free falling

18 months and Climbing

I was sitting in the chair with my phone while Eddie watched Curious George before bed.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Charlie sneaking behind the coffee table on my left. Of course I don’t think anything of it…other than perhaps in about two minutes I would be changing a dirty diaper…and I keep concentrating on Words With Friends (I mean, what do you do with 3 A’s, 2 I’s, a T and a J?).

Suddenly, there was a curly-haired stage diver dead-weight free-falling onto my lap.

Charlie had climbed up next to me on the table, stood up, and let himself “trust fall” (face forward) at me faster than I could say, “Hey, we don’t climb on tables.”  In fact, I think I only got out the, “hey we d–” part before he was plummeting toward my lap.

“BIRD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I gasped, sure that he was milliseconds away from crying since I was pretty sure his head hit the chair arm and his gut landed squarely on my elbow.

He rolled off me onto the floor in a fit of giggles.

His too-long hair (“He looks like a dirty hippy,” Cort is always saying), was flopped into his eyes and his right foot was not in the footsie part of his jammies. He was sprawled out on his back at my feet, and he was laughing his crazy little head off.

I just stared at him.  O_O

“Eddie. Did you just see that?”

“Yup. Bird is crazy, mom.”

“Cort, did YOU see that?”

“I caught the tail end of it,” he said shaking his head.

“Charles Thomas,” I sternly said as I stood him up to look at me, “we do NOT climb on the furniture like that! It’s dangerous! You could’ve gotten seriously hurt!”

He furrowed his brow and pouted his lips and shook his little finger at me.

“NO NO NO!”

I shook my head. “That’s right. No, no.”

“NOOOO. No. NO!” He said sternly to me.  And with that he bent down, collected his Pipey and his Puppy, and rubbed his eye with the back of his chubby little fist.

Then he turned and flung his face to my lap and made some tired sounds, “mmmm ma ma ma mmmm”.

I scooped him up into my lap where he pressed his face into mine and shook his head.  That is his way of cuddling. Of showing you he wants to hunker down and be your cuddle buddy for a while.

He is my fearless child.

He will climb anything, heights be damned.

He may fall a time or two, but he doesn’t dwell on it by crying, and he the fall doesn’t keep him from doing it again.

He trusts completely that we will catch him, and if we don’t, no big deal.

But if we do, he smiles with his whole face…his whole body even.

And his laugh fills the room.

18 months

the best part of three

It’s easy to come here and talk about the hard days because I have to “write them out”…it’s a therapy of sorts.

Eddie and I have had a lot of hard days over the past almost four years.  There has been many, many times that we have butted heads only to end up in our separate corners crying.

But those days are really few and far between.

Yes, we still have our standoffs, we battle with Eddie knowing and practicing kindness, we grapple with teaching him that words can hurt.

He doesn’t want his picture taken as much, which means he gets left off the Project 365 posts that I do each week.  This breaks my heart a bit because I want to remember him as he is right now too.  In our every day daily days.

Yesterday was not anything monumental.  It was a pretty ordinary day as far as days home with my kids go, but it was extraordinary in that I realized that Eddie has grown up a lot since the last time I had a break from school.

He started the day by climbing into bed with me and asking if he could watch TV snuggled with me instead of on the couch.  I can’t say no to that, so he watched TV while I snored dozed beside him.  Until Charlie woke up.

We all had breakfast and watched some TV and played.  We had plans to leave the house that morning to meet a friend and her kids at the local Crazy Bounce (you know, one of those places with a million inflatable bounce houses and slides?  So much fun for the kiddos).  I needed to shower, so I asked Eddie to watch his brother.

He did.  He even made sure to stop watching TV to play with Charlie to keep him from being sad or grumpy.

He also got his clothes on…socks and all (which he always complains he can’t do)…by himself.

He was responsible while we were at Crazy Bounce and didn’t throw too much of a fit when it was time to go.  He sat nicely by his brother in the busy shoe area while I navigated finding their shoes and coats and the diaper bag.  He protected his brother from all the people walking around them and patiently waited while I got all of our shoes and coats on.

He held my hand in the parking lot without a fuss.

He was quiet when we went through the McDonald’s drive thru (his reward for being so helpful and kind).

He ate all his lunch and joked and made Charlie laugh while I got Charlie’s food ready.

He played nicely by himself while I did a bit of work.

When it was time to lie down for a nap, he requested to nap in my bed…with me.  I couldn’t turn that down, so we rested for an hour together.  When the hour was up, he sat up and  very matter-of-factly said, “So. Mom.  You want to get up now?”

He asked me if he could help me clean up.

We made pizzas together for dinner.

There were no tantrums, no timeouts, no crying.

We chatted about garbage trucks and cats and God and babies and flowers.  He’s so smart.

The day was busy, but it was peaceful.

It’s hard to see this kind, caring, responsible boy in the humdrum of daycare drop off and pick up and shuffling him around on a schedule.  It’s easy for him to get over-tired and under-appreciated when we are wrapped up in the Must Do’s of daily life.

It’s easy to roll my eyes when he has a fit or is unkind and write it off as three-years-old being a tough age.

It is a tough age.  It has many MANY ups and downs.

