Battle Lines

Posted on | June 4, 2014 | 21 Comments

This morning, we were up before six… again… and there were tears before eight. Everything these days seems to be a struggle of epic proportions. He doesn’t want to pick out his own clothes but hates the ones I bring him. He doesn’t want to tell me what he wants for breakfast but hates what I make him. When it’s time to bathe, you’d think the water was made of poisonous darts, piercing his skin and do. not. get. me. started. on washing his hair.

Everything is a battle.

And I’m worn out and frazzled and tired of saying “TIME OUT” and at this point even his name sounds like a freaking curse word or at the least a nonsensical sound, the same way saying any word over and over seems to strip it of meaning.

I don’t know what to do anymore.

He is, for all intents and purposes, a great kid. His teachers love him. He has friends who love him. His baby sitter adores him. His grandparents spoil him rotten and he has not just two parents who love him but two pseudo parents in his father’s girlfriend and my boyfriend, who think the world of him, too. And he is a really great kid.

When he wants to be.

But it seems that he expends all of that greatness of all of these other people and what is left at the end of the day is a whirling dervish of a gremlin who hates everything, especially me, and left his ears or at least his ability to listen somewhere along the road between our house and school. What’s left at the end of the day is a child who wants nothing more than to take out a full day’s worth of frustration on me… and a mother who is too frustrated from work to soothe his moods.

We are at each others’ throats from the moment we walk through the door until the moment he falls asleep, with small pockets of sweetness in between. And some days, those pockets are VERY small. It’s like he came equipped with a handbook that told him where all of my buttons are located and he simultaneously stomps, kicks, slaps, and spits at every single one. (no. he doesn’t actually kick or spit at me, though he has been known to swat at my bottom WHICH MAKES ME GO ALL CRAZY-EYED.)

I want to remember that he’s four. I want to draw in a deep breath and remember that my kid missed me all day and wants my attention. I want to nod and smile and drink in these moments because “They don’t last forever” and “blink and he’s all grown up” and all that other stuff people with selective memories say to parents. But honestly?

I have a hard time remembering any of that when he screams “I AM NEVER SNUGGLING WITH YOU EVER AGAIN AND YOU CANT BE MY MOMMY ANY MORE” at the top of his lungs from approximately one inch away from my face.

I have a hard time remembering that patience is a virtue and kids are precious and these moments are the golden days of our lives and yadda yadda yadda.

What I DO remember is that his door closes and his room seems to be  fairly safe and if I sit directly in front of it with my hand on the door handle, I can have five minutes of peace while we both cry. What I remember is that I will not hit a kid, I will not hit a kid, I will not hit a kid, until those words become a Broadway musical in my head.

I feel like I’m drowning in the fourness of him… the pseudo-teenager, angst-filled, angry and emotional crazy that is pre-school. And what I’d really like is for someone to tell me that it’s all going to get better soon.




21 Responses to “Battle Lines”

  1. Kristine T.
    June 4th, 2014 @ 11:42 am

    I know you know this, but let me remind you – he let’s all his frustrations out on you bc you are safe! As for all the battles …. I have a 6 yr old girl, a 2 yr old boy & have done in-home childcare for 9 yrs after being a nanny for 4 yrs – ignore them. It’s hard & takes practice, but ignore when he’s trying to start a battle. For clothes, give him 2 options & tell him if he doesn’t pick one in _?_ time then you will pick (Once I pick, my daughter either goes with it or picks the other one & I don’t care as long as the clothes are on! LOL) For bathtime, let him know before time that he will be washed whether he screams or not, but if he screams he doesn’t get to play in the tub/watch cartoons/whatever works for him that would naturally occur after. IT DOES GET BETTER! But it doesn’t happen overnight 🙁 Good luck & when he’s at his worst he just needs hugs from you the most & they have this uncanny way of picking when you’re the busiest!

  2. Law Momma
    June 4th, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

    Yes. My mom tells me the same thing. She says I’m his safety zone… and you WANT your kids to act right in public. But still… 🙂

  3. Ga Mom
    June 4th, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

    Kristine T. Gives good advice. He is doing this to you because he can. Don’t give him the power. And I know you don’t believe in spanking, but if you did it once or twice, you would make a believer out of him and he would listen to what you say the next time. Get control of the situation now, before he’s 10 years old and really taking you for a ride.

  4. Law Momma
    June 4th, 2014 @ 2:16 pm

    She does indeed. My problem really stems from the fact that every time I raise my voice to my child, he breaks down in full on sobs and runs and hides like I’ve broken his heart. If he does that from a mid-range yell, I could never bring myself to hit him.

  5. Ga mom
    June 4th, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

    Law Momma…you are so tenderhearted. You can be tough sometimes! Your child will love you for making boundaries. I know its not easy.

  6. Kersten
    June 4th, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

    My FIL, who has been a coach for 50 years and is annoyingly awesome because he is almost always right, says, “Never change a winning game. Always change a losing game.” It’s true on courts, fields, rinks, and in my house. Pick a new strategy. Give it time to work. If the results aren’t what you want, try again. It will get better. I promise.

