Thursday, May 20, 2010

Well, That Sucked

After Michael's very successful dentist appointment on Monday, Karen made a comment to me about how it's not uncommon that the appointments you worry about go well, and the ones you don't worry about go poorly. Prophetic words, Karen.

Looking back, I should have known something was up yesterday morning. Michael woke up at 6:00, which normally means he up for the day, and asked me to tuck him back in. I was happy to get 45 more minutes of sleep so while I noted it was odd, I didn't think it meant much.

Once we did get up, Michael wanted to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He hasn't been into that show for months, but I guess all of our Disney talk revived his interest. We watched an episode. The next show was Special Agent Oso, and Michael was ticked. He insisted that he be able to watch another episode. I guess with On Demand and DVDs, he hasn't completely figured out that you can't always choose what you want to watch whenever you want. This would not have been a problem but the stupid cable company was having problems and On Demand wasn't working. Therefore, no Mickey Mouse.

Michael had a meltdown over it. It was a decent meltdown, but certainly not a crazy meltdown. A tad unusual, but not enough for me to take notice.

At 10:00 we headed to the Pediatrician for Michael's 4 year tune up. He was in a good mood and got into the car willingly. However, in the ten minute drive to the office, something flipped a switch. In fact, it flipped the switch from "tantrum" to "thermonuclear meltdown". Only I didn't know it at that point.

I coerced him into the waiting room and he quickly sat down and started playing with their toys. He played nicely until 10:30 when they finally called on Michael. (I can't wait to talk to my neighbor to find out if it was J who got them backed up to begin with. I sort of hope so in light of the rest of the appointment.)

Michael refused to go in. Flat out refused. After running from me and hiding, I finally caught him and took him back to the exam room. He was crying. I was trying to distract him and calm him down. That's when the nurse walked in and asked him to take his shoes off and get on the scale.

Boom! The trigger was hit and Michael went off. And I mean he WENT OFF! I'm not talking sobbing and pouting. I'm talking full bore, 100% ballistic. The boy completely lost his shit. He screamed. He cried. He kicked. He hit. He started smacking my chest rapidly as he spiraled out of control. It was bad.

Now, if we had not been at the doctor's office and I was not concerned about wasting her time, my normal response to this would have been to pick him up, restrain his arms, and leave. It was not acceptable behavior, and normally I would have taken a very different approach to handling it.

What the nurse saw was a mother with an out of control child that was physically attacking her. She attempted to help...which just spun him up more, and then finally left to let me get things under control. I was able to get him calmed down and she came back and took the various measurements while Michael sniffled. She asked me if I had any issues I wanted to discuss and I mentioned our potty training problems and the tummy aches he's been complaining about. She left.

When the doctor came in, she started asking about how Michael eats, and I explained his lack of variety. He response quickly turned into a lecture on what I need to start to do with Michael to get him under control. It started off with very stern talk about how I should not give him choices at dinner and that he just gets to go without dinner until he starts eating. Then she branched out into other areas. It was all very good advice, but her stern and authoritative tone really pushed my buttons. She dismissed any idea that Michael is more persistent than other children and basically put it all back onto my failure to provide structure and constancy.

So, I cried.

Let me just say that if you've never had your kid freak out and beat on you in the pediatrician's office, been lectured on your parenting, and then broken down in tears yourself, it pretty much sucks rotten eggs. Stinky, slimy rotten eggs.

After her little advice session, the doctor then turned to Michael for the exam. Do I need to explain how well that went over? No, I didn't think so.

After speaking calmly and sternly to him she finally sent me out of the room so she could get him under control and demonstrate how it's done. I stood out in the hall, sniffling, and listened as he worked her over for another 15 minutes. Is it wrong that I got some smug satisfaction out of listening to him do to her exactly what he does to me? Is it wrong that I enjoyed the fact that it took her longer to calm him than it takes me? Is it wrong that I was happy to see her hair was disheveled when I finally came back in?

