It’s Not About You

Six-year-olds are jerks.

Did you know that? - I love being a kid because when I act like a jerk my mom will totally blame herself.

We’ve been struggling for weeks and weeks with all manner of things with Jack. Finally I went back to the parenting bible I had browsed a year ago – Your Six-Year-Old by Ames & Ilg – and everything became clear. I’m not failing and cancer isn’t stealing Jack’s youth and soul. He’s acting like a jerk because he’s six!

I don’t know why this surprised me. I’ve experienced similar revelations about other frustrating ages and stages. And as each year passes I revise my opinion that the age we just said goodbye to was the worst. Because seriously, kids only get more complicated with age!

But six…I really can’t imagine much worse. At least it’s well known (possibly because we remember them better) that the teen years suck. I remember enough of my teen years to know that I was a royal asshole and nothing my mom could do would have changed that fact – it was like I was implanted with a rage generator. I do not, however, remember much about age six so I just assumed it was mostly shiny and happy. I remember loving school, after all!

My memory is obviously faulty.

It’s always been amazing to watch Jack’s mind work, but now it’s getting scary. He understands – and correctly uses – sarcasm. He imagines up new species and describes their evolution – and it sounds plausible (and sometimes it’s a real thing that he thought he made up!). He states facts about science that *I* have to look up. His mind is getting sharper while mine is slowing down.

He is getting smarter than me, people!

He doesn’t know that, though. He’s still under the impression that adults know everything (although he argues anyway) and he doesn’t want to be an adult quite yet because he’s intimidated by how much it seems he has to learn first. Still, he wants to be important and he wants to be heard. He’s just unsure whether that is a function of age or something else. The uncertainly and anxiety have given him a raging case of “short man syndrome.” And the best person to take that shit out on?


At least in our family it’s that way. Sure, Jack is a jerk to his other parents, too, but I seem to draw most of his ire. Maybe it’s because I’m the reminder of how much he has yet to learn. Maybe it’s because he feels safe and secure with me, thus he can act like a complete asshat and know that I will still love him 150%. Or perhaps it’s just a function of the mother-son relationship. I don’t really know.

In any case, I now know that it’s not about me.

And now I’m telling you all, too, so you don’t agonize like I have been: it’s not about you.

You’re welcome.

[Jack is seven soon. Please tell me the madness stops…]

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A Plant In A Boot Saves The Day

Jack has these meltdowns sometimes. He gets so agitated and upset that he starts making all kinds of noises – growling and moaning and seething. He kicks and hits things and looks wild-eyed. He rocks and flails. He is SO UPSET and his whole body shows it. He radiates stress.

When he was a toddler, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It sucked, but it was usually in connection with being overtired and overstimulated. The best way to handle it was to let him go at it in a darkened room. He was smaller and less destructive then.

Waiting it out is harder these days. He can cause real damage to himself and the stuff around him. The dark room doesn’t seem to penetrate the haze and he gets even more upset if we try to hold and hug him.

So last night when Jack went into his tailspin (because I had demonstrated to him why I didn’t like to be climbed on), I was at a loss. He didn’t want to be held or massaged or even talked to. I tried anyway, but he was completely out of control of his own faculties and I had to just get out of the way lest I get kicked in the face. When I reached the point where I just wanted to yell at him to STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT, I realized I needed to leave the room.

I traded places with David and he wasn’t much more successful than I was. Instead of Jack calming down, the tension kept building. David tried to get him to think of happier things but that just seemed to piss him off more. Finally, David passed the torch back to me and left the room.

A few minutes later he came back, this time with one of Jack’s plants. He had recently planted some Dragon Tongue beans and the sprouts are shooting up fast. Jack started to calm when he saw the sprout, and then he had an idea. He asked for a boot and David complied. Then Jack created an ode to WALL-E:

This helped immensely! You can’t help but smile at a plant in a boot, right?

I then offered to read one more chapter from The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (<-sponsored) so that Jack had a bit more time to wind down and all was then well with the world.

But who would have predicted that a plant in a boot would do the trick? What will the solution be next time??

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The Face of Triumph

Thanks to Plum Organics for sponsoring my post about fun kid photos and the stories behind them. Enter Plum’s “Babies for Yum Caption Contest” on Facebook and you could win a $100 gift card or Plum goodies.

For Jack’s fifth birthday, I wanted to do something different.  I didn’t want to add even more toys to his already bulging pile (I am pretty sick of stepping on Legos) and he’s been very adamant lately that he wants to spend time with me (usually instead of going to daycare), so I thought a shared experience would be a great alternative.

David and I discussed a trip to Disneyland but, after looking at the insanely high cost a trip like that would be and taking into account that Jack has fun playing with things like cardboard boxes, we thought something close to home would be just as good.  It didn’t take long to decide on Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo – they have a TON of rides that are tailored to younger children and, since I wasn’t sure how Jack would react to the rides, there are many animal exhibits as an added benefit.  I figured we couldn’t go wrong.

