Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late July Whine

Post cribbed from my recent comment on Ask Moxie - sorry it's been one of those craptastic phases and I gotta do a little cut and paste! My DS has been a HOLY TERROR this week. He'll be 4 in exactly 3 months and suddenly he has been acting out in public, being extremely defiant, tantruming, and having urine accidents after being totally potty trained for a year. He is really pushing back even more than usual on any and all discipline. Prior to this, DS had been behaving relatively well for the last few months. But something in him seems to have suddenly changed this week. There has to be some funky developmental phase/regression/disequilibrium shizz going on is all I can come up with. Also my parents are visiting us this week, and they actually got into an argument after dinner about how they should handle their part of DS's discipline (it kind of made me laugh actually - they're well-intentioned but my dad never wants to be the bad guy who ever disciplines a child blah blah...) But the behavioral changes in DS predate my folks' arrival. A few weeks ago he rebelled against anyone speaking any Spanish in our home. MAMA, NO, DON'T SPEAK SPANISH!! He is in the "silent phase" with acquiring Spanish, where he understands what is being said but answers in English.

I dunno. I just think DS is not like most of the other kids his age around here. Never been a carpet square sitter who will do the assigned craft project or sing along with the shitty kids song (he prefers Led Zeppelin and Lady Gaga.) He looks, sounds, and acts so much older. I think of DS as an old soul. If we lived in a bigger city, I'm sure we'd encounter loads more kids like him. People around here who are meeting him for the first time are always amazed that he's only 3 because he is ginormous (has been off the height charts since he was 6 months old, and is the height of an average 5-year-old), and does a lot of physical things that his older friends do but his same-aged peers usually cannot, like riding a bike, going across all of the monkey bars at the park without any help, and sitting in the same place for over an hour completing a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle all by himself.

We're looking forward to starting a preschool that is a better fit for his personality - that would be a Montessori. And the Montessori preschool in Podunkville still hasn't told us which days/times DS will be attending starting in 4 weeks, nor have they sent us any kind of written confirmation that yes, he's in fact enrolled, though they've said so orally and have our (small enough to walk away from) deposit and paperwork. I hate that I actually have to show up there and track down the head teacher in order to have any communication, and that my friend who doesn't work there but whose kids go there is the only one who has actually communicated with us and served as a go-between. DH actually called another Montessori preschool yesterday to get the ball rolling there in case the first one falls through. The new Montessori is actually bilingual Spanish/English, and has a much smaller enrollment, so perhaps this could be a real blessing in disguise, but argh! I hate how the local businesses here are so lazy about returning phone calls! And now I'm scared that DS will keep rebelling against speaking any Spanish.

My 21-month old DD suddenly refuses to fall asleep at night without a fight and a lot of crying. I actually had to consult a couple of the dreaded sleep books. Guess what? They weren't helpful. Except the one that told me she's just in a bad phase and I need to wait. Duh. Maybe her sleep is being thrown off because she's working on mastering some new skills like potty training. (Update: she is day trained for urine, but still prefers to poop anywhere but the potty. My dad bought her the hilarious book "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi and she is loving it, so maybe the poop portion will click soon?)

Oh, and my last blood pressure reading was 150/93 = real deal holyfield hypertension. Could this be related to the fact that you, dear readers, haven't gotten a single Friday running update from me in weeks? I think so. I know I'm going to have to use the buddy system on this whole workout idea. I need there to be someone I'm supposed to meet at the gym in order for me to actually want to get off my arse and go there.

Talk to me - anyone out there?


Got It, Ma! said...

