Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'm Worn Out...where is the nanny?

When I taught kindergarten, I had this student who challenged me. She didn’t challenge me intellectually...she challenged me mentally.

I would sigh every morning she walked into the classroom. (And she was NEVER absent.) I would sigh because I knew at some point during the day, she was going to challenge me.

She would challenge me by physically abusing another child.

She would challenge me by screaming at the top of her lungs if she didn’t like something.

She would challenge me by kicking, biting, hitting me or other adults within her reach.

She would challenge me.

She exhausted me.

Because of her, I have a strong stand against a certain name. No, I will not tell you what it is. But let me say, when we were discussing girls’ names for our future children, Matthew brought this name up as his favorite girl name.

It was vetoed immediately

I wondered at the time why God has punished me so severely by placing this girl in my classroom.

Now I know.

This folks is my 2009 challenge:You might have heard me talk about her before...my sweet, eldest daughter, Nora Elizabeth Henderson.

Don’t let her cute face and big brown eyes fool you. She is a challenge. (Understatement of the year)

This is the book that I am reading each night:And let me tell you, it’s a little discouraging.

This is a passage I read last night:

Parents of strong-willed children can expect a battle during the teen years,
even if they have raised them properly. Fully 74 percent of strong-willed
children rebel significantly during adolescence. The weaker the authority
of the parents when the kids are young, the greater the conflict is in later


Let me tell you of today:
Our morning started off just fine. No major breakdowns, not major fits. We made it Ladies Bible Class and neither one of us had lost it so far. I’m mentally patting myself on the back for having a successful morning.

After class, I go pick Nora up at childcare (where they tell me each week that she is an absolute joy. Are you lying, Lane?). We get in the car to go eat lunch with our friends.

And the day starts falling apart.

On the way to the restaurant, Nora requests a certain song that is on the CD we are listening too. Before I can even move my hand to advance the CD to said song, she has started crying, demanding the song.

Well, she must be new here, because once the tears and demands start up, I ignore her and do not give her what she wants.

I’m mean (not the last time you will think that either).

She cries the ENTIRE way to the restaurant. I know, in my heart, I should turn around, skip lunch with friends and go home. But, that would be MY punishment, not hers.

We enter the eating establishment and things start off fine. I am able to have about 5 minutes of adult conversation before the meal is ruined.

Background info: I sent both Nora and Elyn a lunch with them to childcare while I was at Ladies’ Bible Class. Neither one should be hungry. There is no point in me even ordering anything for them. But, I do.

I ask Nora if she would like chips and cheese to eat. Yes, that is what she would like.

The chips and cheese are delivered to the table and she says she wants MAC AND CHEESE. And starts crying.

When Nora cries in public, it is not a soft, gentle, quiet cry. No ma’am. It is a loud, harsh, screaming cry. The kind that jumps on your nerves and refused to get off.

Once the screaming cry starts I yank her out of her chair and drag her to the bathroom. Yep, you know where this is going…

And I spank her. Hard. I tell her that she said she wanted chips and cheese and that is what I ordered for her. I WILL NOT order her mac and cheese because I have already paid for the chips and cheese. If she doesn’t want the chips and cheese, then sit there and let everyone else enjoy their lunch.

I don’t know if she has a tremendous wax build-up in her ears or she can’t hear me because she is screaming so loud, but NOTHING I say to her or do to her encourages her to stop crying.

I am about to lose my freaking mind.

Still crying, I take her by the arm and lead (drag) her back to our table. I pull up a chair next to me so that I can finish my sandwich. She sits beside me, crying the entire time.

I will tell you, she has stamina.

About 6 minutes later, I have finished my sandwich, have mild heartburn, get Elyn out of her highchair, bid my friends goodbye and tell Nora to follow me to the car.

Once in the car, I tell her we are not listening to music because she choose not to obey me and I am very upset with the way she is behaving.

