Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Love the child, hate the child's phase

Monito is so very firmly ensconced in the terrible twos - at 18 months - that I can barely stand him. He is trying my patience with such an unrelenting vigor that I find myself yelling at him much of the day. I didn't start here, trust me. It was a natural progression of him proving that my patient, calm, playful parenting techniques are woefully insufficient in mitigating the assault that his emerging autonomy presents. My ass, figuratively speaking, has been whupped.

This morning, I left Pequita at nursery coop and took the boy to the store to return some things. He sat in the shopping cart facing me and once he got bored (42 seconds later) he started hitting me. He does this all the time, and I start out each day with a full glass of patience and over time shift to feeling totally drained of all tolerance. I've tried being loving, understanding, firm, pretend-crying to show results, and also tried angry, time outs, and a couple bad mommy moments of whacking back. Lightly, but still. Let me share with anyone reading that the concept of, "See? See how much hitting hurts?" doesn't actually help the kid learn.

So there we are in the cart. As I push him along the aisle he is hitting my hands, whacking at my chest, slapping at my face. I keep talking to him, sing a little Frosty The Snowman, and try to ignore the gleeful laughter and flashing eyes that the hits that connect with my body elicit. I finally tire of this and stop to peruse some nice dish towels, parking the cart about 2 feet away from me. He SCREAMS and sobs. People look at me funny as I calmly ignore my screaming child. I let this go on for almost 3 full minutes without a word until he starts signing 'sorry' and wailing 'oh-ree'. I quickly hug him, he stops crying and all is well. We repeated this many more times before leaving. We do this all day.

He is also back to screaming and thrashing with each attempt to dress/ undress or diaper him. (Sorry, Diva, I know that's bad news.). I now strive simply for mental calm as I pin him down with my legs on the floor and forcibly take care of business. He is fine upon being rendered upright again.

A) if you are one of the people who clucked your tongue at me upon witnessing one of these events in public, or told my children in a stage whisper - right in front of me - that 'not all mommies yell', well, may your children and grand kids have colic until they're 18.
B) if anyone has any constructive, positive advice or techniques you can suggest I welcome it. Or even better- horror stories of your own!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


Becca said...

Oh my gosh if someone had said that "Not all mommies yell" crap in front of me I don't know how I would have reacted, but it would have been ugly. You're doing GREAT. Charlie hit me the other day because I wouldn't let him get the broom out of the pantry and I led him sobbing "Sorry Mommy! Sorry Mommy!" to the time out corner where he laid on his back kicking the wall and screaming for the full two minutes. OOH! And when he was Monito's age he became enraged that it was taking so long to check out at the grocery store and threw a bottle of maple syrup FAR. The top broke off and it made a huge mess. I think I scared the pants off of him with The Mommy Voice (the one where your lips are moving but your teeth are clenched in fury). Two year olds are super fun! That chick who made the rude comment either has a very small infant incapable of misbehaving and thinks she has this parenting thing down, or she doesn't have any kids at all. All mommies DO yell at some point! Please email me if you ever want more stories! :)

Anonymous said...

My motto in parenting is "this too shall pass". I have a 4 1/2 year old boy and and a 1 1/2 year old boy. Only when Campbell (the younger one) entered his obnoxious, testing, selective hearing phase did I recall how horrible it had been with Spencer (the older one). It seems so all encompassing when you are in it, but you will be surprised that in 6 months, you'll hardly remember this phase because you'll be so fully entrenched in the next one. Just be consistent with him and forget about what other people say...
Seattle, WA

Momma Fox said...

Oh dude -- tough phase. I hope you'll get some much needed respite over the holidays! Foxy bites me sometimes. I too am at rather a loss as to what to do; it sounds to me like you are doing the best ANYONE can do. You're a great Mom! No doubt. I'm liking the book Toddler Taming at the moment. Very sensible, and the author has a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

"Being a mom is NOT about being nice" we have a broader responsibility, no? What ever happened to the concept of a child learning that people, including moms, have limits? I recall a very amusing trip we made when my youngest was in a difficult stage. We were visiting a "world authority" on transcendental meditation--she was so zen, so smooth; she put up with him for a couple of days, but you should have seen the smiles behind our hands when she slapped him because he bit her! I thought I'd die laughing, or wet my pants. If anyone gives you grief again, tell them "right, keep it real".

art-sweet said...

Did you see this?

I am right there in that boat with you, sweetheart.

P'ito loves to swipe at my glasses and then laugh maniacally. Today I was in Sears and this old lady was giving me the hairy eyeball - that "my children never behaved like that" look - and I put him up on my shoulders to keep him from knocking down the store displays and trying to drink wiper fluid. So he kicked me and screamed and grabbed my glasses and threw them and pulled my hair... and it took everything in my power to just set him down, look him in the eye and say. THAT. IS. NOT. OKAY. AT. ALL.

And then he laughed.

Michele L. said...

So sorry to hear that Monito is getting an early start on the terrible 2s. Henry hasn't started quite yet but then again, he doesn't have an older sibling to emulate.

For shopping carts you may want to try the harness at It is made by an IVFC mom.

Something that works more often that not (though certainly not guaranteed) is if I start pushing the cart extra fast or pretend to push it fast when I first sense Henry is getting worked up. I usually make the ZROOM sound to go with it. It is usually good for a small and a few more minutes of a good mood.

- Michele

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog because then I know that I am not alone. The only way Ii have gotten past the dressing resistance is to take the stand that I am no longer her assistant (as in a rock star asking that all blue M& Ms be removed) but am now the DIrector. I decide. Choices are available only when I have unlimited time and the answer does not matter. Also, I sing and make it a game, playing peek-a-boo, etc. But I bet you are already doing that. Dressing her while she watches Clifford and well before we have to leave makes it easier on me. And I let her forgo the shoes and jacket often. This is the (temporary) price we pay for raising children who know how to express (rather than repress) their feelings. Well worth it in the long run.