When does it get easier?

I feel like I need to preface this post by stating affirmatively that I love The Beast wholly and completely.  He is one-half of my world.  (Right now Virginia Slims Man is doing the math and he is pissed.)  I cannot imagine The Beast not being my son and I would not trade him for another child, even if that child were as good as The Good One.  There are moments, when The Beast is sleeping or unconscious from the “special purple juice,” that he is truly angelic*. I will watch him sleep and my heart is both ready to bust out of my chest and break by how much I love him.

And then he wakes up and I want to rip my head off of my shoulders and throw it at him.

When the hell is it going to get easier?

Who was it that said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?  You Google it.  I don’t feel like it.

Well, put me in a straightjacket and set up the DVR in my padded room in the looney bin because every Saturday morning I pack up a bag of “fun” and take it with me to The Good One’s soccer game, and every Saturday I’m hopeful that The Beast is suddenly going to morph into an easy child who lets me enjoy things, and every Saturday I’m surprised all over again that The Beast has managed to turn me into a stark raving lunatic once more.

You see, Virginia Slims Man is assistant coaching this year and isn’t able to tag-team with me as we did in years past, so now it’s entirely up to me to control the Beast for one hour in the wide-open spaces of the soccer park.  I swear it makes me want to divorce him.

At last Saturday’s game, I made the mistake of not putting The Beast in a stroller (which is still not a guaranteed containment device as he can squirm out of the seat belt and harness) and the minute I let go of his hand, he ran out onto the soccer field in the middle of the game, and like the maniac lunatic insane woman that I am, I went screaming and chasing after him.

Beast:  (Runs onto the soccer field screaming in delight.)

Me:  (Run onto the soccer field screaming in anger.) Beast, you get back here right this second!

Beast:  (Devilish laugh. Runs faster.)

Me:  BEAST, I SAID GET BACK HERE!

Really, it was just a spectacular display of how little control I have over my child.

The ref blew the whistle and stopped the game so that The Beast didn’t get kicked in the head with a cleat, and I had the joy of knowing that I my child brought a game of soccer to a complete halt.

The tears in my eyes?  Pride.

So this Saturday morning, I put the stroller in the van and then I completed my weekly exercise in futility and I filled a backpack with crayons and coloring books, snacks and a five-pound bag of sugar.  I figured, why mess with unwrapping Smarties when I can just feed him sugar right out of the bag?

I also added an iPod Touch to the backpack so that The Beast could watch some T.V. shows or movies.  Genius, I know.  What child can resist the opportunity to enjoy a new show whilst sitting calmly in a stroller eating sugar by the spoonful?

So I gleefully rolled The Beast in the stroller up to the field and he instantly started squirming to get out.  I first offered him a lollipop.  He sucked on that for a bit and then wanted something new.  I threw a granola bar at him.  That was as good as health food and he exhibited his displeasure by throwing the granola bar as far as he could.  Then I offered him Smarties.  He loves Smarties.

I knew that the sugar was just going to make him more hyper within a short time, but for the four minutes that The Beast was eating packages of tooth decay and licking sticks of diabetes, I was able to just watch soccer.

And as I shoved this junk food at The Beast, I looked around and everywhere I looked there were toddlers playing quietly near their mothers.  Some were sitting in chairs watching the game.  Some were playing with other children, and when their mothers said, “Johnny, don’t go too far!” Johnny would say, “Yes, ma’am” and I’d think to myself, “How in the name of all that is holy does she get him to listen?” and then I’d remember that The Good One used to listen to me and it’s just genetic and has nothing to do with good parenting.

So right now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “My children listen because I’m an awesome, consistent parent,” you are actually just a sanctimonious twit who hasn’t yet had the boomerang of parental judgment turn its ugly ass around and smack you in the head.

It’ll come.  I promise.

If you don’t have kids yet, I highly suggest that you never think to yourself nor say aloud that your children will “never behave that way,” because there is a special place in parenting hell for you.

I’m walking proof of that.

