I have officially signed up T.Puzzle for kindergarten. I am handling this sign-up a lot better than I did Full Speed’s. I think it’s because I know what to expect and knowing Full Speed loved his kindergarten experience, I’m very hopeful T.Puzzle will love his, too. Or, maybe I’m more than ready to hand him over to his kindergarten teacher. It seems as of late, T.Puzzle is convinced I really don’t know how to read and questions me emphatically if I correct him. I have to spell the word out loud while he hides the text. He peers at the word furtively beneath his cupped hands to make sure I can’t cheat. Then, I have to prove phonetically why I think it is the word it is instead of the one he thinks it is. Oh, I’m ready for this guy to go to kindergarten, alright. I just hope his future teacher is excellent at spelling.
When we receive important news, we often are able to describe in detail where we were and what we were doing when first learn of it.
It was 10:14 a.m. I was seated at the computer checking emails. I had on shorts and a printed purple tank top that I had worn to my morning workout. It was sunny and the heat of the day was beginning its usual build-up. I wore no make-up, my hair was scrunched back in a haphazard ponytail and my brow was furrowed with concentration as I scrolled through my inbox. I heard my phone beep to alert me of an incoming text.
Grandma wanted to know if she could take both boys overnight.
Do mothers like cocktails? Is summer hot in Florida?
I was feeling so generous of spirit after this offer I was willing to give her the whole weekend with them.
Who knows, I may even let her have them for all of July.
I’m that generous.
It’s growing later with each passing moment and I am trying to get through what I fondly refer to as the Armageddon of our day (a.k.a. – late day/early evening with small children). This is the time in our day when we are still far enough (too far!) away from bedtime that monotony and anarchy have set in. This is also the time in our day that we wait for Mad Dog to come home.
After dinner I tried to mix things up. We have this red, push car with a long blue handle that T.Puzzle likes to ride in. I asked Full Speed if he would be willing to help me push his little brother in it on a walk. I told him not to give me any nonsense (bad attitude, pouting). Full Speed is kind of difficult to keep focused on a walk. It’s because we are not moving a hundred miles an hour so he quickly loses interest. T.Puzzle on the other hand has a little more of what I like to call the-stop-and-smell-the-roses temperament but because he is currently so tantrum-prone, he is difficult on walks for other reasons.
I knew the odds were stacked against me. It was such a beautiful evening, I couldn’t justify staying indoors and since parks and the like are still out of the question as Full Speed recovers from his surgery, a walk was my best option.
We get to the garage and Full Speed climbs in and demands that T.Puzzle push him. I thought T.Puzzle would have none of it. Somehow he manages to think it’s cool to push his big brother. I, on the other hand, think it is ridiculous that a two year old has to push his four year old brother around in a babyish toy. I also think it’s fitting because Full Speed is clearly the dominating force in their relationship (although T.Puzzle has recently begun to hold his own and he can taunt with the best of them).
We head to the sidewalk and while T.Puzzle is strong enough to push Full Speed, he isn’t strong enough to maintain control over the ‘vehicle’. Periodically I am forced to grab the handle and line it back up on the sidewalk. This makes T.Puzzle beyond angry. “No, Mommy! I do it! I do it!” He says this over and over again.
I keep thinking, no you can’t kid but don’t say anything and put up with his persistent, defiant spouting. At some point in this walk, Full Speed decides he would like a turn to push. T.Puzzle wants nothing to do with it. Eventually after two very serious threats from me topped off with time-outs and meltdowns, he acquiesces. Of course he cries almost the entire time Full Speed pushes him.
We get to the end of the sidewalk and I say it’s time to turn around. The boys switch again and T.Puzzle cries because he wants to continue on down to the main path. Since I had already had enough of a showdown with him, I am forced to negotiate with Full Speed to continue on to the main road for a bit. At this point Full Speed is beyond bored (the devil’s playground and all that) and he doesn’t care if that’s what T.Puzzle wants. Eventually, he agrees but he is angry about it. We cross the main, busy street and start on the big path and the whole time T.Puzzle is swerving the car and getting angry every time I correct. I am having a GREAT time.
