Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stifling or Creating Boundries?

Aside from what just happened at bedtime, today was for the most part a good day.   It seems we have triumphed over the disaster of the dreaded Thursday, as we have figured out the truck conundrum…hopefully.  A morning at the zoo, a late lunch and later nap and all of the garbage commotion is missed.   Success and a new Thursday routine! 
Speaking of routine….it is, and always has been very important to me.  Now, more so with two. But, I have this persistent worry that I am too much of a control freak to allow my children to freely discover their world.  I’m mostly speaking of Zachary who is approaching the age of two.   Isabelle is not yet at the “I do it!” stage. 
I’ve come a long way with meals, as I’ve been told it is important for them to be able to explore their food as they learn healthy eating habits, which translates into making a gigantic mess.  It makes me crazy, but I allow it.  Every day, I try to breathe through things with Zachary as not to force him into anything, and allow him to come to things in his own time.  This idea sounds lovely for a family that has only one child and no deadlines.  I suppose I could just stay in the house all day, plan no excursions and let the house be in a shambles.  But, try as I may, this is NOT OK with me.  It gives me heart palpitations to see one of the alphabet refrigerator magnets in the bedroom rather than the kitchen.  I know.  I’m working on it.    So, often my attempt to give him the time and space to do things when HE is ready, results in both of us getting upset. It starts with me being calm and patient, then edges it’s way into my wondering how long I am supposed to wait until we move on to what needs to happen next, and then rapidly becomes frustration at my lack of control of the situation.  I then I have to force him to do what I wanted him to do in the first place, 20 minutes prior.  The temper tantrum is actually larger than it would have been if I had just done this from the beginning.   
Tonight, it was about brushing teeth.  I bought him a new Thomas the Train vibrating brush because he is obsessed with our electric toothbrush and there was a meltdown over that last night.  So, he wanted to brush his teeth for a long time.  Great, right?  Don’t I want him to be excited about dental hygiene?  Awesome.  But, am I controlling because I don’t feel that toothbrushes should be carried around the house and used on the walls, the toys, the floors and the dogs? I’m sorry.  Also, I am a strong believer in getting to bed ON TIME.  Everyone suffers when I experiment with loosening my reigns on this.  So, what started out as a tooth-brushing success, ended in a power struggle.   I literally ripped the toothbrush from his hands, after trying to gently explain numerous times that we could brush again tomorrow, causing sobs and devastation.   It ended quickly…for him.   It just doesn’t feel good to play tug-of-war with my baby.   The more freedom I give him, the more he takes. Is there something I am missing?  Am I just an ignorant newbie of the “terrible two’s”? Or am I ruining my son with my desperate need for structure?  All donations for his future therapy will be graciously accepted. 


Anonymous said...

Oh Emily, I too am fighting this losing battle of striving for structure with a almost 5 year old, almost 3 year old and a 14 month old! I find myself getting upset because the alphabet letters end up on floors of which they do not belong and messes at the table and on the floor! Hang in there and if you figure out a balance let me know!

Anonymous said...

hmm...this mommy stuff sounds messy ;) They say that children like structure. Of course I have no idea who "they" are. Maybe "they" are the women who decided that their children seem happier when mommy isn't tense and frustrated from gathering toothbrushes and refrigerator magnets from places where clearly they do not belong. You appreciate structure. Perhaps a room called the lack of structure room for your children is in order? That sounds like a great way to structure disorder to me...but maybe we should talk again about this in a few years when I have children and I send them through the mail to you like you did your computer to me.?? ;)

Lauren said...

My worthless two cents is, regardless of structure or chaos, kids need help with transitions. If they are loving something and it's time to move on, they need a warning. (Don't we all?!) He's probably too young for this now, but soon you'll be able to say, "Zachary, I know your new Thomas toothbrush is SO FUN, but it's time for bed. So you have til I count to 10 to finish brushing, then we have to put Thomas night-night." And try to find a verrry special place on the sink for him. He may even need to lay down to "sleep". :) But for now, there's always the art of distraction. "Which book are we going to read?!", showing him books, and grabbing Thomas toothbrush out of his hand when he least expects it. Distraction is your friend. Makes "no" soooo much easier.

Again, I am no expert.

P.S. With boys, it's the Terrible Threes. heh heh.

Heather said...

Emily--your postings sound so familiar to me. My two oldest were 18 months apart and we shared the same struggles. I, too, took a very structured approach to parenting when they were your kids' ages. Yes, there were battles but I tell you this, now that they are 9 and 7 1/2 they understand what to do and when. I don't battle over teeth brushing at bed time because they just know to do it. Ok, sure, occasionally they need reminding but for the most part they just know. I've been less structured with Cooper and I believe we are all feeling the consequences for it. He battles even more when I try to correct that. You are doing great. You are a great mom. Your kids are fortunate and while it is extremely difficult now, it will get easier. I know, I know...when, right?? I don't have a magic answer for that but just keep the faith. <3 you.

And Lauren...terrible threes, really??? Ugh.