Anyway, it occurred to me that if I let The Beast run untethered around the soccer park, he would disappear to play under a car or in a drainage ditch.  He would find a rock and throw it at a car window.  And he won’t throw it at a beat-up Chevy with no mirrors.  He’ll throw it at the Lexus SUV with the vanity plate that says “RchBich” or “AwsmMom” or “MyKidsListenToMeBecauseIRock.”  And if the window didn’t break the first time, he’d throw another bigger rock at it.

Back to the Beast:  He was enjoying his plastic-wrapped, dye-filled sugar, but four packs of Smarties will only buy me a few minutes of soccer-watching, so I got his next insulin jacker-upper out of the bag and shoved that at him.  He wanted nothing to do with it.

I tried to give him the iPod Touch to watch a movie and he wanted nothing to do with that.  I showed him that I had downloaded a new Dora the Explorer for him to watch, and he let me know that unless Dora herself showed up to explore the park with him, he wanted nothing to do with her either.

The Beast had decided he was quite done with the stroller, thankyouverymuch.  He started screaming and rocking the stroller trying to topple it over.  I know that this was likely a byproduct of being on a sugar high, but those Smarties enabled me to watch a few minutes of The Good One’s game.  If I hadn’t given him the Smarties, the stroller would have lasted 12 seconds.

The Beast’s screaming and hysterics drew the attention of all the people, and every one of them (small exaggeration) started looking at us and judging us.  I wanted to kick all of the men in the nuts and the women in whatever I could kick them in that would hurt as much as possible (not even a little exaggeration).

So I packed up all of my stuff and rolled The Beast back to the van, and we sat in there and watched Monster’s, Inc. for the next 45 minutes.  He’ll watch T.V. in the van but will not watch it on an iPod.  The child is an enigma.  And maybe he also has multiple personalities.  I haven’t decided yet.

So I got to see about six minutes of The Good One’s soccer game, and honestly, that’s probably the most I’ve been able to see all season long.

So my question is this: Why do I even bother?  I want The Good One to know I’m there supporting him, but I spend the entire game either chasing The Beast through the forest nearby or desperately trying to keep him calm so that no one kicks us out of the park for being chaotic.

I’m so very tired of it.  I’m tired of the mental exhaustion I feel every time we go anywhere.

We visited my father-in-law at his house yesterday, and I spent the entire morning trying to keep The Beast from jumping over the edge of my father-in-law’s unrailed deck, from throwing large rocks into my father-in-law’s water fountain, from walking through all of my father-in-law’s flower beds and from throwing random items over the loft railing into my father-in-law’s kitchen below.

I was successful at exactly none of it.

When do I just give up and say, “Honey, I realize you want to go visit your dad and that’s fine, but I’m staying home because I do not enjoy visiting even a little bit because I spend the entire time trying to control The Beast and it makes me even more psychotic than usual”?

Or do I just suck it up and follow through with the appearance of politeness even though it makes me miserable?  Do I continue to go to The Good One’s soccer games and never actually watch the game?  Or do I just explain to The Good One that I just can’t tolerate taking The Beast anymore and will only be able to attend if I get a babysitter?

I’m genuinely, sincerely asking for advice from any of you with wisdom.  Or even any of you without wisdom.  I’ll take your crappy advice and consider it just the same.

I’m that desperate.

If none of you has any suggestions, my only other option is going to be to sever my head from my neck and throw the bloody, sinewy mess at The Beast and scare the living hell out of him.

That feels like a prayer.

Amen.

*Note:  I do not drug my child with medicine just to knock him out.  He has had Benadryl two times in his life; once after stepping in a nest of fire ants and having over 100 bites on his feet and once after being attacked by what I believe were mosquitoes.  (He didn’t cry or complain either time.)  Those two days were the most relaxed days of my life.

Hmmm.

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35 thoughts on “When does it get easier?

