If I had started this blog about a month ago, all my posts would have been about Bird. She was monopolizing the family in a way only she can do. It got so bad that I described some of the situations to our pediatrician who agreed that a trip to a “therapist” would be helpful. Dr. Tim is actually a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent behavior. He was very helpful, though I don’t know if he told us anything I hadn’t read in a book before. But he confirmed that we shouldn’t punish for tantrums. Not even for wild, out of control, ear-splitting tantrums. And that knowledge helped a lot because I don’t feel so ineffectual; I now know what to do (or not to do.) I just wish I could always actually do what I’m supposed to do as her parent. She really highlights my inadequacies.
Actually, having three children is what highlights my inadequacies. Man I was good with one. I was patient. I made all the right choices during challenging parenting moments. Of course, Bird was only 29 months when Mare was born born. Give me a break, you are thinking… Who isn’t a good parent to a 29 month old? And this is true. But the fact of the matter is, during particularly challenging moments, I like to remind myself that I was good, back in the day.
When Mare was a toddler, I found that I didn’t always respond as I envisioned I would respond when I read books like Siblings Without Rivalry, Raising Your Spirited Child, and Sears’ The Discipline Book. But I still did pretty good. I had plenty of time with each child. We did a few outside activities. We didn’t have school or piano practice or homework to muddy our quality time. I would get upset, but it was at normal levels.
Sigh. That has all changed. Not only is Chip more, well, spirited than his sisters, but he is number three.
I start my day as a parent so well. I handle things with grace. But by 5:00, I’m frazzled. I’m pulled tight and the least little thing causes me to blow. And the kids? They are wound up at just the time I need them to be calm. It is like they can sense my stress level and respond by running faster around the house.
The thought of all the things we are supposed to do each night just makes me want to curl up in a ball. I want to go back to the time when our days and evening were free. I want to be able to eat dinner and then maybe play a family game of Mancala or Uno. I haven’t figured out how to make that work, though. Part of Bird’s problem is sleep. The child need a lot of sleep, and if she doesn’t get it, the tantrums start. That means, we eat dinner at 6:00, John and I relax at the table for a few minutes and then immediately start getting the kids ready for bed. And bedtime is another, very un-fun task.
I do cherish my reading time with the girls, though. After PJs are on and teeth are brushed, we crawl in bed and I read to them until 7:30 or 8:00 (depending on Bird’s mood that day.) Currently we are reading Holes. I’m really enjoying it though I wonder if it is raising too many issues of racism too early. Probably not – the author handles it well. Prior to Holes we read the first three books of Harry Potter (my third time through.) They aren’t old enough to read the fourth book, though. Bummer.