We are pretty far from home at this point. I tell T.Puzzle we are going up to the next cross street and then we will turn around. He says “NO!” He sits down and refuses to move. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in the past. Mid-walk someone refuses to budge, I am far from home and I am completely out of luck.
I made Full Speed get out of the car, placed a more than unwillingly T.Puzzle in his place, grabbed Full Speed’s hand with my free hand and began to run as fast as I could. My plan was that if I went fast enough, T.Puzzle would be too scared to continue to defy me because he would need to hold on for dear life.
It worked. I got an extra interval of exercise in (which is always a plus) while T.Puzzle screamed and cried the whole way back. We made it home and I learned my lesson. Next time, I’m sending them out with the nanny (damn! that’s right, I am the nanny. I keep blocking that out). I am grossly underpaid.
It was time to put T.Puzzle down for his nap. He immediately begins to run away from me telling me over and over, “I wake up, Mommy. I wake up.” He means he is clearly awake and he is not having it.
I manage to carry his nearly forty pound frame upstairs. Once upstairs, I have to put a fresh pull-up on for his nap. I ask him to retrieve one from the stash in his room. He goes over to the columns of pull-ups neatly aligned in a cloth holder that is blue and plaid with a baseball motif. He proceeds to start chucking them one by one all over the floor until he finds one with a picture on it to his liking. I don’t fight that right now. At least he brings me the pull-up and is mostly willing to change into it.
I ask him if he wants a story. He shakes his head vigorously ‘no’. “I wake up, Mommy. I wake up.”
I heave him into his crib (I know he is ready for a big boy bed, I can’t fathom that change until Full Speed’s second surgery is complete). I almost break my back in the process and he thumps to the mattress. I didn’t realize that you could lie down defiantly. Somehow he achieves just that.
I head downstairs to fold up some laundry and catch some peace and quiet. It had already felt like a long day dealing with T.Puzzle’s ever-changing moods and demands. I click on the monitor and then it begins.
“I WAKE UP, MOMMY! I WAKE UP! I GET UP! I GET UP!” I can barely understand him through the screams.
All Moms face this challenge. The time when your child transitions out of napping is perilous and fraught with emotional danger. I went through this before with Full Speed. He gave up naps so early that it could make a grown woman cry (and I did). How I handled it was a couple rough months of putting him down regardless of if he slept and eventually he adapted. It became known as “quiet time”. It actually turned into something of beauty once we survived the initial shock of it. Now, it is a time where he is in his room playing quietly (as quietly as Full Speed can) with cars, Power Rangers or Transformers. I think it is good because it helps foster his ability to play independently (which for Full Speed is a very rare thing) and gives Mommy a much, much needed (and deserved) break.
I’m feeling more confident that the transition to “quiet time” will be easier with T.Puzzle because he already has such a rich, inner-world of imagination. He plays independently stupendously and he loves stuffed animals. Since stuffed animals are not really his big brother’s forte, he gets all of Full Speed’s leftovers which makes his crib a veritable zoo of play. He has every stuffed animal under the sun.
So after a good half-hour of hysterics (his, not mine I promise), he sort of gives up and I can hear him start to play. Awesome. This is great. I feel movement towards the end goal of “quiet time”.
Then, we get a delivery. Oh, you Moms out there know the horror of a poorly timed doorbell chime. T.Puzzle hears the bell ring and assumes someone has come to visit. He is beside himself that he can’t come down and see who is here. He is so distraught it sounds like a pack of hyenas is trying to drag him away. I brace myself for the next round of screaming knowing full well if I go up and try to explain the concept of ‘just a delivery’ to him, it will only increase his despair.
Fortunately, he recovers quickly and after a good five minutes, he is back to playing with his animals. Great.