  1. Yikes! That sounds so stressful. Get a babysitter. Seriously. A high school kid with lots of energy who can chase him around for 4 hours so you can watch your son play soccer. Seems like the best option to me. (I mean, until you run out of people willing to babysit. Hopefully by then he’ll be old enough to understand bribery and you can just go that route…)

  2. I can empathize. I feel the same way you do about taking my daughter places. We rarely eat out, I dread going to parties, church, or other people’s houses, because I spend the whole time keeping her from setting the place on fire or inadvertently hurting herself. I try to work out trips to the store around times when she is at preschool or when another adult can accompany me.. I’ve tried everything I can think of as far as discipline to reverse psychology, telling her “goodbye” and walking away. Unfortunately, she finds this amazing and says goodbye right back while running in the other direction. Before her, I thought adults with leashes were cruel, now I realize they are just exhausted and one twitch away from a stroke. My son was never like that. I could and still can take him anywhere. He sits in a shopping cart, at a restaurant table, stays near me when I tell him too, and doesn’t run into moving traffic. On the other hand, I love her to death and her fiery personality and temper and desire to go her own way make me feel confident that I will never have to worry about her being able to stand up and take care of herself. As she approaches 3 years old, I have noticed a small change in her. She waits 20 minutes now before randomly dashing off in a restaurant, and I can get her to help me push the cart in the supermarket for a good 5 minutes before she tries knocking everything off the shelf and/or laying on the ground in the middle of the aisle while shoppers give me judging stares. I think there is a light at the end of the tunnell, and until then…there’s wine.

  3. If you are anything like me, I know you (half-seriously) want a magical “date” when he will start listening, or at least recognizing the insanity he is driving you to.

    My magical date for you? 4.5 years old.

    I’m a preschool special education teacher, and in my experience, kids seem to start “giving a crap” about what adults think and the world around them at about 4 and a half… or at least by then, you can carry a timer and say “sit for 2 minutes, then you get the smarties!” That should buy you at least 4 minutes of soccer! Hang in there!

  4. Thanks for making me Laugh Out Loud today!! I lived your day of soccer about 12 years ago! Seriously! My “Beast” ran onto the fleld during our “Good One’s” soccer game, too. It was the last game of the season. So I thought, “Great…let’s sign him up!” He was like Peter Pan chasing his shadow for the single season he played. I don’t think he ever came in contact with a ball…or was even aware there WAS a ball. He had zero interest in playing when he was “supposed” to be on the field.Sigh!

    I’ve go no advice other than to hang in there! Somewhere along the road it gets better! I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually we were able to have an entire meal at a restauraunt without eating in shifts. Our “Beast” is 12 now and while he still has his challenging days (homework is HELL), he’s grown into a contributing member of society (ok…contributing member of an massively multi-player online world). Our “Good One” is 14 and pretty great for a teenager. Overall, I’ll take the tween years over the terrible two’s any day!

    Anyhow, hang in there. Thanks for making me smile as I remember the days I walked in your shoes! (Yes, you will be able to smile one day too.)

  5. We have only started to go back to my in-laws house for visits (& they live 15 minutes away) because I was sick and tired of chasing 5 boys for the past 10 years around their house so that they didn’t break all of the precious knick knacks that they had a knee level (perfect toddler reach! Seriously who puts stuff at that level??) I finally reached a point where we said they could come to their house but unless I had an IV bag full of wine to accompany me to their house (to take the edge off from chasing everyone) we would be making limited visits.

    Netflix (on my iPhone) is now my best friend at any type of sporting event. It occupies my 3 year old like nothing else!!

  6. Definitely get a babysitter. One of my siblings acted like this, and it meant that my mother wound up furious with him, and I wound up feeling terrible because my mother was subjecting herself to the torture in her show of support. When she got a babysitter instead, everyone was happy, and the price of the babysitter was worth the peace.

    Really. Really. Babysitter. It will be the best money you ever spent, and The Good One will have his mom at his games without feeling guilty (because he will eventually, even if he doesn’t say it).

  7. Get James Dobson’s book “The Strong-willed Child”. He also updated it and it’s now called “The New Strong-willed Child”. Maybe he was at one of your soccer games. Or let Mom have him for 4 weeks. He’ll think he was at boot camp.

    • I think that book was updated after my mom tried everything in Dr. Dobson’s first edition of “The Strong-Willed Child” on one of my brothers (the other two were “good ones”) and then called him to tell him that his book was obviously written without experiencing the special hell that my brother was able to invoke on her. Dr. Dobson sent her a box filled with books and resources intended to help her and a note that said, “Good Luck”.

