The Tantrum Zone

It is a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, you can smell the orange blossoms like perfume in the air. Beautiful. On any other day I would notice all these things as soon as I woke up, but not today. Today I had to strain myself to be mindful of my surroundings. Today I had to force myself to notice the wonderfully beautiful because I’m having a hard time forgetting yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

I’m still in, “The Tantrum Zone.”

The 3-year-old has picked up a nasty bad habit. Throwing temper tantrums. Hubby and I are at our wits end, and please, for the love of all things holy, don’t tell me it’s a completely age appropriate response, blah, blah, blah. No one needs to hear that shit. The only thing that tells me is that everyone with a 3-year-old is going through this too, and sadly, that “normalcy” does not make these outbursts any less horrific. That is not comforting knowledge.

I think what’s getting to me is the frequency of these surges. We are now dealing with this bullshit on a daily basis and lucky for me he’s saving all of these fabulous tantrums for home. He doesn’t pull this crap at school. He doesn’t pitch a fit for the grandparents. Someone told me that children save all their bad behavior for their caregivers as a test of their unconditional love. At this point I would have preferred the AP Algebra exam to his test, and we all know how much I despise math.

Yesterday, when he didn’t want to finish his dinner, we patiently explained to him that he would not be getting desert. This isn’t a new concept, not at all, but he pitched a violent fit that lasted until bedtime and hubby was finally able to stop the run-away-freight-train-that-was-once-my-sweet-baby with the threat of withholding his bedtime story.

I really feel like I’m in an abusive relationship…. WITH MY CHILD. This was not an easy realization to come to and I’m feeling massively guilty about it but let’s face it, that’s what this is. For at least an hour on any given day my child calls me names, throws things, breaks things, yells, cries, screams and then afterwards, when the crazy has left the building, he apologizes to me and wants to be held, tells me he loves me, he’s sorry, and I can’t help but pity him and want to help him and want to choke him all at the same time. If a grown man did this to me I’d find myself in some battered-wife group, sobbing fat tears, drinking marginal coffee and spilling my life story to a group of strangers who are all going through the same thing. If a grown man did this to me I would clock him in the face and leave his ass so fast, he wouldn’t know what hit him.

But we aren’t talking about a grown man here. We are talking about a little boy, my sweet little boy, so instead I feel alone in this. No support group. No therapy. Just me and my child with his ridiculous “age appropriate” temper tantrums. I’m finding it beyond difficult to flip the light-switch between anger and pity when they are over. His emotional state changes on a dime and I’m sitting here holding a grudge. A huge chip on my shoulder where he’s taken away one more small sliver of sanity that I don’t feel I had left to give. That’s when the self-doubt kicks in, when it’s all over and I wonder if there is another way to handle it, but then I remind myself that we’ve tried other ways, many other ways and maybe I just have to let this insanity run it’s course. It’s running it’s course all right.

When I woke up today I was still reeling from his tantrum yesterday, though it’s long forgotten to him already.

Wonder what I’ll feel when I wake up tomorrow.

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The Evil Queen, Chicken and Dumplings, and Snow “One More” Bite

The boys started asking for chicken and dumplings two days ago…

Asking?  Not really.  More like begging.

But it’s summer and we’re in Florida.  It’s freaking hotter than Hades up in here.  I was hoping they’d just forget about it.  Nope.  Not that lucky.

I get it… shredded chicken, creamy sauce, yummy dumplings. Amazing. I make a mean Chicken and Dumplings.

So tonight (when they were at soccer practice) I began the process.

It’s not that chicken and dumplings is difficult to execute.  It’s not even that chicken and dumplings is super labor intensive… under normal circumstances.  But I have 3 kids.  And there is nothing normal about having 3 kids and trying to make meals from scratch.

The 9-year-old loves and eats everything.  Always with a please and a thank you.  I would travel the world with Boy Wonder.  And my first stop would be Japan or India.  Boy Wonder would make us proud in any culinary situation.  His love of food is the reason I learned to cook.  And he’s pretty appreciative of my skills.

The Middle Monkey isn’t a fantastic eater.  Compared to other kids his age he eats wonderfully… but by our family standards?  He’s a shitty eater.  Unless he wants to eat…  and since he’s been asking for chicken and dumplings for days I thought this was a no brainer.  But now… now??  Not so much.  I get it.  He’s 3.   It’s all about power and control when you’re 3.  3 year old’s are like mini Napoleon.

We are all almost done with dinner and of course, Middle Monkey is starting his normal shit “I don’t like chicken.  I don’t want this bite.  I don’t like vegetables.”  It’s enough to make a sane man crazy.

My poor Hubby.  He is the sane man.  He’s rational, he’s all heart and he loves his family.  And while he’s sitting next to Middle Monkey saying “Have two more bites and then one more bite.”  This is our normal coercion eating tactic with this child.  I’m in the kitchen doing the dishes (already fed up) saying

“Just have him eat.  Stop spooning it for him… Jeez.  If he doesn’t want it that’s fine.  No desert then.” 

