Thursday, May 30, 2013

Watching the milk drip off a kitchen chair

I've written before about my struggles with my obstinate child. Since then I have taken steps to "get on the right" track. I've gone to see a therapist with my husband and son in hopes of curbing these gigantic emotional outbursts. I think I've been to see this therapist at least five times and after each session I leave feeling calmer but quickly discover my son has found a new and incredibly creative way to defy basic common courtesies and simple ground rules. Take yesterday for example: my son had been home for half an hour and my babysitter had the great idea of taking the two younger ones outside to let off some steam. Perfect I thought, let them scream (these are screams of excitement I promise) outside for a change. I walked outside to head to my physical therapy appointment to discover a path of destruction.
 There were sad, ripped off pansies thrown all over the front walkways.
 And my little garden fences that are set up to keep the kids from running over the plants were pulled out and bent into impossible positions. I know it is hard to see but the fence in the above picture cannot go back into the ground in it's current state. The sight of this left me infuriated, sad and feeling like a failure. How on earth do my kids go from smiling politely to turning into crazy people? My babysitters are left standing there in a complete daze looking like they just have been run over by a semi-truck pulling two over sized trailers. My five year old may be spirited and in need of guidance for his emotional outbursts but he's setting a horrible example for my three and a half year old. She sees what he's doing and wants to do it too.
Thanks to a suggestion from a friend I am also reading this book. Which I have found helpful but slow going. I get that there are no over night solutions here. However I keep hoping that when I change things as per suggestion from the therapist or this book that I would start seeing some small changes. Instead I can report with complete confidence that my son is in fact acting out worse then before. His anger is only getting stronger. And he is on a pathway to never listening to my warnings about safety and common sense. He thinks he knows better then I do and often argues with me. I can also relay that his subtleties for causing pain so adults don't see what he's done is getting sneakier by the hour. He has practiced looking innocent and calm why his baby sister shrieks in pain because he's pinched her so hard the skin is purple. 
I know that I am supposed to stay calm and cool. I am supposed to use words of distraction or humor to change the impending explosion and yet by the tenth time of me repeating the same words I am finished. I can spout off like a geyser. There seems to be no correlation between the tone or volume I use, my son is showing no retention for rules or respect.
I worry about this summer and what will happen. I worry about next fall when he enters kindergarten and his teacher is over taxed by 28 students. Will he fall through the cracks? Will he be told that he's a "bad kid" by the school employees because they don't see he's just spirited? Will I have a heart attack because I've yelled one too many times?
There is this other great feeling that I am completely alone here with this struggles as I raise my kids. That crazy self doubter monster that lurks in the shadows of my brain waiting to pounce at a moments notice. And yet I know that I am not alone here. I hear stories about kids from other parents. We are all going through this on different levels. Sometimes they are more extreme. Sometimes they are less extreme. The common thread is all us parents acknowledge how silly some of these power struggles are. We've all thought to ourselves " you really are going to fight me over that?!" 
As summer approaches hang on tight. As you plan out your days and weeks remember to set up girls nights or ask if you can join your child on a play date so that you can connect with another parent and fellow adult. Advocate for sleep. Recharge those parental batteries where ever you can.

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