Sunday, October 21, 2012

Up and Down

Parenting is sort of kicking my butt these days- we are definitely muddling through. I am always tempted to let these rough times go unremarked- why dwell on the hard times?-  but occasionally one of the kids will do something that I want to remember and I'll feel compelled to write a post about it.

Case in point:

This was a good weekend, but a trying one. Petunia got to bring the class stuffed animal Pete, a penguin roughly 2/3 the size of Petunia, home from day care. She was very excited to have Pete with us. Unfortunately, so was Pumpkin, who almost immediately started to whine about how she never got a chance to play with Pete. This wasn't really unexpected, but it was fairly annoying and resulted in a few timeouts and a few dramatic flounces down the hall, complete with slammed bedroom door.

We still had fun with Pete- we took him to a merry-go-round and Mr. Snarky strapped him onto his very own horse, much to Petunia's delight. She insisted that both she and Pete should ride on horses that went up and down, so Mr. Snarky had to stand there and ensure Pete held his seat. It was pretty amusing, really.

But by this evening, I was tired. I was tired of refereeing disagreements between the girls. I was tired of explaining things to the girls- they are both in explanation-intense phases, I guess, and both Petunia's incessant asking of "why?" and Pumpkin's less frequent, but more complicated questions sap my energy. I was tired of paying attention to Petunia's potty needs and cleaning up potty accidents- we've decided to get serious about potty training, which may be my least favorite parenting task, and one that I readily admit we suck at. (On the plus side- this is the last time we'll have to do it!) And I was annoyed that we had managed to get through a rather impressive list of household chores, but that I when I'd finally gotten the chance to sit down at my computer to do the work I needed to complete this weekend I had been interrupted in 15 minutes. To be fair, Mr. Snarky had tried to take Pete and the girls out for a walk with our wagon, but it had started raining and they'd had to come home. That extenuating circumstance is completely irrelevant to the state of my bug database, though.

After bath, I was trying to get the girls dressed and on to snack- I was definitely in the "just plow through until we're through bedtime" mindset and not in a playful, "let's make this all a game" mindset. And Pumpkin just would not cooperate. She was bouncing around on the sofa half-dressed, giggling and cavorting and not listening. I snapped and gave her an ultimatum, which she ignored, and then Mr. Snarky marched her down the hall to her bedroom, wailing. Petunia started crying, too. Neither girl likes to see the other upset, unless, of course, the reason for the upset is that one is being punished for an infraction against the other, in which case the observing child tends to think that the wailing is just the natural course of justice. In this case, Pumpkin's shenanigans had not disturbed Petunia, so she added her protest to her sister's.

I finished getting Petunia into her PJs, and then I went after Pumpkin. She was contrite, and gave me a long hug. I've been trying to give her more of those, since I know that kindergarten is harder than she expected it to be, and the hugs seem to help. I told her I was tired, and we just needed to go have snack and get to bed. She agreed and said "I don't know why, Mommy. I'm so tired, too. I don't know why my body made me bounce around like that."

How could I not smile?

So then I told her that was OK, but that I'd tried to tell her that I was getting mad, and she didn't seem to hear me.

"Oh, I heard you Mommy. I just wasn't listening."


But it cleared the mood, and we went out and had snack, and then headed to bed, all in a good mood. Until, that is, Petunia insisted I come in and finish getting her down. It was Mr. Snarky's turn, but I am often the required "closer" these days. Luckily for Petunia, I remember when Pumpkin was about the same age, and I was also the required closer for her bedtimes. This may have been what eventually led me to break Pumpkin of the habit of needing company to fall asleep. I suspect a similar fate is in store for Petunia soon. I'm debating whether or not to wait until potty training is further along. Regardless, tonight I just went in and snuggled her, and tried to appreciate the quiet time and the chance to snuggle.

And now I'm off to bed, roughly 30 minutes later than I should be. But I feel better for having written this. Perhaps I should take the time to capture the tough days more often!


  1. Thisbe2:54 AM

    In re: kids that age asking why - sometimes it seems like asking "Why?" is just a really reliable attention button, and sometimes I think they're really confused about something. My strategy is to require them to formulate the thought more fully before I will answer the question - e.g., "Why what?" Because I don't see any reason why I should do all the work, of figuring out what they are confused about AND figuring out how to explain it.

    Plus I think it's a more satisfying answer for the kid if I know what the question really is. And at least some of the time, when I say, "Why what? What do you want to know?" the kid says "...never mind."

    1. Yes! We do "why what?" also, and also "Why do YOU think xyz?" often gets the right answer, the same one I would have given. So I think "Why?" is just a making conversation tactic sometimes.

  2. Anonymous5:44 AM

    DC1 lost the monkey's pants when it was his turn to take home the stuffed animal. Luckily you can order replacements from build-a-bear online. (We also had him for a very boring weekend... so pictures of him buying diapers, groceries, folding laundry etc. The frog had a much more exciting time last year.)

    re: why? Sometimes we'd counter, "Why do you think?" Answers can be entertaining. One problem with why in this household was that it always seemed to get back to where babies are from... no matter what the question. Possibly we should never answer, "Because X was born that way."

