New Year, New Mom…Happy 2012!

When writing my posts I try to be honest.  My resolution for the coming year is to keep the honesty going.  Motherhood has not always been easy for me and I want to continue the truthful documentation of my triumphs and tribulations.

I would like to start this off by first of all sharing how far I have come since the birth of Full Speed.  In the seven years that I have been lucky enough to call this kid and his little brother my own, I feel like a completely new person.  I learned it was easier to accept the harsh realities of raising two extremely spirited boys than continue to fight it. The more I let go of my parenting expectations (like having a quiet house,  having children who exhibit minimal tantrums and/or power struggles, receiving gentle hugs, etc.) and embraced my kids for exactly who they are, everything started to get easier.  You can sense this evolution if you have been following my blog for a while.  The more recent my posts, the less pitiful they are.  2011 has especially been a turning point for me.  My boys are older and I am hopefully wiser (ha, ha).  I am now finally able to reconnect with parts of myself that I thought motherhood had taken forever.  My boys are more independent (sigh) and this has allowed me the freedom to return to myself a little bit more every day.

How do I know that I still have a long way to go?  Well, this is where the honesty part comes in play.  Every time I hear that a friend or family member is expecting a child, especially their first, a tiny part of me hopes that at some point their future bundle of joy will throw some serious, Grade A tantrums. There, I said it.

Full Speed, age 2, on the brink of a meltdown

Never to be outdone, T.Puzzle, age two, gets ready to rumble

I have yet to meet another Mom who has dealt/deals with as many tantrums as I have survived.  If you are out there, hang in there.  It gets better and so do the deals at the liquor store if you buy in bulk.

Anyway, I raise a glass (or two or twenty) to my best year of my motherhood experience yet.  Thank you 2011!

Can’t wait for 2012… Happy New Year to All!

Fifteen Years

p9073210T.Puzzle and I have a play date today. We know these friends well enough that even if he gets out of control it’s no big deal. We will remain friends regardless. That’s a relief for me. Having play dates in general can be quite anxiety producing. It matters not how much you hit it off with the other Mom, if your kids don’t click the play date’s over usually before it begins. Luckily, T.Puzzle loves my friend’s three year old daughter. She’s pretty rough and tumble, too. That helps.

We are moving into the time of year in Florida where you can count on consistently beautiful weather (I know, you northerners can hate me right now, try to remember that my summer was searing, miserably hot). Therefore, my friend and I have been attempting to meet for a weekly walk.

During this week’s walk we headed to the amenity center in our neighborhood so she could drop off some stuffed animals. The amenity center is gearing up for their holiday food and toy drive so the stuffed animals were a welcome sight. As we entered the foyer, there was a women seated at the desk already being helped by the amenity center staffer. We had to wait a couple minutes and any Mom with an active almost three year old boy knows a couple minutes can quickly spiral out of control.

My friend is soon helped and the staffer begins to engage her in a lengthy chit-chat about the cuteness of her two daughters (deservedly so) and on and on and on. By now T.Puzzle is out of his stroller running about. He had managed to finagle a ball from my friend’s house and soon this is being tossed this way and that. I try to contain him and encourage him to simply ‘roll the ball on the floor’. Well, he’s having none of that. He’s starts chucking the ball, and let me tell you, this kid’s got quite an arm. I have to get tough and he loses possession of the ball and this causes him to nearly lose all control of his emotions (at least it wasn’t his bowels). He is on the verge of a full-blown level seven tantrum. I manage to coax him down by threatening that he will lose the privilege of going to the park right outside. He caves for he loves the park and he climbs back in his stroller defiantly apologetic. This means he’s sorry but he’s downright angry about having to be sorry at all.

When will I be able to walk in somewhere and not have it be a monumental power struggle topped with hyper-kinetic energy and a good dose of insanity thrown in? Soon? Ever? Help me!

As we are set to exit the staffer looks at us and says rather pointedly, “You are brave to bring your kids out, especially on an errand.” Or something like that. Huh? I think I was just insulted but am too frazzled to realize it. Is she telling us that we should have stayed home? Am I supposed to hide myself indoors until my child is calm and well-mannered? I have struggled with this in the past. I’ve reached my decision.

So long, dear world! See you in fifteen years.

