Parenting Week 155: Trying times

It’s been kind of a tough week. I’ve said before that I think the so-called “terrible twos” are misnamed, as the really belligerent times seem to have come right around Sam’s third birthday. Everything is a negotiation, followed by a refusal to live up to the terms of the negotiation, followed by threats, followed by more refusals, followed by attempts to follow through on those threats without resorting to actual violence, followed by crying. Fun, fun.

Really, all rules seem to have gone out the window in the last week. My new system for encouraging cleanup started off fine, but seems to have lost any effect. The only good thing is that cleanup is still a snap when I all have to do is chuck toys into a big plastic “trash” bin after the timer goes off, and there are getting to be fewer and fewer toys that currently reside outside that plastic prison, but that’s not really the point. The bin is filling up, too, so that we’re now letting Sam rescue a toy from it for just about any good behavior. Use the potty? Get a toy! You said please and thank you? Toy! Filed your taxes already? Two toys!

And then there’s playtime. We’ve been trying to get Sam to learn how to play more on her own, but she hasn’t quite grokked this concept. We must be with her at all times, participating in whatever play she has cooked up. And that’s fine, theoretically, because playing with her should be fun. Only half the time Sam kicks in some kind of bizzaro logic and flightiness of mind where she will demand that we do something with her, then demand that we stop and let her do it herself. So we have one sided conversations like “Would you like to color with me, Daddy? Color with me! Okay, take the orange crayon. NO! NO! I WANT THE ORANGE CRAYON. YOU USE THIS CRAYON. NO! I WANT THAT CRAYON.” And I’m just left there holding my head in my hands and trying to figure out what’s going on. Playing with Sam is less like playing and more like getting bossed around by a miniature madman with the attention span of a gnat.

So, cleansing breath. And I guess I can’t blame Samantha exclusively for all this. The weather has been bad here, and that combined with the new baby means that Sam will sometimes go days without leaving the house. She must be getting stir crazy. And the effects of Mandy’s arrival aren’t just hypothetical –we’re all left with less time, less patience, and less energy than we had to give before. Plus on top of everything else she has another cold and hasn’t been feeling well. But I’m pretty sure life will go on. I’ll actually be kind of annoyed if it doesn’t, because I was specifically told that it would.

The one time when we can count on some reprieve and no requests for our involvement, though, is showtime. Sam still likes her shows and will sit quietly and watch as many as we’ll let her. We have a variety queued up in the TiVo, but Sam is very particular about what she wants to watch. She normally moves from one obsession to the next, eschewing a balanced media diet in favor of gorging on one show until she finds a new one to move on to. Lately it’s Curious George, which is actually a pretty great show. Before that it was Thomas the Tank Engine. In fact, one of the great things about keeping an online diary about your kid is that I can look back and create a timeline for Sam’s media obsessions, like this (click for full-size image):

I mean, if I wanted to. You know. I could even make the timeline accurate and to scale.

So, that’s what’s going on with Sam. Mandy continues to do fine, though she has apparently figured out that if she cries one of us will come pick her up and hold her. Fortunately she seems content to use this newly discovered power responsibly and sometimes out of boredom. She’s still sleeping through a good chunk of the night, going 5-6 hours between feedings. She’s much more alert and awake now than she was even a week ago, though she does have her groggy moments.

So, other than that, nothing really to report. With this weather and half our household being sick, we really haven’t gotten out to do much. Going to the grocery store has become a huge event, one we look forward to. I can’t wait for Spring.

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4 thoughts on “Parenting Week 155: Trying times

  1. What is it about winter? When the weather’s crappy and you’re stuck inside the house, everything always seems harder to deal with. I hope Sam is feeling better soon, and that you and Ger are able to keep your senses of humor.
    My daughter does the same thing with TV shows. The first one she really expressed a preference for was Blue’s Clues, around 18 months. After a while she moved on to Oobi and Jack’s Big Music Show, then Little Einsteins, and now it’s Wonder Pets! She likes a few other shows, but mainly wants to watch whatever her favorite is. God bless whoever invented the DVR, is all I have to say.

  2. Yeah, I’m sure it’ll get better. And Sam is still fun to be around most of the time. It’s just these new behaviors are aggravating, made more so by the fact that you can’t deal with her like the way you’re used to dealing with troublesome people. Because she’s two. And she lives here.
    Bethany: Sam watched a few episodes of Blue’s Clues, but didn’t really get into it. I may have helped, though, by encouraging her to watch other stuff. Because I couldn’t stand that Steve guy.

  3. Oh…it DOES get better. Everyone is just getting used to the changes and until the baby is consistent, that will take a bit. At any rate, from the cute pictures, I’d guess you two are having moments that just melt your heart. Keep those at the front of your mind to help you through!

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