Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tiny tyrant

The screaming. Oh my God, the screaming. If it doesn't stop soon, I'm going to lose my fucking mind. Seriously. Lose. My. Mind.

The moment Colin doesn't get his way, he starts to scream. I don't know if it's because he's still pretty non-verbal, or if he just wants to torture me in the worst possible way. Because the only noise I hate worse than the screaming is the sound of latex balloons against skin. Random, I know.

Last Friday, I took the boys to Christopher's preschool's fall picnic. Kevin had to work, so I was on my own. Fall picnic with tons of other kids and parents - one would think I would be just fine. Unfortunately, my children had something else in mind.

When we arrived, Colin was thrilled and wanted to run to every activity and try everything. On the completely opposite hand, Christopher was totally overwhelmed and wanted to stand by a
tree, shake, jump up and down, and scream at me. I would chase Colin down while Christopher yelled at me to please don't leave him.

By the time Christopher got comfortable enough to leave his tree, Colin was ready to leave the area with all the activities. Fine. We went on the nature trail. Well, Christopher and I went on the nature trail. Colin, never to be confined to trails and the suggested route, simply ran off into the woods.

Then came the screaming. He would run into the woods, I would chase him down, pick him up, and then he would scream. Add onto the screaming some pummeling of me in the face, and you have the world's most charming 21 month old.

The moment I finally lost it was the exact moment that Colin took his little pumpkin with one eye and a half a mouth and smashed it into my mouth. My upper lip began to swell immediately, and I couldn't help but just let the tears come.

The day didn't end there, but that's quite enough to share. It sucked. The picnic sucked. The day sucked. I hated every minute of it and spent a good deal of time contemplating going back to work full time.

But here are the pictures I will post on Facebook. Here are the smiles and the cuteness that I captured with the camera before I had to put it back in the car because I couldn't hold it and defend myself against my horridly violent toddler at the same time.

What a lovely couple of children and a lovely day. Fine. I'm not going to argue with the pictures.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Let's just call it what it is. It's a penis. Boys each have one. A girl has a vagina, or as Christopher calls it, a "vaginis." You know, almost rhymes with "penis."

We use the almost correct terms in this house.

What we haven't done enough of yet, which has become glaringly obvious this weekend, is teach which parts of our bodies are private.

The lessons I'm learning the hard way just keep piling up.

Friday night, I was on my own for bed and bath with the boys because Kevin and Mallory were at a football game. I put Christopher and Colin in the bathtub together, like always. After I turned off the water, I left them for a minute to go get their dirty clothes basket so I could gather a few days worth of their clothes.

When I walked back in, there was a brother's penis headed into the other brother's mouth.

Are you aware that this is NOT covered in any parenting books I've read so far? And are you aware that if you try Google for help on the subject, you come up with some pretty disturbing results, making you wish you had been FAR MORE SELECTIVE on what you Googled for advice?

Yeah. I wasn't either until Friday night.

So the conversation of private body parts began in full force that night. Putting other people's body parts in your mouth became something that is off limits. Just don't do it. Fingers, penises, toes, penises, elbows, penises, ears, penises, any of it. Just keep it out of your mouth. Also, penises are something that come out in the bathroom only. All other times, they are to be covered and kept to yourself.

I was secure in the way I handled it. The situation had freaked me out - don't get me wrong - but I felt as though a balance between "this is something you need to listen to and remember" and "I don't want to put too much emphasis on this behavior" was met.

And of course, as soon as I gain any sort of confidence in my parenting, I take my children out in public so that they might knock my off my pedestal in a most splendiforous way.

The day after the incident I don't care to speak of again, I took the boys up to the neighborhood fire station with our friends from down the street. The weather was perfect. We walked with our double strollers filled with our four perfect children through our almost perfect neighborhood up to meet the fireman and see the truck. It was as storybook as it sounds.

Perfectly storybook until Christopher says to one of the fireman, "I have a penis."

I was standing a few feet from him, and I thought I heard him say, "I have a penis." However, I was far enough away and was able to conjure enough immediate denial that I thought, "He didn't just say that."

That denial didn't last long. Almost before I could finish the thought, and certainly before I could imagine what he might have said instead of, "I have a penis," he dropped his pants. And his underwear. Right there in the firehouse.

As a friend said later, I guess he was just whipping out his own hose.

Seriously though, NOT FUNNY. I'm pretty sure the look of horror on my face will forever be burned into the memory of my three year old. Or at least until the next time he drops his pants in public. Which might be tomorrow. You just never know.

Later, I decided to casually inquire as to why he thought it was a good idea to show the fireman his penis. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hey Christopher, why did you try and show the fireman your penis?
Christopher: Because he will like it.
Me: Why do you think that he would like it?
Christopher: Because it is beautiful.

There's not a lot of arguing with that. The kid has good self image. I'm going to start complementing him a lot more on his hair and his smile though. Hopefully it will catch on, and he won't feel the need to show off what he obviously feels like is his best feature.

Boys. Nothing can quite prepare a mama for boys. I'm sure of that.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mirror mirror

It's humbling when you realize that your three year old is a pretty good mirror of your own behavior.

Tuesday morning, I was struggling to get the boys up and dressed and out the door on time. It was 8:00, and Kevin was still sleeping. I had not asked him to get up. I had not set an alarm for him. I had not told him that I needed help.

With both boys half dressed, squealing, running in different directions, and throwing off the half dressed that I had accomplished thus far - I almost snapped.

"Kevin! Would you PLEASE get up and help me?!?!? I canNOT do this on my own this morning!" was what I almost yelled at him.

Then, I realized that this was exactly one of the behaviors I was trying to help Christopher modify. When he needs help with something, he struggles alone until he explodes into a frustrated firestorm.

I stopped myself short. I leaned over, kissed him on the cheek, and asked in my nice voice if he could get up and help me with the hooligans.

I've been battling the behavior on the wrong end. While I've been doing better about reacting negatively - I've been helping him calm down, breathe deeply, and ask in a nice voice for what he needs - what I haven't been doing is teaching (and by teaching, I mean modeling) how not to jump straight to frustration in the first place.

With me, it's a personality trait that I've been working on for years. I take everything too personally. It's a form of being self-centered, and I don't like it about myself. If I'm not getting the help I need, it's obviously because that person isn't thinking enough of me and doesn't love me enough and why aren't they putting my needs first ever in their whole life?

See the crazy? It's clearly there. I'm beating it back as best I can.

In the meantime, I have good reason to keep trying to be a better person. It's the little person who keeps turning out like me.

Christopher and I, who work together on using our nice voices, will now be working together to ask for help when we need it. We will ask nicely. We will not jump straight to frustration. And we will be happier people with a happier family.

Humbling, I tell you.