Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Charming Son

A few weeks ago I heard Z say to T, "You have to tell Mommy what you just told me!". T was standing in the middle of the kitchen naked with his underwear in a lump at his feet when I walked over to them. "MOMMY!" he shouted. "I went to the bathroom! And I didn't pee on my hands! I get a square cookie!"

I totally lost my shit. "You didn't pee on your hands? THAT IS AMAZING! I can't wait to give you a cookie after you eat lunch!" It was the highlight of my morning. But the I started thinking about it and I wondered how we fucking got to that point. How was I celebrating the fact my kid did not wipe pee all over himself? Had pee wiping really become normal expected behavior in our lives? Um, yes. Yes it had.

Let me back up a bit. By the time the morning in question happened T hadn't had a treat in about 3 weeks. Because one day he just started rubbing both hands all over his junk after he peed, so that last little bit of urine was spread all over the place. At first I freaked out. But as we established on the comment thread on FB from this post that is a really lousy response (thanks again for your help, friends). So I managed to remain calm and inform him he didn't get dessert. Every single time he peed. Dude loves his treats, but evidently he loved wiping pee all over himself much more. Until one day he was ready to stop, and since that morning he hasn't done it again. He's decided he likes to take a square or two of toilet paper and dab himself dry, which is a little weird, but whatever. It's harmless.

I'm out of my league here folks. I don't understand how to effectively parent an almost three year old. And frankly, I don't enjoy doing it. The ability to reason with him does not exist. He just does whatever he wants to do and it drives us crazy. We discipline him over and over but the bad behavior remains until he arbitrarily decides to cut it out. Z and I feel so completely helpless. After we returned from our trip down south Z and I had a therapy session. We hadn't been in over a month and our guy asked how we were doing as we sat down. I said, "My son is a dick." He looked over at Z, who tends to be the less dramatic of the two of us and was clearly expecting to hear that I was exaggerating. Z very calmly said, "He is a total dick." Our shrink laughed nervously.

Bratty kids drive me nuts. They turn into bratty teens and bratty adults. I swore I'd never ever have a brat for a child. What's the old saying? The best way to make god laugh is to tell her your plans? T is a total brat. And it makes me feel like a failure. I'm not sure if this is nature or nurture, but it drives me so crazy. And a crazy me is not a helpful me. When we were visiting my parents my wonderful cousin and his family were there as well. He and his wife have two little girls and T terrorized them. My cousin and his wife were pretty relaxed about his shitty behavior, but I really let it get to me. Which he recognized so he kept it up. I really hate myself for making a moderately crappy situation much worse. But I couldn't bear that he was being mean, so I just couldn't leave well enough alone. If addressing the bad behavior makes it worse what the hell am I supposed to do?

He is rude and willful and cruel. He's experimenting with telling people he doesn't like or love them. He is physically aggressive with his brother. The bottom line is I'm embarrassed and frankly hurt by his awful behavior. Nothing seems to get through to him. We speak calmly and he ignores us. We yell and he laughs at us. We do time out and he doesn't give a shit. We take stuff away and he cries, but doesn't adjust his behavior. He's frustrated at us and we are frustrated at him.

Part of the reason that I've been writing about Z so much is it is easier to blog about the stuff in my life that is actually going pretty well. I started writing this post the morning that T didn't pee on his hand, but just couldn't bring myself to finish. One of the many unfinished posts I'm working on is from months ago, I revisit it ever few weeks. It's about how hard it is to be a toddler. Because even though I'm angry and venting here I understand he's also having a difficult time. Figuring out your place in this world in an enormous undertaking. And he is sweet and fun as well as being a pain in the ass. During C's nap time T constantly asks when he is going to get up. Of course when C is around he does things like cover him in a blanket and squeeze him. That was a fun moment. But he also gently touches him or pops C's pacifier back in his mouth or gives him a toy. He gets in bed with us in the morning and cuddles. He begs us to play with him, he really wants to interact with us and I know the day is coming when he won't want to do that.

I know he won't be a toddler forever (thank fucking god), I know that the only constant is change. This is just a particularly unpleasant stage. I need to not capitulate to his unacceptable behavior. We let him get away with being a brat now and he'll just keep on being a brat. And though god might be doubled up laughing right now I proclaim I will not have a bratty school aged kid!

OK, he's a dick, but he's also pretty adorable.

I mean, look at his sweet and fierce concentration while reading at the library.

 And his wacky humidity curls.

And his very first temporary tattoo, which he simultaneously wanted and didn't want.

His astronaut brother ain't bad either.

Listen, please don't get me wrong, I love my kid. I also like my kid. Many days he does really well in the behavior department. And when we are around other little people who aren't being perfect angels it really doesn't bug me. Hell, it's easier when the kid your son is playing with is the one misbehaving. When it isn't your responsibility bad behavior is much less stressful. I'm not saying it shouldn't be addressed, it should, but it also isn't the end of the world. T is a lot of fun and is a good kid much of the time. But I won't sugar coat what goes on in our lives after trying to be honest while writing here. He's being a jerk. A lot. And while letting it get under my skin is a major disservice to him, it is still my responsibility to guide him toward better behavior. I seriously need to figure how the fuck to do that. 

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