No Good, Very Bad Day

My hands smell faintly of shit.

Let me back up a bit. T was warm when we put him to bed last night. This morning he clearly had a fever, how high I didn’t know because the damn thermometer only gave a reading of 97 or 98. He also had a sore throat.

I have vowed to be the kind of Mom who sends her kid to school unless the need for an ambulance is involved. On the 4th day of kindergarten I broke that vow. C had his three year well visit today at 10, so I brought sick T along for the ride.

sick t

In the doc’s parking lot. He was passed out at 9:45am. And no, I have no idea what is going on with his tongue.

Let’s just say that getting a nearly catatonic kid plus a kid having a tantrum on the scale to grab their weights was quite the workout for the nurse and me. It was also loud enough for the occupants of the waiting room down the hall and around the corner to have a blow by blow of events, which I’m sure they appreciated. Because they got to feel good that their children were not embarrassing them in public.

T doesn’t have strep. And I’m really bummed. Not because I’m a raging asshole. (Oh who am I kidding, I am a raging asshole, but that part comes later in the post) If he had strep the antibiotics would ensure that he would feel better tomorrow. And that he could go to the birthday party he was looking forward to. Along with his first swimming lesson since he was about one. Instead I can’t do anything to help him. He is going to feel like total garbage for the next several days.

I’m sure C will catch it in time to miss his first day of school preschool on Monday. Speaking of C, he has rocketed up the growth chart from the 3% in weight one year ago all the way up to 5% today. This kid is so painfully thin that I’m scared people will think I’m starving him. If we manage to get him up to double digits in weight by the time he gets there in age perhaps I’ll stop obsessing that Child Protective Services is going to show up at my door demanding that I prove I’m giving him three square meals a day.

We got home and ate our lunch. The boys finished first and T collapsed back on the couch while I gave both boys a marshmallow, a bribe for making it through the flu shot at the doc’s. And yes, the doc gave the all clear for T to get the vaccine. He’s fever was only 100.5. And yes, the nurse and I had to hold T down together while he thrashed and screamed in anticipation of the shot. And yes, I cried a little.

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Poor sick kid couldn’t bring himself to eat the marshmallow.

I settled back at the table to bolt the rest of my lunch before taking C up for his nap. Two minutes later C walked into the room and proclaimed, “I pooped!”

I whipped around. There was poop on his thigh and leg. There was poop hanging off his butt. There was poop all over both his hands. In what feels like slow motion I watched him put one hand and then the other in his mouth.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed. But it was too late.

“DO NOT MOVE!” I’d scared the hell out of him. He wasn’t moving, but he was also weeping.

I carried him to the bathroom by his shoulders. He tried to reach out for me and it was like a demon with a voice several octaves below mine has possessed me. “DO NOT TOUCH ME!”

He cried harder.

I used baby wipes to get the chucks and streaks of poop off of him. The crying continued. I was focused on not puking, therefore I was unable to provide comfort.

We awkwardly climbed the stairs with me holding his wrists. I used an obscene amount of soap all over him, washing his hands about six times. I finally thought they no longer smelled like shit.

When I got him in bed for his nap I notice his hands still smell like shit. As do mine.

He sniffled and asked to go downstairs to pick out a toy that he could sleep with. In perhaps my worst parenting moment of the year I tell him that he can only have a toy to nap with when he figures out how to poop in the potty. Ah, there is the part where I’m a raging asshole!

It would be fair to call him potty trained when it comes to pee. He wears underwear whenever he is awake. The pee accidents are few and far between and usually my fault for not reminding him to go. And here is where my denial of a toy is even more assholic. Please, feel free to judge my shitty parenting. He is scared to poop in the potty.

I have no idea how to get past his fear. I feel bad for him. Most days I have more patience with the shit accidents. But I am so fucking sick of it. I am sick of cleaning crap off the floor, off his body, I’m sick of the ground in shit in his underwear. I’ve actually thrown several pairs away because I cannot face trying not to puke in the utility sink while I scrub.

Help me friends. Help me. How do I convince him that he doesn’t need to be scared of pooping in the toilet? Also, if you know a trick for getting the smell of shit off of C and my hands I’d love to hear it!

c cupcake

I love him. I feel terrible for losing patience with him. I want him to shit in the fucking toilet.

