Posted by: DD | October 6, 2007

no. 536 – More To It Than Meets The Eye

I’ve been practicing my avoidance skills. Yesterday afternoon I used Mr. DD’s shoulder to muffle my sobs and wipe my face on.

It was not because of our inability to get pregnant. It was not because of any of the miscarriages. It was not money woes. It was not because either of us are cheating on each other.

It was because of XBoy.

When I pulled up to daycare on Thursday, XBoy and several other same-aged children (boys and girls) were standing around a girl sitting in a swing. All were taunting her equally. Then they all turned and ran to the opposite end of the playground. I was just stepping onto the grounds and walked past the girl on the swing. She’s mentally handicapped.

The kids had regrouped and were getting ready to swarm back on her. That’s when I gave XBoy a shout and when he saw me, he knew he was in deep shit. He refused to come to me until I gave the countdown. When he finally stood in front of me I asked him why he was bullying that girl. Instead of answering me, he took a swat at my hip. I took him by the arm and made him sit on some blocks for timeout while I went inside to sign him out.

When I came back outside he was screaming and crying. The administrator was asking if he got hurt. I just stood him up and told her he was in timeout. He started screaming some more.

Once we made it into the car, it actually got worse. He threw his shoe up into the front seat. He screamed blood-curdling screams. He shouted, "I hate you!" and "You’re not the best mom!" There’s no way I can describe how horrible it was.

Friday night, he put on another scene because I came 30 minutes early to pick him up and he wasn’t done playing.

By the time we got home, I couldn’t keep it in anymore and I utterly lost my shit when as a final straw, he slammed the car door. There’s no other saying to describe how I acted, and I’ll admit that I was totally out of line and inappropriate, but I yanked the toy cars out of his hands and flung them to the floor of the garage as hard as I could and yelled to him to go to his room and that I didn’t want to see him or hear from him until supper time.

When he refused, I stormed into the house and while he watched and cried out, "No, mommy no!", gathered up every single toy that had wheels on it, big and small, and loaded them up in bags and boxes and took them away.

As he screamed and flailed in his room and pulled the bedding onto the floor, I stood in Mr. DD’s arms and cried and cried.

I don’t know if thinking that this is normal for a five year old is my way of sticking my head in the sand or a way to reassure myself. I wonder if his actions are just reflections of how we act towards him when frustrated, especially since I was the one who couldn’t control myself in front of him…and I’m 40 years old.

Also, I am scared that this might be my mother’s intuition warning me that something isn’t right. When I think that, I then can’t help but wonder, maybe this is why there’s hasn’t been another child. The higher powers that be are trying to tell us in blinking neon signs that we need to reserve our energy for this ONE, only.

We all seem to talk about the joys of parenting (whether it’s to come or you’re knee deep in it), and while I’ve had my very fair share of them, right now there’s this black shadow blocking what usually is the light of my life leaving me feeling quite cold and so very alone. And I’m humiliated that I had to admit that while I can trudge through and make jokes about my infertility and multiple losses, I haven’t a fucking clue what to do about the child I have now.



  1. Aww. Don’t beat yourself up too hard. You’re doing the best job you can (i could add all the regular clichés here, but I’ll spare you).

    Dude. My kid is 7 months old and I find already that he does things to test my very limited patience. In the end, you just love them.

    And try to outsmart them.

  2. I don’t have good answers, except to say that as a teacher, I feel like I’ve seen kids act like this more than I’ve seen the kind children. When they’re angry, they do what will hurt you the most–hit on your parenting skills (“you’re not the best mommy”), create chaos when he knows you need calm (throw shoe in the front seat). You were frustrated with his behaviour towards that girl, but being put in time out (which was necessary) was embarrassing to him. But he can’t take you aside and have a heart-to-heart and say, “I’m embarrassed.” So he flips. He feels like someone just took control away so he lets himself act out-of-control.

    Which is a long way of saying that it sounds like you’re in a valley insofar as behaviour and hopefully in the next weeks/months, he’ll climb out and get more control over emotions (it feels like it goes in spurts where they lose control and then gain some skill and get control. And then grow again emotionally and lose control). And that it’s more the ebb and tide than it is parenting. And that you’re being hard on yourself. And…hang in there.

