There is a part of me that really misses those earlier days of parenthood when all I had to worry about was keeping my baby alive and myself sane. It didn’t seem like such an easy task at the time but at least it was fairly simple. Now it’s not enough to keep the kid alive – I need to teach him stuff, too, and he is not quite as open to learning as he was as a little chubby, spongy baby.
Jack has been testing limits all over the place. When he is asked to do something, he says “Mooom, I WILL – in 5 minutes.” When that 5 minutes is up, he needs another 5, etc. It’s not enough to give him choices or bribe him – he thinks even if he takes an hour to get dressed, he is still entitled to a reward. And whenever he eventually does get around to doing what he is supposed to, he doesn’t want any adults watching him. It’s like he is saying, “I can behave, but I refuse to do it for your benefit!” Then there are the times when I tell him I need to take something away from him until he complies, he often responds with, “You can’t do that!” It takes a lot of self control to not engage in an argument about what I certainly CAN do as his mother!
He’s been increasingly vocal about disliking going to daycare, as well – a place he has loved for nearly two years. He claims he doesn’t like it there, that he doesn’t like the provider, that he doesn’t like learning or painting…nevermind that he is the last one to put his painting supplies away and many days when we pick him up he doesn’t want to leave.
Last week he started pushing some of the smaller kids in daycare (apparently because he doesn’t want them to touch his toys), and he has gotten into a “fight” with another boy his age. Suddenly I am needing to discipline my kid! We had a talk about appropriate behavior and I took away one of his favorite shows (Ben 10) until he could show me that he could behave at daycare. There have been some major crying fits over this and that has been very hard for me. My instinct to make him STOP CRYING is insanely strong and it kills me to hear him upset (and I now TOTALLY understand why some moms say “your dad will deal with you when he gets home!”). I held my ground, though, and finally yesterday he got himself in gear. He got to watch his show last night and this morning he asked if he could watch it again if he had another good day. I said yes and then we talked about alternatives to pushing when the younger kids try to grab for his toys. So…fingers crossed.
I’m not entirely sure what is driving Jack’s recent behavior (maybe it’s just a 4 year old thing) but theories include the testosterone surge that supposedly happens in 4 year old boys and the possibility that daycare isn’t challenging him properly anymore. No matter what the case, we’re thinking it’s a good idea to channel this energy into something productive and maybe more physical like a tumbling class or peewee sports, where he can learn better impulse control. His dad will be taking him an extra day a week soon and there are a lot of community resources for this type of thing in his area, so he’ll try some things out soon.
This is a weird place for me to be in. I’m a real grown up now. I’m that person saying, “You need to listen to me because I’m your mom and it’s my job to teach you about life!” This more than anything makes me feel old.