Courage to Confession

Sorry I'm a Grumpy Bitch

“It takes a lot of courage, but right now, courage is my only option.”-TLC bride with ovarian cancer

There’s been a lot of dog tail-pulling in the past week. While Potamus has traditionally been really gently with Scrummy, it has become an issue and I am worried that Scrummy might lose his patience and bite Sir Potamus, because, how much tail hair pulling can one little feisty dog take? Apparently, much more than Mama Monk-Monk can, because, while Scrummy was again, VERY patient when Potamus started grabbing his tail hair (and ripping it), I reached over and…hit him.

Just writing that makes my stomach churn. In fact, I wasn’t actually angry with Potamus (a good thing), but the quick hard tap on the shoulder (think pat on the back in a sports team) was startling to BOTH of us, caused Potamus to cry, and made me think “holy shit, I really need to get ahold of myself. I can’t be physically man-handling my child, out of anger or not. This is not the lesson I want him to learn.”

His tears subsided when I pulled him in my lap to snuggle. But, two minutes later, he hit the dog on the head. While I won’t lie and say that he’s never done that before, it felt like it was a chain of events action…boss gets mad and takes it out on you, you go home and scream at your kids, the kid kicks the dog, scenario. Classic. My mouth has said “we don’t hit the dog,” but my body has given a very different message about hitting. My heart is broken and I’m trying to not beat myself up about it, but move forward. What was scary is it happened in a quick instant of reflex, of not thinking, just reacting. Not okay.

I will teach my son the same patterns of relating to the world that I learned if I’m not careful. I need courage to keep working on myself, moving forward, figuring out reasons and gathering a better understanding of my motivations and triggers so that I can avoid situations like this in the future.

Manipulation, frustration or both? How to deal with toddler tantrums?

Pictures can be so deceiving. Like these, they show a slice of life…most notably, after Potamus has fallen asleep. While he’s never been a good sleeper, per se, the tantruming at bedtime the past few nights has really thrown us for a loop, and I’m not really sure what to make of it.

My gut says that he is a) testing boundaries and b) in need of help transitioning from fun to sleep. Because the first night we noticed it was when grammy and grampy were over, and we noticed him getting tired, so we whisked him off to bed. Arms outrstreched SCREAMING for my parents was heartbreaking, but he was sleepy and needed to sleep. 1.5 hours later, Boof and I exited his room, feeling exhausted and like we had “been to war” (his words, not mine). I realized that we hadn’t given him enough time to transition between the two activities, but hot dang that was like wrestling a smallish alligator.

So, we’ve only just begun really sticking to the bedtime routine of early bed after bath, stories, and nursing. I think the fact that it’s light outside doesn’t help and the fact that he’s nursing but not getting to the milk-drunk state anymore, so he pops off the boob and wants to play. We’re being firm in the rule that he can play on his bed, quietly, but can’t roam the room getting into the diaper genie or throwing blocks. If he doesn’t stay on the bed he can bounce on the exercise ball with Boof. Potamus  is NOT HAPPY about this arrangment.

And this is where I begin to wonder what to do…there are frustration tantrums, where he gets upset when I take a toy away or we leave my parents suddenly, and then there are these moments where I see so much of my own teenage stubborness in him. He was screaming and flailing all around the bed, and then he lulled us into a sense of security, and then BAM, he tried to launch himself over my arm and off the bed to play. It appeared calculated, and Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking, is actually pretty funny. But last night? Last night I was slightly pissed at, what appeared, to be manipulation.

Reminds me of the time that my dad was wrestling me to the ground because I was smashing mugs on our hardwood floor (I was probably 17), and he pinned me and I let myself fall limp for a minute to get him to buy my surrender before I began fighting again. It’s a good strategy in theory, but in both cases, it didnt’ work. After only an hour, Potamus was asleep, but it has left me with a knot in my stomach about what’s to come.

Boof says most parents struggle with bedtime routine, and I want to know from you all…is that true? Do all parents struggle with bedtime?

And I know that Potamus isn’t being manipulative in a Ted Bundy sort of way, because I have some grasp of brain development, but it’s the same thing with our dog…it appears that X + Y behavior = manipulation. It appeared that he stopped tantruming, thought about what he wanted, and then launched for it. I don’t know what to do, I think setting boundaries is important, and a lot of attachment-style parenting is preventing meltdowns by avoiding the stimuli, but what to do?