Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh, it just gets better

To complete my tale of woe from Monday, to say that Son has had a rough couple of weeks is an understatement.

When I dropped him off on Monday, I was told that there was an incident report for me to sign. Sick as it was, I was praying that it was that Son had been the victim. Easier to deal with a child who is the victim, right? Nope, Son and his archenemy got into it again, and Son bit him. Fabulous. Considering that archenemy left a great dental imprint on him a couple of weeks ago, it didn't surprise me much. Not that I like it, but those two have been butting heads for a while now (Archenemy is near Son's age and is just about his size, so the two are at least compatible, right?).

Yesterday (Thursday) I walked in to find a sunny Son playing in the large muscle room, and I let out the exhale and thought that he had had a good day. Far from it.

I had let him bring two of his matchbox cars that day. He kept them in his pocket, and things were OK. Well, not so much. Apparently, one of the younger kids wanted to look at the car, and out of the blue, Son just whacked him over the head with said car. To the tune of bleeding, and a trip to the ER for liquid stitches. I almost cried right then and there. Where is my sweet little boy? The same boy who had, just the night before, consoled a cranky pre-toddler who had been wailing away in BabyA's room while BabyA had been changed. The same kid who went and found a toy and offered it to her, and stood next to the exersaucer she was parked in to make sure that she was OK?

Son has been a holy terror lately, and I'm afraid that he has inherited the innate tendencies towards having a temper like Husband and I both do. I don't want him to feel that he can't show anger-that's just begging for other issues to pop up, but we really need to find a way to help him control it. I talked to the lead teacher of Son's group this morning, to see if this is an escalating trend, or if it was an off day, or what. She said that he hadn't eaten that day (strange), took a really long nap (very strange), and just was off. He had a timeout for running when he was told not to (pretty much the same routine that he pulled at BabyA's baptism, a tale that will scare anyone from having more than one child). She's pretty convinced that he's just going through a tough phase right now. I shared with her that he had woke up screaming last night after a nightmare, and that it had taken over an hour to get him calmed back down. He woke up pretty chipper this morning, but said that he didn't want to go to school, that he wanted to go see Daddy at work. We had yet another dropoff where he had to be peeled off of me. It hurts my heart to see him in pain, and really torpedoes my day. By the time I left, he had calmed down (I can see into his room from BabyA's infant room) and seemed to be doing OK. It's a good thing that its Friday.

I don't know how to handle this. On the one hand, it could be a phase, and he is struggling, like most toddlers do, with the concepts of sharing, and he is pushing every limit that he can find. Normal, yet infuriating, two year-old behavior. On the other hand, is he on his way to being one of those aggressive kids that other people blog about hurting their kids? If I were his victim's mom, I would want Son's head on a platter, regardless of any base understanding of toddler behavior-he hurt my kid.

I don't want to make the punishment go overboard, and last night there were no cars to play with, just dinner (ate like a bird again-1/4 of an apple and some milk), bath, and bed. The bath was horrible, screaming and uncontrollable sobbing. I ended up taking over for Husband, who clearly was nearing his limits, got Son calmed down and dressed. Husband then took over (BabyA needed to go to bed too) and read him a few books and put him down.

I think that the whole thing was bothering him, as well as our reaction. I don't want to go overboard on it, because he's smart enough to sense when we are mad. He's actually said in the past that "Daddy is mad at me" and that because he was mad, "Daddy doesn't love me." We have to start operating on the understanding that he is assimilating a whole lot more now, but doesn't have all of the skills to process it. That means that Husband has to think, actually think, about what is on TV, what he says. It finally sunk in last night that Son does pick up on it, that it does make a difference. We will be making some changes, and hopefully that, with some time, will help us over this hump.

However, the nightmares are beginning to freak me out a bit. He keeps talking about a "man" in his room. He can't articulate what scares him so much. This morning he was talking about how the man scared him, and how he told him "no." No to what I don't know, and he wouldn't/couldn't say. I have a feeling that he is having a recurring nightmare, but can't tell us enough about it to clear it from his mind. I understand how vivid they can be at this age-I still remember the one that I had around his age and a little older. It actually resurfaced while I was in law school. Obviously, it made an impression on me, and I can't help but wonder if it isn't a similar thing. Last night was the first night that he hadn't slept through since before he was a year old. I'm not liking the idea of a major sleep regression here. Hopefully, if we start to stick to the routine a bit more strictly, and work more on the winding down once we get home at night, it will help.

I'm just worried about my little boy. I love that creature so much, and miss that happy face. This whole parenting thing forces you to wear your heart on your sleeve, and boy, mine is sure getting beat up.

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