Here, eat this donkey omelet.

Mornings in my house suck donkey omelets.

Am I using that right?  I’m assuming “omelet” is a slang term for testicle, but if it actually refers to an egg dish with minced donkey, well, my mornings suck that too.

Lately, the Beast has been waking up several times throughout the night to beckon either me or Virginia Slims Man to his room to reaffirm that in the morning he will get to eat cereal.

After being reassured that we are not going to starve him, he goes back to sleep.

At 6:30 he wakes up screaming, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, I need you, I need you, I need you, mom, mom, mom, I need you, I need you, I need you!”

So I go running to his room where he’s sitting up in his bed, rubbing his eyes, looking generally adorable and cherubic, and then he says, “Mom, I’m awake.  Can I eat cereal now?”

“Yes, honey, let’s go get cereal.”

So I carry him to the pantry where he selects a cereal.  Usually it’s Rice Krispies or Cheerios, because I’m one of THOSE moms.

I then place him in his chair at the counter, pull a bowl from the cupboard and pour him a bowl of cereal.  Then I ask, “Do you want milk in your cereal?” because if I assume that he wants it and he doesn’t want it, well, then, I brought the fury of Hell upon myself.

This morning he wanted milk in his cereal, so I poured the milk and then pulled a spoon from the drawer and placed it into the bowl of cereal.  And with that very simple, mundane, inconsequential movement of placing a spoon into a bowl, Satan unleashed his army of demons to quickly descend upon my kitchen.

The Beast, who is quite obviously obsessed with control, flipped out because I placed the spoon into the bowl when he wanted to do it.

We had this conversation:

The Beast: I WANTED TO PUT THE SPOON IN THE BOWL!!!

Me: Well, take the spoon out of the bowl and then put it back in.

The Beast:  BUT YOU DID IT FIRST!

Me:  Beast, it really doesn’t matter who puts the spoon into the bowl.  Just take it out and put it back in again, then it’ll be like you did it yourself.

This did not sit well with The Beast, so he started in with the screaming of random things that I’ve likely screamed at him that make no sense whatsoever in this moment, but he knows they’re things that I yell in anger and frustration.

“I SAID NO!”  “LOOK AT ME!”  “LOOK IN MY EYES!”  “I’M GETTING VERY UPSET!”  “YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO; I TELL YOU WHAT TO DO!”  “I SAID LOOK AT ME!”  “I WAN’T DADDY!!”

That last one is all him, but in the heat of an angry moment I have cried out to my mother and Jesus…and Cabernet-Sauvignonidite, The Goddess of Wine and Stay-At-Home Moms.

Now, the argument and the yelling isn’t always about the placement of a spoon, but there is always arguing in the morning.  And that’s usually when I start fantasizing about the wine I’m going to have in the evening.  Or in 30 minutes when The Beast and The Good One leave for school and VSM leaves for work.

Shut up.  Don’t judge me.

Now, you may be thinking that I should beat the ever-loving tar out of The Beast for screaming that way.  At the very least I should scream and my head should spin and I should vomit on the walls in anger, but I’ve done that before (minus the vomit), and it only makes things worse.

So I gently pick up The Beast and walk him to the timeout corner.  I explain to him that I can’t talk to him when he’s screaming at me, and within a minute he’s calmed down enough to say, “Mom, my cereal is going to get foggy.”  He means soggy, but he’s an idiot.

I remove him from the timeout corner and he climbs back into his chair.

But the donkey-omelet-sucking part of my morning isn’t even close to being over, because now I’ve got to get The Beast to actually consume food.  He usually just sits there and talks and talks and complains because he actually wanted two separate bowls, one with Rice Krispies and one with Cheerios, and a piece of peanut butter toast.

I’m no nimrod.  It only took me a week of feeding my still-not-dead dog two bowls of cereal and a piece of peanut butter toast every morning to stop giving The Beast that much food.

So I spend the next 15 minutes telling The Beast that he’s going to run out of time to eat, and he responds by not eating.  After he runs out of time, he gets down from the counter and then the battle to get dressed for school starts.

He screams about not wanting to wear two shirts when it’s cold outside.  When I pick him up from school on those days that I force him to wear two shirts, he’ll have removed one of the shirts just to remind me that the minute he’s out of my sight, I no longer control him.

He’ll argue about wanting to brush his own hair, which would be fine if I didn’t have to wet it down in the morning because it looks like a nest of beavers have taken up camp in his hair overnight.