I pretty much don't care if it's wrong. It felt good. I did at least refrain from saying, "See, I told you so" when she commented on the workout he gave her. Yeah, you try dealing with that all the time lady. It's exhausting.

The rest of the appointment went pretty well. As is typical, once Michael worked it out of his system, he was fine. He was great through the exam, great through his audio and visual tests, and great through his one shot. We left 2 hours after entering the office both thoroughly wiped out. We need to go back in 6 weeks because he didn't respond to several audio cues in his right ear. They were all very quiet cues and it's likely the result of the cold he's just now getting over.

Just to add icing to the cake, Michael and I had a little accident while we were outside playing in the afternoon. I reached down to point at a sidewalk chalk picture when Michael stepped forward. He managed to kick the nail on my left middle finger and partly pulled the nail off. It caused blinding pain and a decent amount of blood. It's bad enough that even 24 hours later, it's still throbbing.

When Andy got home, I told him I had an awful day and needed to take a nap. I bawled my eyes out for 15-20 minutes before finally drifting off for about 20 minutes.

So, now that I've had time to reflect on this, I'm not sure how I feel about it all. Do I think that the doctor was out of line? I don't normally feel that pediatricians should get involved with unsolicited parenting advice, but based on the fact that Michael was hitting me, I think it was appropriate. To be honest, I am tired, I do feel that Michael has too much control, and I was going to ask for advice, so I don't really think she was out of line. Her approach may not have been the best with someone like me, but then again, I don't think most people are quiet as contrary and high strung as I am. She couldn't possibly know that based on the few visits we have had with her.

I'm trying to be as objective as possible in considering her advice. Am I only making excuses for Michael's behavior or is he really that challenging? It's a fair question, and the best thing I can do for myself and Michael is to answer it as honestly as possible. The fact that I routinely do everything the doctor did to calm him down leads me to think I'm not far off in my assessment of Michael's personality.

I do think that the doctor may have underestimated me a little. She talked about mommy guilt and tried to reassure me that being firm was good and that all working mommies feel guilty. While I confess, I do tend to focus heavily on Michael after work, I don't really have much mommy guilt. I don't have a problem being a working mom. It's never felt wrong to me. So, I rarely indulge Michael for that reason. I think a more realistic explanation is that ever since Michael started daycare in January our schedule has been throw to hell and Michael's been sick frequently. It's not that I'm being indulgent, I'm just too tired to fight all of the fights.

However, whatever the reason, be it guilt or exhaustion, the result is the same. Michael's sleep has gotten out of control and needs to be corrected. Potty training has stalled, and we need to suck it up and do botty camp. I also need to put an end to allowing Michael to get so much crap at the grocery store each week. There are a few more behavior things as well, but those are the biggies. I belive that the advice she provided will be helpful, since I do most of it anyway. I just need to find the energy to pull it off.

As for whether well schedule the 5 year tune up with the same doctor? I have a year to make up my mind on that. For a sick visit, I have to say that she's excellant for sick visits and I'll keep seeing her for those.


Kara said...

I'm sorry and I agree that sucked!

Beth said...

Wow--what a day. You deserve some chocolate, or some wine. Or both. Too bad they don't make chocolate wine. At any rate, Your ability to look at things objectively is awesome and not a trait that many of us share. Can I ask one question, though? Why do you take Michael with you to the grocery store? Is leaving him home with Andy not an option? Regardless, you are an awesome mom. And I totally agree about working mom guilt--I don't have guilt. I just have exhaustion, which leads to giving in all too often. Being strict and firm takes a lot of effort and emotional energy, and that's just something I'm short of. Hang in there!

Maria said...

Yes, suckity suck, plus some suck. I agree with Beth, if you can leave him home, do, for your sanity! And of course, in sorry you had to have the whole ordeal at all.

LauraC said...

First let me say you are a completely awesome mom. I wouldn't be sitting here all day ANXIOUSLY awaiting an update if I didn't think you were awesome. Joanna = AWESOME.