      I have my own little Beast except he’s older than my Good One, so although the Good One is an absolute angel on his own, he is easily led by my older one. It’s like a double whammy when the two of them are together! At least now I know that there are other people out there who are experiencing the same parenting hell. I have spent my entire time as a parent feeling the ire and derision of other parents and non-parents directed at my husband and I….well, except for my youngest son’s preschool teacher who pulled me aside to tell me that she’s so impressed with his behavior when his older brother isn’t around because, when both he and his older brother were at the same preschool/daycare, she used to look at my husband and I and think, “those poor people”. Geez.

  8. That sounds very hellish. Definitely hire a babysitter, but make sure it’s someone you really hate because, speaking a as an occasional babysitter myself, you could not pay me enough to look after The Beast (or any non-laid-back child, really) for a day. Or even part of the day. Also, bribery totally works when they get older. I know this because my parents were able to use it on me for years – well, until I decided that what I actually wanted was more valuable than the most recent caffeinated or sweetened bribe they thought up. Once they figure that out you’re just screwed.

    • I love your practicality. I can probably do that if we get there early enough. And I’ll be able to drink from my flask at the same time.

      • This was going to be one of my suggestions too… move the van closer so he can watch the TV and you can watch 45 min. of the game. I also have other suggestions. I e-mailed you .. we should talk… soon!

  9. Oh, how I wish I had some advice for you – ugh, I know how hard it is to spin in that cycle of hoping and stressing and losing your mind and then feeling guilty. Thinking of ya (and for what it’s worth, I totally agree with the suggestions to GET A BABYSITTER)!!!

    • Here’s another thought. Take two cars and warn him if he runs away and doesn’t listen, you will take him home and he will stand in a corner or lose TV privileges. The first time he takes off and you finally corral him, take him to the car and leave. Perhaps after a few times, he will get the message …. that is, if the Good One has enough soccer games left. It does not resolve your desire to watch the games, but there will be more soccer games. Of course, I’m from the old school and would just swat his behind in the car.

  10. As for visiting your father in law, I say stay home – VSM and his dad should understand because they have obviously met The Beast and know how hard he is to corral (not to mention that it might be stressful for your FIL while he recovers). If VSM balks at it, then tell him you will go, but HE has to do all the corralling.

    Soccer games? I’m with the rest – get a sitter if you can. Or hire a teen that you know to be a mother’s helper – have them come to the field, where you can keep an eye on them, but they can play with The Beast & keep him busy so you can watch a bit of the game.

    I read these posts of yours and I remember the feeling that it would never end. I can remember crying in absolute frustration over my daughter. Now, at 8, she is still filled with drama, but it’s not on top of toddler brain, so it does get better. Plus I am putting her in theater classes so she can use up that drama somewhere else.

  11. My second one is not quite the extreme of your Beast, but not far off from it, either. I find that it’s easier now that he’s 3, as he’s starting to understand consequences. He tries to take the cat’s head off with the sword, he loses the sword. He screams and yells while his sister’s program is on, he loses a turn listening to his program. Consequences have become helpful for us to teach him, and I am no longer ready to take his head off with the sword as well.

    I have found that as much as people say they love him, no one volunteers to take him for a day, or even an hour, so I pay someone to do so. Babysitters are helpful, though I have found that they tend to quit returning my calls and texts after a while, so I have to find a new one. Hmmm. So daycare has been a way for me to stay sane.

    Hang in there – you are not alone!

    • Yeah, I think my stories of The Beast’s insanity have scared off more than a few babysitters! I need to learn to keep my mouth shut and brag about what a great listener he is! Thanks for the encouragement.

  12. Oh my gosh. I know that your intention was not this, but your post made me feel so damn good, I am practically giddy. You see, I was the single, childless person who sees kids in restaurants and thought to myself, “Good god, control that thing.” (Thing being the child screaming) I saw kids in Target yelling for toys and thought, “My kids will never act like that.” Guess what. I am completely incompentent apparently when it actually comes to child rearing and I get anxiety when we take Cinderella out in public. I mean, I actually feel something comparable with stage fright. I feel angry at those who have polite children and delite in stories such as yours because it means that I am not alone. Thank you for this.

    • You’re so very welcome. And that anger you feel at those who have polite children, I’m right there with you, Sister!

