The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Highs and Lows of Parenting a Preschooler

Vinny made me absolutely crazy today. He certainly challenged me as a parent completely.

He started out the day whining and pretty much didn't stop.

I had a busy day planned... gymnastics, then a trip to Ventura with my best friend. I figure that we'd be able to have a good time with the kids going to the beach at the pier where Vinny could play on the playground and then do some shopping on Main St. It really did seem like a great plan.

But 4 year olds are notorious for derailing great plans.

He started the day whining and barking orders.  I normally don't accept this behavior, but... he is not a morning person, and if you know me at all, you know where he gets it, so I give him a break.  However, this was a particularly nasty morning, and he did end up in a time out before we made it out the door to gymnastics (slightly late).

After gymnastics, he whined that he didn't want to go on the long drive without a toy. I unearthed some unopened happy meal toys (I prepared for moments like these), so then he started an argument with me over letting my best friend sit next to him in the car.  Um... no.

The way there consisted of about 20 renditions of "Are we there yet?" and a multitude of other complaints. I was ready to snap by the time we even arrived.

The hour he spent on the playground was a nice break from the whining, but it was an exception to the day's norm. He made it halfway through our walk on the pier before he decided to throw a "carry me" fit, although I had offered to bring the double stroller and he had declined. I cannot carry him any more. He is too heavy. He eventually gave up on that, but raised hell the entire time we tried to shop, even when I offered to buy him ice cream. Can you believe it? He kept acting like I needed to drag him through the stores, whining that he wanted something for him, and yanking hard on my purse.

After I bought a cupcake that I told him he could have later if he was a good boy, he did a complete 180. Within 15 minutes, he said, "I am being good. Can I have my cupcake?" We stopped about 10 minutes later for smoothies, and I let him eat his cupcake. Then my monster returned...  the little devil. He was only being good for the cupcake! It got worse from there.  I did absolutely everything I could to control the behavior throughout the day, but it just wasn't working.

When we got home, I had a talk with him and let him know that he had behaved completely inappropriately and would be punished. I reminded him how he had behaved inappropriately, and said he would need to go to bed right after dinner. This was a particularly devastating blow since Marc was busy and it was going to be a "Vinny Mommy Night," which he knows usually means dinner on the couch with a movie and a late bed time. He tried to bargain for dessert, a bed time story, a movie, but I wouldn't have it. I got so frustrated I finally heaved, "Vinny, do you really think that is how Jesus would have wanted you to treat me?" He frowned and shook his head.

I had him help me with putting away laundry until pizza arrived, and then we had dinner. Believe it or not, he actually cheered up and really helped.

Dinner is where the "high" part of my day came in. He usually prays at the dinner table. Ever since he started at a Christian preschool last summer,  he says a prayer they taught him at school. He started, "God we thank you for this...." and he stopped, "Mommy, I'm getting tired of this prayer!" It was kind of amusing. I laughed and told him he could talk to God however he wants to and just say what he is thinking, so he says, "God, I am so excited to eat this yummy, yummy, yummy pizza! Thank you. Amen."  That's my kind of prayer. :-)     (It gets better....)

We start to eat and he says, "I can just say what I am thinking to God?"  "Yup," I answer, "He is always listening; you can say it however you want." Then he says, "I want to talk to God about you." Really....  I ask, "Later, before bed?" and he says, "No, now," and then prays, "God, I am so sorry for being mean to Mommy today." Oh boy, melt my heart. We had some great dinner conversation where he informed me that "God is everywhere because he is on our hearts, and that God loves us SO much," among other things, and then asked if I would read him a story the next day if he was a really good boy all day, because he planned on being good all day. It was cute and he had behaved well for almost two straight hours at this point, so I actually gave in and told him he could have 1 cookie or a bedtime story tonight, but he did need to go right to bed after either. He choose the story.   :-)  That's my boy!

He gave me extra hugs and kisses before bed, and told me he loves me, even though I was tucking him in at around 7:30 at night, even before his baby sister.  I think I truly believe he is sorry.

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