Monday 16 November 2009

Until Now.

Having been away at sea for 6 weeks, I fully expected to have to put up with some behavioural 'issues' from my children upon my return. And there have been tantrums and testing, but no worse than before. Until Now.

I fear that my four year old son has been abducted by aliens from the planet of LittleShitville, they've fed him their potions and returned him to me. I am at a loss as to what to do with him. He cares about one thing and one thing only: Sweets.

This should be ammunition in my armoury to be used as a bribe or a threat or a trail to get him to pee in the toilet rather than in his pants. But neither threats nor bribes work. Nor indeed does kindness, praise, shouting, putting him in his room, putting him on the step, involving him in activities or tiring him out with very long walks.

He is determined to destroy the house and partake in violent fights with his brother ALL THE TIME. He screams and shouts as though he is being murdered for no reason in particular. He is rude. Disobedient. Stubborn. He talks back. Lies. And is so utterly determined to be right that he will swear the colour red is acutally blue just to be contrary.

Take this morning as a case in point. I was trying to fold about 8 loads worth of laundry, iron about 6 of them, make lunchboxes, make breakfast, get myself showered and dressed and the boys in the clothes. Running rapidly out of time, I resorted to (admittedly a bad idea) the incentive of one jelly worm if son2 could put his clothes on. All of a sudden he went from not being able to dress himself, to being fully clothed in nano-seconds.

Having had his worm, I went upstair to get dressed while saying over my shoulder that a sweet in the morning was not going to become a regular occurence (he is on very strict rations because if there's one thing he doesn't need it's more e-numbers and sugar.)

Moments laters (as I'm fully lathered up in the shower) son1 rushes upstairs to let me know that son2, has managed to push a chair up to the VERY high sweetie cupboard and has helped himself to chocolate coins. I washed off fast, scurried downstairs with my trousers around my ankles and my hair dripping down my back to find the small boy surrounded by gold coin wrappers and his mouth full of something.

"Open your mouth," I said. "mhmm," he said shaking his head, cheeks bulging. "OPEN IT!" I say. Relucantly he opens to reveal a liquid in his mouth, not the chocolate I expected to see. "What is it?" I ask. He says nothing, just stands with his mouth open with a pool of liquid lolling in front of his tongue. I take my finger, dip it into his mouth and taste it (yes, I actually did that. THAT is what it means to be a mother). Syrup. Maple syrup.

I open the fridge. The lid is off the new bottle and a good amount has been necked directly from it. One jelly worm. God knows how many chocolate coins and a good slug of syrup. Breakfast of champions.

That little incident resulted in a week long sweetie ban. And that much sugar for breakfast might have explained the rest of the day's behaviour, but sadly, today is not an isolated incident.

He then spent the day with his childminder, who has always said that he is an angel child. Until Now. Today she informed me that she had had to severely reprimand him for utterly rude behaviour. Apparently, after she had taken him on a lovely day trip on a train (despite her being terrified of trains), buying him lunch and a toy, and taking him to feed ducks, when she asked whether he'd had a nice time, he yelled, "NO!" And then continued to be rude saying how rubbish everything had been.

He then came home and instead of colouring (which older brother and I were trying to do given the rainy weather) he proceeded to colour in himself and the furniture. Whatever I suggested for dinner was pronounced disgusting. So I ignored him and made a stir fry with noodles which I know ordinarily is an acceptable meal.

Until Now. Today it was REVOLTING. And DISGUSTING. And HIDEOUS. He then shoved his bowl away, stomped off with arms folded yelling: "I'm not eating that. Make me something else!" and proceeded to turn on the TV.

At which point he was told in no uncertain terms to turn the TV off, sit at the table, be polite, eat nicely and follow house rules or he could find a new house to live in. Probably not the best thing to tell a small child, but right about now I'm ready to give him away to the people who look after Tracey Beaker and co. He could certainly give Tracey a run for her money.

He then ate his meal by picking up each individual noodle and wrapping it around his head or his hand or spreading it across the table and nibbling at it - purposefully looking for a reaction - so that after 1 hour he'd had approximately one and a half noodles. Several severe warnings later about how he will have his food taken away and how he'll go to bed hungry and won't be getting pudding, he pushed his luck one time too many and indeed lost his meal.

So now I have a child who I am putting to bed hungry and who has been threatened with household expulsion. I'm not happy. He seems utterly unfazed.

Are all four year old boys like this? Someone tell me this is a testoterone surge. Because he's been my easy child. Until Now.


nappy valley girl said...