I was right!  Jack absolutely loved the theme park (EXCEPT for the roller coaster, which he “kinda hated”).  One of the coolest things about the theme park was the selection of carnival games.  I know what you’re thinking – carnival games are typically quite scammy; however, there was a balloon game with a little sign that said something like “children play until they win.”  I was beside myself with the AWESOME (especially after recently experiencing a fundraiser carnival where Jack tried several times to win and had no luck, which led to a meltdown).  I forked over $5 for a couple of darts and on his 4th try Jack managed to pop TWO balloons with one dart, shocking all of us!  Rather than go for one big prize, he decided on two smaller stuffed dolphins, one of which he gave to his 2 year old cousin Sabrina.  He named the blue one that he kept Splash.

Here is a picture of him posing triumphantly with his winnings (doesn’t he look so blasé?):


And the gold medal goes to Jack!

Jack was super happy to have won and Sabrina was delighted with her dolphin.  Neither child let their new toys out of their site for the rest of the day.

Let me tell you – that was the BEST $5 I have ever spent!

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

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Sometimes ya gotta get mean

I bought Jack some new clothes recently.  He had grown out of all of his long sleeved shirts and it’s been cold and rainy here.  I bought some uber cute shirts from The Children’s Place featuring things like guitars and monsters on the front.  Only problem?  He refuses to wear them.  He says he doesn’t like ANY of them, claiming: “Those are BAD shirts.”  Yesterday Jack ended up in a too-small shirt at daycare because it was the only old piece of clothing that was clean and his fit was monstrous (especially after I tried to bribe him with a cookie and when it didn’t work, I withheld the cookie, which led to a 30 minute tantrum).

When Jack tried to put up another fight this morning, I decided to play hardball.  I asked nicely first and then when he refused…

“Jack, if you don’t pick a shirt to wear, I’m going to send you out in the rain without one.”


“Which shirt do you want to wear?”

“I don’t like those shirts, moooooom!”

*opening the front door to show him the pouring rain* “Okay, let’s go.  No shirt for you!  You’re going naked in the rain.”

“Nooooooo, I’ll put a shirt on!”

And so he did.  He whined but I got a (pirate monkey) shirt on him and his new waterproof jacket and we got out the door without too much frustration.

Let it be known that I do not negotiate with terrorists, even (especially!) three year old ones.

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For the love of naps

I know there are some 3 year olds out there who are no longer taking naps…and I am so very sorry for their parents. Every once in a while, Jack skips his, but for the most part we are slaves to naptime in our house. At a minimum, naptime usually lasts 1.5 hours…but typically it’s closer to 2.5-3 hours long. Sometimes I get a nap in there, as well! Oh naptime…how I love thee!

Yesterday Jack told his daycare provider that he wasn’t sleepy and skipped his afternoon nap. When I picked him up he was running around like a nut, circling me, climbing on me, throwing himself at me…I knew he was so tired he was loopy and it was only 5:30. He could barely sit still to put his shoes on, yet he was determined to put them on himself…I ended up having to help him because he couldn’t settle down enough to focus!

When we got home, Jack continued his wacky behavior. He consented to playing a java applet game that David programmed for a bit and then demanded to see princesses on the computer. I tried to get him excited about the Nutcracker Ballet (on our schedule for next month) but he wasn’t quite convinced the dancers were princesses. We found videos of a Sleeping Beauty ballet and then the kid spent a bunch of time pirouetting around the kitchen “like a princess.” Hmm, maybe ballet is in his future??

Jack used the potty by himself for the second night in a row, which was fantastic, but he did it after brushing his teeth and then he wanted a chocolate reward. 😛 That wasn’t too bad, but getting him to bed was a nightmare. Ever since Halloween he’s been wanting to wear his Buzz Lightyear costume. I’ve managed to hold him off by telling him it’s dirty, but last night he was not taking no for an answer. In the absence of his actual costume, he wanted to wear his Buzz pajamas, which are at his dad’s. He delayed readying for bed by jumping on his mini trampoline and ended up bonking his lip on the handles…which led to a fantastic fit of crying. I quickly ran out of patience when the owie crying stopped and the fake, loud-pitched “feel sorry for me” crying began.

He eventually settled for his Superman pajamas, but of course he had to get undressed all by himself and he refused to unbutton/unzip his pants first. If y’all see red bruises on his hips, it’s not from me, I can guarantee you that!

We read the program from Princess Classics as a bedtime story, and then Jack wanted to read more princess books. Unfortunately, we have none! I lied and told him that the mother in a couple of Edward Gorey books he has is a princess and he let me read those to him. Afterward he said he wanted “a big princess book” and threw a FIT when one did not appear. The kid was screaming like a banshee for a good hour and there was no calming him. I left the room to let him get it out for a while and then came back to read The Princess and the Pea out of the (terribly written) fairytale book we have (which he had refused to read earlier) and look at all of the pictures of princesses contained therein…he finally calmed down and went to sleep without too much fuss.

I then took a sudafed (still fighting a cold!) and watched a bit of a movie before totally conking out for the night. Thank goodness for sleep…and please let that kid never skip a nap again!

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