Monday, February 05, 2007

I'll have some cheese with that whine

When I read Mad's post last night I wanted to cry. I, too, am sometimes filled with anger - anger that there is not one moment to myself. Anger that although there are two parents in this household, M only and ever wants one of us. My name (my mother name) is screeched and called and hollered and whined and thrown on the ground and kicked and screamed.

I have nowhere to go. I can't escape it, even for a few moments as it's constant and exhausting and it's all I can do at the end of the day not to sink into exhaustion and weep onto my pillow, from the ending and the altogether too quickly returning of it all.

I escape to work, I drop M off after a thousand heartaches: wrong socks, mommie! me no like bananas, no way I wear that coat. I breathe a deep sigh, I sit for a moment, and then careen off to the other demanding child, the one that rears it's head and raises it's voice and bites at my ankle all day long.

And then I race at warp speed back to pick up M in time (must be on time) and take yet another deep breath before heading in and gathering her sweetness up in my arms and starting all over.

It wasn't always like this. My sweet and agreeable and happy little girl has been recently replaced with a whining, screaming, kicking child. This started weeks ago before she got sick, (a sick by the way, that is on the mend, thank you for your kind thoughts). On a dime, these things occur. While chopping vegetables for dinner, while washing dishes, while on the phone. These things occur. A pint sized typhoon whirls herself around the kitchen and throws herself on the floor in hysterics. I step over her with a glass of wine. Depending on the day, I am amused, others, I want to put my hand through a wall.

I know it's a phase. A sweet, normal (yet to whom?) and amusing phase that causes my home unhappiness. It's not fun at Casa Talia. It's not fun when it is like this.

My name is Jen. I am fascinated by how the fabric and rhetoric of our society slowly erodes communities. I love to make guacamole and eat it with a bag of salty chips and a cold Dos Equis in a green bottle. I love to sit alone all day and read. I can listen to Joni Mitchell till my ears fall off. I love claw foot tubs and far away places. I fantasize. I dream. And I sometimes feel like my voice has been silenced.

I am not looking for sympathy. But I am looking for a bit of advice. Is it simply a game of waiting out the whining/temper/general ick till the next phase happens? Or better, how do you talk to a child who is crying every 5 minutes? How do you engage with her so she can always know she is loved while at the same time, discouraging this behavior?

And while you are at it, perhaps we can solve global hunger and someone can explain to me how a fax machine really works.


Anonymous said...

When you figure it all out, please let me know. I'd appreciate it.

My only advice, this too shall pass. It just doesn't feel like it when you're in the middle of it.

ephelba said...

She will grow out of it; you will find your way through it. Ignore her when she's hissy-fitting, pay loads of attention to her when she's not, and make "This too shall pass" your personal mantra. Which you know. Keep on keeping on.
Which is what Deb said while I was arguing with word verification...

Can't do much about world hunger in a comment window, but I know how a fax works.

Mrs. Chicken said...

It comes and goes like the wind,my friend. My own girlie has days like that and then the next she is an angel.

She could be teething (molars are a bitch). She could just be exercising her individuality. She could just be two.

Yah, it is hard. It WILL pass. When I have these days I think, "Someday, she will be 30 ..." You can count on time passing.

Deezee said...

Either my kid never went through this phase or I've blocked it out in an exercise of self-induced amnesia - though I do vaguely remember being head butt by an unruly two-year-old determined to not get buckled into a car seat. Maybe said head butting caused abovementioned amnesia.

With all that in mind, any advice from me would be purely theoretical. As a parent of a teen, though, I can assure you that tantrums get replaced by silent sulking...

Julie Pippert said...

You know, I remember this. It's so much different, two, with the first child, the only child.

When P1 was two-and-a-half and I was halfway pregnant, I sent her to Camp Nana for a week. I worried about this. But I needed it. She needed it. It was one of her favorite times. Instead of our battles, she was spoiled and both of us came back together fresh, happy from getting to miss each other, with revived souls.

P2 is 2. She's a ferocious two.