  3. I only have a second because Joey is having a pre-bedtime tantrum but I just wanted to say that you sound like a fabulous Mum to me, even if you doubt/ second guess yourself at times. I think we all do it because this mothering malarket is f**king hard work. Don’t be so hard on yourself. (((HUGS))) from me anyway. xx

  4. I’ve been known to do some yelling … not my proudest moments, and they make me cry over the example I’m setting on such occasions.

    Hang in there.

  5. I’m thinking it’s a 5 yo thing… little DG is 4 1/2 and has started to have tantrums he never had when he was two!

    I figured it was starting school, in his case, and being very tired.

    You know, all children have tantrums and need to learn to control their temper. It’s caused by parents who are sometimes sad or angry. It’s a given.

    Don’t blame yourself. Typical mother. Not only is the child behaving badly, we’re feeling it’s out fault!!

  6. Oh, dd. I love you so. I contemplated a post EXACTLY like this only a month ago. J was suddenly having a terrible time with attitude and temper (he turned 4 in June). There was screaming, blatant NOs, even attempts at hitting. And DH and I BOTH lost our cool (and let me tell you, that’s a big deal for DH).

    As a SAHM with a hubby who is rarely around, I often find myself losing my head. Saying things I know are completely inappropriate. Letting him TOTALLY push my buttons. And I too have wondered if my lack of control is some super cosmic reason for our lack of #2. My reasonable self knows this is ridiculous. But I know how that sneaky part of yourself whispers it in your ear. Ignore it.

    All I can say is listen to the reasonable part of yourself, and cut yourself some slack. As Mel pointed out, all kids wax and wane in their behavior and self-control. Things WILL get better.

    Sorry for so much spewage. Hang in there 🙂

  7. I’d like to second what Mel wrote above. We all lose our cool. Our kids know exactly how to push our buttons. Try not to beat yourself up. (Insert additional appropriate cliches here.)

  8. Honey honey honey, if it was true that bad parents were more likely to be infertile or lose babies, my incompetent bitch SIL would’ve been sterilized by God preventatively.

    And hell, we all have those moments. My kids have thrown tantrums, screamed obscenities in public, come close to killing each other, and yes, made me wonder what the heck I was doing trying to reproduce.

    He is an utterly normal child who got caught up in a group doing something wrong. It’s hard for adults to break out of a mob mentality, and impossible developmentally for a 5 year old. This was the first step in his journey to learning to be his own man and think for himself.

    And you responded perfectly! There have to be consequences to actions when a kid does something wrong. He did something really unacceptable and your responded just right. He should lose something precious for doing something really wrong. Maybe next time the other kids want him to join in, he’ll stop and think.

    Relax, really. If anyone should be ashamed it’s the school for not watching over the mentally handicapped child better, and teaching the all of the kids how to act towards her.

  9. coming out of lurkdom because I could have written this post. I myself have a very strong-willed six year old boy (I’m also dealing w/ secondary infertility), and I just want to tell you you’re not alone–we have dealt with what seems like extreme anger/ aggressive behavior as well (throwing things, hitting, etc.) and have talked to the pediatrician multiple times. We’ve been assured by a child psychologist that he is OK, as in there is no psych disorder, but that he is just one of those strong-willed kids. It is definitely a challenge, but I am noticing that as he gets older he gains more control over his actions. I hope this helps to give you some hope and reassurance to know that the next few years should get easier. Not fun, for sure. I also sometimes think, maybe this is why I only have the one, and could I really handle another with the same personality? Sucks to have to doubt yourself like that.

    Anyway, just wanted to know you have company in this occassional parenting hell.


  10. I just wanted to reassure you that there is no higher power making sure we can’t have any more babies, that is no more and no less than terrible, awful, crappy bad luck. And I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong.

  11. I would like to find one mom out there that could tell you she hasn’t been in your shoes…and I would bet she would be lying.

    I have a feeling XBoy really didn’t know how to deal with being busted, knowing in his heart that what he was doing wasn’t nice, and not having the maturity yet to accept responsibility (he is male so that may never happen:)

    All my boys at one time or another have told me I am not a good mom or they hate me or I wear ugly clothes (that one hurt) but it is all part of the whole bag of shit that is parenting. Actually when you call them out on something and it really gets to them, it tells me that something you are saying or doing is getting through and the next time that little girl is on the swing, X probably won’t tease her–he may not be quite big enough to be friendly but he will probably go the other direction….It is all just one step at a time and YES we have ALL lost it a time or ten.

  12. Oh, DD.

    Hugs for you my friend. I have no idea what to do with a misbehaving five year old, but I don’t think you did anything bad.



