Wes is still quite obsessed with death. Lately it’s manifested in a bit of a different way, though. It seems Wes has figured out that he gets some positive attention in the form of hugs and snuggles if he speaks about death in a sad/sweet way. Like, “Momma, I’m going to miss you so much when you die.” He even cries when he says it! How could I do anything other than embrace him and kiss him and rub his feet and his back and whatever THE HELL ELSE HE WANTS when he says something as pitiful as that?
But I can totally tell he’s playing me. I mean – I believe he’s truly sad about the idea. I know the tears are real. But I know he ALSO knows he gets lots of love when he does it, so he pulls those sad thoughts to the surface when he’s in the need for some attention.
Recently he’s even gotten out of bed when he should be sleeping just to come in and say, “I just can’t stop thinking about how much I love you.”
But tonight? He went too far. He found the limit of the power of the Adorbs. He was doing his, “I don’t want you to die! I’ll miss you! I love you so much!” routine with the tears and the huge blue eyes and I was doing exactly what he wants…telling him I loved him and rubbing his back and all sorts of sweet Mommy things.
Then he said, “When you die, can we get a new Mommy? And maybe she’ll let me have a dog for my birthday.”
If you follow me on Twitter or are local and therefore friends with me on Facebook, you’ll know this story already. But it’s one of those rare incidents in my life that I think are entertaining enough to be written about IN ALL OF THE PLACES.
So! I’m working from home now. Part time (hopefully growing to full-time someday!) web development type work. I was worried at first about how it would go with a kid around most days, but it’s much better than I thought it would be. Turns out – if you put Wes in front of the TV with the Roku remote, he’ll watch Power Rangers all day! Score one for productivity!
Okay. It’s not quite like that. But – I do intentionally schedule him some TV Time where he gets the Roku remote and can navigate his Power Ranger episodes at will while I work. The Roku box is simply a tiny computer that allows us to watch things from our Netflix or Amazon Prime accounts on our Television. The remote only has arrows, an “Ok” button, and a home button. There’s not a lot you can do. Wes just uses the arrows to scroll through all of the Power Rangers episodes that show up on the first page of Netflix. Easy as pie.
Yesterday, I was making him lunch when he came into the kitchen and said something like, “I wanted to watch the Power Rangers movie but I ended up choosing something really inappropriate.”
I went in the bedroom and it turns out he had managed to “Search” for something on Netflix. This is not an easy task due to the simplicity of the remote. You have to scroll through the ABC pad and choose a letter and click “Ok” and then another letter and so on. He had searched for something random like, “&(#hjipdjoiw8(*” and ended up with some foreign adult film that offered subtitles to accompany the s3x scenes. I’m not sure if he clicked on it or not, or how much of it he watched if he did, but it was there on the search results. Right next to 97 million episodes of Power Rangers.
SCORE ONE FOR ME! Wes watched his first p0rn! Woo hoo!
As I said on Facebook, if this doesn’t score me extra AWESOME on Mother’s Day? Then I don’t know what my family’s problem is.
If there’s anything my kids have taught me about the innate nature of humans, it’s that you’re either born a dog person or you’re not. I believe you can learn to love dogs at some point in your life, but if Nikki and Wes are any indication, you are born one way or another.
Nikki has never given two flying craps about our pets. If anything – they annoy her. The older she gets, she recognizes that we love the animals and she tries to be affectionate towards them. But, she is still naturally annoyed by them. She’s pushing Sweetie away more than ever giving her attention. And even when she gives them love, it’s only if she’s sure we’ll see her.
Wesley, on the other hand, is a natural dog lover. He will seek out Sweetie to give her attention and loves meeting new dogs in in our everyday lives. He even still mourns the passing of Lil’Girl who died in October. Just this morning he started crying saying, “I miss Lil’ Girl!”
It’s funny though, because the more we dote on Wes for being so good with Sweetie, the more Nikki reall tries to be attentive to her as well. But it comes off hysterically fake. She pets her like she’s covered in filth and really would rather not have to be close enough to her to actually touch her. She tries, which is good to see, but it’s obvious she’d rather be doing just about anything else. And, while I know she was sad to lose a member of our canine family, she’s never shed a tear over either of the dogs we’ve had to put to sleep. And she was much older when we lost Lil’ Girl that Wesley was.
