Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oy Vey

Holy Crap, my son just had the biggest temper tantrum of his 4th year of life, and his birthday is in December. It was so big my heart is still racing and I had to drive home with the windows open to help calm myself down even though it's 40 degrees outside. It was so big that had I been an outside observer, and there were many of em, I would have wondered if he had some kind of disorder; like asshole kid disorder.

Let me set the scene for you:

I take the kids to a birthday party...

No wait, I think the scene setting may have started last night when Hayden came into my room at 3:30 am to say he had a nightmare. He never does this. Jeremy is out of town. In an attempt to remain asleep I asked him if he wanted to sleep with me and he climbed in and proceeded *not* to sleep except between 5:30 and 6:00am. I foolishly thought I could overcome the sleep deficit with a long quiet time and a big snack before the 3pm party. Clearly I misjudged.

K, so back to the party. It is for 2 brothers in a family with whom we have been good friends since pre-kiddo era. It is at this uber hip industrial type climbing gym where, and just a guess here, they don't get a lot of 5 year olds. Everyone is well muscled, some are shirtless. There is a lot of gear and a lot of uber-kool vibe going on.

My kids choose not to climb, even though I have seen them get to the top at the Y climbing wall before. That means that while the other kids are climbing my kids are either picking up the rocks the instructor specifically told them not to, or playing a game that involves slamming the old school wooden auditorium seats up and down. I am doing a lot of "dagger mommy eyes" and they are doing a lot of ignoring and oh - did I forget to mention that a few of the party attendees know me already and, let's just say, they are not fans...

Fast forward to cake time. Everything is going well, I'm chatting with people I don't get to see enough, and Hayden asks if he can have another slice of cake. See, there was a Thomas cake and a Spider Man cake and he thinks he should be able to try both. I say no, that there isn't enough for everyone to have two slices so he may not.

"But mooommmm...." the whiny voice comes out and I think it will be quieted with a bag-o-juice - in fact, I thought it would be a *treat* to be allowed a second bag-o-juice. Error in judgement number two (or 3,445,429 depending on how you're counting). He stomps away from the cake table and the rest is a bit of a blur but he came over, hit me, called me "stupid mama", and I drug him out of the food area by one arm. Yelling continued as he sat out in the echoey climbing center with all the beautiful people and I went back in to retrieve our stuff and my second child while trying to make eye contact with only friendlies.

We said our good byes and he continued to scream "stupid mama I hate you stupid you are stupid you are not the boss of me I hate you" etc. etc. and flail at me until we got to the car.

Geeze, it doesn't sound as bad when I read it back over, but it was. I hated that I could hear what I thought other people must be thinking in the back of my head. My m.o. in those situations is to stay calm, get out of wherever we are, and dole out punishment when we are alone. I kept hearing people think "wow, she let's him treat her like that? No wonder he is so out of control" and "what a little brat!" and "what the hell is wrong with that kid... AND his mom..." (oh and during the departure Zeni somehow managed to take off her shirt under her overalls and fling it to the ground so then I have a raving lunatic and a half naked child screaming about her shirt, which I don't realize is on the ground until we are almost out the door and then have to drag everyone back to get.. and I would have left it if it wasn't a Boden shirt...)

So here we are back at home. Hayden is in his room with the door locked and has been notified that when Jeremy gets home we will all sit down and decide what his punishment will be but for starters he will go to bed, by himself, with no stories or snuggles or sings for the week. I have never spanked my kids, and I have never been closer to doing it than I was this afternoon....

And now, as I begin to calm down, I wonder what was going on in his mind. The other kids at the party were from his old school, and at his old school I often got the feeling he had a (undeserved, in my unbiased opinion) rep for being "badly behaved". His dad is out of town, he didn't sleep well last night, and a zillion other (excuses?) (caring- parent-seeing-it-your-way thoughts?).

And now I wonder - is there something wrong with him? We have known since he was little that he gets overstimulated easily, that crowds, noise, tons of excitement of any kind (i.e., birthday parties) put him over the edge quickly. He goes to Occupational Therapy to work on "Sensory Integration Issues" ... is there something bigger here that we are missing?

I know the answer is almost definitely "no", that he is an overwrought 4 year old and that I have to punish him when he behaves this way so that he can have order in his world, know where the lines and rules and boundaries are that he cannot cross.. but what if I am punishing him without understanding him, as I sometimes felt when I was a kid? Is that unavoidable as a parent, or is his argument truly "You hurt my feelings because you wouldn't let me have two pieces of cake", because I have no problem punishing that.


I have no nice n neat way to sum this up, being a parent can be hard and the only happy thought I have to leave you with is that my Netflix just arrived and it includes the last season of The Tudors. Whoopee, off to watch unwashed dentally decaying infection ridden but still incredibly attractive people have sex and run countries!