The Beast has gotten infinitely better at controlling himself during the day (except for the time he threw a temper tantrum because of the location of an M&M in his cookie), but the mornings are killing me and I’m burnt out.

So my question is this:  How do I stop this horrible episode of Groundhog Day meets Chucky?   Is The Beast not sick of the screaming and yelling?  Is he just too tired to control his morning anger?  Does he not want the breakfast demons to go back from whence they came?

If you have a strong-willed child and you’ve found something that works, I’d love to hear about it.  Because if I have one more argument about the level of Cheerios in the bowl, who inserts the spoon into the bowl, the volume of milk in the bowl or my decision to provide The Beast with a cup of milk when he didn’t request it, I’m probably going to shove a donkey omelet down his gullet and then walk in front of a bus and pray for Cabernet-Sauvignonidite to take me home.

Amen.

P.S.  This post has a lot of flip-flopping of tense.  If you know what I’m talking about, just ignore it and accept the fact that I did not care enough to go back through and correct the tense changes.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you are evidence of our failing educational system.

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12 thoughts on “Here, eat this donkey omelet.

  1. I would stop stressing about him eating. Give him his cereal, if he throws a fit let him. He is not going to starve.

    About school and getting dressed. Let him choose what he wants to wear and brush his own hair. I let Hazel pick out what she wants to wear. She wore candy corn pants and a red shirt the other day. Oh well. I don’t feel like fighting and in the end, who cares if she matches. Also, H doesn’t wear a coat. I gave up trying to control it. If he is cold, it’s his own fault.

    Giving up control of things is hard. I have been dealing with a strong willed child for 11 years. Pick your battles.

    • The food thing I agree with. But he has to wear a uniform to school. Ideas? Maybe I’ll let him buy fun underwear and he can pick those each morning. I feel like I do pick my battles for the most part, which is why he plays outside in his bare feet nearly every day regardless of the weather, but his crankiness in the morning is totally harshing my mellow.

      • Does he get excited to go to school? If so tell him this is what is expected for him to wear and if he doesn’t then he doesn’t go to school. And maybe let him brush his hair on his own. Get him a spray bottle. Show him to spray it and brush it. It may look like a 3 year old did his own hair but at least he is trying. Also, try picking out his clothes the night before. Tell him in the morning before he comes and calls for you, you want him to be dressed. Also, could you put his milk in a small cup and let him pour it himself if he has gotten dressed. You could give a small amount incase he spills it. Just some thoughts. I make H usually lay out all his crap in the morning and he is not allowed any electronics until all ready for school.

      • OMG harshing my mellow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Haven’t thought of that line for a few years or 10. Awesome! Thank you!

  2. I have one like that. She’s eleven, and it wasn’t until about two years ago that I realized what was going on. What ended up working was a combination of things. First of all, we took her to a counselor because I was afraid something was seriously wrong with her. The counselor was a doofus and wanted to medicate her, even though she clearly wasn’t ADD because she was absolutely fine during the day and at school and for my husband and for everyone else in the whole world but me. Stopped counseling. Second, going to counseling gave her and me a couple of hours alone every week, and she seemed to start to really blossom with all of that attention. I started thinking about how things were when we were together with the rest of the family, and I saw how hard it was to give her individual attention and how I brushed her off a lot since she was the oldest. I just thought she didn’t need all of the help. Most of my interactions with her were negative, and I realized that she may have been doing the supremely negative behaviors to get my attention, even though the attention was angry. Third, I started pouring on good attention, hugging her, catching her being good (rare, yes, but I looked for it) and commenting on how I noticed it and how much I appreciated it. I took her out by herself and started seeing that she was beautiful and smart and nicer than I had been thinking. I let some of the difficult things go and even let her decide to wear non-uniforms to school and decide to get in trouble for it or have to go to the nurse and get lost and found stuff to wear. She was pretty averse to that, so that helped. Especially when I told her lost and found sometimes means someone else has peed in it and they never came back to get it after it was washed by the nurse. I also did everything I could to be absolutely consistent with the discipline, something that was very hard for me. I told her clear consequences and then stuck with them every single time. She got a lot, lot worse, and I had to enforce a lot of consequences for a while, but then she saw that I was serious. I also drew the line very far back so that I wasn’t angry when she crossed it and I could calmly tell her how much I loved her and still enforce the consequence without yelling. Which I had been doing. A lot. Yes, a LOT. Not my most stellar characteristic. Now, I know this sounds like I blamed myself for it, but until then I had been denying my part in it and blaming her for all of it. She still had a humongous part in it and is still a prickly and sometimes hurtful person to be around, but at least I know I’m not contributing to it the way I was. I am NOT saying that this is what’s happening with you. You may not do what I was doing, and your kid could just be temperamentally this way. I hesitated even to write this because most people are quick to blame the mother, when the mother usually blames herself anyway. But this is just what helped us.