Mother of the Year

hide my faceDo you ever have days where things fall into place and your children behave better then you hoped for in whatever circumstance? When your kids say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on cue and they comply with your every command? Yeah, that wasn’t my day at all.

We are now fully back into the routine of Tae Kwon Do. I feel confident I can get T.Puzzle onto the mat without much fuss. So far so good. However, once he is on the mat, he is out of my realm of threats and cajoling. That’s never been an issue before because in a normal class session, he complies beautifully for the instructor. Yeah, that wasn’t my day at all.

T.Puzzle is in his own world right from the get-go. He barely engages in anything the rest of the class is doing. He gets called out repeatedly to join in and doesn’t. He sort of stands there with a spacey look in his eyes. The instructor begins to take notice of how he is behaving. He gets in T.Puzzle’s face and says, “Hands over your head!” T.Puzzle won’t do it. “Hands over your head I said!” Nope, not happening. The instructor grabs his arms and places them over his head. The instructor calls out the next instruction. T.Puzzle refuses again. This time when he gets in T.Puzzle’s face and says, “Do what I ask of you, T.Puzzle.” He looks at him and says, “No.” T.Puzzle says ‘no’ over and over. My stomach drops to the floor. I’ve never seen any student ever tell the instructor ‘no’ and we’ve been attending for several months.

T.Puzzle is stripped of his belt and is forced to sit in time-out. The instructor says, “Get the diapers, someone’s acting like a baby (oh crap, who told!?! The instructor still erroneously believes T.Puzzle is potty-trained).  T.Puzzle proceeds to cry and all the surrounding parents turn their eyes to me. At that moment, I died a little inside.

I don’t know what was worse, the fact he openly disrespected authority or that several parents said, “How can you sit there? Isn’t your heart breaking for him?” Honestly, my heart wasn’t breaking. My kid acts like a nut all the time (his behavior, not him just to clarify) so this wasn’t shocking to me. The instructor handled it exactly how I handle T.Puzzle at home. It made me wonder, does no one else in the world put their kids in time-out even when the kid is crying like it’s the end of the world? Isn’t that sort of the point? Time-outs aren’t exactly Disney World, right?

Then, my humiliation grows. Prior to class I had filled out Full Speed’s behavior report. When I did it, I had no inkling that T.Puzzle’s behavior would be such a disaster. So, I filled it out honestly and gave him a couple ‘Fs’ (fair) because he keeps talking silly and in a disrespectful manner to adults that we encounter such as cashiers, nurses, and waitresses (etc.). The instructor reads his report, is angry (as he should be) and calls Full Speed out in front of everyone. He takes the report, crushes it into a ball and tosses it across the room. He says he expects better from Full Speed (and so do I).

In every other report that the instructor read, the kids had ‘Es’ (excellent) across the board. I’m supposed to believe that all the kids, and the oldest in class is only seven, acted like perfect angels every single day of the week? What. Ever.surprise

I’m clearly feeling frustrated and wishing there was a wet bar in the parents’ corner. I can imagine perfectly where it would fit. The bar could be bamboo with a nice Tiki theme. There would be a fun, Tom Cruise-like bartender straight out of the movie ‘Cocktail’ who would wow everyone into distraction with his marvelous cocktail-making theatrics.

Instead I am left with two boys who couldn’t hold it together and a world of disappointment and embarrassment. Looks like ‘Mother of the Year’ is out of my reach again this year. That is unless there is a category for most alcoholic drinks imbibed by a Mom in a single day. On second thought, I better get my acceptance speech ready just in case.

The Sorry Moat

We went to a park we’ve never gone to before today. It turns out to be very cool. It is constructed mostly of wood and is shaped like a castle and a fort. It is huge. I tell Mad Dog I won’t be able to take the boys to this park by myself. I would lose track of them easily and heaven forbid, one of them might fall into the moat (okay, there isn’t a moat but how fun would it be if there was one?).

After chasing them at length through the sprawling castle compound, we casually redirect them to a smaller, more confined area. That way Mad Dog and I can sit on the sidelines and have a complete view of their shenanigans. The weather today has been pitch perfect so it feels awesome to sit back and catch a cool breeze (apparently there are some cool breezes to be found in Florida, who knew?).