Shopping Cart Tantrums

C was the picture of reasonableness as we walked hand in hand from the car into Wegmans. I bent down to lift him into the grocery cart and a tantrum so sudden and violent erupted that he was suddenly horizontal in my arms. If I hadn’t have had a firm grip on the kid his head would have cracked into the cement floor at maximum velocity.

He was shrieking and wildly dog paddling through the air as I tried to stuff his legs into the front of the cart. Somehow he managed to stand up and dude was trying to take a dive right out of there.

My face was beet red.

Tantrums suck. You feel like an asshole. You bet that half the people are wondering why you can’t control your kid and the other half think you have given birth to Charles Manson.

Which is stupid. When I see a kid having a tantrum at a store I just want to hug the Mom. Tell her I KNOW HER PAIN. Hug her again. Buy her a beer.

But in the moment of my own kids’ tantrums I cannot remember all that. The anxiety takes over and whispers to me that I am failing as a Mom and human and that everyone is disgusted by me and pities my child.

Good times.

At this point I look up and a man is standing uncomfortably close to me. I’m confused. There are two rows of identical carts. I am off to the side blocking one row, but as the exact same cart is fully available to other customers I’m not concerned about the fact that hustling us out of the cart lane isn’t going, um, as smoothly as I’d envisioned. I always try to make sure I’m not inconveniencing other shoppers when I settle my kids into a cart, tantrum or no.

I look at the guy. I look at the other row of identical carts.

He looks at the row as well. “That one on the end looks dirty to me.”

Are you fucking kidding me? The one on the end looks dirty? THEY ARE ALL FILTHY! It is a grocery store. When do you think was the last time any of them were washed?

My kid is trying to swan dive out of the cart. I am swallowing a rising anxiety attack. At the best of times I worry about being in the way of other people. So although I cannot believe the balls on this dude I become a simpering apologist. “Oh. I’m so sorry.” I grab the cart and C and try to back up towards the entrance so this guy can get the cart behind the one I’m using.

And C falls over. He landed sideways in part of the cart he was already standing in. I had my hands on him the whole time. Clearly he wasn’t hurt. But he was furious enough to increase the volume, which I thought was an impossibility.

The guy looks over his shoulder at us. “Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to make the little guy fall down!”

I was so pissed at that point that I couldn’t even reply.

Listen, no one forced me to have kids. It is not humanity’s responsibility to cater to me and my offspring in public. No mother should get a free pass just because it sucks to go to the grocery store with a toddler. We are also contributing members of society and it is our responsibility to not use our kids as an excuse to justify rude behavior.

But what the fuck? What the fuck was with that dude? The kicker was he maneuvered the “clean” cart over to the sanitizer wipe dispenser and gave it a major wipe down anyway. I certainly don’t expect special treatment while shopping with a kid having a tantrum, but how about not being a ginormous dickweed? How about that?

Ok.  I feel a little better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.

dancing C

Would you believe this adorable child who was dancing on a table just this morning would throw a tantrum at the store?

cat videos

Daddy, C, and T using the internet the way god intended-by watching cute cat videos.

A Rough Patch

T and I are going through a rough patch. I’m not saying we are going to break up, but I have had moments of wishing the era of very bleak orphanages still existed. I kid, I kid…sort of.

One of the things that is helping me get through this period in our relationship is the realization that all three year olds are evil. On top of that it seems that all children born in 2009 are, shall we say, “spirited”. I know quite a few kids born that year and I can’t think of a single one who is easy. We have friends with a three year old and two older kids-they told us that the older ones were nothing like him at three. They were experienced parents, thought they had this whole thing figured out until dun dun dunnnn…child born in 2009 terrorizes family! It’s not that bad, of course, but those ’09ers are…challenging. Do you guys know an easy kid born that year? If so can we introduce him/her to T? Anything for a positive influence!

