Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How do you survive the Terrible 2's?

I adore my son. He's the most precious thing in the entire universe to me. Which is what makes this age so difficult.

Ever since he started running at 9 months old, he's been busy. But in the last few months busy has translated into mischevious. Add to that he's now stubborn and altogether too smart and you have a kid who's going to give his mom gray hair before it's all said and done.

The truth is, I'm probably not handling it very well so it could be more me than him, but I swear he brings me to the brink of tears at least once a day. Between the kicking, pinching and hitting I'm bruised and sore. And tired of being the evil ogre who has to punish him for those actions. But then he gives the sweetest kisses in the world and I think "This age really isn't so bad."

Of course I might not be so tired and cranky if he would sleep through the night. What happened to the boy who went down at 8:30 and woke at 7? Where did he go? Now I have boy who fights bed time, finally falls asleep and wakes twice sometimes three times a night, which means I spend half the night crunched up in a toddler bed trying to get him to sleep and the other half in my own bed getting pummled to bits by flying elbows and stray feet.

And who taught him that when he's done he should throw his food on the floor. That earns him more punishment, but it doesn't seem to deter him. I'm tired of looking around and seeing only spots on the floor and greasy handprints on my walls. I'm desperate for summer to really get here so we can actually go outside and maybe burn off some energy that doesn't include things like pulling every pair of mom's shoes out of the closet or emptying an entire dresser in .05 seconds or pulling furniture around to get into my desk and ending up with papers, pens, stickers, mail and everything else strewn everywhere.

Life was so much easier when he would just eat whatever snacks or food I made for him. Now he stubbornly refuses unless it's something he wants. Even worse, he's so independent I catch him trying to get stuff by himself the all the time! He repeatedly gets scolded and punished for climbling on the counters, and yet he still doesn't ask me for stuff, he just goes right back up there when I'm not looking. And when our power bill is twice as much this month because he's constantly standing with the fridge door open, emptying it as fast as he can I'm going to really come unglued.

I guess I'm fortunate that he doesn't throw tantrums. At least not often. No his favorite trick is to simply refuse. Like Monday in Wal-Mart. I didn't grab a cart because I only needed two things. We did great until we got close to the check out and he spied a display with beach toys. When I wouldn't let him run over there because we were in a hurry, he simply laid down on the floor. He didn't kick or scream or cry, he just laid there, dead weight, as I endured the horrified expressions and amused stares of onlookers for literally dragging him across the filthy floor on his stomach. (My arms were full, I couldn't carry him and I didn't know what else to do.)

I'm desperate for something, anything from anyone to give me a hint as what to do. I end up crying myself to sleep so many nights for all of my failings as a mother and wife and woman. I'm tired of feeling like this. I'm tired of living in a house that looks like a tornado hit it (I swear I'm going to meet my death tripping over matchbox cars.) I'm tired of mopping my floors only to have juice spilled on it within minutes. Or wiping my walls down only to have greasy hand prints magically reappear. I'm tired of being beaten and kicked by a boy who thinks it's funny and won't quit until he gets punished (and then of course breaks my heart with a pouty lip and big tears.) I'm just tired. Tired because I can't get a decent night's sleep even by my very low standards. I never felt old until I started spending the night getting beat up on by a toddler. Now I ache in the mornings. I'm tired of fighting him. Fighting to get him to eat, fighting to keep him off the furniture and out of the fridge, fighting to get him to let me brush his teeth, fighting to get him to sleep, fighting to get him to stay in his own bed. I'm just tired of fighting. The worse part is that it's making me feel like perhaps I'm not ready for another child. That maybe I don't even want another child because I don't know how I'll handle it when I can't seem to handle the one I've got. And that's the very worst feeling of all.


Andrea (Annie) said...

Oh my dear friend. I wish I had words of comfort to express to you but I don't really know what to say other than 'hang in there'! I love you and think about you often. I hope that today will be better than yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that. Take care and bring the little guy over here for a break if you need one.

Cassi : ) said...

oh, Cali, you are not alone - at all! First, of all, more than one child can sometimes be easier than just one - playmates! The dirty house? It's a given, expected, sometimes the best you can do is straighten up in the evening, period. I don't know what to say about no sleeping - I'm terrible with that! My babies started sleeping thru the night at 6 weeks and didn't look back. (6 weeks was torture enough trying to peel my eyelids open) I know Sammi actually tied her fridge closed when she came downstairs to find that one of her boys had 'decorated' all the toys with the Hershey's syrup! (I think the culprit was tied to a chair too :) Maybe he's just a social bug and needs lots of playdates and afternoons at the fast food playground. I have one that needs constant entertainment, and one that would very happily be quiet and read all day. You're doing great, I'm sure of it! Hang in there!!

Ron and Jessica said...