    • I swear that this comment is exactly what one of my parenting books about raising strong-willed kids says! I don’t know if you read the book or wrote it, but this is incredibly helpful! He’s wearing me down and I have to fix it. I know that when I’m very consistent with discipline, he does keep himself more in line, and I think I let discipline slide in the morning because we’re in a rush to get him to school by 8. Maybe I’ll just calmly discipline the crap out of our mornings and let him be late a few times so that he can see that the temper tantrums, which are not tolerated later in the day, will not be tolerated in the morning. And I wasn’t a yeller with my first kid, but I became one with The Beast. And after 3 years I’ve finally learned that as soon as I start yelling, I’ve lost the battle because it snowballs into a raging, screaming fight that takes forever to calm down. Thank you.

  3. I have an extremely spirited and strong-willed child. She’s now 9 and I do believe we’ve already experienced what some of the pre-teen years will be like. She’s also beautiful (inside and out, if I do say so myself), decisive and independent. I think those are things that will help her to be a great adult. The problem we encounter now is making sure she’s disciplined and that consequences are swift and appropriate for those times she can be sassy, disrespectful, and step over the line due to above-mentioned characteristics. That is her personality and THAT we will never change. It just is who she is. I have read many many many books the last 9 years but my all-time favorite (laugh out loud) book was Have a New Kid By Friday, by Dr. Kevin Leman. I have used his advice for many years and I swear it’s made a significant difference in our lives. Worth a shot if you like to read and are looking for a fresh perspective. Plus, it’s a quick read, not at all gimmick-y as the title might suggest, and I saw him speak in our area and liked him and his ideas even more when I left the auditorium. BTW, love your posts. Good luck!

  4. No words of advice. Am in the same deep dark place as you are. However, you are a gifted and brilliant writer. I am not ! Good luck and please wish me the same.

  5. First thing you need to do is sit down with him at a time of the day when he is usually calm (ha!) and go over breakfast expectations. Write down on a piece of paper what those are and what the consequences are for angry behavior. Such as just dumping it down the sink and walking away. No arguing just pick up the new rule sheet and say, “We told you this would happen, see we wrote it down.” Yeah he can’t read but he will remember the consequences quickly. Having them written down would give you both the consistency needed to follow through. I would also suggest putting the cereal in a baggie the night before (heck baggie up the whole box if you want) and the serving size is already predetermined. In the morning you can just pull out the breakfast baggies so he can pick which ONE he wants. Set his place in front of him like they would at a restaurant with a napkin and spoon (good training anyway). Still ask about the milk (you can have that pre-measured too for consistency). Although this is mildly labor intensive (all that pre-measuring) it should make the morning go much smoother when he knows he is getting the same amount everyday. I would suggest starting on the weekend when you don’t have to rush off to school and the lack of food wont affect his whole class. My 3 year old went 3 days eating only a biscuit and banana because she didn’t like the options available to her. She survived just fine,she is 16 now and although she is still a picky eater she learned not to complain. She would eat steak and pizza everyday if I could afford it.

  6. Agree about the pre-measuring. I had one “Good One” (now 6) and now I have a three year old as well and she is…well…let’s call it “independent”. Except of course, she’s not. She’s three. Measuring out things like milk and having small pitchers, etc has really helped her. And I hear you on the spoon issue. It could be anything, but when I read that – even before I read that it was indeed that point that sent “the Beast” over the edge – I thought, oh, Flora would NOT go for that. Ha. She also FLIPS out if I move her body for her (like to the time out corner) so I simply walk out of the room when she does that. Turn on my heel and walk out. She knows she can politely ask me in a friendly voice “Mom, I wanted to do that by myself, please,” or she can flip out all by herself in the room. I’m not staying in the room for that. No real advice, simply empathy. The good news is, they do eventually become human. Eventually. One thing that seems to work in our family is that I talk in a quieter voice the more she yells. She can’t hear me and then she shuts up just long enough to hear me. Kind of funny to watch.

  7. I simultaneously laughed and cried while reading this because I spend every morning with a demon three year old. The dance of trying to anticipate what will set him off is utterly exhausting. I think it has given me PTSD – only sorta kidding about that. Thank you for the cleansing laugh/cry.

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