I used to think my second son was an angel child. He was always the contrast to his older brother, who "could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl." Everyone always said, "oh, R is so mellow, God knew you couldn't handle two crazies so he was good to you with R." And this was all true--until about a month ago. I could not believe it but R entered the terrible twos early and has driven me to apply for as many jobs as possible so I could put him in preschool and escape his temper. Last night was probably the worst.
This boy does not like bedtime. Stewart's cousin told me that our bodies are on 25 hour cycles which is why we always want to sleep later and later. I think this must be true because R fights sleep, even on those days when he hasn't had an adequate nap. He's been using the delaying tactic that he is thirsty. At first he was content to drink water out of the bathroom tap. Then he demanded juice. This I denied because no way would I give sugary juice, however watered down, to a kid who's supposed to be sleeping. Then he got smarter, he started asking for milk. He knows that I get frustrated because he doesn't drink enough milk. So if he ever asks for milk I complied. But this went on for a few days, delaying his bedtime by up to an hour. So last night I said no.
9 PM. Demand for milk. Crying, throwing himself against the door (I locked us into the room so he wouldn't run downstairs.), laying down on the ground crying, saying nose to get his snot wiped, then crying some more. Finally 9:45 I gave in and got him the milk. He was quiet the whole time we went downstairs to get it, but the minute we came back up, he started crying again. Finally after 10 minutes he drank some of the milk and went to sleep.
6 AM. An hour and a half before normal, wakes up and starts crying more. Excuse me? I thought babies had poor short term memories. I thought they were supposed to forget about whatever they cried about minutes before, let alone 9 hours before. I try to give him milk. No dice. We go downstairs and just lie on the couch till H comes down and wants to climb on top of us. We go back upstairs and R falls asleep again.
8:30 AM. Second awakening and crying resumes. Crying continues through H's preschool drop-off. R refuses to drink his morning milk, asking for juice instead, but he won't let me take the cup away. He proceeds to spill it all over himself during the drive to preschool. H is saying to R, "be quiet, be quiet."
9:10 AM. H is safely inside his preschool class. R and I are back at the car. I am a moment away from capitulating and giving R a juice box. I tell R one last time, "I don't care how long you cry, you are not getting juice, now drink your milk." Miracle of miracles, he gives in and drinks the milk. Moments after he finishes, no more crying and it seems that he doesn't remember the past 12 hours of torture. Now, I know it seems harsh that I would try to force him to drink milk when he wanted juice--I mean how much harm could there be in giving in this one time and isn't it better than having a child cry for such a long time? But I knew he would be drinking juice later that day at a blogger event and at his aunt's house. So there was no way to give him juice without feeding into his sugar addiction. I have to be careful since he had gestational diabetes and basically was born with a taste for sugar.
I am still in awe of R's ability to carry the fight over 12 hours. He was tired at the end of his crying jag last night, and so he slept to gather up his resources and then let it out again this morning. This is the kind of thing that makes me think of Columbine and gang violence. How do you prevent kids from going bad? How much longer will I be able to withstand the tantrums without imploding/exploding? I tell Stewart almost every day that I'm going to die soon of a heart attack. He tells me to get a job. Someone please give me one!