Friday, December 9, 2011

You Made Me Cry

I was so excited all week.  In the three years that Z has been on this planet I never asked anyone to do family portraits until a few weeks ago.  Today was the day my friend was coming over to do a little photo-shoot for us.

I didn't expect too much but I anticipated awesomeness and sillyness.  Just for fun, I imagined us being goofy outside, tickling, hugging, kissing each other and being, well, like we usually are.  I pictured in my head Z holding Bodhi and taking the cutest brother shots in front of the Christmas tree.  This was going to be fun and I'd end up with oodles of rad photos.

I bought a little Santa outfit for Bodhi and decided Z's new green plaid shirt would be cute with a pair of little dude jeans.  He decided to wear his little cowboy boots.  Perfect!  Hey, even I got to dress up for once!  I pulled out one of my favorite black skirts with a sheer layer embroidered with gold and sequins and a cute little black top.  I felt good.  I vacuumed the carpet slapped on a thin layer of lipstick with gold shimmer-the only make-up I own.  Then busted out some of my Grandmother's old fabric for a makeshift tree skirt.  Yay!

We were in the middle of playing when the doorbell rang.  We were in good spirits and had been all morning.  Z did have a little runny nose but nothing else.  Kids always have little runny noses.

She began setting up her stuff and Z was a little antsy.  I thought, oh, he'll calm down and get into it.  He loves being silly.  Nothing struck me as particularly odd.

We sit down in front of the tree and he just doesn't want to.  "Hey, you want to hold an ornament?"  No.  "You want to sit like this?"  No.  "Can you do this?!"  No.  "Look at this funny face!!  Can you make one!?"  No.  Hmmm.  He seemed to just want to be in control and do what he wanted.  Not too untypical but usually something gets him to play along eventually.  Try after try yielded nothing but a little frustration.  So she suggested we go sit outside since it was nice and cool.

We head outside and she plops down a cute little chair and shoots away as Z sits down.  Awesome!  This will work.  This will be fun.

Then she suggests he sits with Bodhi.  He doesn't want to.  I sit down and she gets a few shots and then I stood up.  For some reason Z got angry and threw her little chair and yelled something about not wanting to sit with Bodhi.  He broke the chair!!  I was so sad and obviously embarrassed.  I told him that was rude and it made me mad and sad.  If he didn't want to take pictures he could go sit on the porch.  I figured in a few minutes he'd want to come have fun.  I apologized.  As far as I'm concerned, whatever she says, I owe her a little chair!

We head to another spot in the yard and Z heads there with us.  Same problem.  He's not interested and starting to get rude.  She even tried to help pose him.  I got a car to play with thinking he'd like to hold it.  I had no perfect picture in mind, just us!  Car or not.

He runs off.  He screams that he doesn't want to.  No no no no no.  Nothing works.  He's just being rude, not silly at all.  Maybe I should have asked him to go sit on the porch again.

We take pictures of me and Bodhi.  He comes back.  Then leaves again.  Then repeats this a few times.  He doesn't want her little boy, D playing on his tractor.  D walks off like "fine, whatever."  Z refuses to have fun with us.

She decides to take some pictures of Bodhi on an awesome old sheepskin my Aunt gave me while I talked with Z.  I just wanted him to have fun with us.  I was confused.  I didn't want to over-think it, but I couldn't figure it out or what was going on in his little head.  I really didn't want him to be so rude or mad.  And I wanted pictures.  But I wanted them to be fun pictures.  Not coerced and like he had to.

I bribed him with a surprise, hot chocolate and finally opening a present to get him into take a picture in front of the tree.

We get in and he wants to open the present immediately.  Yeah, I bet!  He finally understands that that is the prize for the picture.  Geez, I just did that?  Yes, I did.  We got the pictures but he wasn't as happy as I had hoped about the whole thing.

Just before she left, we planned on getting together another time to hang out again.  All was good between us.

