Sunday, September 7, 2008

a normal kid

I was reminded yesterday as I heard a 2 or 3 year old boy throwing a tantrum while strapped in his stroller that we, too, have had our share of tantrum throwing.
I had almost forgotten about those days...
One time, mom and I were pushing him in the stroller in a mall and he just had it in his mind to keep his feet either on the wheels (thereby obstructing them) or on the ground and having them occasionally double back underneath the moving stroller. Whatever I said or disciplinary action I told him would happen, he absolutely refused and starting fighting and screaming at the top of his lungs. I just tipped back the stroller and continued to do my business in the mall as best I could. Time was at a premium and I had to do what I came there for. This fighting/screaming went on for at least 20 minutes, maybe longer, before I just decided to park the stroller on the side of the mall walkway and just walked away (20 feet or so). He had his fit and eventually got tired out. But in the mean time strangers felt obligated to stare and want to help this poor boy who was so obviously distraught. When I told them to leave him alone, he's OK, and that I was his mother, they looked at me like I was some monster. There was pain and indecision in their faces as they weighed whether they should really leave my son alone or intervene and help this poor child. Thank goodness they let him be, because at that moment my last nerve was being fried and I might have wailed on whomever made my day worse--and their actions showing judgement against my best intentions to deffervesce the situation.
It only took a few minutes of letting him be "alone" before he decided there was no point to the tantrum. And he took a nice long nap at nap time. I loved those nap times......
The defiance isn't totally gone either. (I actually admire this quality--I think it will serve him well as an adult.) This evening we went swimming after dinner. I was going to go in the water too, but it was a tad chilly and the breeze had begun to blow. He was fine with me staying out but, of course, the real fun is having an audience. So mom, dad and I watched him do any and all tricks he could muster. When it came time to get out and go home, he had a few delaying tactics. They worked for the next 15 minutes or so, but then I'd come to the end and insisted he get out. He refused. I said, he'd be in the naughty spot if he didn't listen NOW. I started counting (if I get to three and he's not at my side, he has bought time in the naughty spot) and just about always, he's at my side by "2". But this time he was busy arguing how there was no naughty spot and it's only a pool. (At home the naughty spot is the end of the hall way.) So, I ratcheted up the ante and said, "If you don't listen to me and get out now, you are going to get a spanking." Now he's saying he doesn't like me now and he wants a new mom. Then he says, "I'm going to kill you." For a while now, when he earns time in the naughty spot, he says this to me as he sits there dutifully. I know why he says it (any attention is good attention) so I don't react. But I've heard it enough now and it's starting to bother me that I also hear him say he's going to kill his dinosaur (when playing with them) or stuffed toys, or whatever he's playing with. Enough with the killing threats and plans. So I marched over and grabbed him when he got close to the edge of the pool and gave him a swat on the behind. I got in is face and told him I will not have him talking to me that way and there will be no more threats of killing or he will not be able to go over and play with his neighborhood friends for a while. He continued to be miserable as I dressed him and put him in the car. Then magically, 2 minutes later all was forgotten. I reminded him he needed to apologize to me and he did. Sincerely. Big hug. All done.
Except whenever I get to the point where I end up spanking, I feel very guilty. Guilty for not being able to handle it and get him under control in another, less violent, way. I didn't want to do the naughty spot at the pool. It was cold and I was tired. I do the best I can with the tools I have. And I was spanked when I was little. I guess I better start reading more on discipline strategies because I've gotten all I can get from the Super Nanny show and I'm still digressing to the occasional (and it's really almost rare) spanking.

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