Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who is this kid?

"I need to calm down in the car," Biscuit said to me this evening in the parking lot of a store.

Somewhere about halfway through my shopping venture, Biscuit decided he had had enough, and he was done. This led to a big, fat meltdown, right in the middle of the store.

I realize as I type this that there are moms who would see one of Biscuit's tantrums and say, "Oh yeah? That's NOTHING." I have to admit that we've been very, very lucky as far as behavior issues go. But sometimes, we get a glimpse of the proverbial 2-year-old, and it just stops us in our tracks.

Who is that kid? Where did our sweet Biscuit baby go?!?

Biscuit has been in a whiny stage lately. Everything hurts. Everything is wrong. Nothing is the way he wants it. Jeff and I can't do anything right.

We hear things like:
  • "My boo-boo hurts." (A boo-boo that is 98% healed already.)
  • "I can't do it, Mom. I can't do it. YOU do it, Mom. I can't do it." (Most of the time it's something that he most certainly can do.)
  • "Mine's broken. Fix it, Mom. It's broken." (This includes any manner of toys that have come apart, a shoe that somehow isn't right, a blanket that isn't spread out the way he wants it, etc.)
  • "Noooooooo. That's not great. That's not perfect for me" or "Not THAT way, THIS way." (Any time anything isn't exactly the way he wants it, i.e. a sippy cup that one of us moves, not having what he wants to eat, not going down the right aisle at the store, not having on a shirt or pants that he likes.)
I realize from reading about different stages of childhood that this is the time Biscuit is trying to gain some independence. He knows how he wants things, but he doesn't have the power, knowledge, strength or freedom to make them happen that way. And once he figures out that he can't, for whatever reason, do what he wants to do, he either melts down or goes back to being helpless and wanting me to do everything for him. It must be truly frustrating for him.

And I can assure you that as frustrating as it is for him, you could probably double that for my stress level!

We joined a group of friends Sunday for lunch at a restaurant. My food was really good, but I had to shovel it down, and I didn't really have time to enjoy it for tending to Biscuit. When he was wee tiny, restaurants were hard for me because I had to eat my dinner, placate the baby, deal with baby food jars and spoons and bibs, and still try to have conversation with whomever was across the table.

Then there was this glorious period where Biscuit was self-sufficient. He was excited about getting to sit in a high chair and eat by himself. He was excited about trying new foods. He was excited about all the goings-on in the restaurant.

Now, it seems like we've reverted. He's in a picky stage of eating, so no matter what we order for him, he's not satisfied. And he's so mobile that he has no desire to sit in a high chair for the amount of time it takes us to get through a salad, a meal and some conversation. And the comings and goings of the restaurant don't seem to hold his attention anymore (and neither do the crayons and paper they usually give him, either).

So he sits there and whines. And pushes his food away. And says over and over and over and over and over again, "I'm done. I want to go home. I'm done. I don't want to eat. I'm done. I don't wike this. I'm done."

And that's what happened Sunday. I heard maybe two sentences of the conversation. And the group included people I haven't seen much of lately, so I really wasn't too happy. At first, my food tasted really good. We hadn't been to that restaurant in a while. But I got to a point where I was so distracted by Biscuit, I just started shoveling it in, hoping we could leave soon.

Mornings have also become more complicated. Biscuit wakes up and says, "The sun comes up, and I wake up to the morning," and you think, "Great! He's in a good mood." And before you can even process that thought, the mood has shifted, and he doesn't want milk, and he doesn't want his teeth brushed, and he doesn't want THOSE pants and THAT shirt, and he wants to go in Dad's GREEN car, not Mom's RED car. And it's all in this whiny, whiny, whiny little voice that makes you want to run screaming from the house.

We were trying to leave the house yesterday morning, and Biscuit came up to me in the kitchen. "My race car is broken, Mom. He is not ready to race. He can't go. He has to be fixed, Mom." He handed me the car, and I messed with it for a minute or so. One side of the car's bumper is broken, so I shoved it back into the little hole and said, "Okay, it's fixed, but you can't pull on the bumper, okay?" I handed it back to him, and he immediately reached up and pulled on the bumper. The bumper came loose again, and Biscuit just wailed. "It's not fixed, Mom. It's not fixed."