I’m not the sane one.  I’ve lost my patience long ago.  I’m the Pink Floyd parent… “If you don’t eat your meat you can’t have any pudding.”

I guess everyone has a breaking point. Cause that’s when Hubby broke.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him angry..

“I’m tired of you not eating!  I’m tired of Mommy being mad!  You can just go to bed RIGHT NOW!”

And with lighting speed Daddy hauled Middle Monkey off to his room and put him in a time out.  You could hear the 3-year-old scream as he closed the door.

He saw the look of unhappiness on my face right away…

“What? This is ridiculous! You’re right. I get it.”

It’s not about being right. It’s about us not babying him.

“That’s why I finally said screw this.”

I know that babe, but you blamed it on me.

“I what? That’s insane!”

You said, “I’m tired of mommy being mad!”

“Well, I am. And you most definitely are.”

Yes, you are right on that, I am over this dinnertime bullshit dance he does. A dance that we let him do. But one minute you’re helping spoon-feed him and playing Lets Make a Deal, and the next… the next you banish him.

“Jeez, I did do that, didn’t I?”

Yup. So now I’m the Evil Queen and he’s Snow “one more” Bite.

“Good lord… I get it. I’ll go get the prince.”

Fingers crossed that dinnertime goes a bit better tomorrow evening.

The story of Snow White has been retold a million times over.

I’m not really a fan of fairy tales.

 

When Desperation Wins, Summer Mother and the Indoor Play Place

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Whelp, summer is officially upon us.

Which means, if you’re anything like me, these little animals that we call children are home.

All day…

{sigh}

So after 2.6 million games of Candy Land, breaking out the Play-Doh, countless hours of Lego building, becoming an imaginary superhero, bike riding, baking, cooking, laundry… I have mentally and physically left the building. And sadly, we are only on the second day of summer break.

At this point I am certifiably insane… You know how I know this? Because crazy people do desperate things. And in my desperation I did something that I hate to do with all my mind and body. I packed up the family Truckster and took my kids to an Indoor Play Place.

The Indoor Play Place is the final resting stop for all frazzled parents everywhere. You can see the look of defeat on each and every one of our faces. We are screaming it behind our fake smiles “I GIVE UP!”.

Because no one with the proper mental facilities would pay $12 for their kid to run around and jump in an indoor bounce house at a strip mall. No one in their right mind would allow their kid to play with a plastic toy that was just in a strange child’s mouth. But Summer Mother isn’t all there. She’s desperate. She’s trying to fill the time void until the next meal, the next nap, the next bedtime. Summer Mother isn’t practical, she’s crazed. And where do the crazy parents hold the meetings for their 12 step program? The Indoor Play Place… that’s right.

This, my friends, is one step above the park and one step below maximum desperation… Chuck-E-Cheese. I’m not there yet.

But it’s only Tuesday.

My toddler entered the Indoor Play Place like a little version of Macklemore entering the club… one hand in his superman underwear, mismatched ensemble he put together himself of a NY Jets Jersey (Johnathan Vilma, by the way, who hasn’t played for the Jets since 2007), a plaid vest and pajama pants with a paisley pattern. Yes, he rocks your Grandpa’s style. His other hand is reserved for the thumbs up sign he’s throwing at the little Blond girl in the corner who has lifted her dress high above her head exposing her Frozen undies. I watch his eyes as they dart around the room, sizing the place up, undoubtedly looking for the most dangerous or disgusting thing to play on/with. He cracks a smile from ear to ear and runs off in the direction of the dress up corner. Before I can even form the word…. “Wait…” he has placed a plastic Fireman’s hat on his little head. He’s dancing around singing a fire truck song and I’m putting “buy RID Lice Shampoo” on my shopping list.

The Indoor Play Place isn’t for the faint of heart.

As I begrudgingly hand over my $12 to the establishment I find a place without gum or nutella stuck to it to sit down. This is the part of the Indoor Play Place that sucks for parents. The waiting. There are 3 loads of baby laundry on my bed that I have to fold today. Can’t do that here. I need to marinate a pork loin for dinner and buy a fresh salad but instead I am sitting in a vacuum. No sane person would do this.

I’m tending to the baby, making small talk with another mom who looks about 1 step away from institutionalization. She’s wearing 2 different sneakers. They aren’t even the same brand let alone the same style or color. I decide to keep this observation to myself. Nothing good can come of her knowing that right now.

My 3-year-old calls, “Hey Mom, watch this”, while he  hangs from a rafter, clearly not part of the actual maze the Indoor Play Place has put together.

“That’s lovely honey,” I mutter, not wanting to battle it out here. There will be enough battles when I try to get him to leave.

