Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pie throwing

Some women manage to hold down a job, raise their kids and find time to blog.

Clearly, I'm not one of those women. I don't know how they do it - and I don't even have a job. Well, not one that pays, anyway.

My blogging time has tended to be when Miss Pie has her naps, but we're currently going through that god-awful transition where day sleeps are becoming a thing of the past.

I am peeved. I need that break. Hell, she needs it - trying to rouse her from anything less than two-hours' sleep (when it's school pick-up time) is a nightmare and only results in a stroppy uncooperative child for the next few hours, making the school run hellish at times. It's kind of a lose-lose situation. If I try to enforce a nap, she fights it for ages, until sleep wins... but by then it's not enough sleep to keep her happy and willing to wake up when required. If I don't enforce the nap, then I'm tearing my hair out (unless we're out and about all day - it's at home that this is a problem). The only bright side to not napping is the speed with which she goes to sleep for the night... but I'm in denial. I love the down time I get when she naps.

I've been debating whether to write about this or not. After all, my girls may be reading this one day. The truth is, though, I'm struggling with a certain toddler. Really struggling.

We seem to lock horns and battle all day long, and I hate that. I used to think that the Faery was stubborn and we've certainly had our moments, but Miss Pie takes things to a whole other level. Resistance. All. The. Way.

There are many days where - psychologically - I'm exhausted. I have nothing left in me.

Just the simple act of getting shoes on and out the door can take up to forty minutes, because she flat out refuses to wear them, or wants to bring something entirely inappropriate along to the shops (like her pillow and top bed sheet). Often, no matter how gently I've approached things, it ends with me forcefully carrying a kicking, screaming, sobbing child down to our car park.

She has no interest in toilet training - and I'm fine with that because I'm a big believer in not forcing it until they're more than ready - but there are some days where she'll have the same nappy on for eight hours. All because I cannot get her to cooperate for a change. You can bring the horse to water but you can't make it drink, and all that. She's strong. She puts up a good fight. She won't lie down. It's incredibly frustrating.

I don't judge other parents for smacking, even though it's something I've tried to avoid so far. I understand that there's a breaking point, and my hand itches so badly some days. There's a button that's getting pressed - a lot - and I worry that the urge is going to override me one day.

I'll ask her to stop doing something, or to come to me (and explain that it's not safe/is going to break something etc) and she will look me square in the eye and continue what she's doing. She doesn't just respond with a simple 'No'... I get an emphatic "Never, Mum. Never." Or "Of course I'm being careful, Mum!"

I have forward flashes of her as a teenager, kohl-rimmed eyes, flicking a cigarette butt my way and telling me to fuck off.

Most Mondays, within half an hour of taking the Faery to school and J leaving for work, she's having her first meltdown for the day. This is despite us having had a (usually) pleasant enough weekend. It's something about one-on-one time with me that induces her fits of fury. That it happens so soon on a Monday is upsetting for me, and makes me feel as though I'm failing her in some way. The thought of enduring another five days of this leaves a dark, thunderous cloud over my head.

J's (unsympathetic) response? That I need to get a job. On one level, I know he's right. I worked three days a week when the Faery was P's age, and it seemed like the best of both worlds. It wasn't easy, but it also meant that the Faery and I didn't get a chance to butt horns all day long, all week. And so, I've started the process. My resume is brushed up, applications for casual work have been submitted... and I fantasise about Miss Pie toilet-training so that preschool can be an option a couple of mornings a week (she'll be three in a matter of months).

Giving her choices doesn't work. Cajoling doesn't work. Counting down doesn't work. Bribes don't work, unless they're of the sugary variety. A time-out corner sometimes works, but obviously I don't want to overuse that. She responds well to lots of positive feedback, but I'm not always in the frame of mind to construct what I say in a positive slant when she's being a royal turd.

Who is this complex little being that she's growing into? She has such a strong sense of self. Taking things literally, if we dare call her a clown or monkey, she defiantly tells us, "No, I not. I P----!" She insists on doing everything herself, even especially things she's not physically capable of.

Her current favourite phrase, when we're walking somewhere and she wants to stop a moment, is "Wait a second minute!" Hard not laugh whenever I hear that.

And despite all the headbutting we do, when she hurts herself enough to cry and need comfort (she's a tough cookie), I'm the only one she wants. Every little thought or desire that pops into her head, she runs to me to share it with. At those times, I remind myself that I must be doing something right.

It's hard to always see it that way, though. A lot of the time, I just feel like I'm doing it wrong.

Toddlers, eh?