I am a worn-down mommy, though, so her ferocity often falls on deaf, dumb and blind.

This is discouraging to her ferocity. LOL

M sounds like a typical 2.

My mantra for myself: Pick your battles. Select hills to die on, and hills to simply scale and roll down.

I don't say normal much, or this too shall pass. Normal made me feel like I needed to let it roll off me. That's just me. This too shall pass made me wonder what came after this passed, because something always does.

What helped me was talking to friends. Friends talking to my kids. Trading kids with friends and family. Sitting down criss cross apple sauce across from Loony Kid, removing myself for a moment, and repeating what they said or felt, "You feel really mad. It's okay. It's going to be okay. You can calm down, let your lungs breathe."

You know, like maybe half the time I managed that. But it always did us better. My calm helped them find their calm.

"I can't talk to screaming kids," I tell them, "I can't understand whining words," I explain my handicap.

When we hit calm, we discuss, find solutions, hug, share needs. I tell them my needs too.

Anyway, this is all fairly vague despite its length.

Tons of empathy. And loads of tips and tricks you are welcome to anytime. Email at jpippert atgmaildot com

KC said...

jen, I'd love to know the answer to this as well. We've only begun to get a taste of The Suffering and The Pain, but I can see it well on the horizon.

What ephelba said makes sense to me. And bottoms up with that wine glass. (make mine salt-rimmed margaritas on ice)

Anonymous said...

Ephelba says ignore the tantrums, and she's right.
Julie P. says meet their emotion head on with empathy, and she's right. You need a bottomless bag of tricks because it's not as simple as finding the right wrench for the bolt.

I have had "aha" moments when something would click (first time, or the hundredth) and the fit (or whatever) would stop. Oh! That worked! I feel like God.

But there have been many more moments of disappointment because nothing worked, and I yelled or cried or was sarcastic.

I can't figure out how to explain this well, but it helps me to remember two things:
1) I'm not responsible for another person's emotions, even when I am responsible for everything else about that person, including helping her understand and appropriately demonstrate her emotions, and
2) I am the rule maker, and there is nothing in the rules that says the child has to like the rule. Have some cheese with THAT, kiddo.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Sorry, no advice here. I'm still mucking through myself. Instead I'll say "Me too!" and we'll be sisters. Sisters in Arms. The war of motherhood.

hel said...

Don't say that. We have been talking of taking the leap and I suspect your leaf story had some influence..

I can't give any advice on faxes or two years olds but what about sustainable urban argriculture as a step towards solving the global hunger issue?

J Fife said...

Oh, this sounds like a slice of my life. I have no great advice for you. It's all trial and error around here - with emphasis on the error. Ignoring the hysterics seems to work. Humor at times also breaks the tension: "I don't want to wear socks!" "Oh, OK. I'll just put them on your ears then."
Mostly, I'm a broken woman. Just wanted to let you know you're not alone.

Joker The Lurcher said...

oh yes. remember this well. my son was older (i was rather pious about how he didn't have the terrible twos but in common with many autistic kids he got the terrible 6s). i also remember he was worse when on the way into an illness or on the way out so maybe that is it too?

keep laughing though - humour got us through some very bad times!

Mad Hatter said...

"I step over her with a glass of wine."

Often, that is precisely my solution to the whole affair. I may not drink at play dates but I sure do like a good stiff one to get me from dinner time until bed time. Ack. Fortunately, it still only takes one.

Really, it's not so much the need to manage the urchins as it is the need to find space to take care of ourselves. I am becoming a micro-manager of time. 10 weeks until the end of term. 2 hours until home time. 1 hour of undivided attention for her. 1 hour of cooking and family time. 2 hours of lead up to and release into bed time. 3 hours of ME (including housework and hygiene). 2 hours of insomnia. 1 hour of sleep before daughter finds my bed. 5 more hours of broken sleep. Then it starts again. It always starts again but somehow the counting helps. And inbetween, there are still those moments of pure parenting joy. I try to let those moments strike me to my soul and resonate through the tough patches. But as you know, I also bite my finger HARD.

