Sunday, July 28, 2013

Terrible toddler

For the first two years and eight months of my son Riley's life, I was frequently convinced that Neil and I deserved a medal for outstanding parenting. What else could explain the adorable little person we had created? He was polite, he easily tried new foods, was a dream on airplanes, behaved well at school and at home, loved to snuggle and hug and wasn't nearly as crazy as some of the other little boys we knew.

I remember when his second birthday approached, I was walking around on eggshells waiting for him to become a terrible two year old. It didn't happen. He was two and a half and it still hadn't happened and I took a big sigh of relief. "Our son is so great, we got to skip the Terrible Twos," I thought.

I would look at the parents whose kids were wheeled by in their big Danish strollers while screaming and flailing around and feel immense pity for them while simultaneously thinking, "Thank God my kid doesn't throw tantrums like that."

Perhaps I was too smug? Too sure that Riley's sweetness and compliance were due to my superior parenting skills. But really, I think I was just a silly first-time mom who somehow thought I could skip over a key developmental stage with my kiddo. The technical term for that stage, as I have now learned is, The Do Not Listen To Anything Anyone Says, Lose All Self Control, Throw Tantrums and Perfect Your Ability to Say "NO" in The Most Annoying Way Possible Stage.

I suspect that even if I hadn't disappeared into the hospital for 9.5 weeks and returned home with two baby sisters, Riley would be going through some growing pains right now, but certainly the addition of the babies to his life has complicated things. Riley also changed schools recently and was coaxed into giving up his pacifier for good. Not to mention the rotating cast of characters that have been staying with us to help with our massive increase in children. Just as Riley is comfortable with one grandma,  the other comes and just as he is comfortable with the other grandma, our cousin comes, the kid is having a tough summer. But, he has also turned into a total monster. Don't worry, he is a monster that I desperately love and would defend with my life, but he's exhausting to be around.

In the past 48 hours he has: head-butted one of his sisters and made her cry, hit a sister with a (padded) hockey stick, spent at least 15 minutes in a heap on the living room floor screaming "No, No, No" to no one in particular, drawn on a kitchen chair with crayon, kicked a half-eaten nectarine across the room, thrown a full cup of milk across the kitchen, punched a girl he doesn't know at a birthday party, and dumped 3/4 of a bottle of nail polish remover on my leg and all over the bathroom floor while saying "I know it's not a good thing to do, but I do it anyways."

I have gone from feeling like parent of the year to feeling like I should be sitting in the corner with a dunce cap on. The worst part is that I can see that Riley is hurting on some level and that is probably what a lot of his acting out is about. But I am powerless to help him. He is going to have to get used to having sisters. If it takes much longer, I am going to be the one in a heap on the living room floor throwing a tantrum.

All parenting advice is welcome. We clearly do not know what we are doing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Drowning in Children

Let's not sugar coat this: caring for two babies is tough - really tough. Caring for two babies and a jealous toddler is, well, I am not sure there is a word for it. If you asked me most afternoons how I am feeling, I think the first thing that would come to mind is, "I am drowning in children."

Yep, drowning. My adorable monoamniotic twins still eat every three to four hours during the day and then spit up for a bit after eating. Often they wake up and want to be held for several hours, apparently not realizing I do not have enough hands. My formerly perfect little boy is acting out in any way possible which includes whining, temper tantrums, yelling when babies are sleeping, throwing things, purposely spilling liquids and foods, saying "no" more times in a row than I thought humanly possible and constantly turning on the baby swings and bouncer so as to waste the batteries and inflict multiple annoying baby toy songs on us at once.

With all the spit up going on in my home, I am doing multiple loads of laundry daily and changing my clothes at least three times before bed. It has been warm and some nights, I just take off the spit-upon pjs and don't bother putting anything else on thinking it is easier to just hose myself off in the shower than it is to wash one more t-shirt. That, and I usually don't have any clean shirts left at that point anyways.

My kids are all such wonderful blessings, but to say this is a lot of work is a gross understatement. It is a miracle if I get anything done in a day aside from showering and eating. I am either nursing, changing diapers, sitting on the floor of the bathroom reading potty books to Riley while he is on the potty, rocking a baby to sleep, dealing with a toddler tantrum or some other child-related task. And keep in mind, I still have family here helping. Some days, the absurdity of it all makes me laugh, other days I cry.

Thank goodness for the funny stuff that happens around here, if not for that, I might not survive. Allow me to relate what is sure to become a family classic. The other evening, while our cousin Laine was visiting, Riley decided he wanted to get his "outside toys" (bubbles, frisbees, tennis rackets and other things that can create havoc inside) and play in the courtyard. I decided I would go with him and Laine, but I happened to be holding one of the girls (couldn't tell you which one). Riley walked over to where I was sitting on the couch and in his normal inside voice, which is loud enough to wake a hibernating bear, he said "Come to the courtyard Mommy!" I probably shushed him instinctively and then I said, "I am going to Riley, I am just waiting for Grandma Terri to take the baby and then I will come play." At this point, Grandma Terri had already approached for the baby hand off, but Riley turned around, filled with his excitement that I would be going outside with him and looked at his grandma and shouted:

 "Take it! Take IT!!! TAKE THE BABY!!!!"

Each "take it" louder and more emphatic than the last. The whole episode was accompanied by Riley's wildly gesturing arms. He was not messing around. He meant business. Of course, grandma Terri took the baby and instead of talking to Riley about how he shouldn't talk to adults (or anyone) like that nor should he refer to his sisters as "it", I burst into laughture.

When you are drowning in children, you take the laughs where you can get them.