Sunday, September 26, 2010

Three is a Magic Number

I may never take the kids out in public by myself again.

I was so traumatized this week by The Biggest, Ugliest, Most Horrible Public Meltdown that I have ever witnessed or been a part of. Ever. Seriously, it was so bad. Blood was almost shed- mine, theirs, the stupid people's who kept staring at me while my kids were freaking out. I was ready to kill them, too.

Jack is three and quite frankly, it's not going so well. He's so emotional and opinionated and oppositional. There are days where EVERY LITTLE THING feels like a struggle. I've never wanted to wish any of the time away, but I'll be ready for four come February. Three sucks.

These epic fits have been enough to make me want to just give up on this whole quality parenting thing and drive the kids through McDonald's for dinner, toss some fries on the floor, and park them in front of Sponge Bob Square Pants so I can go smoke a cigarette and drink bourbon in an overstuffed recliner. I mean seriously, I've been using positive reinforcement and ignoring the undesired behaviors for years now, and that sure as hell doesn't seem to be working...

But the worst part about Jack's meltdowns is that during these moments of utter anguish I can actually see myself in him, and it ain't pretty. I remember what it's like to spiral out of control into a fit of such raw emotion that there's no way out except to scream and hot tears burn your cheeks and you just keep on screaming until you can scream no more. Yeah, I was an emotional kid, too, and it was hard. I guess I just want Jack's life to be easier.

(And now I really sympathize with my parents. Um, sorry about that.)

In a weird way, though, it's almost a relief to see that these crazy emotions seem to be in our nature, Jack's and mine. I always thought it was my fault that I was so quick to tears and so if I can blame nature for this, I guess I will.

But he can be awfully sweet, too, during moments of concentration.

And goofy when I ask him to pose with green cauliflower from the farm. Yep, that's right. Green cauliflower. Weird, huh?

We will be okay. This is just a rough patch. I know this. But it's still hard to see your kid, who you have poured your heart and soul into, act like the devil incarnate. Makes me feel like somehow we've done something horribly wrong. Where did we go astray?

And so I seek refuge in the kitchen where even if I can't control Jack's behavior, I can control what he eats. We've been winning the war with Jack over food for awhile now. He tried to get picky on us, but we weren't having it, and now he eats broccoli and asparagus with gusto. Yogurt with blueberries is a treat and salmon is his favorite meal. I'll take my victory where I can at this point.

This weekend we went on a food preservation rampage. I think I was channeling some residual anger from The Meltdown and I inflicted my rage on tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn. The freezer is getting full.

Is there any hope for our garden tomatoes? Between Sawyer's appetite for destruction and this wacky weather, I have my doubts. Hopefully the predicted warm sunshine this week will prove me wrong.

What's the best thing about waking up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning to the sound of dueling screeching kids? You get to see a sunrise like this one. The moon and a rainbow? Looks auspicious to me.

I had to get up early anyway, because my dad and I have decided to run a half marathon in November. Today was our first training run. It was an invigorating way to start the day.

Jack had no meltdowns or time outs today.

Brent caught two Steelhead today. They were delicious.

So things around here aren't so bad after all, I guess.

I found this old note in our junk drawer. I think it provides some insight into the complexities of our household and the dynamics of our marriage. Maybe this is only funny to me.

I especially appreciate how, in my apparent haste, I misspelled vacuum and yet remembered the tilde. Insight indeed.

So why don't you all go ahead and leave a comment telling me about the worst experience you had raising a three-year-old and how it all turned out just fine. Can you do that for me, people of the Internet? 'Cause I could use some reassurance here. And it's still a long way to February.


  1. Cassadie, my WILL get better. BUT you still have the traumatic teens and the 40 year old still going through his terrible two's. God's watching and proving He does have a sense of's call PARENTHOOD!!

