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.

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