  13. I agree with Statia. Ty-baby especially has shown himself extrodinarily capable of just driving me a little nuts with not quite knowing what to do. I think that you handled the situation as best it could have been done – if I saw my child teasing a mentally handicapped child I think that I would have done the same thing.

  14. I agree with Mel, too. Been there, done that, getting ready to do it again. He’s 5, he doesn’t have the vocabulary to express how time out made him feel but he DOES know how to hit, throw things, scream and pitch a fit. You did the right things, don’t fret too much. Mommy does NOT equal perfect.

  15. I agree with Mel, too. Been there, done that, getting ready to do it again. He’s 5, he doesn’t have the vocabulary to express how time out made him feel but he DOES know how to hit, throw things, scream and pitch a fit. You did the right things, don’t fret too much. Mommy does NOT equal perfect.

  16. i don’t know your son, but i know in general 5yo can be very hard to deal with. they are smart enough to know that they might *not* have to listen and might be willing to push your buttons if they are feeling crabby.

  17. As I was reading the beginning of the post I was thinking to myself – GOOD! That is a GREAT thing that he had a tantrum. He KNOWS that he was wrong and he not only angry at being caught, but angry that he didn’t do the right thing. Wouldn’t you be more upset if he didn’t care? Didn’t care about being put in time-out? Didn’t care about teasing the girl?? That would show apathy, but instead of that he cares-therefore he threw the tantrum. He was angry. I also think it is healthier to get your anger out rather than keeping it bottled up inside. And hey, he wasn’t the only one teasing the girl – peer pressure starts early – huh? When you are both clamed down I would have a chat with him about differences and respecting peoples’ differences. And about your reaction, it is fine. He saw you get angry. It is normal and he needs to know that mommies get mad too. Again, sit down with him and explain that you were mad and that is how you got your anger out. You needed a time out from him, so you sent him to his room! Don’t beat yourself up. We have all lost our patience and we will all do it again!
    Here’s a big hug!

  18. I don’t have kids – so take this for what you want…

    but there isn’t a child that I have ever known who didn’t do this at one time or another. Sometimes it is a phase that passes. I wouldn’t worry unless it continues. Talk to him – see if there is something going on in his world maybe? If you still don’t know what to do, ask one of the teachers to talk to him – see if there is something bothering him that he hasn’t talked to you about.

  19. I have a 5 year old too and I have to tell you that he too can just go apesh*t when something doesn’t go his way. It is must be the age thing. He does NOT want to be corrected. Most of the time he is a good kid, but he has just two speeds calm and erupting. He has also started to lie lately. Yes, I flushed the toilet or I couldn’t flush it because it would overflow. My favourite is when he falls and hurts himself when you are chastising him. You are not alone.

  20. Me 40, son 5.
    I truly love him with all my heart and tell him every day, but he took to having the same kind of meltdown as you’ve described just a couple of months ago. I must admit my reaction’s had been similar to yours (after extreme provocation too) and I am no way proud of my mothering skills for this.

    I have also thought that the powers above have decreed my secondary infertility as my penance, though they must have been faulting me for far earlier grievances!

    I just wanted to let you know that you really aren’t alone – it’s the mother who reacts like this without remorse who may have the real problem.

  21. DD, please don’t think that way. We all have our moments, and if fertility were handed out to only those parents who don’t have passion towards their familes, the world would sure be in a pickle.

    The Mother that would ignore their child’s behavior… now that would be a crime.

  22. Oh, sweetie.

    You are NOT alone. There are days where I want to stop the car & put Maggie out on the curb. Then drive away. I’m not proud to admit that.
    Granted, I’ve never actually done it, but I’ve wanted to.

    They *do* know just the right thing to say to cut right to your heart. Last week Mag was getting on my nerves and I told her to sit on the step & be quiet for 4 minutes, which she did. When I went back to get her, she told me that the whole time she was in “time-out” she wished that I would go away & Daddy could get a “new, NICER, Mommy”.

    Yeah. Grrreeaaat.

  23. I agree- I totally think you did the right thing, and I second the commenter re: where was the school and why weren’t they intervening?

    I also hear you on wondering whether your reaction (packing up his toys, etc.) are an appropriate reaction or an overreaction. Sometimes I wonder if the level of frustration I see in my son is a result of what he’s learned from how we express our own anger/frustration. Its so hard.