My son sounds a lot like your son. He's nine now and wearing men's size 7 shoes. Big kid, never had an ounce of body fat and everyone always thinks he's older than he is. Deep thinker, super smart. The thing we've learned about him over the years is that frequently there is a pronounced backslide right before he clears some new developmental hurdle. When he's ready to move on to the next phase, it kind of freaks him out and he takes a couple of big steps backward. I imagine it's like he's backing up to get a running start for the big leap. Sometimes if I try to treat him like the older kid he's trying to become, give him some new responsibility, it seems to help. Conversely it also seems to help if I let him know that he can also be as little as he wants to be with no criticism. The old "it doesn't matter how big you get, you'll always be my baby" speech.

My daughter, now 6, went through a similar phase with sleep. She went from going to bed easily to screaming her head off like Janet Leigh in the shower scene in Psycho every night. A homeopath I trust recommended Calms Forte for Kids, a homeopathic sleep aid, right before bedtime to help her calm down. Worked like a charm. A few nights of using it broke the cycle and then she didn't need it. I still keep it on hand, especially for helping them get to sleep in strange places like hotel rooms, or to assist them in adjusting to time changes, etc.

Sorry you're having a tough time. Hang in there. And definitely get some exercise. I find it's the single most important thing I do to keep my stress under control. I'd be your buddy, but I think geography is against us.

mom2boy said...

Oh Hush! Hugs!! (IRL I'm not an offerer of an actual hug but it's just a personal space thing, not an I don't care thing)

Crappy phases are crappy no doubt. 21 months was one of Tate's worst phases for sleep too. I was going back and forth with trying to get him to fall asleep on his own which meant putting him back in his bed 10+ times before he cried himself to sleep or laying in bed with him for an hour while he wiggled and talked and drove me insane. Much sympathy on the bad sleep phase - at least it is a phase... :)

A good montessori school should be a great fit for your son. It's been great for Tate. That whole using a kid's natural curiosity as a guide rather than a bunch of rules to keep a group doing all the same things. Rules are usually so arbitrary and I imagine your son doesn't handle arbitrary well.

On the no mama don't speak spanish - well this is where just having one kid and one adult makes things a bit easier. I would most likely tell Tate that while he can ask for people to speak respectfully around him, he doesn't get to decide for other people what language they talk in. Flip side of that is your DS then gets to decide if he wants to speak spanish or not. So that may or may not be a route you want to take but language, like eating, is pretty much under his control.

Tate at bedtime the other night, that had been going just fine, said out of nowhere "I hate you." I said, "I don't think you meant to say that exactly." He replied "That's all I meant to say." And rolled over and went to sleep. Yeah...

paola said...

Sounds like you need a stiff drink! (sorry, I'm not a hug offerer either). All those things happening at the same time. Maybe the blood pressure is more due to the kid issues and not for the lack of exercising.

But instead of looking on the negative side, think of the positives. At 21 months DD is almost potty trained! And DS sounds like your pretty typical bilingual kid refusing to speak when you know damned well he can, but is simply in that rebellious/uncooperative stage. Two things worth bragging about in my book.

Claudia said...

Hush, much sympathy. The others speak wise words.
Previous Posters: my god, I am so happy to see others just come on out and say that they aren't huggers. I will gladly offer sympathy, listening ear, tag-teaming in a baseball bat beating frenzy, but hugs -- eh. High fives all around. We need a replacement for that ubiquitous <>.

Claudia said...

Oops, I unwittingly did an HTML tag. The left and right arrows above should say "hugs" between them. Ah, irony. It refused to hug.

And as an aside, my word verification (why do they call it a word when it almost never is?) is "fecold". A combination of fecund and cold? I like.

the milliner said...

Hang in there Hush. The thing I find about these phases that last longer than a week is that you (the adult) gets so ensconced in them (how could you not?!) that it's pretty much impossible to get perspective until the phase is over. It always takes me at least a week or two to even figure out that we're in a phase (though I'm getting slightly quicker in this area now that we've gone through so many).

We've have the same experience as @Got It, Ma! said:
"The thing we've learned about him over the years is that frequently there is a pronounced backslide right before he clears some new developmental hurdle. When he's ready to move on to the next phase, it kind of freaks him out and he takes a couple of big steps backward. "

Of course the trick is to realise and remember that during a phase so you can at least get a bit of peace of mind or relief. Easier said than done.