  13. Have you had him tested for sensory processing disorder? It sounds like he could be a kid who needs moremoremore input all the time… and it can be helped with occupational therapy. Check out the book Out of Sync Child.

  14. Oh man… I totally hear the frustration and hopelessness in your voice. I’m sorry. It can be so hard, and it feels like it never ends and it feels sucky when people are looking at you like you aren’t “doing it right.” Get a babysitter (or bring a teen-ager/mother’s helper along if you don’t want to leave him behind). Really. It will save your sanity, and you’ll come home happy, with some good energy to focus on the B. with. If having him with you at the soccer games, or for a visit to your father-in-law makes you miserable from stress – it’s not worth bringing him along! He won’t know the difference, and maybe a kid who will run around with him will get him nice and tired out (similar to that awesome benedryl-ed up feeling, wait. i mean natural exhaustion from running around. right.). You should be able to watch and enjoy the G.O., you should be able to have some time where you’re not pouring every bit of your energy and attention in the B’s direction. Getting a sitter doesn’t make you a bad parent, or the B. a bad kid – I promise. Everyone needs a break sometimes. It gets easier! It does…

    • Also, screw the judgmental parents. (Am I allowed to say that on your blog?) Nobody’s kids are perfect, sweet angels all of the time. They just may have found the solution to keeping their kid behaved for the hour of soccer. Could be a benedryl ba-ba. Just kidding. Sort of. But you know, I think the key is finding the solution. Duh, right? There has to be something. My son was pretty challenging from about 2 – 4 years old, then he sort of just became a joy… I know hearing people say consistency is key is annoying – but really, if you have to calmly say, “if you leave the blanket (I used to put a blanket out on the ground when we went to my daughters field hockey games) then you have to sit here with me holding you, and you won’t be able to play with these awesome toys that I brought for you.” (For my son, play-do and a big pile of Mr. Potato Heads kept him occupied, or matchbox cars and little dinosaurs. I pretty much brought out certain special stuff strictly for the games.) And if he gets off the blanket – sit there and hold him tight – screaming or squirming – whatever, for however long it takes. Don’t talk to him while he is screaming or squirming. Just hold him tight. You can outlast him. He’ll tire out. And when he does, just say calmly, again, “I’m going to let you down because you are behaving now, but if you leave the blanket, then you have to sit here with me holding you again, and you won’t be able to play with these awesome toys that I brought for you.” And….. repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. The first few times it’ll suck, and you’ll be exhausted, and you’ll think it’s never going to work, and you might even have a tear or eleven in your eye by the time it’s all over and want to scream in his face or tear your hair out. But at some point he is going to realize that with your calm, matter-of-fact demeanor, you are not f*cking around, and he’s going to want to play or be free to roam the blanket. And really, forget the judgey parents – sit as far away as you can where you can still see the game. I read somewhere that to change their behavior, you need to change the way you REACT to them when they misbehave. Anyway, sorry for writing a book as a comment here. I probably should have emailed you! These are just suggestions from a mom who feels your pain, a mom who was there and made it through – not judgement in any form from me here. Remember, IT WILL GET BETTER!

      • Thank you for the encouragement and for taking the time to comment! You are welcome to say “screw the judgmental parents” anytime you want! Thank you also for your suggestions. I look forward to using these to fix The Beast!

  15. I have twins (girls). At that age they weren’t “beasts” all the time…but sure enough they never had a “good” day at the same time! They are 6 now, and fairly manageable but still play off each other. In line at the grocery store, people would say “how adorable, they’re hugging” and in my head I’m counting 5,4,3,2,1…now they are wrestling on the floor and those same “adorable” people are looking at me like I can’t control my kids. I think my husband and I ate our first hot meal when they were 4. Get a babysitter or helper to come to the soccer field with you. Good luck, it does get better! Oh, I think more people understand than you realize…those aren’t looks of disapproval, they are looks of “thank god that isn’t me right now!”

    • You’re probably right about the looks. It just feels like judgment, probably because I was the one doing the judging before I had kids!