You poor thing, you have had a day of it.

The answer is yes, other four year old boys can be like that sometimes - Littleboy 1 can be rude, naughty and difficult, especially over food. During one particularly bad supper time recently I was so furious I shut him outside the back door in the cold because he had a) thrown his food on the floor and b) refused to apologise. He can also act like a moody teenager sometimes. And then sometimes he is a perfect angel, too.

I don't know what the answer is (other than calling Supernanny). You sound as if you dealt with it well, though, and if mine are anything to go by, he'll have forgotten it all again in the morning...

katyboo1 said...

I don't know about four year old boys yet, but I do know that sounds like classic Tallulah style behaviour when she is unnerved. I usually resort to dire punishments and lots of praise in equal measure. It will pass. Hopefully soon.x

ali said...

Ok, I am in no way trying to suggest that you are responsible but is there a chance that he's testing? A period of absence by a parent is a pretty significant event in the life of a 4yo. Is it possible he's "testing" the important adults in his life to see how constant they are? You know, "How much will I have to push before you leave?" kinda thing. Just what popped into my mind when I read this. I know that even if I am having a bad day with my pelvis that causes me to be a bit less active it affects my 4yo's behaviour.

Anyway, I hope he's feeling more himself soon!

Anonymous said...

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It has to do with a testosterone surge that some 4 year old boys tend to have.

Good luck.

TheOnlineStylist said...

Eeek... what a day! I sympathise as we've had days a bit like that with SC. Can't answer on the boy bit as have no experience myself but my friends little boy (same age) is going through the same at the moment. She too wants to give him away! Hang in there and stick to your punishments... I admit that thats the thing I find hardest to do with SC so I have to be careful what I threaten her with!

Home Office Mum said...

Nappy Valley - he had forgotten all about it this morning. But did wake up at 5.30 very hungry!

katyboo - I think I need Tallulah to come and sort my son out. I think she'll manage him brilliantly

Ali - I'm sure it is part of it - him testing me. But he seems to be testing everyone else too. Am really hoping it's a phase.

Anonymous - thanks for hte link. I need to go reread my Raising Boys book by Biddulph - I read it a few years ago but I need to revisit it

ThatGirl - I can't count all the times I've threatened something and then regretted it because I had to follow through and it ended up being far more work for me than punishment for them.

Nicola said...

Poor you. Johnny Drama definitely has similar moments. Since starting school he has taken to shouting in my face "I hate you - I just hate you!" when told no to sweets or tv or a new toy etc. He will also come up and just thump me. Initially I got crazy mad and would have an extreme shouty reaction. Which I guess just served to encourage him to be even more extreme himself. In the past 2 weeks I have managed to be icily calm when dealing with him. The temper tantrums haven't ceased but he does appear to be calming so much quicker - and he realises that I am deadly serious in not allowing him to get away with this behaviour, even without the shouting and physically lifting and throwing him onto the naughty step.

I hope things settle down soon. I keep telling myself this is just a phase and that I just need to convince him that I am confident in handling it - even when I don't feel that I have a clue. Best of luck xx

Anonymous said...

Gosh how difficult for you. I know how tricky my kids are for me when I don't see them for a couple of days because of shifts, so I can't imagine the impact 6 weeks will have had. Fortunately - as you know - kids bounce back quickly and this will be just a phase you'll all move through. Plus it may have happened without you even going away - kids are like that!

Grit said...

sympathies! dh is away for weeks on end, and when he comes home, the kids totally ignore him, then at some point go beserk, and in fewer words tell him he's no help, so what is he for. that's usually not an ingredient for a happy family moment!

i don't know whether this will help, but i developed an exchange system for all sweets: the kids collected e-numbered crap they were given in a jar and then i exchanged x number of sweets with a simple and doable treat (like going out alone with a parent - that's a big deal in our house!).

Jacqui Paterson said...

Hi there! I've just stumbled across your blog. Sorry to hear your little one is giving you grief - but I'm more blown away by your recent sea adventures!!!! What a brave, amazing experience! Makes my bungy jump (many moons ago, and well before motherhood) seem positively mundane. Note to self: do something challenging and exciting - soon!!!

Home Office Mum said...

Thanks Nicola, More than just a mother, Grit and Jacqui for the suggestions and support (and Jacqui, you'd never get me bungi-jumping!) The phase seems to have passed. He's still no saint but he's far less of a little devil. Fingers crossed it lasts!