Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Biggest Problem

I cannot stop yelling at my kid. Is this normal for parents of almost-four-year-olds? It's my biggest daily struggle. I often think that I was well-suited to the daily care-taking of an infant, but a three-year-old is outside of my expertise. Somewhere I picked up the idea that I shouldn't have to repeat myself so much, that he should just listen to me and behave the first, or second, or third time that I say something. I'm not sure why I think this is true. Parents for a millennium have bemoaned the inability of children to listen or pay attention or follow instructions. Somehow I thought I'd be better at this.

So he sneezes full in the face of a pregnant chick, and I snap at him because, really? The whole "Vampire Sneeze" thing that we've discussed ad nauseum and that I remind him of daily, multiple times? And he says, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Like, "Let it go already!" He's gonna sneeze in a pregnant chick's face and then give me attitude about it, like I'm being a dick for reminding him to cover and telling him to go apologize? Really?

And of course I immediately feel guilty every time I lose my cool. My mother told me when I was a kid that being a parent was all about guilt, but, I don't know, I thought I'd be better at this. I remember watching Bill Cosby's stand-up routine about "Come here. Come here. Come HERE. Here! Here! Here!" and thinking, "That's funny." It's not so funny anymore. The phrases I repeat more than three times in a row, several times a day, day after day, include, "don't touch," "get down," "eat your veggies," "get your finger out of your nose," and maybe a hundred others. I try not to think of each of those as a knife in my back or a middle finger in my face, but yeah, I kind of do, really.

So I know, intellectually, that he's a kid, he's three, I can't really change his behavior except in a strictly long-term sort of way. I know that in his purely id-driven three-year-old state, he does not think, remember, or judge before acting or reacting to immediate stimuli. I get it. But man, I just told him, 30 seconds ago, not to do what he is currently doing. While he looks right at me. With that look on his face.

How is it that anybody ever has more than one kid?


anne said...

oh, i feel your pain, and my irritant is 9 years old. this evening there were three tasks to accomplish before bed: put the dirty clothes in the hamper, put the clean clothes in the laundry basket away in the dresser drawers, and brush teeth. Do you know how long those total-of-seven-minute activities took? twenty minutes!!! and i sat right in his room, reminding him of what he was supposed to be doing like 8 times for each task. he gets distracted and has to jump off the bed or grab his stuffed dog or shoot all the clean socks at the open drawer or pick up each piece of clothing with the tiger stick.... i started off very calmly reminding him, and at the end, i had everything i could do to keep from grabbing his little face, smacking his behind and screaming at him to do what he is told!!! you are not alone. my sister in law told me when my kids were little that they would test, test, test all the time, to see what my reaction would be. they need to see that you are consistent in your words and actions every time - supposedly it gives kids a sense of security and predictability in their lives. holy crap, my kid must be the most secure kid in the world - he should know by this time how to behave in any situation, but he needs constant reminders. my husband finally agreed that we should try some adhd meds, and they have helped tremendously. not saying thumper will need that - he is three and you are trying to be the best parent you can. hang in there - it is all worth it in so many ways.

I, Rodius said...

You mean it doesn't suddenly change when he turns 4? Dangit!

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