Sunday, January 25

Good Kid, Bad Parent.

When Jessie was a baby she was my first and a really well balanced "good" baby. She slept all night long ( most of the time ), she was pleasant, easy going, mild all round "easy" kid. She still is today. Sure, she has her moments, but she aims to please, she is kind, considerate, helpful, generous and concerned about the happiness and well being of those around her. I'm happy to say that, even as a new parent, I knew it wasn't all my doing!! I would tell people "It's not ME, it's her!! She's a really good baby / child....." but still, it is and was easy to be fooled, lulled perhaps, into thinking that your parenting technique must be rocking since your child is So. Damn. Good.


Then we had Jack.

He is a sweet, nice little boy. Unless he's not. He slept 23 out of 24 hours and we had to feed him constantly. He started out weak and low tone, he is now strong enough to knock myself and my husband off our feet. We know. He's done it. He is strong willed and strong bodied. If he doesn't want to walk any more, then hey, he's going to sit. It could be right in the middle of the road mind you. My husband has pulled a tendon in his arm and muscles in his back trying to lift / manhandle him into crossing the street. Jack loves animals..... we think. He MAY be trying to play with the puppy when he lifts her off the floor by her leash..... he COULD just be trying to play with the cat when he chases her off the bed with a baseball bat..... the fact he has a laugh that sounds like the villain on any cartoon could be deceptive..... We're SURE he loves his big sister..... he does hug her and pats her back gently..... he also throws her to the floor and sits on her, steals her toys, steals her food, screams and yells at her and beats her about the face and body..... but we are sure they can work it out..... right??

I've yet to find anyone who can show me how to parent my son in an AP manner that "respects him as a person" yet also has him remain at the table to eat, keep his feet out his food, not harm the pets, not hurt his family members, not throw and break things, run off in stores and scream in anger...... I've been told I need to "respect" my son. I've been told that I need not have rules, but rather should treat him as I would my husband and my friends...... I've been told to show patience and understanding, sympathy, regard...... believe it or not, I have tried all these things!! These Things Do Not Work. Jack does not respond to those things. Jack is not driven to make others happy or to please those around him. Jack, although honestly a lovely boy, has moments that would try any parent. Some days are made up of only these moments. These are the days where I collapse in tears of frustration and anger, disappointment and fatigue. These are the days that scare my children and my husband to the point of tears of their own. These are the days I wish for Valium / the Bahamas / a coma. These are the days I regret being a parent. I regret being a mother. I regret being alive. Thankfully they don't last long and they don't happen often. One happened yesterday.

Today is a new day. Last night ended on a loving, happy and peaceful note. We all moved forward with a new purpose. The ice was thin and fragile, but will hold. Each hour that passes adds a thicker layer to the first. Today, again, I seek answers. I seek advice and love and understanding from those who are on the front lines with me. Those with "easy" kids need not apply. I'm happy you can take your children to the store / to a restaurant / to a gas station bathroom and people compliment YOU on the behaviour of your children. I know what that is like, it happened to me once too....... if, however, you are struggling like me and you see me trying to cajole/ encourage/ bribe/ drag my son... please meet my eyes. Look at me with a smile and understanding, perhaps even give me a thumbs up! I'm doing what I can and I keep telling myself that each day is getting easier....each loooong loooong day...........


Risa said...

I'm with you, hon! Daegan does not have Down's like your Jack, but I am becoming more and more convinced his brain is wired different than most somehow. What you wrote about "Jack is not driven to make others happy or please those around him"--bang on for Daegs too, most of the time. Oh, he has moments of sweetness, and is basically a good kid, but he just doesn't see things like most kids. And he's brought me to the point of tears, screaming, wishing I'd never had kids, etc. I don't really mean it, of course, when I calmly reflect on it later--but in the moment? Yes. Without a doubt. Watching me turn into my own parents when pushed to the limit has been a humbling, and depressing, experience.

So sorry you had a rough day yesterday, and hope today continues to look up. But I do get it, and think those that make blanket pronouncements about parenting (and hey, I've been one of them!) need to try walking a mile in others' shoes. It's quite startling when all the approaches and techniques you read about in the best parenting books DON'T WORK. When you treat your kid with respect, trust them to develop an internalized moral code / code of conduct....and yet your kid hurts his sibling, or a friend, or an animal. Or breaks things on purpose. Or puts himself or others at risk or serious injury.

Hang in there, Lady!

Gorgeous. said...

Thanks, Ree...... it's always good to know we're not alone......!! :}

Kim K said...

I could not agree more. Some days are hard - really hard. I've been there too. I've got one of each and then some days my easy kid is the hard one too. What are you going to do. You trudge on being the best Mom you know how to be and tomorrow is better and the next day and the next. Then a week later - BAM another one.

It would be really nice if we could join forces as Moms and not judge what we don't understand. I'll look you in the eye if you'll meet my eye. Hang in there sweetie.


Gorgeous. said...

Thanks so much, Kimmy.......!!! We'll all have to think of each other on the bad days!! ;D

(the other) Dr. Laura said...

The fact that you were able to end such a hellish day on a loving, happy and peaceful note is an amazing feat. How did you turn things around inside you, and with Jack?

And I have an AP question for you. I know people often misinterpret AP parenting so I can see you getting all that advice, but you don't think AP actually means No Rules and treating kids like our husbands and friends, do you? Even with "easy" kids, that seems a recipe for disaster.

My version of AP has definite rules and limits. And I'm the grown up, which means I guide the kid. Respectfully, yes. But guide most definitely. And I get the sense that's what you've done with your daughter, isn't it?

jennifer lara said...

sending you supportive vibes Tiffany :) I heard a wise woman once counsel to try to rise above the storm to find the beauty in it. She described flying and looking out the window, down on a raging thunderstorm and how wonderfully beautiful it was but we cant appreciate it so much when we are in the middle of it! Sometimes I can sort of experiance an out of body type of rising above the crying and frustrations and deal with it from up there and it feels good. other days i lock myself in the bathroom and cry into a towel until I can get ahold of myself ;_)
You are an amazing mom!!!!!
You are fun and creative and give your children the very best of you. none of us is perfect :)

Gorgeous. said...

Thanks, Laura. I do set rules and limits with both the children, but they are largely ignored by Jack!! We turned things around towards the end of the day by my dear husband stepping in and removing me from the melee. He sat me in a darkened room, covered me with a blanket and plied me with tea. He went upstairs and talked to the children. They came down later and cuddled with me and I reassured them I was ok. At bedtime we have started a little ritual of telling each other 3 good things that happened in our day and by focusing on those the unhappiness was left behind us.

Gorgeous. said...

Thanks, Jennifer... you are so sweet!! : D