I tell her to quit crying or I will spank her again. I’m sure by this point you are not too surprised to know that she received another spanking.

She cried for about 15 more minutes before falling asleep.

Thank you God!

She naps and I have some quiet time. Much needed quiet time!

When she wakes up, she is sweet, cuddly, warm.

About 45 minutes later, as I am preparing dinner, she asks for some Cheetos. I tell her no, you have already had a snack and mommy is getting dinner ready.

Cue fit #2.

I send her to her room and she starts to scream in short little bursts. Ugh. Another spanking and explanation that she can be upset if something goes her way but CANNOT act like she is.

I am tired people. Tired.

This a daily occurrence. At the end of the day, I usually think, “You know, she is like the girl in kindergarten who I taught. She wears me out. She makes me think I am doing a bad job. I have NO IDEA what to do with her. If she was in my classroom, I would wish she was in another one (guilt!).”

I know I am not the only mother who goes through this. I am telling you this story, not so you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m not telling you to warn you to stay away from my kid. I’m not telling you so you can judge my parenting skills (because I just make it up as I go most days).

I tell you to receive encouragement and to get ideas on how to handle these situations.

I love that girl. She can be so sweet and so loving and so polite and so good. I know she is 3 and expressing herself and trying to find her boundaries. How do I help her do that without getting walked all over and giving into her every whim? How do I help her do that without breaking her spirit?

This parenting thing is way harder than I ever imagined! She better put me in a top dollar nursing home one day. I’m not kidding!


Rachel said...

Oh Dallas - I feel your pain! Just tonight, Shane came home and I told him I was done and Claire was his. She challenges me so much and I am right there with you, I have no idea what to do. She and I just battle it out now. When she was little like Nora, it was just like yall. Now she has a little mouth and knows just what to say to make me mad.

My point - don't be too hard on yourself, one day it will be good. Surely it will - no matter what we will have a special place in heaven =)!

Kelli said...

Oh my, I had the EXACT same day...OK, not the lunch details and all of that but the behavior and I felt the same way you do! UGH! My child went to bed at 6pm tonight because of it and I feel awful...I just have to remember that tomorrow is a new day.

Mary Jo said...

You are a great mom and don't you worry! Every kid acts like that when they are 3. Threes are for sure the worst - forget twos. I have 2 examples, soon to be three I'm sure. You are doing what you need to do and as painful as it is now...you'll get through it and be GLAD when she's older and could have been so much worse! (had you given in all the time) Keep the faith girl! welcome to the hard year. This is why there are margarita mixes.....

April said...

My advice: Know that you are a good Mom. We've all been there. You and Nora are both normal; you should NOT feel guilty.

Now, I will tell you that with Mackenzie when the fits started we simply moved her to her room, by herself, and closed the door explaining to her that we did not enjoy the fit, it would get her nowhere, and she was welcome to rejoin the family as soon as she was finished! That seemed to work well as it allowed her to express that emotion (whatever you want to call that emotion!) in the safety of her own room. Her attitude would straighten up knowing that no one was there to watch and after she finished her venting.

We're in the thick of it with Josiah these days. Sigh. I look at Mackenzie now and remind myself that it does get easier. Hang in there!

The Laird's said...

The Sunday school lesson I went to in Nashville was about discipline, and they really stressed to stick with it, don't back down at all, a lot of people said they were so tired and had enough, but they would just keep going,and eventually it paid off. One lady said to be creative with your punishment, whatever they are doing wrong, think of something along the same lines. As you can see I'm not where you are right now, so I can only tell you what i've heard, and then one day, i'll have to go back and read your blog for myself! One lady in the class said she made her childern sing Angry Words when they said ugly things, didn't work to well! haha

Keisha said...

Whew. Violet threw a huge fit at the library with Allen last week. It was so bad he said he was never going back. I have no advice. Hopefully, I'll be able to steal some from here. I think one of our biggest issues that Violet spends so much time with her granny. Granny awesome for love and play time but so much for discipline.

