Friday, July 10, 2009

Reboot. . . Help Wanted

I've been having a really great week--actually I haven't, I'm being sarcastic. I've actually been having a lot of trouble with my recently-turned-four-year-old boy.

I was expressing my frustration and discouragement to my mother earlier this week after we had had friends over to play and Owen was so crazy it was maddening. As in running around our house yelling and flailing his arms, as in he couldn't not knock down all three other playing pieces whenever he moved his man while playing Candyland.

Then on Tuesday I went to a church-sponsored personal enrichment meeting. One of the women was talking about parenting. I really enjoyed her presentation and was remembering things I had learned in my undergraduate studies.

Then as we were discussing comments and questions, an old woman in attendance who-quite literally- is off her rocker, commented telling about the other day when she was watching some kids (And she said she wouldn't mention names because "you know who you are") and how there was just the sweetest little girl and her brother who were sooo good. They got out toys that they were supposed to play with they played really good, and stayed where they were supposed to and didn't run off like the other little boy who was there and wouldn't stay where he was supposed to.

And they helped pick up all the toys when they were done playing. And the little girl was just the sweetest little girl, because she told me all about the other little boy. "'Don't worry', she said, 'that's how that boy always is,' she said, 'he's never listens in our primary class either.'" And the woman went on and on about how sweet this little girl was, and how you just ask her if you want to know about who the good kids are.

And all the other ladies chuckled and chuckled over the story of the sweet, precocious little girl, and what a good mother she must have (right because it was a comment made after a "parenting" lecture). But I wasn't laughing.

Because the 'other little boy'--the naughty one who is not a good listener-- is mine.

Wednesday afternoons I always take Owen to "3-year-old and up" story time. They encourage the children to go in there alone, so I just send Owen off. I peeked my head in yesterday two times to make sure Owen looked like he was behaving himself (a few weeks ago I noticed him laying on the floor while they were reading a book- so I was checking up on him.) However after story time one of the librarians came up to me and told me that they would like it if I came in with him next week as he's been having a really hard time just sitting up and not banging in to the other kids.

. . . I'm ready to throw in the towel. I really am.

But luckily, thankfully, we have a diversion planned for this next week. We are driving to Michigan to visit my sister and brother-in-law and Owen's cousins. We are all very excited.

Maybe this is was I need: a vacation and a Mommy reboot. We need to get away from everyone else. All those people who I feel are constantly judging me based on the behavior of my child. We need to be around people who love us, people who accept our weaknesses and imperfections. People who understand what "normal" behavior to expect from an energetic young boy.

And I need to do some thinking and some pondering. Obviously something is not working with the way I am parenting my son. But it's ok. Because He's only 4. I won't just give up, because I know we can get better.

The thing is, I had already started making a number of changes in our household over the last few weeks, specifically for the purpose of improving on the current "system" of child-parent, child-tv/computer, and child-self interactions. I know I started these changes for a reason, and I believe that althought this week was a very discouraging one that these changes will begin to improve our lives.

A few of the things I've been/need to consider making changes in are:

Time allotments for tv/computer time
Providing adequate creative play space/opportunity
Family devotional time
Child solo time
Parent/child together time
Not yelling or threatening each other
My own personal free time
Responsiveness to each other as a family
Getting us out of the house more

What works for you? Any thoughts about the way you do things or have seen things done that me help me? Any topics I'm not considering on my list that I should be?

Thanks. Actually to express my thanks I'll leave you with a chuckle (No one likes to be a "downer.")


Brian's Wife said...

Oh Jeanette....I KNOW how you feel!! I have been there and done that! Give me a call we can chat! I have struggled with what you are going through for years! I must say though over the last year, things have gotten better with my "4-year old boy". We have made a lot of positive changes. We still have our days, or weeks, and summer has been a little more rough but know it does get better!!! And people who have not had a child with the energy that our boys have just can NOT understand. And people who make judgments about your parenting based on that child's behaviors can GO JUMP IN A LAKE!!! They have NO CLUE how hard it is, or how much time, energy, sweat,and tears we put into raising our children. I agree that you need to have a break too...we are struggling with that issue currently. I know that when I have not had a break or some "me time" in a long time life seems overwhelming. Hopefully your trip will help and give you the break you need! We wish we could join guys are going to have SO much FUN!!

Emily & Brannick Adams said...

Since I am not a parent myself...yet...I can only pass on a recent experience of a friend. His little boy who's 7 was having a really hard time in school and church, couldn't stay focused, lots of energy etc. and the teacher recommended to my friend that he try to feed his boy a really big hearty breakfast before school. My friend did this and over the next few weeks the teacher, and my friend, noticed a huge improvement in the boy's behavior. I don't know if this would apply to you at all because my friend (a single dad) never really fed his son a good breakfast, usually just a granola bar or bowl of cereal. But it was a neat story that might be worth a try. Good luck, I can't wait be coming to you for all sorts of parenting advice in the future!

