Friday, April 09, 2010

Another Installment of Blog Therapy

You know things are bad when you read parenting books with a speed and fervor that was once reserved for Harry Potter.

All this rain couldn't have come at a worse time. Sam has been quite the handful lately. I keep telling myself that there is a developmental leap right around the corner, and it will all settle down. But when you're in the middle of it, it's hard not to feel like it will last forever. Without the option to go outside and run, everything is SO much harder than it needs to be. We'll still get out for a walk, even if it's raining, but it's not the same as going crazy on the playground or kicking the soccer ball for an hour.

This is nothing new for us. I have complained and vented here before. There were times when I felt held hostage by Sam's inability to listen or follow directions. His non-existent impulse control coupled with a new baby required a vigilance that easily became exhausting and overwhelming. And it hasn't changed all that much.

As Sam has gotten older he has become a little more predictable. The leash has been let out and he gets a little more freedom than he used to. Unfortunately I am often reminded he's still a force to be reckoned with.

I'll let him run to bathroom after a declaration of "I gotta go!" After what is clearly enough time to pee, "Sam are you done?" Silence. "What are you doing?" No reply. "Sam, answer me please." Crickets. So I go in and usually find something in his hands, in his mouth or in his hair. There are envelopes open, baskets emptied, mystery substances on his clothes. This happens when he goes to throw something away in the kitchen. Wash his hands. Get some socks. Any little errand in the house. And it doesn't matter how many times you tell him what is off limits. And it's not even predictable stuff like kitchen cabinets. It's climbing on top of counters and hitting the fruit basket with a spatula. Or worse, pull on it to see if he can dislodge it from the ceiling.

We've lost wall mounted shelves. I have containers of broken ceramics and glass. Countless stains and scratches on every possible surface. His propensity towards destruction and danger has left his most occupied surroundings stale and empty. His room is so, so sad. We really can't have anything in it. No decor. No furniture. It's a mattress on the floor and his trampoline. He has one lonely bookshelf with his bedtime books stacked in it (for about 30 seconds a day). His bedroom closets are secured shut. A small wardrobe holds his clothes. Which really needs to be attached to the wall. It's been on the list, but one of those things that doesn't get done. By the week we've had, I think this weekend it moves to the top.

Like most parents, I go through periods of self doubt. Guilt. But no matter how much I question my abilities or decisions I do know that Sam is damn lucky to have us. He's the kind of kid that, in some houses, I hate to say it, gets the belt. Hit, whooped, spanked, even smacked. I consider myself a very non-confrontational, rational easy-going kind of person and the buttons this kid can push? I didn't even know I had. But like I said, Sam is lucky we are the kind of parents we are. I know enough to see his stubbornness and defiance as persistence and strength. I am all at once proud and terrified by his curious and adventurous nature. I don't want to insinuate that Sam doesn't have consequences. He does. They just don't involve physical pain or bullying. I will fully admit to yelling. Though I don't like myself during or afterwards. I try not beat myself up about it, though I am trying to work on it.

The books I've been reading have alot of words for kids like Sam. Strong-willed. Non-compliant. Spirited. Boy. Nothing quite gets him in a nutshell, but I must say it is nice to read some of the anecdotes and see glimpses of Sam right there on the page. Knowing he's not an anomaly makes all the difference. And that's really what these books are about. Easing the anxiety. Not really practical advice...or 'how-to.' It's more 'your kid is not a psychopath' and 'it's ok that you feel overwhelmed'. Those messages are enough to help you take a deep breath and start fresh. With a few exceptions, they help you change your perspective, not necessarily your kid. Which is good. Because I truly, deeply, crazy love Sam. I just wish he's stop opening the windows.

I've come to realize that it's the mix of all consuming love and adoration with vigilant damage control and frustration in his outright defiance that is totally and completely exhausting. It's like LOVE and RAGE are having a Breakin style battle in my adreinal glands.

God, I hope he gets into preschool. I really need an opportunity to miss him a little bit.

In the meantime...this is taped to the bathroom mirror.

Oh give me patience when tiny hands
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes;
Keep my lips from sharp replies.
And let not fatigue, confusion or noise
Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
So when, years later, my house is still--
No bitter memories its room may fill.

(by anonymous)


This post will most likely be deleted soon due to Mama guilt.


crankypantsknits said...

Don't take this down! You are a mother (a damn good one) not Mother Teresa. If you ever need to vent to someone who danced with glee on the day the person I love more that anyone else in this world got into preschool and gave me a little space... you know I'm here!

KL said...

thanks mama...looking foward to haning in few months! You can listen to my woes over some wine on the beach.