Thanks for listening.


Mom24 said...

I don't know you, definitely take this for the 2 cents it's worth, but I wouldn't punish him by taking away the stories, sings and snuggles. Anything but that. I have found with my kids that just equates love with good behavior and that's not really the lesson I want to send.

Sorry for the nightmare day. I've been there, and the worst is the tape of what you feel the parents saying in your head. Hopefully, and usually, they're not half as judgmental as we think, and the ones that are? Screw them. Sometimes it really is as simple as an exhausted, over-wrought 4 year old that has problems when his senses get overloaded.

My 10 year old is like that. We haven't had the tantrums per se, and he definitely has no known issues, but I've noticed that when he's emotionally exhausted or hungry or very, very tired, he does not handle things well.

Good luck. Hope you don't mind a stranger with the kahunas to comment on something I really don't know a lot about.

dearheart said...

I thought you handled things beautifully and it showed, even among those who don't care for you as much as I do. Birthday parties are stressful, that's why I'm secretly happy we almost never get invited to them....

I also think that it is inevitable that our kids will feel misunderstood by some of our decisions. The best we can do is what you're already doing; loving Hayden with all of your soul, following your instincts and making adjustments if necessary after reevaluating to the point of insanity. It's a calling, really.

Karen said...

Who is not a fan of yours? Seriously. That seems impossible. Sorry for the crap day.

MommyOver40 said...

Oh my, we had a similar melt-down today at REI. My husband was with us, we went to buy boots & coat for John. We were playing and laughing and having fun trying on boots and not stomping on Joey. When Terry tried to fit a coat on John, he started crying, screaming, flailing, trying to get away. Every employee in the store made it up to the 2nd floor to watch, to make sure we weren't abusing him. Every customer up there stood watching. We just wanted to see if the damn coat fit! He wouldn't stop crying and screaming. Terry was mad, I was so confused, since I haven't seen this side of John before.

I kept trying to focus on what our friend Stacey reminds us at school - judge not and don't care if you think others are judging you. No one knows how to parent our children, except us (and I often DON'T know how to parent them). No one has the right to judge or criticize.

You are giving and teaching Hayden stability, love, laughter, trust, confidence, opportunities, boundaries, discipline and self-discipline. He is not perfect, neither are you, neither am I. He is supposed to push the boundaries, to want and want and want, without reason. These little buddies are learning, often the hard way, how to cope with the world. It's hard to watch and bear the brunt, but we have to keep on keeping-on. Hang in there, sister. He is an amazing boy and deserves all the love and discipline and boundaries and snuggles you can give him. I think you're doing a wonderful job.

slow panic said...

I have a very strong-willed child who we finally started spanking. i know, i know. but it worked. we didn't spank out of anger. when we didn't use our hands. we used a wooden spoon. we sat him down, talked to him about why he was getting a spanking, spanked, then talked some more.

i know spanking is VERY controversial, and it did not happen very often at our house. but it helped immensely.

all that said -- you'll figure it out and also he will grow out of the temper tantrum stage. ugh. it's rough. it is so rough. my boys are 8 and 12 now and those tantrum days are behind me.

my heart goes out to you. trust me, any mom observing that whole thing was sympathizing with you.

Harvard to Homemaker said...

Wow, thanks for all the really thoughtful comments everyone - it always helps to know others have been through it and to hear how other families handle things. We are on our last day of "punishment" which means no music player in his room, no movies, and no stories or songs at bedtime and he seems to understand why he is in trouble and that if he has a tantrum about the punishment then there will just be more..
One step up two steps back!

Rahkeeta said...

I am new to your blog, and I absolutely love your blog, found it thru Anymommyoutthere. But I have to say this, I would've whooped his behind right there, and dared somebody to say something to me about it.
He should have been punished on sight. After he finished crying and got himself together we would have resumed with the party activities. You can't run everytime the kid acts out in public, you'll never get anything done outdoors.

I am not saying beat him down like a crazed person, but just enough to know that type of behavior will not be tolerated. As for the other parents who want to stare at you, stare back and keep it moving.

Me. Us. She. said...

I was going to comment anyway but once I got to the last paragraph I just had to say YAY for the TUDORS!! I lived for my netflix this last month. Sadly in this last bit Henry becomes quite a bit more decayed and there is less sex than I would personally desire. ;)
Enjoy. Relax.

Sara said...

WOW!!! your my new best cyber friend! i just started blogging about my kiddos, thought it might be a great outlet since i am at home with them A LOT!! I have a almost 3 yr. old and a just turned 1 yr. both boys!! I cant tell you enough how brave you are and that i feel you handled that situation like a trooper! I have no idea how i would have done it, but i hope i will be as calm as you were. I love your blog and cant wait to keep reading! Sara ;)