This a neat and tidy little saying that is supposed to mean you get what you put into what ever. Feel as you will about Karma, I hate this saying, like most neat and tidy sayings life never seems to be as neat and tidy as we like to categorize it. I especially hate this one when it is used to define parenting skill.
I was that once perfect parent who bought into this idea too, until I actually had kids. The idea that the kid melting down in the grocery store obviously had a parent who did not establish firm boundaries with him. No wonder, not being allowed to run as fast as he can, wherever he wants, has sent him into a writhing, screaming, bitting, hysterical gremlin. In case your not familiar, or haven’t been reading between the lines the above mentioned kid is mine, he’s beautiful, and he’s a tough one.
For those of you just starting out on this parenting thing, I’ll let you in on a little secret, every kid is his own, and while how you parent makes all the difference in the world, it doesn’t change the kid at the core. If you have an easy one, it’s easy. Petra though the tougher baby has been a breeze compared to Elijah as toddlers, and Natalia is even dreamier, though the twin experience may have softened my view of what’s hard.
Petra was potty trained at Christmas, you can take her to a mall and she’ll walk beside you the whole time, if you ask her to put the milk carton in the garbage she will. Elijah has been through multiple potty training attempts, the last of which we thought if we let him go without underwear he’ll notice when he has an accident, and will therefor be more encouraged to use the potty. Good thing we have a steam cleaner, or our couch/carpet/bed/dinning room chairs/ / / / would all reek of pee. If you go to the mall you have to strap him into the stroller, or he’ll run away from you as fast as he can, strait into the fountain , all the while laughing at the fun game he’s just started, And if you gave him the same milk carton you gave Petra he’d either play with it, walk past you as you held it out, as though you had just spoken some foreign language, or perhaps take it, and throw it at you in anger.
Now to be completely fair to Elijah, he’s had some language delays, so it makes it tough for him to communicate, he can’t get the words out, and he has my patience level, so he quickly loses it in a very big way. I don’t know that he always understand us either, and so he just tunes out, which may be why although we are screaming hysterically for him to stop he keeps heading towards the busy road, with no real sense it’s dangerous.
It’s been hard. I don’t go out without Kyle because it’s nearly impossible to keep track of Elijah. By yourself you can’t run after one kid and leave two unattended while you do it. Since Elijah big for his age he’s strong, so when he wants to hurt me he can. An enraged three year old bites hard, hits har, and kicks hard. Sometimes his fits have left me wanting to pummel him with something hard until he stops his earsplitting shrieking. Yup, you read that right don’t re-read it, it’s not a proud thought and I’ve never acted on it, nor would I ever, but there are moments where it is sooo clear why some parents snap.
Elijah is a hard kid,and yet when people would comment on it, I would get mad, hurt, or sad. I don’t want people to see Elijah as a hard kid. I wanted them to see all his brilliance, the smile that melts polar ice caps, his intense focus when he’s found something interesting to him, his Kyle like curiosity at how things work, that he hugs with his whole body, not just his arms. And then again, Iget mad at those who say things like “oh he’ll be just fine”, or “boys are always a bit behind girls”, because it didn’t acknowledge how much extra effort he really is, it undermined his difficulties.
I’ve always wanted that big family 5 or 6 kids, but lately I was feeling like I was done, that perhaps Natalia was biting off more than I could chew.
And then something happened…Elijah woke up one morning and used the potty every time he had to go. We put him in real underwear and then we (gasp) took him out of the house in them, and he stayed dry. Now most days he is completely accident free in fact, the other day he had a bout of diarrhea and managed to make it to the potty every time. Wow! And get this the last four mornings he’s woken up dry and put himself on the potty to pee first thing!! And then there was the hardware store, where we let him out of the stroller and he stayed near the whole time and he listened when we would say “Come this way”. I’m sure the other shoppers wondered why Kyle and I were walking around with our jaws on the floor. And lately he’s been acquiring new words and talking in sentences. I can ask him to put something away and he will, can you hear the choir of angels singing that majestic AHHH right now?. We can play in the front yard and he doesn’t run into the street, and yesterday I took Elijah and Petra on their bikes by myself around the block and didn’t have to run after him once.
Sure we had to leave church early again last week because he was screaming, but he was screaming because I told him to sit down and stay in one spot, and he was, he was unhappy about it, so he was screaming, but he was obeying. Normally I walk out of there with him screaming and wrestling me to put him down, so he can run about. This time he walked out shrieking holding my hand. It’s progress and though it’s far from the kind of kid I ever imagined I would have, nor did I ever think such a scene would make me proud, I was proud of him. He’s learning to obey and he’s doing it.
Now we’ll just work on the terrible shriek he has, though I think it may have saved us an hour at the boarder crossing while we renewed our Visa’s.
I can’t even begin to tell you all how tremendously proud I am of Elijah, I swell at the thought of it. Lately with two well behaved three year olds, and a good one year old I think I might manage a few more little ones in time. He’s not caught up, and we’re still working on therapeutic preschool to help with his language development, but I see the light, I see how wonderful he is, only more so, and I just want to squish him.