Keisha said...

Guess I should have proofed that before I hit publish. Oh well.

Kimberly said...

I have to thank you for posting blogs like this. I can still remember a blog you wrote about being at the beach and letting Norah get in the tent to throw a fit and come out when she was done. When she came out she was covered with sand. I remember this so well because I can soo picture our little girl doing the same and made a mental note to dothe same should we be at the beach some day with her. Ha!
I wish I had some advice but you are a good year ahead of me so I'm counting on you to figure it all out and relay it to me to use because we sure will need it as well!
I do think your consistency will pay off and praise you being a great mommy even at the not so fun times!

Kelli said...

Just to add. This morning my daughter woke up and the first thing she did was apologize...you are a great mom and it will get better.

Hello blog buddies! It's me, Crouse! said...

I think Emily is going to be the same way. I have had to start spankings at 18 months of age. It is so tiring. I am constantly thinking, why can't she be like so and so? THEIR kids don't do this. I always think it's harder because I have serveral of those Kindergarten challenges during the day and i come home to my own at night. Hopefully just a few more years! But then, if I want private school, a few more. And, that book is awesome. I actually got the new version in dealing with my stepson, Noah, who is ADD. But, I'm sure I'm going to hear a lot about how to deal with Em, too, because they are right in it together. AAAGGGHHH! Parenthood! Do they make a pill for this?

Hello blog buddies! It's me, Crouse! said...

P.S. I just reread my post and found myself to be not so encouraging to you! I am sorry. I do think you're a wonderful super mom and role model, just as you were a wonderful Kindergarten teacher. One more side note about self: should I feel guilty that I'm not really worried about breaking emily's spirit at this point??? also, that phrase gets on my nerves because the ex-wife loves loves loves to throw this at me when I discipline K & N!!!!!!!!!

Jenn said...

Hey girl....here is some encouragement....I could have told the SAME exact story a few years ago and just change the name Nora Elizabeth to Grace Elizabeth. I'm not kidding...exactly. The best part of those days....bedtime at 7:30! That way, at 7:31 you can take a bath and watch TV!! :) Grace is great now...granted, she is 7.5 and in school, but she outgrew so much of it. Is she still strong willed?? OH MY STINKIN' WORD, YES!! But, she has figured out that she is just going to get in trouble all over again so the fits do indeed slow down. Don't give in girl....We will all need each other when they become teens all over again!!

Tricia said...

Dallas - I haven't been in your exact shoes - but I did take a class called Growing Kids God's Way - it is by the Ezzo's - GREAT GREAT GREAT series - I did Babywise with my own daughter, Mac and then again with Dashawn (20 months) - so I do know the information works - biological, foster and adoption - They have several books - Babywise, Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, Childwise, Preteenwise and then Teenwise - have only read through childwise - but I will say - it works - I know you do this - praying for her specifically - but someone I know actually puts her hand on the child's head and says certain scripture each day - maybe a little strange - but she says it works - I hope that was some encouraging -

Have you read the book - Making Children Mind without Losing Yours - it's by Kevin Leaman - GREAT book -


Brown Four...Never a Dull Moment said...

Happy belated Birthday, Nora!
Sounds like you had an awesome time! You are a precious gift from GOD!

Dallas, I was feeling the same way today! Motherhood definitely has it ups and downs! The terrible 2's are nothing compared to the horrible 3's. I'm starting to worry...Caiden will be 3 in a couple of months. I'm already seeing a change in his personality. Just like you, I will be doing a lot of praying! Hang in there, soon it will get better...or we will all end up in the crazy house together!

Sara said...

Laura is also my strong-willed child and I read the Dobson book to get some pointers. It can be tough. I do think that Laura is SOOO much better now that she is 4. Three is certainly a very very trying age.

