Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Challenging Moment

First, I know my posting has been lacking. A ton has happened recently. Nonna Giorgina and Zia Luciana came for a visit, Marco turned 3 and Grandma and Grandpa were here, we went to Portland for Uncle Ben's graduation and Marco went fishing for the first time. We have lots of pictures and at some point I will get around to posting some. But that is not what this post is about, it is about an ever growing personality.

Marco is now 3. Prior to June, I think I can honestly say he has never had a temper tantrum. At least not a real one. I thought he had had temper tantrums, but apparently I was wrong. Prior to June, let's say Marco was having what I called a temper tantrum. Here is how it would go. He does something I don't like or starts demanding some thing or the other. I count to three, said behaviour either stops or he gets a time out. Even though he was upset, he would sit in the chair until the time out was over or stay in his room for the few minutes and when the time out was over, he would tell me why he got a time out, we would hug, and everything was fixed. This even worked in public places. He would just have to sit on a bench, chair, or in the car seat.

In the last month we have had 2 major blow outs and many more middle ranged tantrums. Here is a taste of one morning I had recently. I should point out that since we returned from Portland, Marco has been using the potty. This was not so much by choice as by force. First, he doesn't get to watch any TV if he is wearing a diaper. I will not play with him if he is wearing a diaper and he is not leaving the house with a diaper. He still will not poop in the toilet, but he is doing very well. Very few accidents since the day we started and he either waits until bedtime when we diaper him or asks for a diaper to poop. Anyway, one morning I wake him up at 7:30 to get ready for the day. He wants breakfast and decides on cereal. My first mistake (other than waking him up) was asking him what kind of cereal he wanted. He picked one and then after me pouring it into the bowl starts crying it is the wrong kind. I told him fine, we will put two kinds of cereal in the bowl. My second mistake, putting a bowl with some strawberries and blueberries on the table next to his cereal bowl. This caused a major commotion. He didn't want strawberries and blueberries, he asked for cereal. He cried so much and we had to put the fruit away. What was I thinking? Then he wanted to watch a movie (what he calls all TV). I told him he had to go pee-pee first. He said ok, but changed his mind, he was a mess. At some point I take off his diaper and throw it in the trash. He starts crying he didn't want his diaper off, and takes it from the trash. I take the dirty diaper from him and he is wailing about wanting it, hitting me, etc. I walk outside and throw it away in the outside trash. He is following me screaming, naked from the waist down and starts scaling the garbage can to get his diaper back. Screaming "I want my diaper." I just start to walk back in the house. Then he starts screaming following me into the house, stops and pees all over the sidewalk. That will show me! Fast forward to us trying to leave the house. He doesn't want to leave, so I just say I am leaving and he follows me screaming. I don't remember everything that happened, but I do remember the arching back, not being able to physically get him in the car seat. At one point I started driving anyway and got maybe one foot and he was attacking me. Hitting me with those little fists, grabbing at me, honking the horn. It was insane. At one point I just shut the car door and walked away. I literally had no idea what to do. I don't know how long the whole thing took, but I do know I didn't get him to school prior to 9am and normally it only takes us 30 minutes to get ready in the morning. Once I got him to school, I thought he would want nothing to do with me. Instead the exact opposite happened and he was incredibly clingy and it took me 10 to 20 minutes to get out of there.

His willfulness is incredible. He will spend 10 minutes in the bathroom complaining that he doesn't want to wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom because he needs to eat/play outside/watch TV/do a puzzle or whatever instead of spending the 15 seconds to actually just wash his hands!

The challenge I am facing is how do I effectively manage this budding personality. I think one thing that helps Marco is knowing what is coming. When we started bribing him for going pee-pee, we said he would get an m&m. He would get incredibly upset when we wanted him to put his underwear back on and wash his hands before he got the m&m. We then made a chart outlining the required tasks with the m&m in the final picture. Problem solved. I think I need to do the same thing for our morning routine now. And as firm as I am, I think I am going to have to start being firmer. I can no longer make him physically do what I want him to do. If he doesn't want to take his pajamas off, I can't make him. If he doesn't want to get in the car seat, he isn't going in. He doesn't really care that mommy is going to be late for work. I think we also need to start instilling the ideas of personal responsibility in him. This I am still working on. He needs to know he is responsible for helping getting himself ready in the morning and if he doesn't, then he will lose certain privileges. I don't know, I am still trying to work all this out in my head.

I am not particularly fond of this stage we are going through, but there are plus sides too. For example, the other day Alessandro was taking a nap and Marco and I decided it was time to have dinner. We went in to wake Alessandro up chanting we want dinner. Then Alessandro and I started discussing what we should have. Marco took matters into his own hands. We go into the kitchen to the following scene. Marco standing on the counter with the cupboard open. We walk in astonished (he had gotten up with no assistance from a chair or anything) and he tells us we have pasta. He also likes to talk on the phone now. He will jabber my ear off for quite awhile and not want to give the phone up. He tells me a lot more about his day and I get to share in his excitement even when I am not a part of it. He has his group of best friends at school. He negotiates, which at times is trying, but fun too and can work to our advantage. He is using his imagination more, making up songs, stories, invisible creatures that need to be vanquished. He is more interested in learning Italian words. Before, if you told him a cat is gatto, he would say no, its a cat. He is a wonderful little boy full of love and I just have to keep telling myself that :-)

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