Coping With Parenting: Bedtime Battles
I’ve never been a high stress person and aside from a few times where I’ve snappped (all due to very poor customer service and usually with a utility company) and screamed, I’ve never lost my temper.
Until I had kids.
Holly at 2 is a pretty good kid for the most part and when she’s in a nasty mood there’s usually a reason (and that reason is usually sickness). Spenser at 3 is a stubborn, defiant little ball of rotten when he doesn’t get his way. During the day when this happens I have patience and usually put him in his room until he tantrums himself out and calms down. But at night, when he gets tired AND defiant the battles get epic.
The other night it kind of reached it zenith when he woke up in the middle of the night and tore into an awful tantrum that was equal parts annoying, funny, and frightening. He was having such a fit that I thought he might hurt himself throwing himself around. And then when he started throwing his Magna Doodle and dump truck I thought he might hurt ME. Of course the worse he got the more I screamed which only served to egg him on more and make him more angry.
When I could finally get him to stop screaming long enough to tell me what was going on he said his stomach hurt and he was scared. I tried to assure him there was nothing to be afraid of but he was having none of it and the more I talked the more he screamed. This was not an idle concern either because Becky has suffered for most of her life from horrible night terrors and we’ve long suspected Spenser has some of the same troubles.
The stomach issue is a little harder to gauge because Spenser is a master manipulator. We generally ignore his whiny pleas for medicine for little scrapes and booboos, but he figured out vomit is out weakness and that when he says his stomach hurts we pay more attention to him. Being a silly child though he over played his hand and now we are very wary of those claims. We’ve been burned twice though when we told him everything would be fine and then a few minutes later he actually did throw up, but that’s the gambling life, right.
During the middle of this huge battle I had to pee so I went to the bathroom and asked Spenser if he wanted to go with me. I was too exhausted and frustrated at the time to put it together, but that’s one of the things he loves to do with me (along with shaving and brushing our teeth and doing our hair) so he said yes and calmed down. Once he was calm, my brain started functioning a bit better so I told him I was going out to the kitchen to get a drink and asked if he wanted to go too. He said yes.
Suddenly his mood was drastically different. All the way down the hall he was chatting with me like nothing was wrong. He had a drink. I put him in bed. He slept the rest of the night. The next morning Becky told me that’s the part he remembered. He didn’t talk about any of the screaming or arguing or throwing things. He remembered that I gave him a drink of Kool-Aid and it made him sleep better. That made me feel great. Becky later found out by reading online (whoever is not the parent trying to exorcise the demon at any given time seems to head directly to the Internet to make sure we’re not the only ones who have ever dealt with whatever issue it is and check how to fix it) that low blood sugar could be a cause of the tantrums too and this made sense because I have low blood sugar and when I’m hungry I can get very crabby.
So last night Spenser and I went to the store and got him a Cars nightlight and gave him a peanut butter sandwich before bed and that seemed to work great. We’ll see if it happens several nights in a row. Of course that also meant he slept the entire night through and didn’t get up to pee so he peed in his bed which is a whole different issue we’re dealing with.
In summary, I laugh violently any time I see teens or dillusional couples on television saying they want a baby to make them feel better about themselves or to save a marriage. My babies have made me feel awful about myself and, if Becky and I didn’t have a good marriage in place before the kids, this would have driven us apart and into therapy, alcohol, or truck stop sex and violence.
I also feel very bad for the generations prior that had to parent without the internet. Gah.