But yesterday reminded me that I don’t just have a tantrumy moody difficult three-year old.

I have a buddy.

And that is the BEST part of having a three-year-old.

"Look mom, I'm a teacher just like you!"

“Look mom, I’m a teacher just like you!”

clash of personality

I love Eddie.

I have to start with that.

He is my heart and soul and we have a deep connection due in part to our rough beginning, but also because of how alike we are in every possible way.

We get each other.

That is why I posted about our sweet moments yesterday.  They do happen.

But.

There are also the other moments.

The ones that seem to take up so much space in this house and in this family lately.

Which is what has been on my heart lately.

This post is an honest plea for advice or reassurance or honest feedback.

My son is going through what I really hope is just a tough phase.

But sometimes the doubt creeps in.

I don’t even know how long it’s been going on.  It feels like forever.  I know it started before Charlie got here five weeks ago, but it’s worse now that he is here.

I try to tell myself it’s just Eddie’s adjustment period, but it’s rough.

It’s like he is walking around with a faulty anger switch.

One moment he is sweet as pie, and the next you better check to make sure your head is still attached.

Each day at 5pm, I watch as Cort pulls the truck in the garage.

I listen for whining or chatting.  I watch out the front window to see how/if Eddie bounds to the mailbox with daddy for the paper and the mail.

When the door opens, I wait.

I let him talk first.

Most days I get, “Hi, Mommy!” before he even sees me.

Some days he is already crying because of something daddy would not let him do.  Those days I am extra cautious.  One ridiculous question (how was your day?) will get my face barked off with an angry scream.

He will be playing ever-so-sweetly with his toys or watching a show nicely when BAM!  A toy will fly through the air or he will walk past the coffee table and with one swipe whip everything onto the floor.

Or he will send his sippy or empty snack bowl sailing through the living room.

When I tell him to pick it up and put it away, he yells, “NO!  I DON’T WANT TO!” and then grunts and possibly slaps a piece of nearby furniture.

At dinner he will be eating nicely and then he will randomly start dumping food onto the floor.

We will tell him to stop and he will look straight at us and do it again.

We have taken away dessert and snacks and treats and TV time.

We have taken away the toys he throws.

We have issued time outs

He seems stunned each time a consequence happens, but it doesn’t stop his angry behavior.

He just starts hitting things (luckily, he almost NEVER hits people) or screaming as loudly and long as he can.  Or grunting at us like an rabid animal.

Even time outs have become more of a struggle.  He used to go, sit, and cry.  Now he is getting more rebellious and trying to scoot out.

We send him to his room to do his tantrums there.

50% of the time that works.  He will go down to his room, cool off, and come back.

But the tantrum is never fully over.

He will sweetly ask for the item (Mario Kart time, screen time on Cort’s tablet or my Nook, craisins before bed, or an episode of a show on Tivo) that he originally lost with his bad behavior.  When we tell him no, he loses it all over again.

Each time I sit and watch him.

I want to cave.

I know that is awful to admit, but it’s true.

I want to give in to his demands because I like to see him happy.

But I know in the long run that will create a horribly spoiled and demanding person.

So we stand our ground.

The other day he wouldn’t stop spitting at dinner.  Because I couldn’t set him in time out without taking five minutes to clean his hands and face of dinner, I snapped.  I grabbed his face and squeezed his cheeks together so he couldn’t spit.

“STOP SPITTING!  IT’S GROSS AND RUDE!” I said in a voice that I didn’t know I could use with my little buddy.

I held for one second longer before I let go, sat down in my chair, and stared at my plate.

After a pause, he started hysterically crying, “OWWWWW!!!!  Mommy HURT me!”

I wanted to crawl in a hole.

I wanted to pick him up out of his booster and hug him to my chest and apologize and shower him in kisses.

But I don’t want him to be the kid that spits.

I know he is also overdramatic.

My mom says it’s uncanny how much like me he is.

When I was that age, I used to stomp off to my room and moan, “WOE IS ME…NOBODY LOVES ME.”

He is like that.  Exactly.

I know I didn’t really hurt him.  I know I scared him because he has never seen me do that, but it didn’t hurt.

I would never hurt my children.

But I did scare myself.

I’ve always said I don’t believe in punishing with physical pain when my beliefs are that violence and pain do not solve problems.

But now I am questioning it.

My parents didn’t hit us (ok, an occasional butt swat, but it was never a first resort), but they did grab our face or under our upper arm when they needed something super annoying or out of line to STOP. THIS. INSTANT.

Do I feel good about it?

No.  And now I know they didn’t either.  It sucks to have to do that to what you love best in the world.

But what else do I do?

I can raise my voice now and give a look and Eddie cowers and quits what he is doing.

I sort of hate that.

And I try not to use that.

But he WILL. NOT. LISTEN lately.

Sigh.

I am frustrated.

I want more of the sweet moments back.  The ones we have at bedtime (when he is not fighting or stalling).  The ones when he and Charlie and I are all piled in my chair and watching Busytown Mysteries or Sesame Street.

I hate having to get angry, and I feel like I am getting angry most of the time.

Is this normal two-almost-three-year-old behavior?

Is my kid overly anger?  Does he have anger problems?

Am I doing the right thing?

Help. I feel like I am failing.

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