He finally approaches me with those words no Mom wants to hear in a public place, “I have to go potty.”

I’m starting to think my toddler might actually be reviewing public toilets for Zaggat or Yelp! because he has sat on every public toilet in a 50 mile radius.

I then venture to the restroom with him where he proudly sits on the toilet and sings the ABC’s while his little legs dangle. The last time this happened was at a Golden Corral restaurant (don’t ask) and the whole family was sick for a week. Of course the baby is now ripe and needs a diaper change too… I whip a gallon of hand sanitizer out of my purse and make the changing table fit to lay my changing mat on. I can’t help think about some of the college bars I frequented back in the day. Considering there aren’t any drunk 20 somethings here, this bathroom could give them a run for their money. I wipe some asses and we leave that nasty place. A minute more and I might have puked.

After 2 hours I’m finally able to get him to leave without incident promising him the ultimate toddler treat… frozen yogurt.

Make mine a double.

A Toddlers Guide to Clean Eating

Today was the 3-year-old’s last day of school. They had a sweet little show where the kids sang songs and did dances. It was completely adorable and for a tiny millisecond you can almost forget that cute little angel is your psychotic toddler.

This is bad.

Never forget.

Don’t even think about forgetting the fact that in an instant they can go from “Aw” to The Exorcist.

I’m telling you this not to scare you (but lets face it, fear is your friend with a toddler) but to keep you on your toes. The very toes he’s going to pound with his fists during the next tantrum.

In our normal, everyday life I make pretty good choices on what to feed my kids. This usually depends on my exhaustion level. We don’t do a lot of fast or frozen foods, or candy, or sweets. The oldest has juice, but not the 3-year-old. And when they don’t eat shit, you can really see a difference in their personality. At least I can see the difference in my kids. I can probably see the difference in your kids too but they aren’t my problem.

That’s why it is totally my fault what is happening right now. Letting my guard down today was a huge mistake and I’m paying for it. In spades.

It’s to the point of Masochism. I knew what the outcome was going to be but I allowed it to happen anyway. Touche peer pressure.

After the little play they had an Ice Cream Social to end the school year.  My very hungry caterpillar had a loaded ice cream sundae, with chocolate sauce, and mini-m&m’s. Then he ate a brownie. And I’m watching him consume all this junk and saying to myself, “he never gets treats like this, it’s only one day. How can I deny him when he’s not allergic, he hasn’t been bad, all his friends are doing it?”.

But I know better.

Then his teacher gave him a lovely end of the year gift… a beach pail filled with toys, and his name on it. So sweet of her. As I loaded the kids into the car I was busy looking at everything and reading her card to me {a tear-jerker for sure}. I missed the fact that a pack of Skittles was also in the pail. 3-year-old didn’t miss a beat and started pigging out on Skittles.

By the time we got home things were going downhill.

“I don’t wanna take a nap, I big boy”

Big boys take naps.

“Not Daddy, not big brother.”

Daddy’s at work, I can assure you if he were home, he would be napping.

“YOU MEAN MOMMY!”

{Oh Hell No! I’m nice Mommy. You’re Fidel Castro with a sugar high. Don’t get it twisted}

I’m sorry you feel that way.

Once we arrived home he seemed to chill out a bit. We watched some mindless children’s programming but he barely took a bite of the sandwich I made him.

As nap time approached I gave him lots of notice. All met with a very specific type of anger that is the true symbol of a sugar crash.

He’s in his bed right now pitching a fit reminiscent of Veruca Salt.

Note to self, stop at one bowl of ice cream and next time, make sure you have enough wine.

False Sense of Security

I like to consider myself a smart cookie.  I’m college educated and still pretty quick-witted.  I’m also in “okay” shape.  I can run pretty fast if I’m being chased, or if a cold beer is waiting for me at the end of the run.  But sometimes you can’t prepare for things… sometimes adrenaline takes over and all the knowledge you thought you possessed has fallen by the wayside.  Sometimes fear glues you to the ground as lightning is hitting you from the heavens and you are immobilized.  I’ve never experienced this before this morning, and I hope I never have to experience it again.

Today is Memorial Day.  A somber national holiday with beautiful weather where you can smell summer in the air. Shit, I live in FL we’ve smelled summer in the air since February… you can smell the end of school in the air today, and the humidity dripping down your cleavage (in the shade). It’s HOT.

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Our house has a pool.  It’s a beautiful pool but the heater has been broken.  But now it’s crazy hot, and although my oldest isn’t fond of a cold pool the 3-year-old wants into that water… he’s been waiting for Memorial Day. And now it’s here.

We’ve been planing a family BBQ today.  And since we had a soccer tournament this weekend we ended up inviting some of those friends too.  It was going to be a lot of people and we spent the morning tidying up (which is so much easier and more enjoyable with my Hubby to help, but that’s a different blog).

