Last month, I discovered the parenting magic that is “Screamfree Parenting” and I’ve tried exceptionally hard to follow the calm, level-headed, responsible parenting guidelines that the book tries to demonstrate. I feel like we really gained some traction the first couple weeks and in fact, I was even given a compliment by a random stranger in regards to how well I diffused a situation with you. You’re probably asking yourself whether you just read that last sentence correctly and you most certainly did.
Let me set the stage for you a bit because this truly is a story and an accomplishment on my part worth sharing. Earlier this month, you decided to wake up on most mornings around 5:30. Every morning at this time, I would wake up to the sound of the toilet lid banging against the back of the toilet and you in turn would watch me shuffle down the hallway as I struggled to open my eyes that downright refused to open at such an ungodly hour. There is no putting you back to bed at this point because you are bright-eyed and ready to go. On this particular morning it was no different. You woke up bright and early at 5:30 and I decided to just allow you to play quietly in the playroom as I decided to go ahead and get ready for the day. We dropped Liv off at school at 8:30 and I could already tell that your early morning was already beginning to wear on you. No sooner had we gotten back in the car after dropping Liv off that you decided that 8:45 in the morning was the perfect time for a nap. Unfortunately, you have speech therapy at 9:30. En route to Starbucks, I’m trying to figure out a game plan because if I wake you up from a nap too early, you’re a major grouch and obviously, I’m not going to miss appointments because you decide to snooze most of the morning. It would have been incredibly easy for everyone to just leave you in the car and let you sleep as I ran in for my latte but at some point in time, some group of “responsible” people deemed that unsafe and ruined it for the rest of us. These are clearly people who have never had to wake up children like you.
I wake you up with the gentle approach hoping my soothing comforting voice awakens you in a calm state. Instead, your eyes fluttered open like some possessed doll and immediately starting flailing all your limbs while making some weird snarl grunting sound complete with spitting. At this point, a coffee is absolutely necessary if I’m going to make the next twelve hours of the day with you. I manage to get you out of the car where you proceed to toss your body this way and that way across the parking lot where you begin to scream wonderful words of love like, leave me alone and don’t touch me and everyone’s favorite all time classic, where’s my daddy?! Now, pre-Screamfree parenting, I would have grabbed your arm very tightly right near your armpit so one arm lifts up in an awkward position. You won’t know this until you’re a parent but this is the universal parenting language meaning you’re in deep shit and I disapprove of your actions by holding you in an awkward and slightly humiliating stance. Remembering the book, I decided to remain out in front of the store where I took you aside and calmly asked why you were yelling at me? Somehow the stars aligned for me this day because you actually stopped crying long enough to listen to me and answer me in a calm voice. We resolved our issue right there and you calmly walked in to the store. From a few tables away, a gentleman who apparently had witnessed the entire parking lot performance, complimented me on my profound parenting. I wanted to run over and bear hug this gentleman and cry in to his shoulder as I let out every frustration that has built up to this point. Instead, I gently nodded and said thank you.
I would like to say that I’ve successfully diffused all of your tantrums since that glorious moment but sadly, that would be a big fat lie. You’re definitely not a fan of my cool calm approach and at times, I actually think it makes the situation worse. It oddly enough reminds me of an exorcism movie where the demonic person strapped to the bed reacts violently to the priest sprinkling holy water on them–my calm, cool and steady demeanor to your tantrums has that same horrific response. It takes a lot of energy to refrain from yelling at you and it’s just downright exhausting trying to diffuse a ticking time bomb which you totally are. You’re just a very high energy emotional child and that combination is enough to make any parent want to put their head in the oven. You overreact to everything; the snack I did or didn’t bring, the items of clothing you are wearing at any given moment, the speed at which I produce meals, the placement of stuffed animals on your bed, the absence of gum in the house, blah blah blah. The list goes on and surely you are thinking that these are all nothing problems–all of these things can easily be remedied. That is absolutely true but you’re also on the hunt to find things to be angry about. Sometimes I actually catch glimpses of you laughing in the middle of a full blown tantrum and I begin to feel like you’re a maniacal phony.
I truly believe that for the sake and welfare of our relationship, something has to change because you’re clearly a high energy person that has spent the last three years of your life depleting my energy resources for your personal gain. My fears of you transitioning in to preschool are long gone and I actually think you receiving discipline from another adult would be very good for you. I realized this during your physical when you decided to torment Olivia in the doctor’s office like you normally do but unfortunately for you, your pediatrician was not amused. She gave you several warnings that you needed to keep your hands to yourself and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be receiving the coveted sticker at the end of the visit. Following true Miles fashion, you received all three warnings and were stripped of your job well done sticker. No tantrum was had and you took the punishment like a man. You were not pleased and a few tiny tears trickled down your cheeks but the magnitude of something so profound like a doctor taking away a sticker somehow carried some weight. Maybe it was the fact she also ordered the shots and suddenly you realized this woman wasn’t messing around.
I think once the holidays calm down, we will look at sending you to school for a couple half days a week if anything, just for us to have some separation so I can run a couple errands without being humiliated and I’m not talking about the public outbursts you perform in the middle of a store. Oh no, you have many other ways to humiliate me. A recent incident occurred while we were in a public and mind you, a very busy bathroom. We’re sharing a stall because you still refuse to pull up your own pants. You’re obsessed with genitalia, specifically male genitalia. You’ve always got a hand or two in your pants and if you’re exposed, you’re very excited to present your goods to whoever is within earshot. Despite your Dad and I telling you repeatedly that only boys have penises, you still like to proclaim that Mommy has a penis. In this particular incident, as I was using the facilities, you looked down at my nether region and in your very loud boisterous voice stated, MOM, I LIKE YOUR PENIS! I calmly tell you, no, mommies have vaginas. You, suddenly realizing that every person in that bathroom has become eerily quiet announce, NO, MOMMY HAS A PENIS! Thanks Miles, we’ll just add that place to the list of establishments that I can no longer visit.
Parenting you has been a challenge and I feel like a total schmuck for saying that because there are so many people out there that have it a hell of a lot worse than I do and I am incredibly grateful to have you but I’m weak. I’ve always struggled with patience and perhaps that’s why I was blessed with a high energy, patience-deficient child. Perhaps we can all learn a little something from each other. In my best attempts to remain calm in my interactions with you, I have learned that in order to keep you stimulated and at ease, you need more outlets. I believe your pediatrician specifically stated, I have to run you like a dog. I have taken these words to heart and in moments that you are struggling to contain your energy and if the current venue allows, I’ve started making you run laps before departing for the next place. This seems to work most times in addition to constantly rotating the apps on my phone.
I like to daydream that all this high energy of yours will have a purpose one day. Perhaps all these strangers who nod their heads in disdain towards me as you have another public meltdown will one day be cheering you on as you play for a major league sports team. Isn’t that funny? Strangers have problems with children who can’t control their emotions in public but as adults, if they’re professional athletes, we expect them to be balls-to-the-wall crazy. Can you imagine how some of these football and MMA players were as children? I’m sure they weren’t the quiet reserved types yet as adults, here we are cheering for these crazy people. Even at times screaming at these individuals to rip off their opponents heads. Ok, maybe that’s just me. In other words, they were able to harness that energy and use it towards something beneficial. They may be crazy in every other facet of their lives but they can at least be successful in one area. There you have it, you can be a highly energetic crazy person just be good at sports otherwise people will be nodding their heads in disdain towards you. Take it from the lady with the penis, that’s never a good thing.
You, according to my phone: