arguing for the last word. And in addition, he’s strong. He’s almost 40 pounds and he’s tall.
He started trying to tip over his crib.
Now, the mattress is on the floor. The crib is just a fence, keeping him in. He has never tried to climb out – he’s not a climber. He’s not an adventure-seeker in the slightest – he’s actually quite anxious and scared of many things. But he’s now physically angry a lot. We know he cannot stay in a crib that threatens to be tipped, dumping him onto the ground. I’m also not about to throw him into a bed, almost as a punishment for rocking a crib. I want the bed transition to be a positive experience. I also don’t have a bed. He fits in the crib fine. But this is a problem. We try to ignore most of his behaviors, but this one we cannot, and he knows it. So whenever he’s really angry, he knows he can start to dump the crib and we’ll come running. I feel helpless.
Recently we told him that if he continues to rock his crib, he will sleep in a pack n play. Of course, as with every time, if we give the “if you do ___ one more time”, he ALWAYS does it. Without fail. So, into the pack n play he went – and he couldn’t have been happier. He’s been in there for a few days now. Fail.
And today, after he gave C a hard shove to the ground for the second time – because he was grumpy about a toy not being just so and then C looked at him – I put him across the hall, into his bedroom. I shut the door, because he won’t stay in one spot. I told him when he was calm I would let him out. He spent 20 minutes in hysterics. He started running full speed into the door, trying to break it down. He tried to shake and rock Baby I’s swing to no avail. I ignored it all, occasionally reminding him I would talk to him when he calmed down. As he screamed, “I want Mommy! I want you to come in here!!!”, he ran to his crib and – rocked it. I had no choice, I had to go in.
And after I brought him down the stairs, and continued to say that I would not talk to him until he was calmed, he calmed down in a hot second. I explained why I was mad, and what he needed to do the next time he was angry. And he said, “Next time I’m going to push C again” and “I wanted you to come in so I rocked my crib.”
It’s that sort of stuff that wears me down as a parent. This stage, this one is the hardest. But because of him. You can’t help but compare – C has her moments, for sure. She’s whiny sometimes, she’s bossy (ahem). But she’s never angry like this. She doesn’t care if the napkin corners don’t match up perfectly when folded (an issue at breakfast this morning). She doesn’t care if a piece of Mommy’s post-partum shedding hair gets on her in the bath. I don’t know. It’s hard to keep the mindset of, “This is normal three-year old behavior.” Because I’m not sure that it is.
B could easily give up TV, toys, sweets – the one thing he wants is me. Walking away from him is his biggest punishment. Yet, doing that very thing results in physical aggression. Parenting is hard.
On the potty training front – someone on the internet told me I should buy them a nice toy, and put it where they could see it but not reach it. When they each pee/poop in the potty 10 times, they get the toy. I love it. The toys are sitting on the fireplace, and we’ve got the potty chart going, too. C is slowly getting it. She still will not get herself on the potty alone. She screams and cries and says, “I have to go! It’s coming!” and I have to help her sit down. But once she does – she goes, quickly. Hallelujah. She’s now gone a total of 6 times (in 7 days). Four more and she gets the toy.
B has only gone twice. This morning I tried to pump him full of liquids – a glass of milk, half a cup of water, an entire Capri Sun (called raspberry water, because if I call it juice, forget it) – and he held it from 7:30-1:30. He does not want to go. Maybe he’s not ready? I don’t know. I’m going to keep going in this way though, until C is all trained, and then go from there. B has never had an accident – and we ditched the diapers one week ago today.
A happier moment with a big brother who adores his little brother.
Silly girl with her dress-up glasses.