Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's just another day here at the ranch...

I don't know how to start this post today, except to say that everyone is asking me how my son is dealing with his new little sister. The short answer is that he loves her dearly. The long way around that is that it seems that he has developed a real issue with his mum and dad. He has always been head-strong, but the streak that has come out of him lately around my partner and I has been quite astonishing, to be honest. On Tuesday night I sat down and had a revelation...

I realised I had become The Screaming Mother. My son, who's a lovely, well-developed, conversive, co-ordinated like a mountain goat, gorgeous all round kid, has a real issue with listening. Well, der, I hear the voices in my head saying...He's nearly three, that is relatively 'normal'...

But the frustrations that were mounting about simply Never Feeling Listened To were just getting too much, and they peaked on Tuesday night when I realised that I had been arguing with Ethan since about 7am, on and off, all day. Put your shoes on, no. Eat some breakfast, no. Don't jump on the bed, yes. Wash your hands before you eat, no. It was just never-ending, and it isn't the first day of it. It was however, the second day of this kind of defiance for a mum who's trying to deal with the new addition, breastfeeding, re-couping from a c-section, scheduling in midwife and child health nurse visits, getting dinner ready, getting children bathed and fed...the list goes on. In fact, writing the list is making me tired, let alone doing the daily in and out of it all alongside the constant defiant argument of a near-three yr old boy who's just trying to create, establish and enjoy his first senses of independence.

So I asked my partner how he felt, because he has been taking the same kind of dictatorship that I had. He also, was exhausted by it. And very upset with himself that even though we love Ethan with all our hearts, we were quite honestly ready to smack him in to line. Now, I'm not going to debate smacking with anyone - in fact the only wise thing my mother in law ever told me was to never talk about parenting or politics with people you don't know - but I will say that smacking doesn't work for Ethan. He sees it as a red light to do the same to others, and to be honest I really don't like the look of my own childs face when he is afraid of me.

On Wednesday we took Ethan to the library and alongside his books we got ourselves a couple of parenting books that have seemed to help - and that has been where the last two days have kind of changed our stress levels. We stopped using the word "dont" with him and have replaced it with as many positive alternatives as possible. Instead of "don't jump on the bed" we say "beds are for sleeping on" for example. And it's done wonders. We got through the whole day yesterday, for the first time in a long time (as he's been very defiant and independent since way before Alice was born) without having to drag him inside screaming, having him hit us, or him having a complete meltdown because he's not getting his way. In fact, at about 5pm last night, just as Ethan was getting a bit demanding (5pm is "Arsenic Hour" around here - the worst time of the day, because it's so busy) my partner said that he was ready to crack. He felt better that he hadn't 'lost' the day to screaming, but exhausted through the changing of how he communicated. So I reminded him that we only had about 2hours left until we had really, literally 'won' the day and survived without screaming. We trundled on, and it's been fantastic today too.

I don't know why I've posted this, but I guess it's because I didn't want to give the impression on this blog that I know all and have a perfect family life. Far from it. We struggle and muddle through, just like everyone else. And when we found our little victory yesterday, I wanted to share it.

1 comment:

  1. hi there friend. i have popped over to your blog a few times, but as you well know, mother of two doesn't allow much computer time, and what i do have i generally need to spend on my own blog, venting for my mental health! but. just read this post through, and man oh man can i sympathize. we've got a defiant little love too. Two. she had a rebirth of the Screaming Fits after the babe was born. duh. of course she would. HE screams and gets immediate attention, why shouldn't she. it just about drove me over the edge.
    BTW, feeling much better today.


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