Monday, June 7, 2010

Turning the Corner

For a while, I suspected that this son of mine might have a personality disorder:

I mentally checked off all the bad behaviors every day: hitting, kicking, pushing, headbutting, whining, yelling, screaming, whining more, yelling, screaming, demanding chocolate milk every three minutes, whining, whining, and oh, did I mention the whining? If this were someone else's blog and I were feeling particularly sanctimonious, I might leave a comment to the effect that he's only three, be patient, he's just being a normal three-year-old.

But this is my third three-year-old, and while undoubtedly my test group is not large enough to impress any researcher worth her salt, it is large enough for me to remember that my other children did not struggle with such wild emotions so frequently and for so long.

Quite frankly, I have been at my wit's end with Jake. I tried giving him more love. I tried giving him more attention. I tried being more patient. I tried being less patient. I tried being more strict. I tried a devil-may-care attitude (I'm naturally good at that one).

I can even go so far as to say that if it were not for his beautiful blue eyes and his winning smile, we may not have survived. And by we, I so clearly mean him.

I would rack my brains for reasons: Middle child syndrome? Terrible twos/threes? Rhett's genetics?

Last week it came to me like a flash from the heavens (and perhaps it was): this little boy is simply exhausted. So our new rule has been that if Jake wakes up before 7:30, he takes a nap. At age two, he stopped taking naps, flatly refused to lay down with me, and made the whole process so miserable and awful and painful that I gave it up. It was, I thought, not worth the fight. But having weighed personality disorder-like behavior with a little resistance to the nap, I have decided why yes, it is worth the fight. (Admittedly, he gives much less misery on nap days than he used to.)

He is much, much, much, much, much improved. I hate to jinx it, but I daresay we have turned a corner.

And now I can go back to my devil-may-care attitude to parenting. Thank goodness. The mental energy required in good parenting is, quite frankly, exhausting.

I might need a nap of my own.


Claire said...

I can compare notes. Esther's the third. And all of the things you're describing are all too familiar. I just put it down to her having an overabundance of RObbie's genes.

I think you're right- tiredness certainly takes it's toll. On me.

AJ's Mama said...

I love your parenting style Heidi. It works. We haven't yet made it to the threes, the twos or even the ones yet. I'll be thinking of you when we do.

Love and hugs to you all.

Louise & AJ

AMY said...

Ahh...maybe that is why my three year old's have been so hard - much harder than two. They gave up naps (not that I also didn't try everything). Ammon is almost 3 and trying to do the same...

good luck hope it keep working for you...