    Jeanne (love to you all)

  2. i don't know about raising kids, but you sure are good at putting a stop to the chaotic behavior that middle school kids sometimes display. again, i'm no parent, but my guess is the same tactic you use with your students could apply here: consistent boundaries, always defining expectations, and putting your foot down right when the undesirable behavior begins. positive reinforcement is great for the good behavior, but maybe it's best when balanced by immediate negative consequences for bad behavior. just my two cents.

  3. Oh boy! Sounds like a rough week. Perhaps it was the full moon? I'm no parent, but I've spent enough time around my 3 year old niece to know that every little moment can be a testing of wills / boundaries (not necessarily in that order) and that damn, kids are hard. My husband and I were worn out after an 8 hour day with her. My hat is off to all of you parents who keep on keepin' on! I'm hoping the same for our tomatoes this week and the steelhead look delish!

  4. Cassadie- all I can say is, misery loves company. What's better than 2 screaming boys? 4! In about a week, I should be all settled in. Come on down. I'm enjoying the new found anonymity afforded by my move to the big city. No longer to I look up from the obnoxious screams of my 3 year old only to be faced with the disapproving and horrified stares of one of my patients while she cooly takes a drag from her cigarette and rearranges the banana clip in her permed hair.

  5. Hey Cassadie, c'est moi Ange. I don't have an account, thus I'm "Anonymous" Normally, I'm a reader and not a commenter, but this particular post speaks to me...and my life. We too have had a rough week with my little cherub and his 17 year old sister, oh wait, I mean 7. But the good news is that you did not get called-out at the DQ last night for being a horrible mother. Yes it is true, an old lady yelled loudly across the restaurant to Enzo "SHUT UP." Fairly shocking! I was so dumbstruck, horrified, and then angry. I couldn't believe that she was talking to me. She informed me that she was, and since I was not going to discipline my child, she would. We were also told that they came to DQ to have a quiet dinner. At DQ? And, I should take my horrible child outside to eat. And the ironic thing is that Enzo was not even being bad. He was just talking loud (which we are constantly on him about). I don't live in some fantasy land that my kids never do any wrong, and I would be the first to ride his case if he were, but for god's sake, what old person thinks, "MMM, I sure could use a quiet dinner w/o kids. Let's go to DQ"."? At any rate, it was not one of my classier moments, and some choice words were exchanged. Thankfully it was not the DQ on Coburg Rd, or the whole school would know about it today. Does that help?

  6. ooohhhh, my dear....i have literally been told a number of times that i should write a book about my sons behavior/comments and such. three has been the cursed age for us as well. and periodically we see glimpses of hope that make us think that four will bring about a promising change. how do i choose just ONE instance to share...? how about when i used to force him to take a nap and after every threat under the sun to stay in bed and go to sleep, and spanking (i know...shame...) he proceeded to rip the curtains off the wall, tear all of his covers off the mattress, push it off of the box-springs onto the floor, rip his diaper off (he was still in diapers when he turned three!) POOP on the box spring and then had the nerve to say to me when i walked in "look, mom, i pooped. do you like that? do you think it's funny?"
    or when he's been throwing a fit so badly that i literally had to walk out of line while AT the register and apologetically tell the checker that i would have to come back another day to get my goods. i think that was when i pretty much stopped trying to do anything in public with him other than something that was pure entertainment for him (the indoor inflatable playground? the park?).
    i'm sorry you are having such a tough time, sweetie, because i literally feel your pain. i have told kelly that i feel like he went from being this sweet, kind little boy who would periodically have a normal tantrum, to a moody, angry boy who periodically has tender, sweet moments. it is getting better as we encroach upon four though. take heart. stay consistent. i find that the more calm i stay in the face of his rage, the shorter the storm. but this is VERY hard for me as i am equally emotional and quick to be set off. we get locked in a battle of the wills. he usually wins....but i try to make him think that i have.
    positive thoughts and prayers being sent your way.


    p.s.-good luck on the 1/2!!