Regarding the language thing, DS went through a phase, around 2.5 or so, where he didn't want to speak French or want us (mostly DH as we each try to stick to one language) to speak it. I like what @mom2boy said on the subject and otherwise we just kind of politely ignored his resistance and kept up with our respective languages. We respected the fact that he wanted to almost exclusively read English books and just let it be with the French books for the time.

6 months later at 3 and he had totally sorted the two languages out and uses both pretty frequently now (though more English...probably because it's the language I use). At the time of his rejection of French I remember it being a high need for mama time and I think this is perhaps why he was rejecting the other language. (Though I must admit that it's a sensitive thing when your kid is rejecting the official language of where you live. Language politics are very big and sensitive here). Anyhow, perhaps there is something your DS is linking Spanish to that he's having a hard time with right now. Just a thought...

And just a fun side note about hugs. I'm kind of in the middle on hugs. Depends on the relationship I've established with a particular person. But if I don't know them well, it's unlikely that I'll give them a hug (unless they look utterly devastated and like they wouldn't find it offensive).

BUT, my point was going to be that 6 second hugs actually release endorphins that make you feel better. Since we found out that, DH and I try to have at least one 6 second hug per day. When he's feeling extra smartassy, he sets the microwave timer for 6 seconds.

So, I'm sending you a 6 second hug across the interwebs. :)

NK: Style-ING w/ Children said...

1. I'm not sure I could comment beyond sympathy about your DS's behaviour. We haven't gotten that far around here... I would be completely traumatized by public tantrums.. so I absolutely feel for you.

2. DD potty training, as you know we started about 2.5 months ago. Baby C was urine trained for night almost right away, but for day it was a struggle. And for poop it was just not happening. Until a week ago when we were in the car driving up to the cottage and she asked: "where is the potty here??". Needless to say we pulled right over on the highway and proceeded to pee in public view of the passing traffic. And she pooped in the toilet since that day too. One thing I can say is - we stopped using the little baby ring we had, as I felt that it squished her little bum... Can't explain it, but I took the ring away and voila she's potty trained. However, we started at 23 months only, so give her some time, she'll get there overnight! :)

3. DD not sleeping - we had the very same thing happen to us when Baby C was around 19-20 months, until about 21months. We slept on the floor in her room, I gave up trying to sneak out because she screamed bloody murder for hours afterwards. I had to go for massage therapy to get my back to normal (sleeping on the floor was not fun). It passed. Really.. it did. I don't know what it is and why this happens, but it does. It just sucks that your DD is doing this while DS is acting out. No wonder your blood pressure is through the roof.

PS. let me get back to the sleeping and crying. I mean, for HOURS, SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS. holding hands to fall asleep. startled at every sound.. that kind of falling asleep. Oh, and she also would wake up 5-6 times a night too... just to put things in perspective. you're not alone, I've been there :)

the kids will grow up and out of these phases, but you really need to pay more attention to your health. Really, get yourself to the gym or do whatever else that needs to be done. Do it for them.

Cloud said...

I've got nothing other than to say that I, too, am really done with the almost two sleep issues. And the super clinginess.

Petunia has also started cluster nursing again, first thing in the morning and at bath time and bed time. Driving me nuts. She hasn't cluster nursed since she was- what? maybe 6 months old? I'd forgotten how it makes me want to climb out of my own skin. If I didn't think that this is a terrible time to try it, I'd wean her. As it is, I find myself just holding on until she's two. God help me if she doesn't snap out of all this crap then.

Jac. said...

Well, as you know, I am absolutely feeling your pain over the almost 4 year old. The last few days have been a little bit better, but I can tell you that the last two weeks of June and right up until Tuesday was one of the worst parenting time periods I've EVER had, excluding only the 4 month sleep regression.