Good luck with this important day.

bubandpie said...

The Pie went through that phase, too - except I didn't think it was a phase. It started when she was 13 months, and there was no overt cause (teething, illness, whatever), so I just said to myself, "She was an easy baby, but I guess she's not an easy toddler." But I couldn't shake that sense of loss - what happened to that easy-going, buoyant spirit? I tried not to resent it, but I did. And then, two months later, it just went away: the crying, clinging version was replaced with a new demanding, talkative, but happy, recognizable Pie.

All of which is just to say (a) this will pass, and (b) it's okay not to like it too much - I expect she doesn't either.

liv said...

jen-- that last bit about advice, growing out of it, ignoring??? pardon me while i laugh my ass off and snort wine out of my nose. d is 4 and still has a day or so like that. peep is just getting to that "bitch, please!" portion of her life.

after the kind of day i had yesterday, i don't even know if answers exist. and, i'm not too keen on hearing from the blabbertwat who thinks she knows, either. (sorry about that momentary lapse into potty mouth, and simultaneous word invention)

whine. whine. whine. WINE!

meno said...

Since you have the luxury of a partner, you HAVE to let him deal with it sometimes, even if that displeases she who is the center of the universe.

I remember asking mine at around that age "are you whining?"
"Why? It never works."
"I don't know, i can't help it."

In some ways, she is as much a victim of her emotions as you are.

Momish said...

jen, I am going through the exact same thing with Piper. The whine is continuous and unyielding. It drives me nuts. My husband has the life of Reilly as she wants no parts of him, only mama will do. I feel for you. I have no words of advice or I wouldn't be in the same boat! I feel for me too!

We'll survive it, that is all I am certain of anymore.

QT said...

Oh Jen, I have no words of wisdom, I didn't read all your comments, but I think that many of them are on the right track. That, and sometimes M has to make do with J, like meno says. That's life, right?

Just know that I feel for you, miss. Your trip can't come soon enought, methinks.

celebrity said...

Very interesting and well written post. Thank you!

ewe are here said...

I'm just praying like crazy it's a phase over here. Nothing like trying to fix dinner and having a screaming banshee wrap himself around your legs and try to insert himself between you and the counter and move you where he wants you to be moved. Let alone all those other lovely loud anguished moments when mommy fails to do exactly what he wants when he wants it, and I don't even know what that is!

And then there are days like today. The almost perfect child. A delight from beginning to end.

Makes me wonder if I had twins and they take turns spending the night here.

Hang in there. I'm with you.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Jen, I can tell you...this post is like looking at my life! I am not sure what is worse....the constant whining, arguing, and playcating, or the guilt I feel when I lose it! I am relatively new to your blog, so I don't know how old your daughter is. However, if I were going to wager a guess, I would say somewhere in the twoish category. There is hope, it will get better. It sounds like she is frustrated....probably because she cannot express herself like she wants to. I finally had to tell my daughter that I was not going to talk or listen to her unless she talked like a big girl. Now, my son (who is 3) usually has to be physically removed from my presence when he starts on a tear like this. He is my "challenge" child. ( That is code for I contemplate selling him on the black market at numerous intervals during the week.) There is something about being sick that throws EVERYTHING off kilter! It may just take her a while to get back to her old self! Is she sleeping well? I would try the "Let's Be a Big Girl" approach and see if that works! I always encourage that....then forget to praise like I should when they do it! (I am shining that trophy....the one that says "Mother of the Year")
To make a ridiculously long, rambly comment short....I don't have any answers! :)

You know you need some time away, when you can't even GO to the bathroom ALONE! UGH!

I hope she feels better soon!

flutter said...

Unfortunately, all I can do is explain how the fax machine works.....

NotSoSage said...

Jen, I'm just flying through because it's a busy week of birthday parties, visitors from BC and the like...I don't have time to respond thoughtfully to anything, but I saw Mad's wonderful post and wanted to read your wonderful response. I wish I could offer some advice, but I will come back, read others' advice and maybe have a few notsosage words of my own!