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So the middle monkey begged to get into the pool at 10 AM.  My Mother has given me this children’s life-preserver/flotation device that he uses at her house (where he often swims) and he loves.  I HATE letting a kid swim in a flotation device. especially a kid as big as my 3-year-old.  He and I went for swim lessons twice a week for all of last summer.  He CAN swim but he’s not confident.  So, I geared him up in his life vest and continued working on cleaning the patio… within 5 feet of him.

The 3-year-old swam for over an hour…

“Mommy, watch this!”

{Jump, Splash}

“Daddy, watch what I can do….”

{Swims to ball, throws ball, jump, splash}

Buddy, make sure you jump away from the wall!

Honey, make sure you jump away from the stairs!

He’s having a ball and I’m having a hundred million little panic attacks in my brain.  Water and kids scare the shit outta me.  I didn’t get him this far to have something stupid happen.  So, when he’s been in the pool for almost 2 hours and says he’s cold, and wants a towel, I’m thrilled.

We take off his floaty, towel him dry, grab him a drink and hubby and I start talking about the game plan for cooking and guests, and “will so-and-so show up” and “Oh, I hope they can make it”.

That’s when I heard the SPLASH!

I look to the pool and see that my 3-year-old has jumped into the middle of the water.

Without the floaty.

Alone.

The definition of bravery is the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.  This sight was both things.  But I just screamed to my husband while I was frozen to the floor.

He acted swiftly and without hesitation.  Jumping in the pool with all his clothes and shoes and phone (Lifeproof case)  and quickly grabbed our boy from the pool.  He was fine and in one piece barely spending a nano-second under water.

He was more scared by my scream then anything else and I, I was more scared by my immobilizing fear.

He really thought he had that life vest on, and maybe, just maybe, he really would have been able to swim without it.

But I wasn’t going to chance that.

He starts swimming lessons at camp in 2 weeks.  No more false sense of security. We’ll have the normal mommy safety net out then

Next time I’ll be right there.  No fear.  Just there.

 

Dumpster Diving Preschooler

Now that the new baby finally seems to have an actual “schedule” I’ve been trying to get this house back into a semi-clean state. I say semi-clean because lets freaking face it… I didn’t have a clean house BEFORE I had kids, so I’m not trying to shoot beyond reality here.

The biggest part of cleaning around here is decluttering. When you have a kid, you have just accumulated a fucktillion pounds of stuff. Some of which you need, most of which will never be with you when you need it and all of which costs a lot of money. As kids get older, they still produce more stuff…

“Mommy I made you a picture.”

“Mommy I made you a painting”

“Mommy I made you a craft”

“No, Mommy I want to keep that, it’s my paper collection”

IT’S JUST A BIG PILE OF GARBAGE, A LITERAL PILE OF TRASH!!! PAPER COLLECTION?

NO, YOU’RE A HOARDER IN TRAINING.

And don’t get me started on the goody bag toys, the stocking stuffers, the Easter basket trinkets, the sports medals and trophies… each of which has distinct sentimental value to a child. I get it kid, I really do…. but something has to go, and since you are mine, it’s gonna have to be all this extra crap.

Which brings us to today. I just cleaned out the playroom and found some plastic, useless crap that needed to go…. Goodbye plastic crap, hope to never see you, or your brothers again. And I was rid of it. {happy sigh} until the 3-year-old came home from school.

Of course I was on the phone, If you want your child’s attention, pretend to be on the phone… because it seems that is the only time they ever want to talk to you. After eating his banana and throwing away the peel, I guess he saw some of his junk in the trash…

“Mom, but this not garbage….”

{He’s walking toward me wearing 500 silly bands of assorted colors, a plastic Fireman’s Hat, a macaroni necklace made by his 8-year-old brother (7 FREAKING YEARS AGO), while holding a hot pink plastic egg in one hand and a handful of green plastic grass (with a tampon wrapper in it) in the other}

Ummmm, yeah it is…

“But this my stuff, I not done with it yet”

He is currently at the coffee table playing with the pile of “his” stuff.

Nap-time starts in 15 minutes.

I’ve learned my lesson.

No more kitchen trash for decluttering.

Garage garbage can from now on.

If he scales that bitch I’m in serious trouble.

There Can Only Be One Superman

I asked the 3 year old about his day at school on the drive home today… His response,

“Joe didn’t wanna play Superheros with me.”

Really? Why?

“I wanted to be Superman.”

Why couldn’t you both be Superman?

“Mom, {very serious} there is only one Superman. ”

{Tell that to Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill}

Oh, sorry my bad. So who did Joe play with?

“No one, he played alone.”

And who did you play with?

“I played alone too.”

I see, what did you play?

“Superheros”

How ’bout that. And Joe?

“He played Superheros too.”

It’s obviously worth playing alone if you get to be Superman.

 

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