It’s just an interesting thing to observe – the natural tendency two people have to be either Pro-Dog or Anti-Dog in the exact same environment.
Have you noticed anything similar in your home? Were you a dog person growing up? Were your kids? Did you ever see what we’re seeing – two kids in the same home but having two totally different reactions to animals? I mean, I know I’m a dog person, but I didn’t really grow up with one around that often so I’m not sure how I would have behaved at a younger age.
I grew up camping and hiking. Of course, I’ve learned in the 36 years I’ve been on this earth that those things mean different things to different people. To my Dad? Hiking meant starting at a trail head and not stopping until you reach your destination. Except…for the periodic snack break, depending on how long the hike was. And HE chose the speed/pace. Not you. Unless you were faster than him.
(I blame my tendency to speed-walk on this upbringing. It’s hard to keep up with a grown man when you are a small child. Before I started running I could actually walk faster than I jogged.)
And camping meant tents. Now, we didn’t pack out into the wilderness and set up our own campsite in the woods. We went to KOAs or state park campgrounds, but it was always in a tent. I didn’t always enjoy my Dad’s version of hiking and camping, especially when my friends were going to the beach and staying in condos. However, I do look back on it all very fondly. Even the parts with me sitting on rocks in the woods whining, “I DON’T WANNA WALK ANYMORE!!!!!!”
These hobbies are relatively inexpensive, especially when you compare it to a week-long trip to a condo at the beach. So, that’s what I did a lot with E when he was little too. Because I was poor. Whereas Nikki and Wes? Haven’t ever been hiking before. Because we can afford the periodic trip to the movie theatre. And when we want to play outside we tend to just go to the playground.
Ever since I got into trail running last year I’ve been wanting to bring the kids hiking. There are SO MANY places I love now and I wanted to show some to them. The last 15K I did took us through a cool part of the mountain I had never been on AND it was a short hike from the parking lot. This is it!, I thought, this is where I’ll bring the kids!
It’s called “Stone Cuts” and it’s this great set of huge rocks that the trail cuts right through. Perfect for climbing and exploring and possibly breaking bones. If you’re lucky! I wasn’t sure the best way to get there because the course I took was a bit round-about, so I found the Every Trail app (SO COOL) and pulled up the perfect course for us to use. Since my brother was in town this weekend I thought it would be the PERFECT time to take the kids hiking, so we took the trail and the phone and headed to the mountain! We used the app to guide us the whole way, we just didn’t take the small little off-trail jump he took.
Let me just tell you: MY DAD WOULD HAVE LOVED THAT APP!
We had SO MUCH FUN. Donnie’s Mom came too and we just took it easy and had fun and took tons of pictures. And guess what – the kid who I still carry a lot of times because he knows I will? Walked the entire way! He even used the compass periodically to tell us, “WE NEED TO BE GOING SIDEWAYS!”
HE LOVED IT. Nikki spent the entire hike talking my brother’s ear off, but she didn’t wear the best socks so she got sore spots on her ankles and had to be carried. (By my BROTHER, because Donnie and I were all like…SUCK IT UP, KID. YOU ARE TOO BIG TO BE CARRIED.) The kids LOVED the stone cuts. They loved climbing and exploring and crawling through the small parts the grown-ups couldn’t get into. It was GREAT. If you’re local? Go to that trail! It’s 2.5 miles round-trip. There are some tricky downhills and uphills, but the kids did fine as long as they were holding our hands.
All in all? A GREAT trip. Wes kept saying to his sister, “Less Talking! More Walking!” And he would run along the trails even when I was like, “STOP! YOU’RE GOING TO FALL OFF THE MOUNTAIN!” (I’m a bit of a panic freak.) (And I don’t really like heights.) It was such a joy to see him love being in the woods. He kept saying, “I like hiking, Mom. I’m killing it, aren’t I?”