  1. Mads, it is a bloody tough gig! I have could have written this about my 3rd....but the only perhaps glimmer of hope I can give you is that just prior to his 4th birthday he finally "got it" when it came to using the toilet - and in the past month his tantrums appear to be subsiding. He isn't arguing about EVERYTHING, and in general is being far more pleasant to be around. Of course we still have moments but it is changing and I have faith that Miss Pie will turn a corner too. Pre-school would be so great just to give you a bit of a break from it all though xxxx

    1. Thanks Jen. I'm not stressed (yet) about the TTing... it seems more the expectation here to start around 3, as opposed to 2 in Australia - well that was my experience with F, anyway. The moment she turned 2 everyone was asking when I'd TT her. No one seems to ask that here. Still, it'd be nice to stop dealing with nappies! One day...

      I'm glad to hear L is giving you more of a break now. Sounds like you've been needing it for a long time! I hope it's a permanent improvement for you. xxx

  2. Just letting you know I've seen this and will be back to comment properly later.

    I had the thought that maybe getting Miss P toilet ready for preschool might not really be a big issue. I know it isn't here - the staff will start her or get things going. That is one of the things that helped us I think.

    Worth enquiring about if you haven't already. =)

    1. Thanks Mel. I think it depends on day care Vs preschool. I remember with F (in Australia) her day care was only to happy to help out with that in the 2 year old's room, but when the kids went into the preschool classroom there, one of the conditions - apart from age - was that they were toilet-trained.

      It seemed to be the same set up at the preschool that F attended here. They have have a 2 year old room but is more of a day care set up, and is considered the 'baby' room. The rest of the classrooms were official preschool classes, minimum age 3, and when we enrolled F the first the thing they mentioned was that she needed to be 'potty-trained' (I'll never get used to calling it that). She was nearly 4 and so that clearly wasn't an issue at that point. She was really happy at that preschool, and whenever I run into staff from there, they ask when P will be going, as they all adored seeing her too. I guess I was hoping to send her there, but I definitely get the vibe that she'll need to be TTed if she's not to go in the baby room. I've read a number of American articles which talk about the pressure to TT kids for preschool, as it's the norm for preschools to not accept kids unless they're TTed. But you're right, I should definitely ask.

      Anyhow, it's still a little while off so I'm not going to worry just yet. I won't force the issue because I strongly believe it just messes up a kid - especially one as stubborn as P. We've talked about how when she stops using a nappy, she can go to school and be a big girl (which she gets excited about - some days she tells everyone she sees that she's going to school soon - not sure that she really gets it!) so I'm just going to leave the ball in her court for now.

      The biggest lesson I've learned these past few months is that she is as equally bright as her sister (I don't think I'd previously given her enough credit - how horrible of me), but she just very much has her own way of approaching things.

  3. I did say I'd be back later, didn't I? I didn't say how MUCH later ... =)

    I know I've told you snippets about my dealings with R (and you've seen some of my tweets during the toilet training phase). He sounds very much like Miss Pie in so many ways.

    He is very loving and will launch himself from the other side of the room for a hug. He's very verbal and a great bookworm so we have common interests. He's funny and very confident in some ways. I can't wait to see what kind of an adult he will be but by God, all I want right now is for him to sit still, put his frickin' shoes on and get dressed because we're going to miss the bloody bus AGAIN!

    It doesn't seem to matter whether we stick to a routine, whether I spend more "quality" time with him or not ... he is a little bugger. He's been that way since he was born. I had an inkling of him being high needs from the start and he has been consistent, bless him. I love that little guy but by golly, he is challenging to parent.

    I don't want to stifle him but equally, how do I balance that with the need to get stuff done and just to maintain a reasonable level of public behaviour? He still runs off and knocks things over in shops. He knows he shouldn't. He's four now and not two so why is he still behaving this way?

    Sorry because this should be about you and Miss Pie - I think it brings me to the main point I wanted to make which is that you are doing nothing to cause the behaviour.

    The dynamic between mother and child is often very specific and unique in each case but they save their best and their worst for us. I wish I could underline that. It's like a double edged sword.

    I can't imagine you have done anything differently than you would have done with the Faery. This is the main issue I have with parenting to a formula - it leaves you no wiggle room if things don't go the way you planned. Not that I think you are doing that, of course. But it is natural to expect that if you've done something once with one child, it will work the same way for the second.

    I think if you had paid work, it might be a good thing for you ... or not. On the one hand it is obviously great for you to have the diversion and some money coming in. It's good to have the break from being at home all the time (I know how the walls tend to close in).

    On the other hand, you are divvying up the pie of your available time in order to work and that comes at some cost too. I know there are weeks when I feel that I do nothing particularly well (that might be all the time) and have spread myself too thin. You've been there though and you know this too.

