Follow by Email

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's Pretty Bad when the Silence is Deafening

I know I've covered the point already that Dear Son has the hottest head of any toddler this side of the Rocky Mountains, but Holy moly! And not only is he a hot head, but he is stubborn (to put it quite mildly). The combination of the two can be astounding some days.

Yesterday we took the kids for professional pictures. The main goal was to get some two-year photos in honor of Dear Son turning two recently. He has never been one to cooperate for pictures. Never. Last year he got mad because he couldn't actually drive the little car prop we sat him in. After that, it was all over. Several months later he refused to quit screaming or crying unless his daddy was holding him. Forget about getting a picture of the kids with Grandma and Grandpa, and forget about getting a picture of the kids together. We ended up having to merge two separate photos of the kids together. This time was no easier. Son did well with the family portrait, probably only because his daddy was holding him. After that, each new prop we used to entice him worked for only as long as it took for the photographer to stage the scene, and by the time she was ready to start clicking photos, Son was done...wandering about the room with his back turned and having fits in response to our requests for his cooperation. She tried to follow him around as much as she could with the camera, but he kept his back to her and made sure to always wander just out of the view of her lens. Each time she repositioned her camera, he changed his location. I am positive he knew exactly what he was doing and was determined to sabotage what we wanted. She did end up getting a couple shots of him that provides the evidence of his orneriness. The expressions are priceless, and such a true representation of his "stink-wad-ness." We were lucky to get a single shot of the kids together. And that's all we got. He's bound and determined to have things his way, and that's the only way he'll accept it. We've learned to try to frame our requests in such a way that he thinks he's coming up with them as his own ideas. This still only works some of the time, but at least some of the time is better than none of the time. I'm already dreading the teenage years with him.

A couple weeks ago Son went through this thing where he refused to put his coat on to go outside. I tried letting him have his way, and carried his coat, thinking when he got cold enough he would agree to put it on. That worked about once. We also tried hog tying him and cramming him in the gosh darn thing. One morning I was rushing out the door to get Daughter to her gymnastics class in time and I had just managed to shove Son's little sausage arms into his coat, kicking and screaming the whole way (both of us). I finished the deed with a satisfied and confident "zzzzzzipppp" of the zipper up to his chin as if to punctuate the power struggle with a "So there!" to him. He continued fussing and screaming at the tops of his blessed little lungs and stamped defiantly around the kitchen while I worked on Daughter's coat. By now I was sweating up a storm myself and I was both physically and emotionally drained despite the fact that we hadn't even made it out the door yet. I barely had Daughter zipped into her coat when she squealed, "Look! Zachy took his coat off!" No wonder it had gotten quiet. I turned to see his little coat, still zipped up to the top, lying in a pile on the floor and Dear Son doing a satisfied happy little victory dance around the kitchen because he had managed to have the last word. I swear the little devil could work himself out of a straight jacket if he had a mind to.

A couple weeks later I was trying to get out the door for a run to the Stuff Mart. I typically do this on Saturday mornings when I can leave the he-child with Husband. I couldn't handle a Saturday Stuff Mart trip with him in tow. I do bring Daughter with me, though. She is usually pretty compliant and loves to go shopping. Son decided he wanted to go "side" (outside) and I was stepping out the door with Daughter. Husband had already offered Son the consolation option of doing a separate errand with him that morning. Son didn't really care where the heck he got to go, he just wanted "Side!" While Husband was collecting what he needed to collect before leaving the house with the he-child, I engaged in the familiar struggle of convincing Son to put on his coat. I finally became so exasperated that I dropped his coat next to him and closed the door in his face while he screamed about not putting his coat on and going "side." I decided Husband could deal with it this time. I deal with it alone five days a week.

I called Husband 20 minutes later to see how he was surviving and learned that the power struggle was still in high gear. Husband decided to sit in the easy chair in the living room and wait out the storm, and Son continued to scream about "Side!" and continued to refuse his coat.

I called again about 20 more minutes later. This time Son had given into the coat thing, but as soon as he got his little shoes on his little chubby feet and bolted out the door, he was apparently deeply disappointed that Mommy was not still out there waiting for him. He then went into a fussing frenzy about "Mommy!" Husband said he tried to just shove the lad into the car and strap him in his car seat, but then had a moment of sanity amidst the screaming and decided he wasn't going to try to go anywhere like that. He took Son back inside and remained un-committed about going anywhere. Most days I don't have the luxury of an option and just have to bite the bullet. Husband didn't appreciate my reminder that he has the easier options with our Son. I didn't appreciate that Husband wasn't offering me a gold star for my persistence and bravery in dealing with this on a daily basis.

Son's temperament doesn't bode well with his sister most times, either. He insists on having any toy or object that she first puts her hands on. I've sat back and watched this play out. He will be completely uninterested and unaware of a random toy or object until his big sister picks it up, at which point he immediately goes into fuss and whine mode accompanied by relentless demands of "Hab it!" (Have it), "Hab it!," "HAAAAAAAB IIIIIIIITTTTT!!!!!!!!" Then his big sister runs around the house with the coveted object cradled against her body in a choke hold while her little brother chases behind screaming at the top of his lungs. He later seeks revenge when she is playing innocently with something and he sneaks up (as well as a toddler can sneak) in total silence and snatches it away and bolts the other way with the object smashed in his own choke hold against his little body. He then grins and giggles and squeals as his big sister chases him around the house. This, you have to remember, plays out any number of times throughout a typical day.

This is precisely why I cannot make business calls from home with both kids present. Last night I called my dad to discuss the state of my ailing grandmother. During the phone call, Husband cut the power to part of the house to install a dimmer switch on one of the living room light fixtures. This had the side effect of also cutting the power to a video that Daughter was watching at the time. She started crying and whining and carrying on relentlessly about the interruption to her show. As she was sent to her room for a time out, Husband had the flashlight ready so he could see what he was doing with the light switch in the dark. The next problem is that Son has an infatuation with flashlights and no one else in the family can hold one in his presence without sending him into a relentless tantrum of "Hab it!" "Hab it!" "HAAAAAAAABBBBB IIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!" My dad finally asked me if someone was dying in the background, and I realized I had been doing my best to tune it out. I described to him the circus act going on in the background. Of course, he found the whole thing a little amusing, but he doesn't have to live with it day in and day out. I've come to the point of tuning it out to some extent or I'd never get anything else done with my days but mediating the conflict.

It reminded me of a time I was in the car with a friend who had two young children in the back seat. I was still childless at the time. As we sat at a stoplight I realized that the car was rocking and swaying with the scuffle in the backseat, my head was pounding, and my friend was simply talking calmly and more loudly over the noise. I was completely unnerved at how she was capable of this uncanny ability to simply proceed in her own business as if nothing were competing with her. As I take a step back to look at my current life more objectively, I am now unnerved that I have learned to cope in a similar manner. However, in my case, I am certain the entire house rocks and sways with the scuffle, and since I'm less mature than my friend, I cope at times by sticking my fingers in my ears and loudly chanting "La la la la la la la la la.......can't hear you.... la la la la la la la!" to drown out the rest of the noise. Last night I had a rare private moment in the bathroom. The kids didn't even storm in. I marked the day on the calendar. Happy New Year to me! Husband was entertaining them in the downstairs playroom, so I wasn't even on the same floor as them for a few minutes. I suddenly noticed the silence. It was a ringing silence that was so silent that it rang almost painfully in my ears. It was a rare moment that left me fearing that by the time the kids leave the nest, if I survive that long, I will have a raging case of tinnitus.

No comments: