A very small person

My son, my adored and delightful son, was apparently wearing his Bad Idea Jeans all weekend long. There was destruction of property (paint scratched off the wall, a foam pillow with pieces torn off by little fingers), fibbery (the paint? Rubbed off the wall by either his curly hair or large bugs that came while he was “sleeping like a good boy”, depending on when you asked him), some increased attitude and heightened emotional responses to perfectly reasonable parental requests.

It was both very normal, as he is a four-year old, and unusual, as he has usually been a pretty easy-going, responsible for his age kid.

Given that a lot has changed in the last few months (new baby sister, who he adores, but is still a big change), my being home and now not being home, and now staying home with Mr. Monkey, it is somewhat easier to sort of understand why he might be doing things that he hasn’t done before. I get it from a developmental standpoint but it is still frustrating from a parenting standpoint when you are in the moment.

Sometimes it is hard, for me anyways, not to overreact when my kid is being, to use the clinical term, a turd. At his birthday party earlier this month he was, frankly, kind of a jerk to the very sweet daughter of a friend of ours. And I felt nearly mortified by it.

The other night he was taking FOR. FREAKING. EVER. to go to bed and as I waited for him to finish going to the bathroom for the fourth time in 20 minutes, I could physically feel my patience getting brittle and thin. I could tell that my temper was short and my voice was getting tight and loud as I told him to just get back to bed.

And this is normal too, I know. Parenting is hard work and requires more of us than I think we know we’ll have to give when we decide to bring a very small person into our home.  I read an article a few weeks ago that described a mother’s hopes for her child and at one point the author talked about wanting to remember not to view her kid as an extension of her ego and I felt a little ping of recognition. The mortification about my son’s sudden refusal to play with his friend V. ? At least in part because I felt like it reflected badly on me. If I was a better mother, my kid wouldn’t act like a jerk for no good reason.

But that isn’t true, not really. While good parenting does matter and it is important to try to be firm and consistent and loving, the reality is that all kids will have their moments of turdy behavior. And, I suspect, all parents will have their moments of being humbled by how easy it can be to lose your temper with someone who is still little and lacking in critical thinking skills.

I’m not covering any new ground here. These aren’t earth shattering revelations. But it is helpful for me to write and to remember that I’m doing this whole parenting thing okay, even when I have to deep breathe my way through a particularly frustrating weekend.


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