Goodness knows I've questioned my parenting skills a jillion times and even questioned do I like my child today!!! Totally okay to have those feelings. Hang in there and keep up the fight. It will pay off in the end!!!

Julie said...

Hang in there! I'm sure you remember some of the dramatic fits Ethan threw at church when he was three, but he, too has outgrown much of it.

One idea we got from a psychologist: when she throws a fit, make her go to her room. When she is ready to come out, tell her that you have to make sure the fit is entirely gone before she comes out of her room, so she needs to show you what a fit looks like so you can see the difference and know it is all gone. It turns out that kids usually hate to act like they are throwing a fit when they are no longer mad--it feels as ridiculous as it looks. It did help with the fits.

Julie said...

Hang in there! I'm sure you remember some of the dramatic fits Ethan threw at church when he was three, but he, too has outgrown much of it.

One idea we got from a psychologist: when she throws a fit, make her go to her room. When she is ready to come out, tell her that you have to make sure the fit is entirely gone before she comes out of her room, so she needs to show you what a fit looks like so you can see the difference and know it is all gone. It turns out that kids usually hate to act like they are throwing a fit when they are no longer mad--it feels as ridiculous as it looks. It did help with the fits.

Tesney said...

I do child and adolescent therapy for a living and still feel like I have no clue when it comes to my own kid. All the books and advice in the world seem to just make it more confusing to me. I'm going to have to take my own advice here and just PRAY! The thing that is most frustrating to me is that everyone else (babysitters, preschool teachers, Sunday school teachers, childcare workers at the gym, etc.) tells me he is so good for them. So then I think (a) they are lying, (b) I'm just not hard enough or (c) he just really is smart enough to know to test the limits with me and not other people. If I can make it to 4 without a nervous breakdown I think I'll throw a major party to celebrate.

Shanna Hicks said...

Oh, Dallas! I hate to say it but reading this I thought to myself, "Gee, maybe mine isnt so bad afterall." This was the 500th day that I have had to blast her out of bead for school even though she gets up at 6 a.m. on the dot on the weekends.
Please write a book. You are a phenom and I took the "ignore the fit" cue from you last time you were in NB and guess what, it works!!! So there you go, you are an inspiration to this new mama!
Hugs and kisses to the blonds from the redhead!
:) Shanna

Kim said...

Oh, Dallas. We have so much in common via our 2 oldest girls.
I wish I had some stellar advice. I can say that Kennedy has gotten so much better with age. I can also share with you, that when she was 3, I was stressed and to the point of tears by the end of most EVERY day. Welcome home, Jordan!
When it was Christmas and we were gonna be traveling home to family, I actually took Kennedy (3) to the pediatrician and basically said, HELP!!! It worked to my advantage that Kennedy pulled her worst behavior out for the occasion. I actually felt pity from the dr. But, she said bring her back when she's 5 for ADHD meds. We did not. So, I've been there. How she is 100 x better, I now struggle with effective discipline. She can be the best part of my day, or the hardest part of my day. These strong willed girls-I could cry thinking about the teen years ahead. So, I appreciate the post. I've read the comments and I have some books to get!! Hang in there, it really will get easier, and contrary to how you feel, you won't lose your mind. At least not all of it!!

Anonymous said...

kristy brown offers excellent counseling sessions to mothers, and daughter, both together and individual (fyi)
not that i'd know personally i anything. :)

Anonymous said...

reading all these comments makes me laugh. wait til the daughters are teenagers and watch the gray hairs pop out.

The Rickard 5 said...

We are pretty much past the fit throwing, so I am laughing out loud...I can because I have been there. We actually thought Olivia's head was going to pop off or at least spin around a few times. Next phase is "fine" and "it's not fair!" It's a real fun one too!

ashley said...

Hey....I know that little girl in kindergarten!!! Just think...she's alot older now and probably in a correctional facility somewhere! 3 was my hardest year.....it gets better. Not easy, as I have the most strong willed child EVER, but better. Talk to you soon!

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