Full Speed plays for a bit then heads over to us to negotiate his release back to the castle playground. He’s very logical about it. “Why doesn’t one of you stay here to watch T.Puzzle and the other comes to watch me at the castle?” We rail against this as we are tired and want to stay put. He shrugs his shoulders and darts back off to play.pa293440

In the meantime, little brother T.Puzzle has befriended a mild-mannered toddler girl. They are playing nicely at first. Then, he starts to make animal sounds at her. He’s growling and barking. She’s game and returns the favor. For some reason this angers him. He cocks his arm back and lets loose on her. I jump immediately to my feet and chide him to not hit. He instantly drops in to the ‘I-am-sorry formation’. This means his arms are limp at his sides and he says ‘sorry’ over and over. Sometimes I wonder if he even knows what the heck he’s supposed to be sorry about. I make him apologize to the girl and give her a hug. She cringes in fear until she realizes his intentions are actually good. Then he is brusquely escorted to time-out. He refuses to stay put. He is shimmying his little butt all over the place except the designated point of punishment. When I scold him for that, he picks up some playground mulch and chucks it at my head. Guess what? Playtime’s over.

We head to the car and I’m carrying him like a sack of potatoes (albeit it a highly emotional, screaming sack of potatoes). I drop him next to the car (not on his head, no need to call any authorities) and let Mad Dog take over. Eventually, T.Puzzle really is sorry and gets his act together.

I’m upset and feel the steam of anger rising in me. I have a hard time letting bad behavior like this go. I need to take a lesson from Mad Dog. He claims he has selective memory and only recalls the good in life. He also claims this is the secret to a good marriage. I have to agree but sometimes I’d rather just toss somebody in a moat and call it a day.

I Should Have Stayed Home

This is the dilemma. Do you wait until your child can properly behave themselves in public (which could take years) to venture from your home or do you never, ever leave your house? This has been my plight since Full Speed was aggressively mobile (at about seven months of age). I have always been on the side of pushing forward and attempting to be social and expose my boys to world experiences. However, when I’m in the middle of one such experience, I often wish I had just stayed home.

I took T.Puzzle to the library for story time this morning. In the past I’ve had both boys with me and the result was often disastrous. I hoped that since I was playing him man-to-man, it would be tolerable and holding out all hope, enjoyable.
Your Frick can Read

Summer is the last time I went to story time at the library. The memories of social hierarchy come back to me in a rush as soon as the first clique-ish group of Moms walk through the door. My stomach does an unpleasant back flip as I realize that high school is never really over. I hate clique-y Moms. I’ve been a Mom long enough now that I don’t even pretend to try to talk to them. Life is easier that way.

T.Puzzle is hyper (I know, it’s like saying T.Puzzle is breathing). I think he senses that the more embarrassing he acts, the more anxiety it produces in his Mom. He must think that’s cool because he is very out of control. At one point he begins to make spitting noises. I lean down and say, “You spit again and we leave.” Story time was not going well.

He was not acting like himself. He was kind of clingy, wasn’t dancing or clapping (which at home is totally his thing) and he kept telling me to stop singing (which was getting on my last nerve). He looks at me thoughtfully and spits. He clearly wants to leave. He even tugs on my shirt and confesses, “I spit, Mommy. I go home.”

Another dilemma. I am always extremely conscious about what I say to the boys. If a threat escapes my lips, I am fully prepared to back it up. I want my words to have weight. I want them to know when I speak, it’s the truth and that I am consistent. If they don’t learn to respect my words now, what am I going to do when they are fifteen and seventeen respectively and are a head taller than me (fingers crossed Full Speed) and weigh more than me (fingers crossed me!)?

Ultimately, we didn’t go home. I felt T.Puzzle was playing the system and being sneaky to get what he wanted. We plundered through the remaining five minutes of songs and stories. This whole time I imagine staying in our house this morning might have been the right choice.

However, that’s not how I roll. You can defy me, you can act a fool and you can spit at me, but dammit, we are getting out there and we are going to live life. Some Moms may pretend we don’t exist, and yet other Moms will feel validated that they aren’t the only ones with devilish offspring. It matters not. We will always leave the safety (and boredom) of our house and someday, I hope manners and good grace find us. Until then, have compassion if you see us in public. I apologize in advance.