Sep 20, 2011

I need a new game plan, 'cuz what I'm doing ain't workin'

Not long after Griffin turned one, our day care provider mentioned that she had never seen a child hit the Terrible Twos so early in life. I laughed about it. Sure, he was an independent kid very early on, but really? The Terrible Twos? Then reality hit. Griffin was perpetually in two states: 1) Mr. Noodle (every limb would go limp and it was virtually impossible to move him) or 2) The Two-by-Four (he would flex his entire body so getting him into a car seat was like a professional wrestling match). Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a bit. Oh, he did these things, but he was also a sweet, cuddly, loving little boy.

I started taking the approach that we weren't dealing with the Terrible Twos, but the Trying Twos. Perhaps if I changed up the language a bit, it might change my outlook and response to his behavior. It worked. I was able to recognize (most of the time) what triggered these tantrums. We learned that when he was getting tired, he would have a meltdown. Instead of flipping out and yelling at him, I would empathize with him and say something along the lines of, "I know how difficult it can be when you're really tired and can't fall asleep. I get cranky, too." I told myself that it wasn't his fault that he was cranky/tired/hungry and wasn't fully able to express himself verbally. Sometimes the only way he can tell us he's feeling this way is by acting out.

Then people started warning me that the Twos might be bad, but watch out for those Threes. Seriously? I thought we'd made our way through the worst of it. Could it really be worse?

In short, yes. At least for us.

I don't know what to do anymore. Most of the time Griffin is a happy and silly boy who loves to give hugs and shows concern if someone gets hurt or is sad. However, when it gets to bedtime, look out. It's like the devil comes out. He puts up a bit of a struggle for his father, but will eventually go to sleep. For me, it's a battle royale every single night. He throws things. He swats. He kicks. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this because it sounds like I'm raising a complete brat. I have tried just about everything imaginable. Be firm. Don't let him push the boundaries. Stick to your guns. I've tried taking away privileges. I've tried talking in a soothing voice. I've tried getting down to his level and explaining things to him.

So what am I doing wrong? Am I doing anything right? I feel like a parental failure most nights. I go to bed exhausted and tense. I wake up with headaches.

This too shall pass, right? But what do I do in the meantime? How do we deal with this so we don't raise a bratty, bossy, and abusive child?

Sep 6, 2011

I can do better than that

The other day I finished reading a book on my Kindle and thought to myself, I can do better than that! It didn't stem from overconfidence, because that is the last word anyone would use to describe me. No, it came from that tiny part of my soul, the one hidden very deep inside. It's the bitter and envious part that I try to keep hidden, but on occasions such as this, pop up uninvited.

I don't like to admit to those thoughts and feelings. Inadequate. Envious. Frustrated. They make me feel ugly. The truth is that book that I read? It wasn't horrible. It just wasn't what I typically read. The framework was all there, but I was looking for a little more depth or some unexpected twists and turns.

So I finished the book feeling less than satisfied and a whole lotta' cranky because that book had been published. Maybe it was just my mood at that time, but I let the cranky seep in and take over. I can write better than that, I kept thinking and eventually saying out loud.

Finally, after soaking in the cranky for an hour or so, a little voice popped in my head and said So do it. I thought about those words for a minute and decided that instead of complaining about a so-so book that got published, I could sit down and prove my point. Instead of wasting time and energy and emotions, I could transfer all of that into my writing. If I can think I can writer better than that, then do it.

Feeling inadequate sucks. So does envy. It's not about comparing myself to another writer...especially one who has an agent and is published. It's about focusing on my writing. It's about learning about the craft and honing my skills. I can take those feelings and instead of dwelling on them, I can use them to push myself toward my goal.

Easier said than done, but it's a start...