July 31, 2012

Moving Forward

Sometimes that's all you can do--wake up, put one foot in front of the other and move forward.  Our family continues to face its challenges this summer.  The bad days have outnumbered the good but I'm starting to think that keeping score is not in anyone's best interest.

Liam's strong will is not a good match for my personality.  You would think that after three years we would be used to each other instead of locking horns ten or twenty times each day hoping the other one would change.  Liam is bound and determined to get his way with everything despite the consequences.  And there are always consequences.  I'm more of a police officer these days than a mom.  I think that's the tipping point of the summer.  Everything else that's going on is rough, but constantly battling my son is the worst.

Sometimes it's like he just doesn't want to hear me

Last Friday, I was explaining yet another loss of privileges to him.  I told him that he needed to learn this lesson and it was my job as his mom to teach him these things.  He shouted at me, "You don't teach me the lessons, I teach you the lessons!"  I'm pretty sure I saw ***stars***.  He's three years, five months old.  I couldn't have said those words to my parents ever.  How on Earth does he think it's okay to say that to me?  I cannot possibly express how livid I was.  I'd like to believe, as some readers surely do, that he did not know what he was saying.  But I've lived with this boy for 41 months.  I know how intelligent, articulate and observant he is.  I'm pretty sure he does know and did mean what he said.

Liam continues to eat almost nothing.  Because snacks are severely limited now, he is probably consuming less than 400 calories.  I prepare three nutritious meals and we sit together at the table.  Liam refuses all but one or two bites.  He has a sweet tooth but the promise of dessert does little to pique his interest.  Ten minutes after each meal, he begs for cookies, candy or chips.  No, I say, just like I said yesterday and the day before and the day before that.   Yes, he says and proceeds to shake the locked pantry doors.   

I get that he's testing boundaries, seeing if I mean what I say and say what I mean.  But isn't that more like a toddler?  And when have I ever given in, providing the message that I don't mean what I say?  The more he tantrums, the more I dig in my heals.  Like I said earlier, our temperaments are not a great match.

I have decided to pick my battles.  There are some habits that I've given up trying to change, at least for now.  I do look the other way when Liam washes all the toothpaste off his brush.  I let him stay inside to watch Doc McStuffins while his brother and I play in the sunshine.  Today I even let him stay in his pajamas until 2 pm.

Last but not least, I've stopped insisting that he take a nap after lunch.  Oh, he still needs one.  Clearly he needs one.  BUT the 90 minute screaming battle and door pounding is not good for either one of us.  We both end up twice as rattled and can't even look at each other come 3 pm.  I do insist on quiet time after lunch.  It typically involves a dvd, his blanket and the couch (or my bed).  I stay out of the room hoping to show him that this is not a time for interaction but for rest. 

After dinner,  Liam can hardly keep his eyes open.  I make sure his pajamas are on and his teeth are brushed by 6:45.  We read and then lay down.  He has been falling asleep within ten minutes.  (A far cry from the 2.5-3 hours it used to take him to settle and snooze.)  He wakes at his usual 6:30 am but is getting a few more hours of solid sleep each night.

For now, I'm viewing this new bedtime strategy as a success.  One of few this summer--so I'm really celebrating it.  Other things to celebrate:
  • Liam is no longer using a potty chair; he can get a long just fine with standard equipment.  More and more he just takes care of his business without any help from me.
  • On Saturday, Liam and I were able to relax in each other's presence with a cuddle and snooze on the sofa while Henry watched BusyTown. 
  • Both boys got terrific haircuts on Sunday.
  • Liam's 1:1 correspondence has greatly improved.
  • Henry can read most environmental print.
  • Henry loves his weekly Lego class.
  • All medical/dental/optical forms are complete and all supplies, shoes and uniforms have been purchased for the upcoming school year.
So, we are moving forward.  At least I hope so.


  1. Ugh. I'm sorry this summer has been so hard. I agree, don't keep track of all the bad/hard days! (That was my motto when Fiona was recovering from HUS and I was miserably pregnant). I feel for you with Liam. I am getting a taste of strong-willed 3 year olds myself. Fiona came up with "you are not the boss of me!" the other day, and pretty much just seems to want to disagree with me or find a reason to cry a lot of the time. It's just so... disappointing. I mean, we just want to have fun and enjoy our kids, but the battles can make that nearly impossible. I say keep up the good work, the consistency and setting boundaries, and eventually they will move from this tough stage.

  2. That sounds so exhausting...I hope the picking your battles helps. It sounds like it has at least with bedtime.

    Fingers crossed that this is a phase that is over very soon.

  3. You are so right about so much of what you said...like not counting the bad days, picking your battles & celebrating your successes. If Elena's behaviour now is any indication, I am going to have a handful & a half when she's 3. When she's screaming in tantrum, there's nothing I want more than to just give in to whatever she wants but I know that I cannot let her think that behaviour is acceptable. Like you, really dig my heals in.

    I'm sorry you're having such a rough summer...if only the phrase "this too shall pass" could bring you comfort but I know it probably doesn't.

  4. Yes that's the way to go, picking the battles..
    There is a time and season for everything.
    I do remember my brothers at 5 thinking they knew everything.
    Kids are so different and smarter these days.
    Just remember the stages. I know for me I remember the stage of being 11 0r 12 and always being so mad at mom and thinking I never want to be like her or wanting to be around her. But this too was a stage because now I love to hang with her and I know there will be a day when she passes that I will miss her dearly.
    So it will be with the boys, my son is starting to come around and want to talk.
    Big Hugs my friend!

    I love the top pic of them in that car!

  5. I swear to God you could be talking directly about my daughter. Seriously. If i had time for my blog, I would have written a post JUST like this. And she's three and...a little over 3 months? Perhaps it is the age. Perhaps they are just trying to break us. I keep hoping that by doing the hard work now, we are setting the stage for rules and consequences to be followed somewhat easier in the future... That IS what we're doing, right? :)

  6. Little C has a stubborn streak too . I feel your pain :-0

  7. Lately I have heard this a lot from moms...they pass by the Terrible Twos and straight into the More Terrible Threes... but it's good that you don't give into his demands...he knows you mean what you say and that will give him security in the long run. I just hope this phase passes quickly. I also am thinking about you and your family this summer.

  8. I 100% agree with the Tumultuous Threes. They suck.

    I so hope your summer ends on a high note. I'm praying for all of you. And those sweet boys are going to remember all the laughs, giggles, fun times that I know you HAVE given them this summer! In three years these 3 months will be but a distant memory, and though times will be tough again, you'll know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how distant and how dim. You're a great mother; I cannot wait to see these boys of yours when they're men! :)