Time for a reality check

I recently wrote these two posts on Miss Four and Miss Two, and they express pretty much how I feel about them both most of the time.  There are other fabulous aspects to them that I could have included, like Miss Four’s fashion sense (I love it!  Others may look oddly at her sometimes, but hey she has style if you ask me) and Miss Two starting to embrace imaginative play.  But there is also another side to this coin.  One that thankfully doesn’t get flipped to often, but does come up now and again.  These are things that drive me mad about them, things that push all my buttons and they know it and things that make being home with them all day, everyday send me just a little bit insane (temporarily at least).  And in an effort to be honest and open about our reality I thought I would be brave and fess up to these things.  As much for my own benefit (it’s good to vent) as for anything else.  My memory of these things will probably be the first to go – it seems my own mother never had such issues if you are to trust her memory of the early years of child rearing – so with this post I’ll at least be able to show the girls that they weren’t perfect and nor was I.

1.  Whining – Miss Four is an expert.
The art of whining, whingeing and generally complaining for the sake of it has developed quickly in Miss Four over the last year.  She now has the skill down to an art form and pulls it out when she doesn’t get her own way or when she’s tired and grumpy.  The crying for a reason I can handle, the stomping of feet to express anger or frustration, fine, but the whining is like nails on a chalk board to me.  It grates at me like nothing else and is sure to send me over the edge if it carries on for too long.  Of course it usually starts when I’m trying to get dinner ready and Miss Two is at the stage of wanting to be carried all the time so my tolerance levels are already pretty low.  The whining may be the straw to my camel’s back but boy is it high on the scale of all things annoying.  And sadly I think it’s here to stay.  For now, at least, I circumvent the whining by turning on ABC2 (thank god for ABC2) which keeps her suitably glued to the screen for me to at least attempt some one-armed kitchen maneuvers.

2.  How out of sync my daughters can be.
Miss Four is a morning gal, she’s up with the birds, happy as Larry and ready to get stuck into the day.  She can’t understand why everyone doesn’t leap out of bed at the first rays of light or bird calls (or before).  She is happy, energetic and active in the mornings.  It’s a different story in the afternoon.  Miss Two on the other hand prefers to sleep late, hates to be rushed – getting dressed causes major dramas – and can be a complete clingy,  sook until around midday.  This is when she comes alive, is a busy little bee and a delight to be around.  By late afternoon she is flagging (mostly because she has a sister that insists she up by 7am when she would naturally sleep til 8.30am), but is still basically happy.  Some days they seem to pass the grumpy baton seamlessly from on to the other without any cross over at all so that all day long I’m trying to appease one cranky child or another.

3. That nothing is sacred, private or just mine any more.
I have very little space I can claim just for myself, for things that I don’t want touched, played with or sneakily hidden by little people.  I have one small locked draw in the bedroom with my jewelry and a few other bits and pieces in it, the rest of it is a battle to keep them out of.  My wool ends up unwound and trailing the house, my crochet hook disappeared altogether half way through a project, my shoes are the perfect accompaniment to any dress-up costume, my bookmark is constantly being stolen (is there anything more annoying to an avid, obsessed reader) and the kitchen cupboards are an extension of their toy boxes.  It drives me crazy, and I get so cross when it’s MY stuff that gets wrecked or broken, taken apart or lost.  Especially when I’ve made sure it’s all put away every night after I’ve finished with it and have taken the time to organise the space so I can find it all the next night.

4.  Miss Two is a bolter.
That’s right, she’s the kid tearing away from her mother down the shopping aisle, running out onto the road or racing between the shelves in the nice, quiet library.  I was not prepared for this, not being something I encountered when Miss Four was the same age.  I’ve had some scary moments, she’s out our front gate and on the road in a split second while I’m still trying to lock the front door (I need two hands to do this).  She hates sitting in the front of the trolley at the supermarket and stand up and throws herself out the minute I’ve got my back turned (with or without the buckle on).  Yesterday she got out of the trolley and starting pushing the whole thing down the aisle while I was searching the shelves for Sumac.  Before I knew it she was mere centimeters away from bowling over an eighty+ year old man.  He was very nice about it (made the comment that he wondered how his wife did it with three children and no car!), but it just about gave me heart failure.  I could just see him falling, broken bones or banged head.  Our first (and only to date) trip to the local library made quite an impression on the staff for all the wrong reasons!  Time to get that leash I’ve always hoped to avoid.