And now it appears that DD is heading into her 9 month sleep regression. Sigh. I'm really looking forward to that mythical time period when they are both even-keeled. Am thinking it might happen at ages 2 and 5? I don't know if I can make it that long before developing a serious alcohol dependency.

Also, (sorry if TMI) I just got my first post-DD period and it is HIDEOUS. Very heavy, very painful. I'm lamenting my womanhood in general right now. All my warm and fuzzies about my body post DD's birth are totally gone.

Congrats on DD's potty training progress. That's rockstar.

Also, DS's Montessori was brutally disorganized about communications and follow up and it regularly pissed me off. I didn't hear anything from them until the week before school was supposed to start last year and that was only because I finally broke down and emailed them a not very nice email basically saying that I would appreciate the courtesy of a reply. We still loved the school though - it was great for DS.

hush said...

@Got it, Ma! - Thank you for the support. Our boys sound so very similar. I'm definitely going to have to remember the "it doesn't matter how big you get, you'll always be my baby" speech idea!

@mom2boy - "Tate at bedtime the other night, that had been going just fine, said out of nowhere "I hate you." I said, "I don't think you meant to say that exactly." He replied "That's all I meant to say." And rolled over and went to sleep. Yeah..." LOL! I'm glad you feel my pain!!! We are soooo looking forward to starting Montessori at the end of this month!

@Paola - Thank you - I know I should see the positives! Hope the transition to UK life has been going well for you and yours!

@Claudia - I'll take virtual hugs any day over real ones. "Fecold" conjures the image of poop for me. Not necessarily a bad thing.

@the milliner - I appreciate your story about how your son rejected French around the same age. Thanks for the idea to try to figure out if DS is linking something he's having a hard time with to Spanish.

@NK - Glad to hear Baby C has mastered the potty! Thanks for the tip to try removing the ring seat. Here's hoping things will eventually click.

@Cloud - Hang in there - we're almost to 2! I envy your successful nursing relationship.

@Jac - Glad to hear your last few days with DS have gotten better. Painful periods = sucky! Maybe your first post-DD one was horrible so they'll get better with time?

What's up with both of our Montessoris being so oddly uncommunicative even though they're awesome schools? DH and I finally decided we're done with Montessori #1, and he signed DS up for Montessori #2, a bilingual Spanish-English one with about a third of the enrollment of #1. I'm so glad things worked out the way they did. Now all I have to do is get our deposit back from #1 - I think I have the skillz to just show up and collect my cash. ;)

caramama said...

Well, you know I hear ya on the developmental regressions. For my spirited girl, they are pretty much quarterly. When I remember that, I am less blind-sided. Though still frustrated. I hope it passes quickly, and I hope that the Montessori school you picked works out for him as well as the one we picked has been working for our girl.

Hugs to you and everyone else, virtual and otherwise if I ever see any of you in person! I will accept high fives or hand shakes in lieu of hugs, or even a commiserate pat on the back or even sympathetic expression. I'll take and give any and all of those! :-)

Anandi said...

re: Montessori being uncommunicative, I wonder if it has to do with the fact they're so child-centered? One of the ones we visited told us outright that the decisions they make in the classroom were based on what the kids needed, and that parents didn't always agree, but their philosophy made them put the kids first. Odd to hear it, but maybe explains the less-than-stellar communication with parents thing? Maybe they're focusing on classroom stuff instead (one can hope it's this, rather than general flakiness.)

hush said...

@caramama - I'm so glad your Montessori is a good fit for your DD!

@Anandi - Welcome! I think that's certainly a charitable view of their failure to communicate - and it's good to give people the benefit of the doubt so I think I'll go with that!

Montessori #2/the bilingual one prides itself on having open communication, using email, posting pictures weekly on a password-protected parents' page, scheduling conferences upon request, etc so I suspect it will be a better fit for all of us.