I am a strict mom because I have to be strict. The boys feed off each other in a neverending spiral of craziness when I am not strict. I don't do a lot of asking them to do anything. I tell them. It sounds like I am barking orders. And I follow up, if I say I will take your lovey away, I will take it away. And you know what? I absolutely hate that part of parenting. HATE IT.

I hate having to lock Nate in their room because he wants to push limits and nothing else stops him from coming out. I hate having to send Alex to time out because he is AGAIN smearing food all over the place at age 4. I hate when I make them cry. I hate always feeling like I am saying NO NO NO and let's go let's go let's go. It makes me feel like a shitty mom and makes me feel bad about myself. What kind of good mom makes her kids cry almost every day?!

Anyway recently I was listening to an old This American Life and Dan Savage said our jobs as parents are to stop our kids from becoming sociopaths and get them to function in the world like normal humans. It was like a huge lightbulb lit up for me. They ARE sociopaths!

And dude, we have all been there with an out of control kid somewhere. Unfortunate it was at the pediatrician!!

Karen said...

Every mom has these moments. I agree with Laura that unfortunately it had to happen at the pediatrician.

Being a working mom is hard, as well as exhausting. I had severe mommy guilt, as you know, and I feel like it was affecting my ability to parent.

Hang in are doing a great job as Michael's mom!!

Stacey said...

Joanna - I read your blog religiously but rarely comment. Your post struck a chord with me because I worry about so many of the same things with my daughter. She is only 14 months so I am still in the toddler stage where reasoning isn't effective. It sounds like you need a bit of a parenting break. Not easy with your schedule and your husbands and the lack of family in the area. Any way that your husband can take an entire day this weekend so that you can decompress? I agree with you that the situation with the pediatrician is a tough one. I like mine but her kids are now in college so when she gives me advice sometimes I question the validity. You know your son better than anyone else. So take her advice with a grain of salt!

Deanna said...

I have a hard time taking parenting advice from pediatricians - unless they are women with several kids at home and no nanny. Then they can talk to me. On the other hand, we did take our ped's advice at one year and move K out of our room and into his own - we thought she was the goddess of all sleep problems after that. I digress...

I think you are being incredibly objective regarding the ped's advice (unsolicited or not). She gave advice based on a brief encounter - you make parenting decisions based on day in and day out living. You had already recognized the need for Michael to have more structure in the evening in order to get to bed earlier. As for whether to give him choices or not - well, you win some/you lose some. Some evenings K eats better if he gets to choose - some evenings it doesn't make a darn bit of difference. And some evenings I'm too freaking tired to play the game "of what do you want" and I plop it on the table, look him in the face, and growl "eeeeaaat! NOW!". Not very nice, but highly effective. --- my point in that babble is that we do the best we can with what we have and considering how much sleep we've gotten and how the rest of the day has been. It never hurts us as parents to sit down and re-evaluate our strategy but I also don't think it hurts to cut ourselves some slack. I think you and Andy are doing an awesome job with Michael.

Lindsay said...

Just reading that made me tired and anxious. I couldn't do it. Thank God Michael has you for his mom.

Mel said...

That did totally suck! Wow! And I don't take parenting advice from pediatricians either. Medical advice, yes. Parenting advice, no. I can totally understand the satisfaction you got from the disheveled doc who couldn't get him calmed down.

Stacey said...

First of all, this post is making me seriously consider asking Jason to take Cole to his well visit next week without me. In our situation, I think our pediatrician thinks Cole does not speak. Cole refuses to talk to her and acts so bizarre. It's so embarrassing.

I would not go back to that doctor for well visits. I think that was totally out of line. It was mean. As if working moms don't hear about our "inadequacies" enough... Grr!!

I am not strict because I don't have the spirit or energy for it. I have some non-negotiables such as no violence (which C still tries to negotiate), but when it comes to food (as long as it's healthy) and reading extra books, etc. I am a complete pushover. I just can't do the parent as dictator thing. I think, in the long run, kids who are allowed to ask questions and be themselves within safe boundaries will be the most thoughtful and in touch with their emotions. It might be an excuse, but I'm sticking to it.