  7. Law Momma
    June 4th, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

    Yeah. I’m working on it. This week is really just rough because school is closed and I’m trying to juggle way too much stuff.

  8. Kersten
    June 4th, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    Well, if that is the case, cut yourself some slack and have a glass of wine! 🙂 We’ve all been there.
    I love your honesty & your words resonate with me. I had a similar morning. My strategy for tomorrow… beat them out of bed (as in get up earlier). I’m kidding about the latter point… who gets up at 4:30 to have a great start to the day???

  9. Laura
    June 4th, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

    If you’re interested, here’s one possible new strategy for creating boundaries with less reliance on yelling, time outs, or spanking. It won’t be easy necessarily – and the hardest part for me has been recognizing when I need to recharge my *own* batteries so I can keep my sense of humor and remain as even-keeled as possible – but it certainly has helped in our family. and [Note: I’m not affiliated with ahaparenting in any way – except as a appreciative mom.]

  10. R's Mom
    June 5th, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

    We’ve had to use an “action speaks louder than words” approach. He knows that his actions have consequences. Episodes of not listening, talking back/copping an attitude, etc. means that he loses a privilege. Right now, he loves watching a slide show of his baby pictures on the ipad before bed, or watching a movie on the ipad on Saturday morning. If he does not behave appropriately, he loses ipad privileges. And then he has to earn the privileges back. This requires being consistent and following through — and sometimes its just as tough on us as it is on him. But after a few times of it happening, it did have an impact on him. Also, it doesn’t involve us yelling — we just calmly remind him that he shouldn’t jump on the furniture/shouldn’t talk back/should get dressed (or whatever the issue is) and that if he doesn’t follow through, he loses the privilege. It may result in him getting upset, but I think that by us not yelling or losing our temper it lets us keep the upper hand.

  11. Law Momma
    June 9th, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

    Upper hand is good. I’ve got to find “the thing” that makes J listen. haha

  12. Guest
    June 5th, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

    I feel you, lately it has been feeling like I had a ton of bricks tossed at me, I had to go into momma bear mode this week for my daughter and court this morning she had to come with me. I made it through and I must say thank God for my sister and my kindle to keep my kiddo occupied when it was a stressful one for me and could have been for her as well <3

    It will get better though even though the days where you are barely feeling like your keeping your head above water seem long. You got this and your strong to make it through!

  13. Law Momma
    June 9th, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

    There are just some weeks like that. Definitely.

  14. Roxanne Piskel
    June 5th, 2014 @ 10:03 pm

    It’s going to get better. I promise. XO

  15. Law Momma
    June 9th, 2014 @ 2:40 pm


  16. Laura Kipp
    June 6th, 2014 @ 2:25 am

    That sound familiar… it sound to me like you’re over stressed (gee I wonder why ;)) I say that because in my experience, if I’m doing fine and my reservoirs aren’t empty, a little kid screaming at me can actually be funny, but if I’m on empty, it’s i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e to “have a good attitude.” Here’s to praying you get what you need!!

  17. Law Momma
    June 9th, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

    Yeah. I actually find that this happens the week before he goes to see his dad almost every month. It’s like 4 weeks is all I can handle without a break!

  18. Guest
    June 8th, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

    Four year old boys are TOUGH (says another mom of a current 4 yr old boy). I’m working on a new strategy also so know you’re not alone.

  19. Law Momma
    June 9th, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    So glad I’m in good company although, obviously, I hate that you’re in this place, too! 🙂

  20. Sara
    June 10th, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    123 Magic is working wonders for us…we were struggling with pretty much all of the same things. There’s a DVD (helpful to get everyone on board) and several books. Highly recommend! Gets rid of so many of the battles!

  21. TarynB
    June 13th, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

    i know all kids are different…. but i’ve learned what works for my howler monkeys…. I have snacks (goldfish/grapes/whatever and capri-suns) in a small cooler that I pack and take to work with me. They get doled out the SECOND we are in the car from daycare. The phrase “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry” applies to my kids all.the.time. As soon as we get home they say Hi to the dogs, put away shoes/socks and get 20-30 min of TV, video game, toy time, whatever they pick. This is to both give them a chance to relax and me a chance to get dinner on the table. As soon as dinner is done (since it’s summer and no school) we all pile on the couch and talk about our day, read books, play a game, etc. Then it’s time for tub/showers. My boy (6) gets a little more play time and my girl (3) gets snuggle time with mom and book reading and goes to bed.

    We have a chore chart laid out for the week that must be all done to get allowance. When they have mellowed out after tub, we pick clothes for the next day. We definitely have our meltdown times, and that gets reflected in their play/game time. Not finishing dinner also has consequences. It has taken awhile to get us to this point, but my kids are now very aware of what the rewards and consequences are for being good or bad. I highly recommend the Love and Logic series. 🙂 The best piece of advice I got from that book…. don’t yell. Just turn on your poker face and repeat what you are saying to them in total monotone. Takes awhile to get used to it, but it eventually clicks when they realize they just cannot get a rise out of you! 🙂 It gets better, I promise!!!

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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