5. Food – ah it’s always food.
I’ve written about this before, but in short Miss Four is fussy and finicky.  I’m not concerned about the variety, she can eat quite a wide range, it’s the fact that she only eats what SHE wants to eat WHEN she wants it.  And that is never dinner!  There is not one single meal I can serve up knowing she will eat it, NOT ONE.  And worse the older she’s gotten the more she’s verbalised her feelings.  Now I get “That’s yucky”, “I don’t like that”, “I don’t eat that”, “This is horrible!”  This is the chorus that starts the minute she sees what’s on her plate, before anything has passed her lips.  It makes me want to scream.  I love cooking, I do my best to serve things I think/hope/pray she will enjoy and meals that are healthy and it’s all for nothing when it comes to Miss Four.  Most frustrating is that when she goes on too much Miss Two (who would normally eat anything) will start too and refuse to eat her dinner.  I’ve tried countless gimmicks, tricks, rewards and discipline techniques all without success.  I’ve heard or read advice from just about every quarter. Now I just give up and get angry, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”, “I don’t care if you don’t eat just sit there and let the rest of us eat in peace” etc etc.  The actual volume eaten over the day has improved so I’m no longer worried about that (her weight has finally increased a bit and she has shot up in height) but boy she can turn dinner time into a nightmare for everyone.

I find it’s these things, the little annoyances, irritations and frustrations that can turn mothering from pleasure to painful.  It’s at these times I do what I would normally try to avoid, like yelling, using the TV as a babysitter (though I really don’t stress too much about this one anymore), locking myself in the bathroom with screaming children on the other side of the door (tell me I’m not the only one to have done that), or give them the silent treatment… this one is most effective with Miss Four, she really knows I’m cross about something if I won’t talk to her.  These are not the warm, fuzzy mother moments, but hey they are reality.

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6 Responses to Time for a reality check

  1. Ah whining. My bugbear with D (turning 4) too. I had to institute the “whining couch” to battle that one. Seems to be working.

  2. A says:

    No.3 & No.5… I dread number 3. Bub already piles it on when things don’t work out, let alone being told no or being tired… Her current things is wanting to play with the iPad. Not actually play any of the great things we have for her on the ipad but just open apps and press the home button. She still needs supervision because she’s inclined to delete apps too. ugh.
    Right now I’m thankful we live in an old small house with high door handles and she seems to understand ‘No’. But my craft, my things… It’s not that I’m particularly precious about that stuff but I fear at some point I’ll be *very angry* because I told a certain someone not to do that no they’ve gone and done it.
    And 5… Would you believe it’s your early posts that prepared me here. Your early stories of Miss Four rejecting your cooking really made me feel for you. So I’ve gone in with no strings attached. We’re not big on cooking as it is and tend to be efficient in spurts to support laziness in-between, but I still put things in front of her prepared for rejection and waste and I’m determined not to take it personally. Not that you do, but I know I would if I didn’t lower my expectations. Bub does try everything, bless her, but will often reject food.

    In other news, I may have shared this already, but this blogger does something similar with her children to what you have here: http://bluemilk.wordpress.com/?cat=88271. I very much like reading about her parenting.

  3. Barbara Good says:

    Yes our ‘new’ old house has a few high door handles (guess where I now keep the wool!) but not many and most of the doors don’t close properly at all. I think you have to zen about both 3 and 5, your stuff and the effort you go to to feed them! And revel in the wins when you come across them, but don’t expect the same reaction next time you present it to them.

    I do read Blue Milk regularly and liked the posts about her kids, hence I started mine.

  4. Christine says:

    My stepson has been diagnosed with autism and as a result has some sensory processing issues. Along with that came a complete refusal to try pretty much anything that wasn’t vegemite sandwiches for what felt like years! We now have a rule that with new foods he has to at least have a bite to try it (and sometimes this is the smallest bite you can ever imagine) but that he doesn’t have to eat anything more than that. If it’s something that we know he can and does it and he refuses, we won’t make him but he can’t eat anything else until he’s had it. The continued rules (along with bribery of being able to watch things he likes on youtube after he’s finished) have worked, but it did take some time.
    I wish you all the best with it!!

    • Barbara Good says:

      I know several kids with aspergers or autism who all have very strong feelings about what they will and won’t eat, I imagine it would be very difficult – more so than my little defiant four year old. The rule about having to taste everything at least once holds in our house too, though sometimes enforcing brings the whole family to breaking point – those are fun meal times! And I never make them finish everything, but if they’re asking for dessert after pushing away a perfectly good plate of food it just makes my blood boil.

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