  24. Sorry, I know I commented earlier but this has been on my mind and I wanted to throw it out there. When S1 and S2 were in kindergarten (they each had the same teacher) they always had at least 2 kids in the class that were handicapped in some manner. I volunteered in the class and asked her one day if it was difficult to keep all the kids in step with each other and she told me she always asks the principal for at least a couple of kids that are disabled because by the end of the second week, the rest of the kids have a wonderful grasp on the fact that we are all equal and are to be treated as such. Not once in either year that I was exposed to her classes did any of the kids think that the disabled kids were anything other than classmates. In fact they wouldn’t even hesitate to help D.K. with his crutches (he had CP) and S. A. who had a craniofacial abnormality that caused her withdraw from her neighborhood kids (she started this class not talking and by Christmas she was singing as loud as everyone else).

    Sorry for the ramble but my point is…I wonder if the teacher at X’s class could be doing more to integrate all the kids into a better understanding of helping each other no matter what our differences are. Believe it or not it DOES take more than mom to raise a child.

  25. Well, I’ve been there and I’m not proud of it. I, too, wonder sometimes if I’m being the best role model when I see how The Boy handles frustrations and anger. I beat myself up over mothering, and surely I will have ulcers one day as a result of second guessing and guilt. It’s not often, but how much is too often?

    Yep. We won’t adopt again for several reasons ($), but sometimes I don’t feel we deserve this boy, this treasure, that we’ve already got.

  26. When I was going through a mild depression about a year and a half ago and was a lot more irritable than usual, I yelled more than I would’ve liked and slammed doors a lot more than was necessary. And what do you know? My kids started yelling more, acting out more, and my oldest started slamming doors when he was mad.

    Coincidence? Maybe….

    But once I pulled through the depression and started getting my own behavior back in “grownup mode,” I gradually began seeing the same difference in my kiddos. It took some time, and lots of times of counting to 10 (or whatever number it took) on my part, but my boys are much calmer than they were then.

    Maybe it’s just an age thing…they grew out of that behavior. But I certainly don’t think it hurt that they were getting better modeling from me. Kids repeat what they see, hear and live.

    We all lose it from time to time. We’re human, after all. But we all can, and should, try as hard as we can to keep it together, rather than lose it. In my opinion, that’s one of the hardest parts of the job.

  27. Oh, DD, my heart is just breaking for both of you. I agree with the others that you absolutely did the right thing by putting him in a timeout when you found Xboy teasing the little girl.

    I wonder too, if he has the vocabulary to express how that made him feel? Talking to him about all of it once you are both in a better place sounds like a marvellous idea.

  28. Aww, sweetie, you know what kids can be like, it doesn’t mean your a bad mum even if they say you are and you handled it as any other mum, at the end of her tether, would.

    Big HUGS X

  29. I haven’t read the other comments, but I need to say a very simple “it happens.” I’ve gone through several difficult stages with my 8 year old. I’ve always been prepared for hard times with a teen because my own mother and I did not get along, but to feel at such a loss of what to do with a child who’s throwing tantrum at age 8? That took me by surprise. And I’ve lost my cool in front of her too and wish I hadn’t, but again, it happens. I talk to her when we’re both calm and try to get to the root of the problem and try to come up with solutions to prevent either of us from losing it next time. It’s really hard and we’ve just come off a particularly rough spot, but we’re in a good place for now.
    Anyway, unless you really do have some gut feelings that something might be off with Xboy (in which case, I offer no assvice, only hugs) then I just want you to know it happens to the best of us.

  30. I wish I could think of something profound to say that would reassure you.

    One thing I do know is that the people who I would consider to be “bad” parents don’t ever seem to question themselves. So you can’t be a bad mom because you care too much.

  31. No advice here. Just know that even the best mothers lose it some days. It’s part of being human.

  32. I really related to your post. I think you did the right thing. it was good that you remembered to count and put him in time out then and there (I forget to do that sometimes). As for saying hurtful things to you, kids just know how to do that. I sometimes feel that my dd (age 3) saves all her bad feelings for when she sees ME! And ever since she could talk she always says she likes her daddy and doesn’t like her mommy. She’s teasing some of the time, but sometimes I just don’t get it!! You feel bad about losing your cool, which is a good sign, it acknowledges that parents are not perfect. My dh loses his cool around my dd sometimes. It makes dd feel terrible when he yells. I try and tell him that’s not the way to deal with her, but who kows if he gets it? as far as teasing the little girl, it is good you caught the kids in the act, and he will definitely learn from this experience. Boys are a challenge — they have so much energy and activity pent up in them. but you will get through it! you’ll see!

