Today Max pushed my buttons from the moment I woke up. He had climbed into bed with me, and before my eyes were even open, he started nagging. Moaned when he wanted the TV on. Cried when I couldn’t find the right program. Wailed when it was his brother’s turn. Squealed for more breakfast, which was supposed to be a fun waffles and strawberries in bed affair. And so, by the time we got into the car, running late for Hebrew school because he wasn’t dressed in time, and he moaned about not being able to put his seat-belt on, I lost it. And lost it I did. This was after days, and days of Max behaving like this. Did I mention I lost it? I smacked his leg, and squeezed it really tight, and told him that I wasn’t prepared to be this kind of parent and I didn’t want him to be this kind of kid. The kind of kid that pushes all of my buttons over and over again. I screamed at him. My voice hurting. I wanted him to understand what a huge impact his behavior has on the rest of us. How, after days of him crying and whining, none of us want to do anything with him, and that we can’t bear it when he constantly cries, for another waffle or because he has to brush his teeth. Somehow we’ve lost some fundamentals with Max. We’ve let him think that we’re not going to make him eat breakfast and brush his teeth. We’ve allowed his programming to react so badly to everyday tasks that it has become miserable for all of us.
And the worst part (yes, the worst part!) is that he’s an amazing kid. He is kind and considerate, and sweet and intelligent, and all sorts of magnificent things that one would want for their child. His teacher describes him as having a “heart of gold”. He is our golden boy, but this one thing about him makes it possible for us to get so desperately frustrated that I would squeeze his knee so hard, just so that I don’t give him a huge smack. And let me tell you, that’s not me. And it’s not who I want to be. It’s not the relationship I want with my beautiful child.
Over the 6 years that Max has been in this world, we’ve been to see two psychologists about him. One was useless, and the other might have been helpful, but I don’t think we necessarily followed through with his suggestions thoroughly enough. I think. We have never taken Max with to see the psychologists, as we felt that WE needed the tools to deal with him and we didn’t want to subject him to a doctor and the stigma attached. But I’ve mentioned the idea to him recently, that maybe we need to speak to a professional about helping him to handle his emotions better. And he cried.
When Max cries, it doesn’t even register a blip on my emotional scale, except maybe for annoyance. When you have a kid who cries because they want to TV on, or don’t want to put their socks on, you become emotionally numb to their crying, and thus, the response that they’re trying to elicit, is completely ineffective, so it’s a no-win situation. Several years ago the pediatrician suggested that this would improve over time. But it hasn’t, bar the fact that he doesn’t cry at school anymore. He reserves that for home. Which means that he IS capable of controlling is emotions. A friend of mine has a kid who won’t use the bathroom at school, but waits until he gets home. In a weird way, I equate this to the same thing.
Darian and I sat down and talked about what we’re going to do. And we’re trying to devise a plan, and stay committed to acting up on it, to the extent of even putting “check-in” dates on our calendar. So far, our plan is to say, “STOP. Start again”. And we’ve decided to say that quite firmly and loud. And use a hand gesture to motion stop. Max doesn’t like it if you get angry with him. He verbalizes that quite clearly. And since he recognizes that emotion, we want to utilize it. Not that we want to get angry. But we want to be firm. We’ve tries speaking softly, and counting to ten, and having him count to ten, and speaking in a fun voice and sending it out of the room. Nothing. I’ve read every book available on emotional kids, and even delved into emotional disorders. And I’ve come up with bubkes.
I’m not sure what we’re going to end up doing. But we’re going to have to do something. Because I don’t want to be this parent. I don’t want to be the parent who feels the way I do right now. Not that parent. Not me. And not Max.