    1. Anonymous11:02 AM

      (In middle school the answer was always, "Ask your mother!" which we found hilarious. Sadly it doesn't work when you're the mother.)

  3. It's kicking my butt, too, Cloud. My boys seem to go through cycles of playing - sometimes they play beautifully together and then sometimes they just fight fight fight. Lately it's been nonstop fighting - pushing, shoving, kicking, scratching, head-butting. It's exhausting. I'm trying to work with the 4 y.o. on using words, finding solutions, dealing with frustration. But it's utterly exhausting, especially when I need to get something done (like if I'm trying to make dinner and I have to stop every 2 minutes to intervene, I find it overwhelming and I start shouting at them/ putting them in time out).

    On hearing but not listening, Christopher Robin (the 4 y.o.) said to me recently: Mommy, when you shout, it makes me not do what you say. It makes sense, but then I was like, well you didn't do what I asked the first 5 times before I started shouting, either. I try to enlist him in the project - what do you think we can do to work together more peacefully? But he doesn't have any solutions. There's a lot of talk about my shouting these days, but I actually think it's because I'm shouting *less* - like, I'm more emotionally stable than I was 4 months ago, so he feels safe enough to say something. He's a tough nut - he's so intensely sensitive that he shuts down. It often seems like he doesn't notice, or is just blank, but really he's taking everything in to the point where he has to shut down. It makes it incredibly hard to talk to him about his feelings, which he usually denies. He hates to talk about them. He can even find praise overwhelming.

  4. Joanna9:10 AM

    I appreciate these posts. Parenting is really hard. I only have one (23 month old), and am pregnant with #2. Some days I don't know how I will ever manage two of them. My daughter is going through the most contrarian stage right now. Whether she needs to get dressed, eat at the table, brush her teeth - it really doesn't matter - she just won't do it. Everything is a battle, and it always ends with her hitting, kicking, or pinching me. I just keep trying to remember how small she is, and how big her feelings are. But, I just feel it all putting a wedge between us, and it makes me so sad. She can be such a good girl at times, but I haven't seen much of that side of her lately. I think she saves it all for daycare.

    Let's hope for some better days ahead for us all.

  5. I dread potty training!

  6. "...a few dramatic flounces down the hall, complete with slammed bedroom door."

    Oh, Cloud, thank you for the laugh this morning! Hang in there!

  7. Alexicographer10:55 AM

    Oof, yes, to all of this, except I just have the one kid so we avoid sibling rivalry (I try to let the dogs take precedence over DS sometimes so he gets to experience being second, but try though I might the dogs are unwilling to act indignant the way a sib might. Though come to think of it, one is prone to picking up and chewing up Lego pieces (etc.), so there's that ...).

    The comments above about "why" made me laugh, because it doesn't seem to me here that the problem you are facing with "why" relates to how to deal with it, but rather just with its frequency. And while I get that the strategies suggested *might* reduce that frequency, I'm doubtful of their energy-saving value in the short run. I found myself reacting somewhat similarly when questioned repeatedly about, "What if the alphabet had N letters?" where 0 <= N <= infinity (hey, at least we haven't introduced negative numbers yet -- lucky!). I mean, it's fun through the first 5 iterations, then, not so much ...

  8. mom2boy11:07 AM

    I like to say "question asked and answered" because I find it fun to say and it changes the next question from another why to what? :)

    This morning Tate told us when he grows up he is living in his OWN house and following his OWN rules and then came back in to add he is also having his OWN son and he will be a GREAT dad. I'm assuming all this stemmed being told to wear long pants instead of the shorts he wanted to school today and that GREAT parents don't do such awful things. lol

    Also, because we aren't always super PC parents, we've taken to saying to each other after he says something not so nice (like "eww disgusting" when you set dinner in front of him) that what he means to say is thank you mommy. Last night at bed time he informed me that we are quite mistaken when we decide he means to say something else like thank you or yes ma'am. "I mean what I am saying, mom, not what you think I mean to say."

    1. Alexicographer1:20 PM

      Ha! Clever kid. Not (I suspect) least b/c my DH felt it appropriate to ruminate (honestly) about how much or little he enjoyed my cooking, my stepkids (teenagers, old enough to know better) felt they could do the same. Thus was it decreed that the only acceptable things to say after dinner is served is, "Ooh, yummy!" or, "Gosh, I think maybe I'll go make myself some mac-n-cheese." I mean, really!

      Only once I became responsible for preparing my own meals (meaning, in my case, only as an adult) did I come to understand why my mother found the seemingly innocuous query, "What's for supper?" so annoying.

  9. Ah yes, potty training. Just at the time you get good at it, you run out of children.

  10. I'm imagining the same scene playing out in our house in about 3 years ;)

    Hope things go better going forward. Potty training is pretty sucky, I definitely agree.

  11. We haven't gotten to why yet, but instead get incessant, "What's that mommy?" I think it's the precursor to why and it makes me very tired.

  12. We had a similar weekend. Evan did well most of the time, but by about 5pm he was a melt-down mess, with random gigglefests/cuteness mixed in there. When we finally put him in bed on Sunday night, he said "I love you, Mommy" and all was forgotten. They sure know how to work us ;)


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