    There is nothing wrong with working or not working ... either way, you do what is right for you. But your dynamic with Miss Pie may not change and you might find that for a while, her behaviour actually ramps up while she gets used to the new routine. I still have this with R from time to time.

    One final thing (I've probably said enough really) is that sometimes the ones we love offer well intentioned advice that makes us doubt ourselves. I'm sure J is trying to help and it would never be his goal to make you feel somehow less-than. He probably just wants you to feel less stressed about the situation and a break via paid work sounds like a good idea. I know guys like practical solutions. But at times we just need the emotional support more than anything and for some reason, it is hard for others to understand that or how to provide it.

    Good luck - solidarity! Sorry for taking up so much space. Maybe I should get my act together and blog myself. Heh.

    1. Oh wow. You really could have written your own blog post with the time you spent here! Thank you so much for taking that time - I do really appreciate it. I actually keep meaning to email you about some other stuff we've been chatting about. I will do so soon!

      You are so right regarding male practical advice. I get defensive very easily, and he cops that, unfortunately.

      And yes, there sure is no 'one-fits-all' formula for parenting kids. P saving her best and worse for me? I think that's true. She can be an absolute gem when everything is going her way ;)

      I got in touch with F's old preschool today, and found out one of their 3-year-old rooms is specifically for kids who aren't there yet with TTing, which is a relief. Now to bring in some moulah in and pay for future preschool fees...

      PS What is it about getting shoes on to get out the door? Why is it wrought with such drama for some little people? Sigh.

  4. Oh boy, I remember those days. I guess only having one I never had the chance to compare but I remember the defiance and the frustration ( on my part) and I still to this day get 'just let me' before he does what he is asked...
    Do you think she might be ready to cut out the naps? When Julian was 2 and a half he would not be tired until 2 and then sleep forever and by 5 I had to wake him up and he was full of energy and dead annoying until 10! I miss his naps ( I even managed a half clean house during those) but once I made him cut them out he was a happy kid, tired by 7.
    The only trouble is you cannot be on the road or keep her in the pram during the usual nap time... And I guess that is right around the time you must pick Feary up right?

    1. Oh yes! We're definitely on the precipice of ditching naps - I'm just dragging my feet and in denial! When she hasn't napped, she crashes so quickly at night. I guess I tell myself she needs a nap because she does love to sleep in general, and it's so hard to wake her up from a nap. She'll sleep all afternoon if I let her. The school run is a drag because I need to be there around 2pm most days, therefore ready to be leave home no later than 1.40... the worst possible time with a toddler, huh? But yes, no naps will be the answer. A shame, because I LIVE FOR that down time! Ah well, nothing's forever, right? Thanks for reading. x

  5. Hello!!!

    I am here catching the fuck up because I am a terrible friend and I hope you can forgive me.

    This post touched me so much, Mad. Because I could identify on so many levels (fucking little Ox babies - not cool, man, not cool at all) and because it is true and real and honest and beautiful.

    This child, let it be said first up, is beeee-yootiful. Gobsmackingly so. And I imagine that makes the hell of her wrath even harder to take.

    Ziggy is seriously hard work. And whether he reads my blog some day or not, I'm going to tell him that! He tests me on every level. He is irrational and toddler-ish in a way Luca never was. And Luca has given me some hell, believe that! But it's the magnitude of Ziggy's displeasure - LOUD - and the refusal to be distracted/dissuaded/consoled that makes it almost impossible to deal with. Reason is useless. Sugary bribes are EVERYTHING.


    But everything with Ziggy is turned up to eleven. Which means he is the most affectionate, the most hilarious, the most adorable. And like you, when the shit hits the fan, I am the only one he wants. Being THE source of comfort to this little tornado gives me a feeling of great privilege. His quiet moments are some of my most treasured.

    I am fascinated to know who this little guy is going to grow to be. But some days it is hard to enjoy who he is NOW.

    In short (or long?), I get it. I really do.


    1. Yeah, what's with the bloody Year of Ox thing? So not cool, I hear you. Or is it a second child thing? Who knows.

      Thank you for reading, and taking the time to reply. I knew you'd get it. I honestly cannot imagine dealing with this, AND looking after an infant. Do not know how you do it! I'd have been carted off in a straight-jacket by now if I also had a third child to care for.

      As for the affection, it's a funny thing. I'd say that F is more affectionate than P... so that when I do experience a little tender moment with P, it seems to hold so much weight. Does that make sense?

      And her beauty? Thank you for saying so. I am rather stunned myself whenever I gaze at her; that J and I made her (and F, too).


  6. I'm so sympathetic - that sounds terribly exhausting and endless. I hope you find a lovely job and it helps!

    1. Thanks, Megan! You are sweet. I hope I find a lovely job too!