Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Five Year Old Vent

My mind is in absolute overdrive dealing with Noah lately. Every time I sit down to type a post about something benign, Noah creeps out of my mind and into the text on my screen. I've got started-not-finished posts trying to define and explain the issues; as well as posts asking for Help!, as well as posts defending parental choices that are possibly leading us to this point in his... development? I have angry posts to parents-at-the-playground or posts to parents-shooting-their-mouths in the pickup line at school; things are left unsaid because I'm classier than that, and stooping to that level is part of the problem, you know? And then there are the types of posts that actually get posted lately: distraction posts.

Let's start with some facts:
Noah is 5 years old. (I think that's important because some of these behaviors might be less egregious in a younger child. Oops, sorry, Nonfact. But I need to write that.)

1. Noah dumped two buckets of sand on the head 3 year old at the playground. It was unprovoked. He walked about 7 feet carrying the bucket of sand to the point of impact.

2. Noah got in a fight with A Parent at the playground.

3. Noah has taken to hitting me when a) he doesn't stop a bad behavior when asked and I am without choice other than to b) physically remove him from a situation.

4. Noah BIT his brother on the arm this morning.

Three of these fall under the category of unreasonable aggression, in my opinion. I feel like I MUST address them. This is a stance undoubtably influenced by our family's particular circumstances.

And now some more subjective information. In combination with other things, it's also driving me crazy:

5. There's a lot of Name Calling around here.

6. There are phrases that are being used KIND OF contextually accurately. Like "You sick!" when somebody takes away a toy a) Okay, first of all, that's WRONG it should be "You suck." b) But I'm not going to teach him that, especially when Mattias (2 years old) copies everything Noah says. c) Also, Noah doesn't really understand how offensive it is, he only understands that it annoys me, and so he says it - more or less at the right time - with the added benefit of getting my attention - which an alternative, 5-year-old appropriate expression may not do and.... d) And I WANT to ignore him thus foiling c), but see b). I know some of you might think this kind of talking is funny on little ones, but trust me, it's a lot less funny when they get older.

7. The house and the yard and the porch and deck are disaster zones. There is constant ongoing playing with anything that is not a toy. Today, it's brooms and mops that are oars for the boat (pigeon blue sofa). Yes, Noah makes stuff with tape and paper and scissors. And stuff and more stuff. And yes, it's wildly creative. And yes, it's better than watching television. Or playing video games. And yes, I AM PROUD that my kids have no f*cking idea what Angry Birds is/are? But my head is all mucked up when the house is all mucked up.

8. Punishments. Or whatever you want to call them. Okay, look: this is frustrating the shit out of me. Today, I kept Noah home from school because HE BIT his brother. I consider BITING to be an extremely serious infraction and taking away school was the best way I could think of to send a strong message to him. He loves school. However, it put me in deep pain because a) his preschool is a huge cost in our budget and b) I NEED the time away from him that preschool provides. I think it's self-centered and stupid to say, "This is hurting me more than it's hurting you." I would never say that to my kids. But I'm telling you. That was the case with this punishment.

Regarding punishments, you might say, "Oh, we take away our kids toys." Good. Glad that's working for you. Guess what? See point 7.

We do Time Outs. But they also have limited effectiveness.

Or perhaps, as the parent-shooting-his-mouth said, I should just do what HIS parents did: "Boy, if my parents saw me doing something like that, they would have given me a beating."

We don't do spanking, something that other parents will tell me behind closed doors that they do use. I don't even know how strongly I feel about NOT doing this. Well, pretty strongly...perhaps. Still, like I said, I am really being pushed by some behaviors right now. What I do know is that IT IS considered child abuse in Germany and that's maybe enough to keep me from spanking. Also, see intro paragraph about being classier and not sinking to the level of the problem.


My one consolation this week has been my mother's insight on Noah's push-push-pushing. She says, "Well, this is your teaching opportunity. Lots of times, kids aren't ready to learn until they push. We think we can teach them before things become a problem. We think we headed off the problem. But that's not always true."

SIGH. Again.