You are an incredible mom.

Steph said...

OMG, what a nightmare. I have to say, I would probably have been pissed with the doctor's attitude or approach to the topics at the visit. Sorry about such a rotten, rotten awful day. I hope you had a large glass of wine afterward. You are an awesome mom, don't ever forget that!

Heidi O said...

Hugs. I hope rest and perspective help.

DesiDVM said...

Hoo boy. I hate this type of stuff - are you "spoiling" them or just being attentive to their needs? Are you giving them choices or letting them call the shots? Especially when it comes to eating, I feel you. J is SUCH a picky eater it's ridiculous - he's actually said to me, "I don't like any foods, they're all yucky." I try not to give him too many choices but it's hard when people constantly comment on how thin he is. It's so hard for me to just let him be hungry when I know I can give him a yogurt and he'll at least get SOMETHING. sigh...

As far as being strict, that's another hard one. My mom was strict, as was TH's mom. Old-school spankings and sit facing the corner strict. I don't want to go that far with it, but then again I think we all turned out great IMO so there is something to that old-school mentality. My biggest issue is always following through, I'm a constant threatener. Certain things are easier for me to be super-strict about (as in grocery trips, now that we have Jr. I have to be all-business when we're shopping. We no longer allow J to not ride in the cart, ever. And he absolutely cannot touch things on the shelves. A broken jar of pickles that we had to pay for cured us of that LOL.) Other things, like mealtime battles, are harder for me.

I don't think it's so much that the working itself causes guilt for me, it's more that on working days we have such little time with the kids (maybe 2hrs tops from the time we get home until bedtime) and I hate to spend all that time yelling and reprimanding and putting people in time-out. It sucks.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I don't know if I am more shocked about the situation or the responses. You don't know me and you may not want to listen to me which is fine. First and foremost, quit beating yourself up. You are Michael's mom and you sound like an awesome mom. You do. Don't look backwards - look forwards on how to "fix" what is going on. No guilt....just put all that energy into going forward.

Now with that said. This little boy who you love dearly is out of control. I don't care what any of your readers say. Why is it ok for a 4 year old boy to beat his mother in the chest because he doesn't want to do something? Give me a break folks. That is not normal behavior. You can throw all your stupdid parenting books in the garbage that tell you that. Throwing a tantrum is one thing. Hitting/punching/kicking you is another and it is NOT tolerable. Are you kidding me? What does most of our mother's tell us? If you can't control a 4 year old do you even think your going to control a 14 year old???

This has nothing to do about being strict. So I'm strict because my FIVE boys didn't hit me??? I'm getting an instant headache. Yes, all of my FIVE boys had melt downs. Melt downs consisted of crying, angry crying and even falling on the floor sobbing and me having to pick up and put in bed or room or whatever. I can say with completely honesty that none of my FIVE hit me. Did they ever try as a toddler, sure they did. Did I have to beat them to stop. NO. It just wasn't tolerated from the get go.

Laura C. makes the most sense. She has two of them. Could she have them both melting down and beating on her??? Of course not.

What I am irritated with is the fact that moms today are accepting this behavior as being normal. These books, TV personalities, supposedly super doctors that know everything tell you that. Use your own mom senses.

Now, with that said. Again, don't let a doctor tell you how to be a parent. That is your job and your job alone. However, this doctor saw and heard a real situation and didn't talk to you about it right but was trying to help.

You are a good mom!!! But please, for your sake, work on it going forward. You have a smart boy, just by what I have read and a handsome boy. He just has you tied around his finger and tough love hurts at 4 and even harder as a teen.

Rip me apart if you want but I can at least say, I have raised 5 and they certainly aren't perfect, we have had our times but they are fine young men and they had boundaries.

Good luck and I do agree, hang in there.

I'm not signing my name or leaving my email because we all know how much hate mail goes around and if you really read my post, you know my intent is NOT to be negative towards you at all. Just trying to reason.