I decide I’m thirsty. That was a big mistake. Not that I was thirsty, but that I wanted to have ice with it. I put my cup up to the refrigerator door and push the ice dispenser. As the ice crashes loudly into my cup, guess what T.Puzzle says?
“I WAKE UP, MOMMY! I WAKE UP!”
I gave up, I couldn’t take it anymore.
T.Puzzle, 1 – Mommy, 0
I am so frustrated right now. In fact I was so frustrated a few moments ago that I used a word in front of Full Speed that I rarely do. And I used it repeatedly. No, no, it’s not what you’re thinking. I used ‘stupid’. Of course whatever word you were thinking probably would have captured my emotion better. However, I manage to keep the verbal environment somewhat clean when I am in the presence of my kids. Not that I don’t have the occasional slip-up here and there.
I had the day to myself as the boys were in school and I cranked on all my errands and household duties. I was non-stop from the moment my feet hit the floor this morning. I even made dinner. During that process I remembered why I hate making dinner so much. It isn’t the making per say. It is the going to the store so you have the stuff to actually make the dinner, the bringing of the groceries in the house, the putting them away and then preparing the actual meal. Even if you accomplish all that, when it’s all said and done, you have a crap-load (another one of my don’t-use-in-front-of-the-kids-words) of dishes and a dirty, grimy kitchen to boot. Why would anyone in their right mind want to make dinner? Especially if you have to take care of children in addition to all that nonsense. Stupid, right? You can see where I’m going with this.
So, even though I had ‘me-time’ today, I wasn’t looking forward to picking up the boys from school. I felt kind of bad that I was dragging my feet in such a major way. As soon as I brought them to my parked truck it immediately clicked why I didn’t want to.
T.Puzzle is so terribly two right now that anything and everything is a huge production and a battle of the wills. You throw Full Speed’s intensity into the mix shouting things like, “If you keep acting like that T.Puzzle (meaning crying and screaming) then I WON’T INVITE YOU TO MY BIRTHDAY!” Surprisingly this does nothing to help T.Puzzle’s mood. It becomes even worse than when his tantrum started.
I get them in the door of our house and someone needs to poop, another is dying for some ice water and they both are ravenous. T.Puzzle keeps crying about puzzles because the pieces aren’t fitting right and Full Speed is shouting and jumping attempting to air-kick (that means kicking the air space surrounding your brother, not your actual brother) T.Puzzle which is making T.Puzzle explode into torrents of tears.
This vibe carries on through most of dinner. There was a slight reprieve when Mad Dog came home at 5:30 (it felt like Christmas!) and we went for a family bike ride. Once we headed into the nighttime routine it got really ugly all over again.
T.Puzzle was throwing a level 10 and nothing I could do could talk him down. Of course he needed water (which was downstairs) and Full Speed needed eye drops and his protective eye shield (which were downstairs also). I was so frustrated by T.Puzzle’s behavior and that everything of use to me was downstairs because of course we were on our second floor, that I dropped a couple angry ‘stupid thises’ and ‘stupid thats’. Full Speed looked confused by my tirade and he said “I’m not throwing a tantrum right now, Mommy.” He was trying to be a good ambassador and calm his Mom down. This is quite typical for Full Speed. And it still didn’t matter that at least one of the boys was behaving. I looked him dead in the eye and said in all seriousness, “Let’s give it ten minutes and see where we are at.” Okay, okay, I realize that I didn’t have to throw Full Speed into T.Puzzle’s crazy, tantrum category. I was so fed-up with feeling like a servant instead of an independent, thought-filled adult that I couldn’t take it anymore.
I completely understand that tantrums and servitude are a huge part of motherhood and normally I suck it up, take a deep breath and move past it. Motherhood is beyond challenging and this is balanced usually by cute, sweet, random moments that you share with your kids. However, if all you are getting is attitude it can feel pretty frustrating.
I know I will get through this stage with T.Puzzle I do not like it, I don’t want to do it and it makes me want to scream and cry. At least I’m in good company.