  16. I just read through the comments, and I don’t have too much to add, except to chime in and say, “You’re not alone.” My second daughter is a *handful* compared to her older sister and her younger brother. But at 5 years old, she is starting to actually listen to me and realize there are consequences to her actions, and I am starting to understand her better, too. I second and third all the comments about babysitters and/or mother’s helpers. I keep meaning to check out that strong willed child book, because she is that to a T. Hang in there — it does get better.

  17. I’d like to give a second shout-out to the Out of Sync Child. Lots of great information and ideas in there. I remember those stares, and how awful they made me feel. But I also do agree that sometimes it’s not as judgmental as it seems when you’re in the heat of embarrassment. Try to look for the sympathy – I’m betting it’s hiding there in at least some of those glances.

  18. Thank you! Thank you so much. I knew I couldn’t be the only mother who wants to throw their head at their toddler. My solution with my 4 year old (lovingly given the moniker Terrorbella) is to just stare blankly at her. You’ll almost always get a stare from the tea time toddler moms but who cares, they probably hate their lives anyway. I’d rather have an adventure with my tiny tyrant than have no fun at all. Yes, outings are chaotic but would you have it any other way?

    P.S. The Beast is adorable!!

  19. If your The Good One is anything like mine, he’ll understand. So maybe you only go half as often, and maybe half of those times you DO go, you get a babysitter for The Beast. Or will he run around with other kids? Maybe there’s an older kid at soccer that can entertain him so you can see some of the game. I stopped going to all of my The Good One’s activities because it was simply miserable to try to control his little sister (she is our Piece of Work) and I missed all of his goals/runs, anyway. But it will pass 🙂 It’s just a tough age, made tougher by willful and spirited children 🙂

  20. Hey thanks for this. I found this while searching “When does it get easier?” I think probably both of my kids are in between The Good One and The Beast. But when they’re together they feed off each other until they’re both The Beast, and then they hit each other. Good times. I think I love you. Someone said it gets easier at 4.5? Let’s see, that means 3.3 years until both of my guys are there. So, just kill me now.

  21. This post is so honest. I love it. Sometimes when I’m being honest to other people who have no kids about the REAL pain of parenting, they look at me like I don’t look after my kids, or just don’t care about them. Of course I do. I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old. 14 months apart. Both girls. They are enough to keep me from EVER wanting anymore children. I just feel, I may as well deal with this now and sooooooon they will both grow out of this annoying toddlerhood thing….together. I never planned either of my kids, actually, and to have them so close in age was like…wow. But its a good thing, in a way, to have them so close, because they really will just grow together. Its a nightmare now because they are in the same stage in life (given the 3 year old is already starting to calm down a little bit). To be completely truthful… I have two “beasts”. So your story?? That’s half of what I deal with! I’m very glad to have full time nursery for them, and I have my mother in law who is always with them. I mean, even with that, I already feel like any moment now I will die of a heat attack due to how absolutely messy the house is…. It just doesn’t remain clean… Eventually you run out of physical and emotional strength to do anything even when the kids are not home.

    My advice is most def get yourself a babysitter. Especially one that they already know or can come to know… They, so my babysitter says, seem to behave so nicely and just delightful with them. Apparently. But seriously. Get a babysitter. Either leave your “beast” at home with her, or take her with you if you want to go out with the kids. I’m going to a Church conference in less than 2 weeks, and on the Saturday it’s all day, and I’m having the kids come (kids church available thank god!!), but I’m having the babysitter come so that I can have that extra help. In fact, since I will be paying her, I’m basically helping her haha!

    I am waiting for the day to come when both my darling and gorgeous girls will be doing things for themselves and actually enjoying things, like going out to visit family, being with friends and enjoying each others company, bla bla bla. The day will come. And it will then turn into a wonderful story of how irritating the kids USED TO BE!! I hear stories about me all the time when I was young. I wouldn’t want to look after a young me…. No way. Sorry for the long post!! I really felt like sharing with someone who feeeeeeels as I feel!!! Lots of love!! Xxxxx

    • You can feel free to write long comments anytime you want to. I’m always happy to read that other people struggle with this parenting thing. We have to stick together, otherwise the small people win.

  22. Wow, I think I might be raising The Beasts’ twin brother. I see this post was from awhile ago… Has it gotten any easier or should I just run away now (I ask this hoping you will tell me The Beast is now The Saint)

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