Kristy said...

Jeanette, don't even worry about what other people think. I am sure you are amazing! It is so hard, and I understand. I get flack from people (unfortunately siblings too) a lot, about my energetic children. So I always focus on the positive, they have great personalities ( not bumps on the log), they are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, they will be leaders (no followers), and will hopefully be fabulous missionaries someday. It will get easier, but then it will also get more difficult in other ways. Keep up the good work, and have a blast with Ev. I am so jealous!

Claire said...

After three energetic boys and three energetic girls my mom has some experience... she always said mellow kids make boring adults. Now that I have Ethan (who won't sit still even when he is pinned down by his car seat) I totally believe her. I wouldn't want a mellow kid because I wouldn't want them to be boring when they grow up. You can do it! And he'll be so much the better off when he's all grown up. :)

Tyler M. said...

I think it is the Merrill boy curse. Cameron literally runs laps in the house throughout the day and he has sat through sacrament meeting once in his 19 months of existence. Keep that chin up!!

Anna and Stephen said...

I. Can't. Believe. Someone. Said. That. At Enrichment, none the less. I may want to punch them. Personally, I love Owen. Try looking at the areas of parenting where you have succeeded so much! Owen is one of the most creative and expressive boys of his age I have ever known! You have given him great exposure to many different things, and not stuck him into a stereotype. I am sad to think that people judge you. I think you are a wonderful mother, and I love our talks about parenting together. Keep being awesome. :)

Mindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mindy said...

(I deleted the last comment)

First, you're a really good mom and the most important thing at that age is to make sure the child knows they are loved and accepted, which you do. There will always be people who don't appreciate our children and their qualities, I know people think that about Cameron. And I don't think the older generation has any idea the kind of will the little spirits sent today have!! But it sounds like you're on the right track. I know you don't like to spank, and I try not to as a rule but do time outs instead, but a good spank in it's place can be good. And of course alone time for you--very important!

Sheffer's said...

Oh I am right there with you. I am the mother of that little boy too. And he has a little brother! :D I found a book a few years ago that has helped me to realize what my role is in helping to raise these strong little spirits. It's called Parenting the Ephraims' Child. Check it out. It's written by a mom and daughter who are LDS and it is filled with scriptures and quotes from Prophets about the strong spirits that will be sent down in the last days. It really helps me to have some perspective. And I agree with your friend who says that crazy old ladies need to jump in a lake! :D I have felt exactly as you do. The ideas you have are what has worked in our home. And just think, he'll never be a bored adult! Another mom told me that the other day. She had a busy little boy at one time who is now 21 and still busy! You can do this. :D

Mama said...

So, I wrote this really great post and "poof" it disappeared. Maybe because it was such great advice the words were translated!
So, in a nutshell; affirm good behavior, elimate anything that has red or orange food dye as an ingredient, create a timeout space that has nothing within reach of 4 year old arms or legs, keep cultivating creative experiences for 4 year olds, continue being the good woman you are, pray for guidance, and remember, "anything worth doing well is worth doing." You are made of better stuff than other people! Ask Tyler sometime about, "water on a ducks back."

Mama said...

Okay, so I should be working and not posting. That is why my quote above is incorrect; it should state.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
I am going to work now!!!!!

Nette said...

Jeanette - It gets better, it really does. My charming (still rather active, but so much better) eight-year-old was once four and the terror of the primary. One memory - him bolting from his primary class and zooming through the next ward's sacrament meeting, during the sacrament - three weeks in a row! Thank heavens for Gigi C., Melanie J., Sherida A., and so many others. I don't think I have any great advice, but I've walked in those shoes, been hurt by those kinds of comments, and you should know you are not alone. Hugs from Tucson - Lynnette

Brian's Wife said...

I was catching up on my reading and came across the Question and Answer section of the June has a lot of great ideas for parents! Hope you are having fun with the Weeds! We are thinking of you guys!

Anonymous said...

My great-grandmother said, "I raised my children on my knees." That is NOT old-fashioned advice. God knows that child better than you and He has sent him to you because he also knows YOU and knows you are the best mother for Owen. You will frequently want to throw in the towel, but you never will. You will go in when he's asleep, look at his sweet face, and cry and cry because you love him so much. Be sure your "ME" time includes reading the scriptures---I can't tell you how many times they saved my sanity and restored my faith in myself. You might start with Helaman 3:33-35, where proud MEMBERS of the Church persecuted their brethren. And keep using Grandmas for advice and encouragement. After all, we raised you & Jeremy and did a FABULOUS job!!! :)


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