I actually try NOT to write posts like this, because who is this helping, really? And who cares? Me, I guess. If I didn't type posts this, it would just sit there and simmer and I would not be able to let go. I would continue writing cryptic posts eluding to it, but not saying it. Argh. So, letting go. And knowing that I can click on the delete button and feel somewhat...better. And you know what? Lots of times, I'll let a post sit for 24 hours before I post, against my better judgment (perhaps), this is an In The Moment Go.

Now I have a special request. If you comment, Please Please Please, do not type one tiny word about Love and Logic because I'm pretty sure I hate L&L. My greatest fear in typing this is that someone will post, "Hey! You should go to a Love and Logic class! They're great! They totally helped me with my son!" And it might be unreasonable to ask. But it's my unreasonableness and it's my blog and if you even suggest that I attend a class... well, we're too classy to do threats around here. Alternative suggestions to L&L are more than welcome.

* Huh, Noah told me 'Dude' is a derogative - not in those words - and I wondered why he said that, but now I know, I USE IT AS A DEROGATIVE.


Katie said...

I'm of no help to you as we're in the same boat. The few people I've turned to for help laugh it off and say it's "normal" and he'll grow out of it. That's great, but we're in it *right now* and it's pretty awful almost daily.

Your mom's insight has me thinking...

Swistle said...

I think writing posts helps in four ways:

1. It can be helpful to vent.

2. It can be helpful to hear other people say "Oh, man, it's bad at our house too!!" Which I can say about Henry who will turn 5 this month. And I feel so much better reading other people writing it: otherwise I feel like everyone else's kid is behaving FINE, and I'm all alone.

3. It can be helpful later to have a record of such things---either as documentation if things get worse ("Let's see, was he doing X back then yet?") or just to reassure yourself that things really were difficult. I notice that even after the kids' bedtime I'm already thinking they weren't so naughty and why was I so unable to COPE?? But when it's actually happening (or if I can read a good account of it), I think, "Well, I was unable to cope because that situation SICKED." (To use Noah's word.)

4. It can be helpful for organizing thoughts, listing what the most important problems are, and figuring out what to do. I found that after I wrote about Henry's stuff, I felt more like I knew why I was going so nuts, and calmer/more-perspective-y about how to handle it. (Not that I know how to handle it.)

Pregnantly Plump said...

We've had similar issues with Little Elvis - not biting his brother or hitting me, but hitting and kicking his door or throwing toys when I make him mad. I make him mad a lot.
Time outs work fairly well, but the ones that work best are the all evening or all day ones. I give him 3 shots. With the third time out, he's stuck in his room all night - no supper and only potty breaks. I know it sounds mean, but he doesn't go hungry.
We also will leave a fun situation if Little Elvis acts up. This bothers him a lot, and he always wants to turn back time and have a do over. The leaving thing is most effective when he realizes that by acting up he not only had to leave the Lowe's building clinic early, he's also missing eating out at Sam's, another event somewhere else and spending the night with his grandparents. When we take away so much, it seems to make an impact.
The really bad fits this weekend caused me to take all of his pillows, toys and nightlight out of his bedroom. He missed the nightlight the most, and has been trying his best to get it back.
I think taking away school would also definitely make an impact on him.
One time he was fighting me on something silly. He gets a smiley or frowny face in his folder every day at school. I told him that I was going to start sending frowny faces back to his teacher when he was bad. He didn't like that idea at all. And one time when he refused to get dressed, I told him I'd take him to school in his PJs and he could tell his friends he couldn't dress himself. He then dressed himself. With him, any idea about the people at school finding out about his huge fits at home makes an impact.
I don't know if these ideas will help, but I do understand.
Maybe taking everything out of his room except for his bed and pillow might work?

twisterfish said...

Oh my... Sorry you're going through all this.

My youngest was like that with the non-toy toys. Hard to take away things that are mostly in his imagination. At certain very trying times, I found myself telling my son his punishment was that he would have to play with Legos for an hour. He hated Legos at the time. He cried hysterically and then apologized.

P.S. Your mom is very wise.