Denguy said...

Lordy, woman, I feel your pain.

Pgoodness said...

I can cover the fax machine!! LOL. Seriously, I feel you on this (as you know). I appreciate how you say you sometimes feel like your voice has been silenced. Some days I feel like I could literally scream at the top of my lungs and no one would flinch, but my 3 year old screams and the world comes to an end. Sigh. Advice? Nope. But at least we're not alone.

crazymumma said...

Solving global hunger is easier. Of that I am sure.

It interests me that her behaviour started to escalate before she got sick. You may not see it now, but looking back at the big changes in my girls, behavioural/cognitive/physical changes...these were almost always precipitated by illness and a shift in behaviour.

I think children like to try on different 'coats' of behaviour, and where safer than with the family who loves them?

We definitely get the best AND the worst of them.And truthfully, of us as well.

A hug goes a long way, even if my girl's behaviour is deplorable, I TRY (tho there is only so many times in one day a rabbit can be pulled out of a damn hat...) I TRY and offer a hug. miraculously, it often soothes the savage beast.

How many times DID I use behaviour in this comment? My goodness.

ecm said...

I have no advice, however, this does not sound like fun. Hang in there!

Laurie said...

I have no real words of wisdom that haven't already been pontificated here.

I do, however, strongly suggest you enlist J's help in this, no matter what M wants. It will be better for all concerned if mom gets a break now and then.

urban-urchin said...

My favorite saying when the tiny tyrants are screeching and whining is "I don't speak Whinese."

Then I mutter about how they better pick a damn nice nursing home for me when I am really old, and how lucky they are that they're cute.

I don't know what else to do but what I'm doing and hope it's ok,

Deb said...

girl it is the truth....i feel this way just way too often. i want to enjoy it, live the joy. honestly tho, mostly it is like this still.
i am sick and Miss monkey who is also 3 had a day like this. part of it is being 3, part of it is being a barometer for how we are feeling, part of it is whatthefuck?

On the good days, I stop what I am doing and hold her as long and much as she needs me and we do what we have to do to get thru the day, movies? you got it....turkey with mandaise, you got it.
Bad days I hold my head and yell at her to stop my head is exploding and cry with her.

love to us all, us Mama's

Em said...

Tell me about it!

My #2 has always been exceedingly clingy... in fact, even at 4 she is unusually clingy for her age, but slowly bit by bit, her independence and confidence has grown and she has started to seek out people and experiences beyond me. It is very hard (still) because her father cannot do ANYTHING for her (because she won't let him), but I see the light at the end of the tunnel now and that helps.

These days the baby only wants me too which adds another complicating element to the whole situation because there is only one of me and two of them (it isn't uncommon that both girls are climbing all over me and making demands at the same time).

My son wanted me to do everything for him until he was 6 (then he became Daddy's golden boy) although I still have to be the one to turn his light out and give him his goodnight dreams every single night - a role I rather relish these days!

Sometimes I feel like there is nothing of me left, but after three children I've become rather resigned to it and I can tolerate it a lot better than I could when my son was an only and I was adjusting to the demands. I feel that I've surrended myself physically and emotionally and if I don't fight it and I just let it wash over me, it comes and then goes easier.

kristen said...

It is what it is. And while others have noted that it's a phase, my girl, my exceptionally dramatic girl has found ways to channel that same 2 y.o. energy into the dynamics of a almost 6 year old whining, mama needing kid. The opposite side of that though, is this amazing creative and sparkling little girl who dazzles me while simultaneously making me want to put my head thru the wall. You'll see in April.....and then we'll say buh-bye and go drink Dos Equis in the green bottle, while eating salty chips with guac. Oh and did I mention the men will have the girls? Oh. Yes. They. Will.
And the other thing.....miss M will begin to be less dramatic when she has more words. My girl was much more of a tasmanian devil when she wasn't able to articulate herself. Of course when she could really talk, she couldn't and stilll can't stop, but at least the hysterical throwing herself at my feet has now been replaced with fresh, snarky remarks and a healthy dose of eye rolling. This I can deal with.

