Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Still Feeling My Way In The Dark With This Parenting Thing

I don't want to seem biased here, writing glowing posts about Lucy and her scrumptiousness and not Finn. He does find ways to delight me every day, but to be honest, we are going through some tough times. Suddenly at four, the tantrums/fits have kicked back up again. He has become very sensitive to tiny little idiosyncratic details, like the old goldfish I refused to let him eat a couple of weeks ago. In fact, this morning I let him pick up and eat a pancake and Cheerios off of our wet cement front steps (meaning, outside, after about 24 hours of rain. NOTE: According to M., I need to clarify here that the stoop was wet from 24 hours of rain, not the pancake and Cheerios. Those were dropped onto the stoop and picked up soon thereafter, somewhat within the 2-minute-rule window) when I heard his voice start to raise several octaves after I attempted to stop him. He was getting quite frantic about the prospect of not eating THIS EXACT SNACK, even though I offered to replace it for him. I chose not to fight that battle, despite the number of bugs and dirty shoes that have passed over those steps, but I can't avoid every single one.

It's the age, maybe? Although it's hard to distinguish it from the last age/stage, or the one before that. Are we making any progress? Sometime it still feels like I'm raising a 2-year-old still, but one who can talk really well. And maybe that's what's so frustrating - it seems like he SHOULD be able to understand my lectures, like he SHOULD be able have a little control over his reactions, because I asked/told/ordered him to. He speaks in full sentences, he tells jokes, he remembers all manner of random facts, he can play board games and do puzzles and even read and add a little. He's like a person now, you know?

But he's still only four. I need to remember that, and adjust my expectations. I've never done this before, I don't really know what he should know by now, what he should be able to do right now. And I think I'm expecting too much. Finn can calmly and rationally apologize for bad behavior the next day, if I bring it up after he's had some time to get a little distance from it. But he cannot see the effect his behavior has on others in the moment, and he is unable to stop himself once he gets started with the crying and unreasonable demands and shouting of such phrases as "I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU SOMETHING! YOU ARE INTERRUPTING ME!" and the serial repetition of whatever injustice he feels he is experiencing. And really, that's my problem. That should be OK, because he's four.

I think?

Tonight Finn was charming. He wheeled a stuffed Elmo doll around in a huge dump truck, pretending various pretend-y things, like that Elmo was hurt (he bleeds black blood, apparently) and in need of hospital care, or that Elmo was a baby who must be fed milk and bread. Then he left Elmo in my care so he could "go on vacation" (ahem, where is my vacation where I get to leave my children behind, eh?); far, far away to the beach, where the have miniature golfing. Then he went into the kitchen with his toy golf set and played golf. He came back demanding to know where Elmo's food was, his tone accusing me of neglect, of starvation. He is now currently sleeping with Elmo in his bed, along with a fake loaf of bread stuffed in Elmo's perpetually open mouth.

This kid raising thing, it really is a roller coaster. And we're not even at the hormonal years yet...


  1. mama, you're doing an amazing job with those two! i feel ya with the whole "wondering if its something we're doing wrong as moms" thing. it gets really frustrating at times, doesn't it? Finn is such an incredible guy, and i've never met another like him. you and mark are doing just great with him and Lucy. just wanted to send a little confidence your way;)
    heather (dylan's mom)

  2. What about re-upping 1-2-3 out? The only issue is having to build time into your morning routine to actually give him time-outs. But then when he goes to eat the pancake "that's 1, etc." and 4 mins inside the house while you and Lucy hang out outside. Or something. I've been giving thought on how to incorporate more timeouts/discipline when we need to be places but it is a work in progress.

  3. I think four IS a hormonal year. Charlie's been doing some wacky things recently that are totally impulsive and out of character. And he eats like a fourteen year old.

  4. Four is CRAZY.
    Everything in this post resonates with me. I feel like I have more days where I don't like my kids in the fours than any other age. And I feel more like a failure at this age than at any other age. I constantly wonder to myself how I raised such heathens.

    There are some wonderful moments in there and four in easier in some ways (so much independence and wonderful insights on things) but I feel like we're at a lot point right now. We are consistent, we say yes, but it is still CRAZY.