Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I don't like my children

There, I've said it. I don't like my children, not one little bit. Not today.

Don't get me wrong - I love them more than I can bear and would do anything for them, but today I just can't stand them. They're ganging up on me, and I'm ready to go crazy. And of course, B's not here tonight to help, which makes things worse.

Campbell can't or won't get into a nap routine. It seems like he's ready to switch to one nap, but instead of taking one long one, he takes a 45-minute nap in the morning and then screams when I put him down in the afternoon. Today he screamed for half an hour, despite my going in and patting him every five minutes. I gave up when Ella came home from school and we were invited next door for snack. Campbell was so tired during dinner that I thought he was going to fall asleep in his chair.

The girls have embarked on a whole new level of disrespect. What baffles me about their behavior is that we don't let them get away with back talk and sticking out of tongues and arguing, yet they persist in doing it.

I've gotten very tired of telling them to do something and not getting any acknowledgement of my presence in the room, so B and I are trying to teach them to say yes ma'am and no ma'am to me. It's not going well. I have to remind Ella she's supposed to say it, and when she does Lily just parrots her, giggling.

When I'm giving them instructions, or talking to them about anything serious, I tell the girls to look at me. Their new trick is to turn their faces towards me but to roll their eyes away. I think they think they're following the spirit of the law - they're looking at me, but not really. Or they don't realize that I can clearly see what they're up to. So I stop talking and stare at them until they really look at me. Some conversations take a very long time.

As a result I've turned into Mean, Evil Mom today. The girls' room was such a mess that I didn't even open the shades in there this morning because I didn't want to run the risk of having anyone see in there from the outside. So after playtime at the neighbors' I sent the girls in to clean with the warning that everything left on the floor would be thrown away tomorrow while they were at school. There were many arguments and tears, but I held firm, and their room is pretty clean now. They did a much better job than usual. But I am worn out from being so mean.

Then, after shower, I gave them strict instructions to get on clean night shirts and panties and to brush their teeth. Instead, I had to interrupt a loud game of nudie tag in my bedroom. I started yelling, hoping that the increased noise level would have an affect. Ella hid her face behind her sister's head so she could smirk at me without being seen. Too bad I'm not as stupid as she thinks, because I knew what she was up to.

I don't get it, I really don't. The girls know that B and I mean it when we say there are consequences for behaviors. They know that ugly faces and eye rolls are not tolerated, yet they still do all the things they know they're not supposed to. Ella tested pretty far off the charts for gifted and talented, but she's not acting like it at home. Lily is just a little copy cat, following Ella's lead in behavior, when she's not mauling her brother or hitting her sister on her own.

Because of their behavior, I have just the worst attitude. I'm a little black raincloud looming around the house. It's affecting everything in my life. I got an annoying e-mail from one of the women I'm working on a project with (no Julie and Amy, it's not you), and my immediate reaction was to fire off an angry e-mail asking her why she was being so stupid. But I wisely walked away, gave Campbell a bath and put him to bed before replying in a humorous, self-deprecating way. And it's a good thing I did, because I'm the one who caused the mix-up, and the co-worker's e-mail, instead of being annoying, was a real attempt to solve a problem I'd created. Sigh.

I had to grit my teeth and read bedtime stories to two children who don't deserve them, even though they finally did what I'd asked and I didn't have to drop the ultimate hammer on them. Oddly enough, both girls have picked stories about naughty children. Lily has selected the Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, and Ella has picked Missy Piggle Wiggle, which is all about messy, rude children. I asked Lily why she picked the book she did and she said it was because they had had a messy room, too. Then I talked to them both about how disappointed I was in their behavior and asked if they had little girls who had behaved as badly as they had, would they want to read them stories. Both said they wouldn't. I asked if I should read to them, and they both said yes please. Maybe I taught them something tonight. Maybe tomorrow's behavior will be better. Maybe this was the dark before the dawn of perfect children.

Maybe. But I'm not holding my breath.

1 comment:

Suburban Correspondent said...

I so know where you are right now. We had 2 adorable, sweet children and then, when they were almost 4, almost 6, we had a baby. And, surprise, suddenly our older 2 were not so good anymore. And they weren't acting worse because of the baby - they were acting the way they always had (maybe getting a little worse) - we just didn't have time anymore to work around them. We didn't have time to wait for them to listen to us, we didn't have time to play stupid little games to pick up their toys, etc. In short, we had 2 cute spoiled brats, who had never been made to mind! Truth to tell, we were shocked - hadn't we followed all that good advice in all the parenting books? Didn't we model polite behavior to them? Didn't we give them choices and well-thought out, talked-out consequences? We sure did.

Here's the secret - the more you talk, the less they listen. They don't take you seriously. But there's hope (at least until they're 13, there's hope). It is still possible to turn things around, if you want to. Some people prefer not to - they just spend the next 12 years nagging their kids to death and feeling angry. But if you don't want to do that, check out books by John Rosemond and Ray Guarendi. Very sensible, no-nonsense advice on raising children. Or e-mail me, I don't mind. I have 6 now, and life is a lot easier now than when I had 2 spoiled brats to manage. Not that my kids are perfect, but I am more in control now. Well, except for those unfortunate toilet-stuffing and stuffed-bear-decapitating episodes that you can read about on my blog (under "Popular Posts"). They're good for a laugh.

And there are still some days when my kids drive me crazy (again, check out my blog). But I don't have that angry feeling toward them, at least. That's an improvement.

And for starters, don't read bedtime stories to two children who don't deserve them. And if they are rolling their eyes and smirking, they are being rude. That's a no-no, too.

You didn't ask for any of this advice - but I really empathize with where you are at right now, so don't be offended! I just want you to know that there is a way to love your kids again - it just takes some work.