Carolie said...

Mom would kindly and sweetly offer sympathy: "It must be so hard to be so frustrated. I love you so much." Then she'd put us in our rooms and close the door, with the gentle words "go ahead and cry out all that frustration where it's safe and cozy and your own space. I'll be out here when you're finished and ready to be with people again." Over and over, she let us know she loved us, that it was OK to be frustrated or to cry...but that it was NOT ok to inflict our anger/sorrow/frustration/tantrums on others.

We had a chair in the corner for our "naughty spot" but we were never punished by being sent to our rooms. Each child's bedroom was his or her refuge from the world, the place for solace and comfort.

Eventually, each of us got to the point, as very young children, that we'd go to our rooms to howl or punch pillows on our own.

jenijen said...

All I can figure is that when children get to an age where they want all sorts of things (not material stuff so much as choosing what they want to do, where they want to go, that sort of thing) but cannot make those things happen because they don't have the language and they aren't in charge, they get this incredible rush of frustration and they have no idea how to channel that.

Uh, that was verbose, but perhaps you get my meaning?

I think what I mean is they feel so strongly because they are figuring things out, but they don't know what to do with those feelings.

Stepping over her is good. Believe me you don't want a kid who learns to use tantrums to steer things they way she wants them to go. I tell my kids that when they can ask calmly for something, we'll discuss it. (Of course, they still have tantrums, but that'll pass -- I hope)

Bob said...

I can remember being frustrated when the kids would have me - they had to have their mom. They even fought over who got to sit behind her in the car! I know (mostly from observation) how frustrating it is when the kinder won't be settled by anyone other than mom. PATIENCE! This too will pass.

Tabba said...

Does it seem to "mostly" happen during 'transitions'? From what I read-and I know that is a mere snippet of your day-it seems to happen during 'in-between-times' aka: transitions.
This is big deal with Connor. I have to talk to him ahead of time about everything. I gives him a sense of 'control'. For instance: "Connor. It is 6:22. At 7:00 we will go up and take a bath." And I have to keep giving him updates until that time comes.
Maybe talking to her very matter-of-factly. "M. Mommy is on the phone. I see you need my attention and I love that you are being so patient (*snicker to yourself*). In ___ minutes, we can go do ____."
And then, go in the other room & put your fist through a wall!
Based on our behavioral therapy, that's what we've come to try....warnings leading up to the transition & positive praise when they are patient or doing something/anything good.
Good luck! Buy stock in a wine company;)

Z said...

zdxolWhen you get home, do you have some time together, just having a cuddle, reading, having a bit of fun, or do you get straight on with preparing dinner? I often used to find that giving a child my whole attention, even for just a little while, really helped.

I'm not suggesting rewarding her for bad behaviour, but ignoring it - the moment the whining starts, say "do you know, I don't care about the vegetables, I'd rather play with you." Catch her up, kiss and tickle her, laugh together. Play for a little while, then settle her with a toy, or else sit her up at the table next to you and sing with her, maybe find a little job she can help with.

It's breaking the pattern that matters, once that has been done and she knows she is at the heart of your world, she won't need to play up any more. She's missed you all day.

When you're washing dishes, a little bowl of soapy water and a sponge or a straw (if she will blow bubbles and not suck them in), maybe her own bowl and mug to wash.

Sorry you don't have time for yourself, I think that's one of the hardest things.

Z said...

I wondered what had happened to the word verification (zdxol) first time I typed it!

karrie said...

I know all too well that sinking into your pillow crying tears of exhaustion feeling. I think you need a mental health day. Take M to daycare as usual, and go enjoy a day to yourself instead of going to work.

Do nothing. Tell no one. :)

ECR said...