Every three year old has their own particular brand of awful, it’s what makes life interesting. T’s starts with the fact that he is so verbal. Don’t get me wrong, it rocks that he is verbal. Dude’s first word came at 9 months and he hasn’t shut up since. I don’t think he’s some genius because he happens to be an early talker-I mean, I totally think he’s a genius. Just in the normal required by law way that all parents think their kid is special and brilliant, not in the I-have-some-bizarre-expectation-that-he’ll-be-attending-Harvard-as-a-10-year-old way. But the thing about having a great communicator is you get lulled into believing he is rational and emotionally mature enough to make better choices.

This morning T shut C’s fingers in a door with malice and aforethought. I was wrestling with packing tape on a box that needed to be mailed and told T to go pee because we needed to get ready to leave for school. C followed T to the bathroom and T wanted privacy. That’s what he says, “I. NEED. PRIVACY!” Only he didn’t say it this time. He just got mad and shut C’s fingers in the door. I lost my shit all over T. I mean, yelled so loud that he started crying. Usually he is totally relaxed about me yelling at him, but this time he knew I meant business. After I made sure that C’s fingers weren’t broken and gave him some good cuddles I moved on to T.

He was still weeping, so I hugged him and told him that I was probably the most angry I’d ever been at him, but I still loved him. I would always love him, no matter what. I asked him how he would feel if someone closed his fingers in the door. He said bad. I asked what he would do. He said he would close their fingers in the door. I told him to hold on, I said we don’t want to hurt back, we need to get help. He should let a grown up know, or come get me. I pointed out that I was really mad when he did it to C, but my response was not to then close his fingers in a door because I would never ever hurt him. He said oh. Yeah. So I asked what should happen if someone closed his fingers in the door. He told me if I did it I should get a time out. I replied that was a good plan, but reminded him I really was never going to close his fingers in a door on purpose. No matter how mad he made me. I held him, I comforted him, I talked to him. But man, I was still so mad at him.

And for once I felt like completely losing my shit on him was a great choice. When he hurts C, or anyone, he needs to understand it is a great big hairy deal. He needs to understand that I will be furious. He especially needs to be jarred enough that he will stop what he is doing that second, which he totally did. And after I run damage control on the injured party I will comfort him and talk to him about it.

Listen, even if he wasn’t a verbal three year old I’d freak if he shut someone’s fingers in a door. But the problem is because he can express himself so clearly I expect more out of him. This morning he wandered into the bathroom while I was in the shower. “Mommy?” he called to me, “How are you doing today?” I explained that I was well as I chuckled to myself. “And how was your school yesterday? Did you play with your friend?” We weren’t talking about the fact I had school yesterday. His grasp on time, on events in my life that are separate from his own, his desire to communicate, all of it delights me. And I find myself taking it for granted. Which leads to me expecting a level of emotional sophistication that is completely unreasonable.

Today I really needed the break from him that school provides. I explained to his teacher what happened and asked her to watch to make sure he wasn’t aggressive towards the other kids. And writing this has helped me cool off. I know he isn’t a psychopath. No wait. I know is IS a psychopath, but no more than every other three year old in the world. He is testing boundaries, he is frustrated by the existence of his brother especially now that C wants to do exactly what T is doing every second of every day. And a lot of the time he is able to use his words-he calls us for help when C is pissing him off.

Last Friday he threw a whopper of a tantrum when it was time to leave school. Sadly for me he did it when all the other mothers were there for pick up. He flopped on the floor like a fish as I tried to stuff him into his jacket. Then he did the dead weight thing and wailed his heart out. All of the other kids were acting like perfect angels. I couldn’t even make eye contact by the time we left. I know all kids throw tantrums, it still sucks balls in the moment.

The next day he and I were driving in the car together and he said, “Mommy? Yesterday I was so angry. I didn’t want to leave school. I wanted to be with Addy.” Addy’s his favorite pal. You know what? I was so fucking proud of him for being able to tell me how he felt that I didn’t care about the tantrum anymore. He is trying. I am trying. We both mess up sometimes. We will get through this three year old bullshit. My smart mom friends tell me life gets much easier when they hit four. I can’t wait. I bet he can’t wait either.

 Teaching a kid to be a decent human is a fucking insane amount of work. But he’s worth it. He’s also a hell of a lot of fun and a mostly a really sweet kid. 

Did I mention he’s a hell of a lot of fun?

I believe the one on the far right is going to be our Christmas card this year.
Photos by Ellie Leonardsmith.