Sometimes I wonder the same thing...are we really ready for another baby? Do we really want more? And we haven't even reached the really terrible twos yet. We just get food thrown on the floor so far...
I'm usually very thankful we didn't get twins :)
Have you thought about taking a swimming class with him or maybe a short preschool experience - like a cooking class or something?

Darryl and Cindy Cunningham said...

You are experiencing trials and emotions that all mothers feel. We went through the same challenges, some not so much, some even more and look at us now. We have grown up beautiful children who sleep through the night except when needed by their own babies... generally no one climbs in bed with us anymore. And you know what? There are a lot of mornings that I miss it. There are many days I look at my sparkling clean counters and floors and cabinets and my smile is bittersweet. I love not having to clean the constant messes but oh ... sometimes I really miss my wonderful little kids. I guess that's why God gave me Grandchildren. You are fine Cali. Take him to a friends and let him play with some youngin's and you take a good long nap.

wv: heonce = heonce was young but he grew up way to fast!

Jessica said...

Your mother says things so well! All moms feel the way you do. And it's absolutely OK to feel that way. In fact, it makes us better appreciate the warm fuzzy feelings.
When Davy turned 2 he got the same way. Just testing boundaries & wanting to be independent. Unfortunately I remember year 3 being worse than year 2 but now it's wonderful. He is the best big brother in the whole wide world. And I'll bet you anything Gideon will be too. It's to the point now where Bransen waits for Davy to wake up and get up with him in the morning. Then Davy turns on the TV for Bransen & gets his juice out of the fridge while I lay in bed like a zombie. It's wonderful. I just need to teach Davy to change diapers! LOL!
Anyway, my advice to you is to stand strong and be consistent. It will take lots of time, effort and tears but it will all be worth it.
You are a great mom!!!

Angela said...

Yeah...(lacking words)...I'm glad you're communicating the stress you're under.

I was never ever a parenting book reader but after being told for years that what we'd naturally been doing was similar to Love and Logic I finally decided to read Love and Logic. We weren't implementing even a small part of it but when we did we saw results in 18 hours, no joke. There is a book called Love and Logic for early childhood which discusses up to about age 6 or 7. I read both it and the regular l&l and I think the early childhood version will give you the most help. I read it first in January and after using it for a few months I'm reading it again to see what else I can do beyond the basics we'd implemented.

They really do help with that "terrible twos" which is mostly just the child learning he can make choices. It can help you set boundaries, give him choices and find peace and joy.

Also, what is best of all is that the book is maybe 150 pages double spaced and a SUPER FAST READ! No joke. You'll be singing the uh oh song in no time! We'll be praying for you. What you're feeling sucks but you'll make it!

I love you!

Amber Dawn said...

We are doing something very similar right now! Emily hates to go to bed. She uses every trick in the book and some that aren't. (Hungry, Need a Drink, Have to go Potty (this is the ONLY time she ever tells me), plus the dirty tricks like Need a Hug, and Want You to Hold Me) "Bedtime" is usually 2 hours long of Emily getting up, me taking her back, then she's up before I made her bedroom door. And she gets up 1-3 times through the night. She's usually so exhausted, though that she'll go right back to bed.

She always thinks she needs in the fridge. I had an entire jar of jam on my living room floor a few days ago. It was a brand new jar, so she couldn't get the lid off, but she dropped it and broke the bottom off the jar. She then hauled it into the living room, where the entire contents dropped right out! Luckily I heard her drop the jar, or I probably would have had two glass and jam covered kids!

She only climbs on the bathroom counters, not the kitchen. But she is really good at pulling stools and chairs around in the kitchen and still gets into just about everything she wants.

Emily does throw tantrums. Every time we come in from outside (which makes it much less appealing to take her ANYWHERE). At night, we usually get past it by running a bath, but the other night, she screamed right through the bath, too. I try to ignore the screaming and offer distractions, but sometimes I end up in time-out before I break down.

Time-outs are not effective as I can't get her to sit still for more than 3 seconds, so the time-out itself is a fight and we're both more upset afterwards than before.

I get impatient and frustrated when I feel like my entire day is a series of "don't do that", "no", "stop" and "get out of there". I'm sure that's 90 percent of what she hears from me.

I feel much the same way- that this all has to be my fault somehow. I haven't done something I should or have done something I shouldn't. I already have Baby Number 2, so he's probably doomed as well.

As for solutions, I can't offer much besides some company in misery.

My cousin came over the other day with her two little girls. She uses the Love and Logic stuff, and it works for her. Her kids weren't perfect, but they did listen better than mine did. I've tried about everything else I can think of, so I'm starting with some of the Love and Logic stuff. At the very least, maybe I will feel better.

So now that my comment is as long as your original post, how about a play-date next week?

Mike and Ashley said...