Darnit, I was hoping that all your questions and the solution for world hunger would've been answered in the previous 38 comments. But, here I am, number 39, and I've got no new answers. All I can say is "keep writing."

you da mom! said...

that does sound tough, but it must also be tough for your husband to feel out of the picture??? i know mine gets a little hurt when squid seems to only want me...anyway, hang in there! you already do a wonderful job, and i'm sure that isn't going to change. :)

Susanne said...

Lots of comments, wow. Seems as if everybody can relate. Well, I can. I, too, am constantly living in micro-increments: 15 minute of exercise followed by a shower followed by whatever, until I have to go to bed on time, repeat ad nauseam.

I have no advice though. It is a phase that's true, but I have the dawning suspicion that every phase is followed by just another phase. I'm still parenting by alternately telling my son that I love him even if he is mad at me and yelling at him to please leave me alone with the whining. It's more hugging than yelling so I count that as a success.

You know what I really loved about the terrible twos though? Every single German of my mother's generation said, "But he is much too young for having tantrums!" Because here they think it's not the terrible twos, but the terrible threes. Despite evidence to the contrary.

Well, at least we're not bored, aren't we? I'll go and have a beer. Cheers.

Lillithmother said...

Jen, I read your post...walked away, slept on it,and read it again...and came up with nothin'! I'm Moneky-Moo's constant companion ergo I'm the "star" and always in demand. Part of it is attention seeking (says social worker we're working with to control her anxiety) and part is that she is used to focused attention on her all day, that by the end, she doesn't understand that things need to get done around here. So I involve her as much as possible...she helps do laundry, put away cloths, do dishes and make supper. Sure, sure, only for a few minutes but those minutes mean the world to her and then she goes off to do her own thing until she needs me/attention again.

Like you, it frustrates the heck outta me...I'm not her only parent (how many times have I said that loudly over temper tantrums?!)! SO I've changed a couple of things that involves Babe more and give me the breathing space I need: Babe now sits beside her at the dinner table, I sit beside him. That means he can take care of any of her demands/shinanigans. I also stopped putting her to bed..."mommy is going bye-bye" works great...and means that I get first dibs on the couch! I also go out at least one day a week, and not to do mundane things for the house like groceries, but sit in a bookstore browsing through books I'd love to own while sipping on my fave herbal tea. I'm gone 2, 3 hrs and come back refreshed and better prepared for the next day's challenges.

If I need patients in a pinch, I reach of "Rescue Remedy" for her and's a stable in our house!

Not sure if any of that helps Jen...just food for thought. I hope it gets better for you soon!

Lil *hug*

carrie said...

I really feel you, for several reasons and I wish I had some advice that I knew 100% would work.

What I do know, is that the littlest female in our house is VERY different than the little males ever were at the toddler age. The waves of emotion are intense, as is her display of them. While on one hand, I do understand her feelings, on the other I wish she could express herself without screaming.

The only thing that I do consistently is say "I love you, but I do not like the way you are acting". She spends a lot of time on our kitchen counter "helping" (read: interfering) me make dinner, as this time of day is always meltdown city, and if I can keep her away from the boys while they're doing homework than just maybe somebody will get something done.

I try not to react, but distract and encourage her to take a breather (sometimes it works, sometimes not) when she's especially irrational.

I could go on and on about this, and I don't want to occupy all the space. So, just know that you're not alone, and these girls, these females like us, are learning how to be, how to express and show themselves to the world. All we can do is let them, and guide them, and teach them how to do it right.

Does that make ANY sense at all????


Marymurtz said...

I feel your pain. That's all I can say because I'm right there with ya, sister. I take the long route to work for a little time to myself, and sometimes during my lunch hour, I will sit in the car with my iPod on or read a book for 30 minutes, just to create a tiny island with the illusion of tranquility.

Penny said...


You write so well, Jen!

I am totally with you.

My name/being/purpose/ident/life is: Mommy. In every pitch and tone imaginable.

There is a quote I am trying to remember.. something about the sweetest sounds to mortals given.. home, mother and heaven..

(depends on which end of the birth canal you're on, dude.)

william words..something.

gawd.. this mommy is tired.