Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Stop licking your brother."

"No kicking. No kicking. What did we talk about? No kicking."

"Gentle. Gentle."

"Careful. Please be careful. Careful."


"What did mommy say about throwing sand? No throwing sand."

"Can I change your diaper? Please. I'm going to count to five."

"Do you want a time out?"

"Should I call Daddy?"

"Not right now. We'll play chalk outside as soon as I feed Baby Boy."

"I'm going to count to five."

"Use the towel. Please use the towel. Please, we don't dry our hands with toilet paper. It's messy. Messy."

"Where are your 'slippers' (Bub's word for his crocs)?"

"You can't take the boppy while Mommy is feeding Baby Boy."

"Let's get dressed. Please Bub. Let's get dressed and then we can __________________ [insert anything I think he might be tempted by, that I can still manage to pull off with Baby Boy in tow, such as "go to CVS" or "go eat bagel/muffy" or "ride in special stroller with Baby Boy"]. . ."

"Stop licking your brother."

I am using variations of the above phrases pretty much constantly throughout the day, but I might as well be speaking sign language or French* for all the good they are doing me with the Bub. Now that the post partum helper tour of duty is pretty much over and it's just me and my boys during the day, the Bub is suffering. Basically, he is not listening to me at all, and frankly, given what comes out of my mouth all day, I don't blame him. I'm a drag. I might have more success if I could sit him down and try to get some eye contact, if I could enforce time outs regularly for the most egregious behavior, if I could find more blocks of time during the day when Bub can receive my undivided attention. It's tough to enforce a time out or "get down on the child's level" (say the previous in the voice of Supernanny) if you are holding a baby or have one attached to your breast. I know things will get easier, that Baby Boy will not need to eat so frequently forever, that I will become braver about taking the boys on more outings, that the arrival of his new baby brother will not scar my Bub for life and make him feel permanently displaced and unloved. I know these things, but it still breaks my heart to see the Bub--my beautiful, bright-eyed boy with the great enthusiasm for life, the awesome energy, the amazing smile--acting out and to feel so darn frustrated with him and myself for large portions of the day. For two and a half years it was all about Bub and now it's not because it can't be. It's tough on everyone. I want Bub to know how much he is loved, but obviously I also want to attend to all of Baby Boy's needs. I know, I know, millions of moms have more than one child and they figure it out. I'm sure I will too, but in the meantime, it's just tough. Baby steps.

Speaking of baby steps, we made it to a small, contained park this afternoon and after driving one young boy and his mother away (see "No throwing." "No kicking" above. For the record, he was kicking the wood chips on the playground floor not the boy), the Bub cleaned up his act when a pair of sisters and their very kind mother arrived and proceeded to play nicely for a good hour. Baby Boy did his part and slept as I held him. I walked home thinking "Okay, I can do this." When we arrived home, I placed Baby Boy in his pack and play so I could start Bub's dinner. Next words uttered: "Stop licking your brother."

*French is the language spoken by the mother whose son was the victim of Bub's wood chip throwing and kicking. I tried to translate/imagine what she was telling her son when he cried after Bub stole his stick: "Do not cry. That boy's mother is very negligent and he does not listen as he should. Also, look at that baby. He seems to have dried saliva on his cheek. Mon Dieu!" The woman was actually very kind, but the point is that she felt her son was unsafe around the Bub. Makes me feel pretty bad.


CaraBee said...

Oh, MEP, you have described all of my fears about having a second child. But, and this is NOT the voice of experience, it will get better. I have a younger sister who is still one of my best friends, as, it sounds, do you. So clearly, we weren't too traumatized. Keep your chin up!

Btw - I loved your translation of the french lady!!

E... said...

While I can't promise you that you won't have days where you feel like this sort of droning record of negative nagging, in my experience it DOES get better. There are still lots of times when O. really legitimately wants to be held because he just wants me, and I can't and I get sad that I respond with irritation rather than regret. But over all, it's gotten easier to divide the attention. I tend to neglect my own sleep needs in order to give him one on one time when N. is sleeping, and though that does cause the momnesia I've mentioned, it makes me feel like a better person. I have seriously considered getting O's hearing checked due to the non-listening (he's adapted by saying "what?" to get a little stalling time in before he gets in trouble) As I do everyday, I wish you lived in my neighborhood so our boys could not listen to us together. You are a great mom. Say this mantra two thousand times today and you'll get through until tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Just remember life is hard by the yard, a cinch by the inch. Mercifully, in my experience, children seem to have no memory of what you feel were some of your darkest moments. m

SMF said...

I speak French, so I can translate what the mother said:
"Stop crying, you little wuss. Why can't you be more like that adorable, spirited boy over there? I admire his mother greatly - she is clearly doing an amazing job with both a toddler and a newborn. I am worried that in the future you, my son, will get your butt kicked on the playground by such well-adjusted kids as hers. If only I spoke English, I would ask her what her secret is, but instead, I will leave with my whimpering child."

LAP said...

SMF's comment is really making me laugh.

All I can say is that all kids have their moments of misbehaving. The little boy down the street (just recently moved in) threw a fit on our driveway today. Seeing other kids have the sort of emotional breakdowns my children are prone to always makes me feel better. I felt bad for the boy's mom but it's good to know there will now be another parent on the block forced to take her kids inside kicking and screaming (literally) from time to time.

Bailey said...

I'm sure you're doing great.

BTW, I've tagged you for a meme.. when the bub stops licking his brother :)

msh said...

i find m's comment quite helpful--that eli and josie will hopefully not carry any of my darkest moments as a heavy burden for the rest of their lives is a huge relief to me. i swear i worry about them talking about me in therapy someday! (especially if j ends up in an eating disorder clinic, as meal times are quite an issue at our house these days!)
anyway, all i can say is that i really do believe that we are all doing the very best that we can, and that that will be enough. more than enough even. there is too much love going into this whole thing to have it not pay off...
hang in there, and hold on to those good days when they roll around...

MEP said...

I feel so fortunate to have friends and readers who are so supportive and so able to make me smile!

Today was actually a really great day. The Bub did still lick his brother, but he was a much better listener all things said. Plus, we made it to two different parks . . . NTB.

CaraBee said...

I meant to add that I was super impressed that you had taken both boys to a park!!! It took me six months to screw up the courage to take one child to the park. You're doing way better than you think!

Totallyscrappy said...

Thanks for the chuckle! This is for all the days I feel like a drag with all the constant "reminding"...

SET said...

Well MEP - since our two oldest are cut from the same mold, I totally hear and feel your pain - especially see "should I call Daddy?" - I used this one this week and actually followed through - with little help on the phone from Daddy, excpet maybe to implore L. to nap - that did not happen. And to add to the park story - I too took both to the park today - and I hear you on the fenced in bit - luckily we were fenced in and with friends because #2 decided she was a bit bored with the park, even without the infant carrier and riding solo in the stroller - oh yes, she needed to eat. Again, at least we were fenced in and with friends. One tries to be modest and discreet (is that even spelled right, I blame pregnancy brain)...and it all goes out the window with children

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