These instances of whiny-ness haven't been big, huge tantrums. Nothing has been thrown. Nobody has been hit. No damage has been done. But my baby has shed a river of tears. And I'm betting the dogs in the neighborhood would really like for Biscuit to quit the whining that is
probably high-pitched enough to hurt their ears.

So this evening, we were picking up cereal and apple juice and a few household items, and as we made our way past the toy department, Biscuit asked if we could go down the aisle where the cars were. He very rarely asks me to buy him anything, so I wheeled down the aisle.

Biscuit said he'd like to have a brown race car. So we looked through all the cars they had, and there was not one single brown car in the lot. So I said to him, "I didn't see any brown cars, did you?" He said no. So I said, "Oh well. I guess we'll have to look for a brown car another day." Every time we've had a conversation similar to this one, he says something like, "That's okay. We'll try again."

But not today.

Today, he said, "If there's no brown one, I want that one." He pointed to a $30 character car. He was holding a miniature version of that exact car in his hand. And I was dumb enough to bring this to his attention.

"Biscuit, the car in your hand is exactly like that one, except it's smaller," I said. The sound that came out of my son sounded like an old-fashioned fire alarm cranking up.

"WaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I want a big one. This one is too small. I need that big one. I need it, Mom. I don't want this wittle one. Here, Mom. Here. I don't want this wittle one. I need the big one."

Oh. my. heavens.

I only had a few more things to get, but I had a sinus/allergy headache, thanks to the lovely ragweed that is blooming around here, and that, combined with Biscuit's ... epidode ... caused me to quickly make my list even shorter. I knew I couldn't take much more of the whining and crying. I don't enjoy hearing that kind of fuss in a store, and I'm guessing the people around us in the store don't either.

Biscuit and I made our way to the cash register. And dang if they didn't have a third version of those same character cars hanging on the rack right by the cash register. And he saw them. And he wanted them. And he cried for them. And he said, while crying the most pitiful cry, "Pease, Mom? Pease can I have them?"

Everything in me wanted to hand him those cars. He was heart-broken and sad and tired from the whole event, and there was this little voice inside me thinking, "Just hand him the cars, and this will all be over. Biscuit will be happy. And quiet. And you can have a peaceful evening."

And then that stupid other voice (that I hate so much sometimes) said, "If you give in to this, he'll do this every time he wants something." So I called his name, made him look me in the eye, and I said, "When Mama says no, that's it. Don't ask again."

You would've thought I ripped his arm off and beat him with it. Clearly, it was the worst day of his short life, and his very own mother was the cause of it.

If someone had held a gun to my head, I couldn't have told you the total of my bill at the store. I saw her scan my coupons, then I swiped my debit card, grabbed the bags and thew them in the buggy. I hauled us and our stuff out the door as quickly as I could.

The whole way out to the car, that child was still asking for those cars. At that point, I had said everything I could say, so I just didn't say anything. "Pease, Mom? Pease? I don't want to go home. I need to get the cars in the store."

I guess he realized I wasn't talking to him, so as I swapped the bags from the buggy to the back of the car, Biscuit asked, "I'm in trouble, Mom?"

"No. You're not in trouble," I said to him. "But you have to learn that when Mama says no, I mean no."

"O-ka-aaa-aaay," he said. And by then, he had a bad case of the snubs, where he couldn't get a whole word out without those quick little breaths that crying hard will cause.

I put him in his car seat and was buckling the straps, and that's when he said, "I need to calm down in the car, Mom."

I felt like telling him that I needed to calm down in the car, too. But instead, I said, "Let's go home, have some dinner, then read some books. How does that sound?"

"Goo-ooo-ood," Biscuit said. "Let's go to my house."

And we did.

Sometimes recounting times like these will produce a kernel of wisdom or a life lesson. And I guess it sort of did ... I have to stick to my guns, no means no, etc. But I really just hope that I'm doing the right thing and that we'll all get through this rough patch mostly unscathed. Being slightly superstitious, I think I'll go ahead and cross my fingers, throw some salt over my shoulder and avoid any ladders, just in case.

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