“Daddy’s very annoyed right now, and he’s going to slap you upside the head if you don’t go to your room”.
Me – Oct 19th 2014. Talking to my son. Yes my son. Put me in jail. I feel like the worst dad in the world.
My son had either just head-butted me (intentionally) or bitten me when I said that. I can’t remember which incident came first now, it’s a bit of a blur. Not a red rage blur, but it was a long afternoon.
And no, I didn’t hit my son. There’s nothing in this world that would make me do that.
My boy is sweet, caring and intelligent. He has great manners and he is generous and gentle with his sister. He listens really well. I love him so much.
Then he has a mood swing….
My boy is a selfish little turd. He is rude, whiny and openly defiant. He is needlessly rough with other kids and kicks and hits. He either ignores or can’t comprehend what is being said to him. He frustrates me. I love him so much.
My son’s brain is continuing to grow. This afternoon we saw him flicking though one of his Spot books. He was using the pictures to tell his own story. Sometimes he matched the words of the book, but often he didn’t, instead telling The Lad’s version of the story. This is new.
We built something out of blocks. He said he wanted a tower, and we started building it. The tower suddenly became a bouncy castle. And then he wanted to build a man, so we did. He asked me to build bits of him, arms, the head and feet. This is new.
Man on bouncy Castle. The Lad 2014
He chased the Roomba around today, turning it on and off and laughing. He was controlling it, he worked it out and wanted to exercise his new found power. This is new.
The voyages of the USS Roomba…
He’s grasping concepts, understanding more and his imagination is exploding. In amongst all this activity he’s experiencing emotion.
I’ve been reading a book called In the Beginning by Michael Nagle for ages now. I keep coming back to it, forgetting where I was, reading other things and then remembering it collecting dust at the bottom of a pile of stuff. It’s an overview of current neurological science relating to childhood development from 0 to 6, and I’d recommend it to everyone. He says a few good things:
- Toys that claim to “aid development” are a load of crap.
- The brain develops in a remarkably uniform way, but how that development manifests is different in every child.
- The emotional centres of the brain develop early, well before the cognitive centres of the brain develop the capacity to control them.
That last point is the rub. Young children experiences full-blown emotions with the same intensity as an adult, but can’t control, understand or process them yet. He has to learn how to, has to be shown how to. So getting angry with him is probably unhelpful.
If I could talk to myself 3 years ago, stuck in a miasma of sleep deprivation, cradling the baby and an overwhelming sense that I was useless because I didn’t have mammary glands, I’d tell me “You think it’s tough now kiddo, just wait!” and cackle madly at myself as I disappeared back through a time portal to the present day. (Where my son would probably hit me on the head with his gumby figurine and I’d wrench it from his hand because he’d just push my last button.)
I never know which Lad I’m going to get these days. Back in the old days it was at least consistent, but now he’s on a roller coaster. If I lean in to give him a kiss do I get a kiss? Or do I get hit on the head with something? If I ask him to come to me will I be ignored 20 times? Or will he come at once? It all changes so fast, and there isn’t much of a pattern to it.
After he bit me I asked him to go to his room because daddy needed to calm down. The Mamanator helped whisk him away and I heard her talk to him about what happened and why it was the wrong thing to do. He came out and said “Sorry I bit you daddy”, and we moved on. Grudges are pointless.
This evening we made tortillas together, he played wonderfully. He ate an orange and cleaned up after himself. He put his own toys away and talked and talked and talked. We had an amazing time and he was so lovely. Then he gobbled down ALL his dinner without complaint, and talked about how he’d helped make it.
It is confusing and unnerving. I try to be a positive parent, try to keep my cool and try to set a good example. But there are times when I lose it, times when I get short, shouty and when I use my size to menace him into stopping an action. I have been working on it, it’s not the answer. His inconsistency makes my consistency even more important.
It’s okay to find your kid annoying. I do, frequently. We also have great times together where we play, laugh and sing. And in the middle of the night, when he’s thirsty or scared, he’ll still need me. And I’ll still come running. It’s harder than I thought it would be, but he’s staring at me right now as I type this, yawning and contented.
So there are tears of frustration sometimes. But right now I feel a prickle in my eye that has nothing to do with frustration, just a tear that pops up as I listen to his breath slow, watch his eyes close and think to myself how lucky I am to have this child.
And sometimes he just shits me to tears.