I've opened up the new post screen several times since my post on Monday, but I haven't been able to bring myself to start typing. I don't have any bad news to share. It's not that I've been too busy. I just didn't have words to describe how I was feeling.
Last week I posted about the epic battle Michael and I had over putting a pair of pants on before daycare. It really shook me up. I was upset over the fight. I was concerned about why Michael didn't want to go to school. I was frustrated because I felt that I was failing at something, but I didn't even know what it was.
This past weekend was nice, and it let me trick myself into thinking that Tuesday was just a fluke. Maybe it really was all about a pair of pants. Maybe this Tuesday morning would be fine. Nothing to worry about.
Of course, it wasn't fine. It was bad. Horrible. Out of control. Nothing I said or did could get Michael to uncurl himself from a ball on the sofa and get him moving towards the door. Nothing. So, after 15 minutes of Michael resisting I finally gave him a choice. Either you walk out to the car, or I carry you.
I ended up carrying him, although, it was more like wrestling him. I swear, he grew extra arms and legs for that battle. He managed to kick me in the face at one point and at another he managed to get his foot and leg all the way down the front of my shirt.
I'm going to be honest here folks, and it's not going to be pretty. I cringe just thinking about it, but I've since learned I'm not alone, and that knowledge really helped. So, here goes.
Once I got him strapped into his seat he screamed, "I'm going to kill you!" at me.
(I'm really unresisting the urge to delete this post right now.)
I just sat down and cried. I drove to daycare crying. I did my best to pull myself together for drop off, but I'm pretty sure my bright, red nose was a dead give away that Michael wasn't the only one crying.
I got Michael settled and tried to leave. He clung to me with such desperation that it broke my heart. "Mommy, don't leave me!" After 15 minutes of this I finally managed to peel him off me, get him into the teacher's arms, and then run from the room as I broke down in tears again.
I spent a lot of time hiding in the bathroom on Tuesday as I tried to cover up the fact that I had periodic crying jags.
When I got home, Michael was in a great mood. He had a great day at school, played with his friends, and was enjoying spending time with Andy. When Andy and I had a few minutes to ourselves, I confessed that I didn't think I was going to make it until Michael turns 18.
Andy and I spent some time talking that evening. We also started digging into some of the parenting books that deal with spirited children. Then, we talked some more.
The first thing I realized is that we haven't been managing Michael's spirited needs very well lately. I also haven't been managing my spirited needs either. As a result, Michael and I are just feeding off of one another and it's pushing us both into the red zone.
So, we are making some changes. More baths. More water play. More parental attention when Michael first gets home. Both Andy and I desire downtime after work, but Michael needs us then. So, we'll work together to give all of us a chance to get what we need.
Another change is a little more structure. The nice weather has been great for allowing more outside time, but it's ruined any sense of routine that we had going. This was throwing both Michael and I off. It has also pushed bedtime a number of nights, so Michael is not as well rested as he should be. That needs to end as well.
Having a plan helps. Having a partner to work with really helps. Andy and I can cover for one another when we need a break.
Sleep was the goal for Michael last night. His stalling has really gotten bad in a short period of time, and it's robbing him of much needed sleep. We did the bedtime routine, I got him in bed, and waited in the hall to make sure he was asleep.
"Mommy, I want the light on."
Nope, I'm not going there. I tried to compromise and give him a night light. He refused. I kept my calm and realized that this was about get my attention, not about getting a light turned on. I calmly cleared everything off of his dresser and cleared out the room of projectiles.
"Mommy, why are you clearing off my table?"
Why indeed. He found out as I kissed him good night, left the room and closed the door.
I went in to kiss him again, refuse the light request, and back out again.
He cried...but not that hard.
A few minutes later I came back in and he asked for a story. I agreed to one book, read to him, turned off the light and tucked him in. Didn't hear a peep from him all night.
The real battle I was concerned about (by concerned I mean so worried about my tummy was upset) was getting him to daycare today. It didn't take long. He said good morning and then started right in on not wanting to go to school.
I stayed calm and explained that going to school is his job (thanks Laura!). He didn't like that, but it threw him off a little. It let us discuss how we don't always like going to our jobs. Then, I went in for the kill...I mean bribe. "If you go to school without a fight I'll let you shoot your confetti gun after school." Andy jumped in with an offer for a trip to get an ice cream bar after school.
Michael agreed and didn't say another word about not going to school.
To which I have to say, WTF? You mean I could have bought him off with ice cream and a plastic toy? Really?
No, not really. The bribe was only a small part of it. The more focused attention and the better sleep is a big part of it. And, to be honest, managing my high intensity is part of it too.
Now, we need to stick with the plan and hopefully things will go a bit better.