The fridge thing is easy to fix...they make those things to hold cupboard doors can easily use that to keep the fridge closed...we still have locks on our freezer, but we don't really need it. I love the Love and Logic series but Mike doesn't really care to follow it so it doesn't really work when only one parent does it! I am a big fan of walking away when they are doing something like kicking or hitting or even screaming...even in the store when they are throwing a tantrum (we have screamers) I just walk away and completely ignore it..."most" of the time they stop because they don't want Mommy to leave them (I always make sure I can see them). As for food on the floor...try making him clean it up - he made the mess, his consequence is to have to clean it kids hate having to do that! The bed thing - you have to do what works for you...we do not allow any toys in bedrooms and bedtime is bedtime - period. When Jackson was that age, I had to put one of those handle covers on his door so he wouldn't keep coming out and he eventually learned (I knew when he really needed me and when he didn't and I didn't let him rope me into dragging bedtime out). Payten knows already how to open the handle cover thing, so we have resorted to the gate on the outside of her door to keep her in her room...she would fall asleep on the floor right next to the gate for a while (5 months or so), but now she doesn't need the gate and she actually keeps the door open but falls asleep in bed. I just think that whatever you are comfortable doing/trying, you have to be consistent with...changes don't happen over night, but you will make it through!

Just remember that you ARE handling things just right!!! You ARE his mother and he doesn't question the love you have for him! You will be perfect for the next baby too because Heavenly Father has chosen you to be her/his Mother! It doesn't make the fights easier...just helps you sleep better at night!

Mike and Ashley said...

PS. The tooth brushing - you can get those electric ones and then let him do it himself one night and then you the next night...or let him do it first then it's Mommy's turn after. You can also try little if you don't throw your food down, then you can have pudding when you are done (my kids adore fruit so that is their motivator for eating), or if you don't climb on the furniture then we can have a playdate with someone or have a movie, etc. Or he can only have his movie after he picks up all his cars. Try to find a motivator - treats, candy, food, movies, story time, game time, etc.

Lombardo Family said...

You need a really long hot bath! I'm a big reader of parenting "how to's" and there is great things out there to "try". I have the Love and Logic book. I also like a book called, "Positive Parenting". First though, Satan is a weenie, and you need to know that he absolutely wants you to believe that you can't handle this. That you aren't a good mother and that you wouldn't be able to bring another child into your home. He's WRONG!!!! I mean dead wrong! What you are is NORMAL. When I was at Jennie's mothers funeral, her aunt said in her talk, "Parenting is often teh way the Lord polishes our rough edges". I love that. Well, atleast I believe it's true. There is much to learn during this age/stage of Gideon's life. I am a firm believer in being positive to children when they are "pushing" buttons. Like for example, when Gideon is getting in the fridge you may say, "oh are you hungry, (pick him up) let's see what we can find for a snack." Then, when he's found something you put him down and tell him that if he gets hungry again that mommy will help find him another snack. And ask him if he understands. (I'm sure you are laughing that I'm giving you advice). Nothing works perfectly Cali, but setting guidlines for your kids is very important and to follow through on it. So if Gideon keeps doing something that you've told him not to, with the understanding that he is clear on that rule, then he goes to a timeout. In the book "positive parenting" it says that timeout should be the same place everytime. I set the timer according to how old the child is. Once the timer goes off, if they are still crying, they have to go for it again. We talk about what caused their timeout and then go about the day. I repeat this if it doesn't sink in. CONSISTANCY is the key. YOu are doing him a favor if you give him rules that he needs to follow. Don't feel like your a bad mother. Ignoring the bad behavior and going over board on the positive when he does something good, will have a big effect on him as well. There ofcourse are certain things you can't ignore, but for the most part there is plenty that we can. Don't worry so much about your house either. Gideon is old enough to learn how to help mommy clean up. Small rewards will encourage him to want to help as well, and it doesn't always have to be treats. It can be something together that Gideon likes to do.
Anyway, I don't really know the secrets to parenting and all of this sounds really good, but the truth is parenting is hard every single way possible. Just trust in yourself Cali that you are a great mother who adores her son. Find balance in discipline because honey, kids need it. :o) Good luck!

Stephanie H. said...

Just hang a big sign somewhere where you'll see it often and remind yourself "This too shall pass" or God grant me patience to endure my blessings :)

Cali and Travis said...

Wow I didn't realize I had so many wonderful and concerned friends. (I don't even think I realized that many people read my blog.) Thanks for all the tips and advice. We're trying a few things to see if they work. Time Out is still a work in progress because I literally have to hold him in the time out chair because he won't stay there on his own. But I suppose one of these days he'll figure it out. Thanks again. And Amber Dawn, absolutely let's have a playdate next week. Looks like the weather is going to cooperate next week, how about a trip to the park, or just outside? If you want to come down I've got parks nearby & a great backyard. Or I can come to you. Talk to Jess & see what her schedule is. I'm free everyday but Wednesday.