  33. So, I think there’s a difference between “losing your cool” and being “out of control” and I really doubt you were “out of control”. I think that teasing other kids and disrespecting you are some of the few worthy reasons for losing your cool — to my mind, those seemingly ‘normal kid behaviors’, when ignored, grow up to be the basis for all the war & discrimitation in the world — so when Big Kid has done things like that, Mama throws down, so to speak. There will be yelling. You will be scared, not for your physical self, but for your relationship with your parent & for your self-respect. The world just might feel like it’s crashing in for a few moments, because it’s THAT important to me that my child not participate or accept mean discriminating behavior.
    So, I feel that you reacted appropriately — and the big thing now is to be consistent. If you end up deciding you went too far, then swear to yourself that you will strive to do differently– but for the love of G-d do NOT give those toys back out of guilt i.e: do not go back on your word.

  34. I think you are doing just great.

    I have a son who used to behave like that. So hard. I did blame my parenting at times, but I also recognised that as my other 2 sons didn’t behave that way it couldn’t all be me. Sadly you do not have the luxury of that balance yet. Some kids will just push the limits.

    I attended a parenting course once, and they made an interesting point. They said that while it is obviously bad if parents over-react all the time, it happening sometimes is actually a lesson in life for children. Some extremely bad behaviour will result in extreme reactions.

    Be fair and firm, and do not back down. Stick to the consequences for his behaviour – removing toys is a good one. I did find that my child would respond to me discussing it with him afterwards, saying to him that maybe I could have dealt with it better, but that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was very wrong. You really are doing a wonderful job xx

  35. As I saw on a plaque this weekend:

    Parenting children is like getting pecked to death by a chicken.

    At least we’re in this together! 🙂

  36. I am happy you posted about this because hopefully these comments can give you the reassurance that I cannot, not having children. My gut tells me he is one smart little man and he knows he was wrong. Do you like to be caught doing something you are not proud of? I certainly don’t. It has taken me 30 years and many regretful circumstances to learn something I am far from mastering.

    You are a great mother. I know you love that boy and I know he loves you.

  37. Steady on! With all the IFs who must be reading this, if your theory is right we must all be the most undeserving bunch in the world. I know where that comes from though – we can’t control IF, so imagine there must just be some other reason for it. Its. Not. Your. Fault. Recite as mantra.

    Also it’s not even XBoy’s fault really. He just has to learn yet, and you are doing the best job you can, because you love him and you care about what kind of a human being he becomes. Wow. That’s a lot more than SOOO many mothers out there.

    Hope you are feeling kinder to yourself by now.

  38. Oh babe-I have no advice at all, I just can’t imagine how shit you’re feeling. I know Angus’ kids swing like that occasionally, and it really wrecks him, even if it just seems like a glitch to the kids. It sounds like XBoy is trying to work something out in his head, and because he’s a little guy he can’t get his head around it all.

    I love ya, babe, and I’m so sorry.

  39. I am so sorry you are going through this…and I don’t honestly think you handled it the wrong way.

    My only piece of advice is NEVER show anger or visible upset to the dreaded “I hate you” line. My sister falls for it time and again, and now she has a little witch on her hands. If he says that to you, just respond with something like “That’s okay. Know what? I love you, but I don’t really like your behavior right now.” Letting him know that a line like that won’t hurt you (even if it really does when he can’t see you) will make him realize it won’t work.

    You do need to talk to him about the original issue….and maybe talk to the day care center about the incident and let them know they need to teach a little more tolerance.

    Good luck…

  40. Sometimes I think we’re living parallel lives. Mine is doing exactly the same thing – maybe our two guys are channeling each other? Hubby and I have talked about getting a behavorist, or a parenting coach (!) – I’m at my wit’s end and I don’t know what to do. My role models for parenting sucked (to say the least) and I could read every book in the library and still feel unprepared for dealing with my little boy. If this is what he’s like at 5, what will 15 be like? If you find any answers, I hope you’ll share them.

  41. OH, girlfriend. You’ve no idea how much I empathize with you right now. We need to get our drink on and figure out what to do with these boys.

  42. It all sounds very normal to me. Cut yourself some slack and remember, your kid wasn’t the only kid on the playground taunting the different kid. Taking away toys is a great way to enforce rules. And crying in front of your kid means you are human and you have feelings.

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