We walked inside and I teared up.  Z just didn't care about how I felt and that made me more sad and I started to get angry.  "I want my hot cocoa!!!  You said I could have hot cocoa!!"  I told him I did say that so please take off his boots and sit down and I'd get it ready.  I told him I was sad he broke her chair and he was rude.  I told him I was mad about the way he acted.  The only reason he was getting hot cocoa was because I said he could but I didn't think he deserved it.  I refuse to be a liar.

He sat down to have a snack and hot cocoa and Bodhi fell asleep.  I laid him down and came back to Z.  I was still pretty pissed off but he said he was cold and wanted me to hold him.  It seemed to be his way of making nice.  So we cuddled and he fell asleep.  He was tired.  He had over-stressed himself out for some reason.

Maybe it was the runny nose.  Maybe it was being three.  Maybe it was asking him to do so many things.  Maybe it was being a new brother.  Maybe it was me.  Who really knows.  I wish I did though.

Today was just different.  It really bothers me when he gets rude.  And by rude I don't mean doesn't cooperate and do what I say.  I mean showing a total lack of respect towards me and being mean.  I mean throwing things out of anger.  I mean saying rude things.

It's not about me controlling him.  It's about finding a happy medium.  Today I couldn't do it and I felt like a total failure.  He made me feel like an asshole because I was so mad at him.  I wanted to yell.  But if I overreact and yell it makes it worse.

I feel lost when it comes to discipline.  Maybe that's a lot of the problem.  I wasn't disciplined a lot as a kid.  I just want to for him to learn more self control.  (Yes, I realize he's three but not all kids seem to get as rude as he can, or am I imagining that?)  The only way he will is through me, really us and the adults in his life too.  I firmly believe in do as I do is the only way to teach.  Not do as I say.

All in all, I figure that not over-reacting is best.  I suppose by being a role model and showing him how to handle stress peacefully and speaking to him kindly and patiently is all I can do for now.  Every now and then time-outs are in order too.  But I wonder every day if I'm doing enough and hope that he can grow out of this pissy little phase.

I'd love to hear from you.
What are your experiences with three year olds?
What do you expect of a three year old?
What do you do differently?


  1. Kids need boundries, they wont just automatically learn not to be rude and have self control, you have to teach them. This very thing has happened in my house, and time out happens when O is disrespectful. You break other peoples things and can't behave around people? You dont get to be around people. Period. Discipline is a good thing, kids thrive on knowing what is and is not acceptable. Z isn't a bad kid and you aren't a bad mom, I found that books like positive parenting, gentle discipline and the emotional life of a toddler are good places to start. Heck, we even put HJ in time out (30 sec or less) to set the framework of acceptable behavior early. Also, if it was summer, she has about 20 little chairs. ;)

  2. Oh, I hear you. My three-year-old is usually perfect, but has these days where he just willfully defies us and even goes out of his way to do things that he knows will make us mad. We can't ever figure out what triggers this and we have really, really bad days on these days. Time out never worked for us (even his preschool teacher said she couldn't use it on all kids). Sometimes I can get him beyond these moments by just babying him for a little bit, cuddling, feeding him like a baby, and particularly carrying him on my back in the baby carrier. But sometimes that doesn't work...and sometimes it isn't possible, especially with another little one needing attention as well.
    I came across this website recently and it made me feel, at the very least, that my child is not bad or weird. If you click the "next" link on the page, it takes you to another post with suggestions for dealing with this behavior. I haven't done more than skim this so I can't vouch, but it might be worth taking a look at.
    If you find anything that works, do share. We are in a very similar place right now in our house.

  3. Just realized the link didn't copy...Here it is:

  4. Thank you Alyssa & Katie.

    Alyssa -I dig you and your kids. Thanks for what you said.

    Katie -It is much more difficult when toting around a five-month-old. But it makes me feel like I've failed him when he acts up. I think I really need to work on being more consistent too. I feel the same way -I can't figure it out. But I try and remind myself we're all human and I have bad days and bad moods too. I could go nuts if I tried to figure all the "why's" out.