Wesley is my first child to ever throw an honest-to-god tantrum. Ones that involve hitting and screaming and kicking. The first time he did it I laughed because I had never seen such behavior in my other kids.
Suffice it to say: I’m not laughing anymore.
It’s a new world that I’m in, and I’ve been navigating the waters with lots of counseling from places like autism blogs, parenting forums, and the local bar.
(You’d be amazed how many frazzled Moms show up there after their kids go to bed.)
Lately – the best “solution” I’ve come up with when Wes dives into a fit is to simply wrap my arms and legs around him until he calms down. It rarely takes more than 10 seconds – as compared to the hours it might take otherwise. This technique has helped a lot more than the previous lock him in his room and try to ignore him because he would just scream and kick and I’d have to keep revisiting him in the room reminding him I was waiting for him to calm down.
Basically? He never calmed down. He just fell asleep. Or got hungry. Or bored. And by that point? He couldn’t even remember why he had originally pitched the fit so learning a lesson was out of the question.
So, lately we make a lot more progress with talking about our problems if we can get him to calm down. After that, lately I’ve been working on two different concepts with him.
1) If we are angry we don’t hit, punch, kick, or yell. We try to calm down by taking deep breaths. I even encourage him to leave the situation but we don’t hit.
2) When we are given a punishment, we have to accept it. We can’t pitch fits or the punishment gets worse.
These are the two simple “rules” we’ve been working on a lot lately as his anger (often at being punished) is what drives his tantrums.
OKAY. That’s where we’re at. Now, for this week’s nightmare parenting story.
Nikki had a Christmas program at her school last night. It was a long program in a packed cafeteria and Wes couldn’t really see a lot of what was going on. After Nikki did her part I tried to keep him entertained but he was bored and tired and I had to threaten to take him out to the van if he didn’t behave.
SPOILER ALERT: He didn’t behave.
The second I announced we were leaving? The fit hit the shan. I picked him up to carry him to the van and he fought me. He tried to push himself out of my arms (which would have ended with him on the floor with a cracked skull, I’m certain) and when he couldn’t get free, he started beating me and screaming.
All while I was trying to leave a cafeteria where my family and friends could see our wonderful display of parenting/child bonding.
As we were leaving, Santa was entering which upset Wes even more. He’s screaming, “I WANT TO SEE SANTA!” while he’s hitting me and I’m thinking Dude. HE’S RIGHT THERE. Aren’t you worried at all about what he’ll think of this?
(He was not.)
We made it outside and it was pouring rain and I remembered I didn’t park the car, Donnie did. (And in my head I screamed 14 million profanities.) I had to call him while trying to hold Wes down because he was trying to run back into the school. I found out where the car was and I carried him (IN THE RAIN) to the van while he fought and screamed the entire way. He almost made it out of my arms (and onto the concrete) twice. I got to the van and he tried to escape and run away. I had to hold him down while I found the child-safety lock on the door. Finally, he was “contained” and I could take a few deep breaths.
Funnily – he buckled himself in his carseat. I guess out of habit, but that worked for me because it helped with the containment. He was screaming/crying for “Another chance!” and “I’m Sorry! GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE!” while I sat in the front seat taking very deep breaths trying to sort out my brain and get to a point where I could talk to the kid who just punched me and kicked me.
I decided to film the talk. I needed something to force me to stay calm and not yell or get upset. I decided filming would be like giving me an audience so I would have to keep my shit together. I thought I’d share it with you guys because I know we’ve all commiserated on our tantrum-having children. Enjoy.
LAST MINUTE CAVEAT: Please do not offer any advice about handling these situations. This system is actually working for us right now and I’m really sensitive about my parenting skills. I may take any advice as a personal insult, even if it’s not intended to be one. This is simply a video to share our situation as I’ve been grateful before to see similar videos from other parents.
Notice first? How strained my voice is. I don’t know if you can tell but I can tell when I first start talking that I’m almost in tears. Also notice around 1:27 he unbuckles himself, I can tell he’s about to lose it but since he had already calmed down a bit, he didn’t push another escape.
I don’t know if I got through to him at all, but we went over our lessons and I didn’t flog him. So, you know, I’ll call it a win.