Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is Listening THAT hard?

For a 2.5-year-old, it apparently is.

The morning started off with Gus not listening. It felt like a battle getting him to do anything, starting with getting breakfast on the table. I think it was a combination of being easily distracted and being very stubborn. We got breakfast on the table, sat down to eat, but then had to start a 6-minute countdown until breakfast was done, because he wasn't eating. Jon stayed with Gus while I finished getting ready upstairs. When I came down, Gus was in his helper, breakfast was over and he seemed happy enough. I don't know what Jon did, but he did something to get Gus to easily cooperate with breakfast ending. Jon then had to leave, earlier than usual, so it was just Gus and me to go potty, get socks/shoes, brush teeth, get hat/mittens/coat on and leave the house to get to the dentist.

It was such a battle to get him to go potty that I eventually resorted to not asking him to do anything and I just did everything for him. I'm not proud of my actions, but I honestly did not know what else to do. I was so frustrated that he wasn't responding to simple questions and simple requests that we left the house without brushing his teeth. Aren't I the mother of the year? "Yes, Dr. Dentist, we brush his teeth twice per day, except when I get overly frustrated and leave the house without even thinking about it.

I felt like such a bad mom, especially since was GREAT during his exam. He got up in the chair all by himself (first time ever), he was being exceptionally polite with the assistant when asking for rides in the chair, he showed the assistant how he brushed his teeth without any complaint, he even let the dentist brush his teeth! I thought maybe Gus just had a bad morning, but then we left the dentist and the non-listening resurfaced. Yet, when I dropped him off at school, with teary eyes, he asked me to stay with him for "10 more minutes." Of course, I felt guilty about how I had treated him and started to tear up myself. I gave him big hugs and kisses and left to go to work.

At pick-up today, he was back to his non-listening self...again. It took me 30 minutes just to get him from his room to the car! We get home and he's great with dad. During dinner, he wanted to play and be silly instead of eating. So, we again started a countdown. (I'm sure it sounds like we're trying to get Gus to eat even if he's not hungry, but that's really not the case. This past weekend, he took about 45-minutes to eat breakfast because we didn't rush him. He ate his ENTIRE breakfast at a very leisurely pace and he is very good about telling us when he's done eating.) He began eating like a champ, we counted down to one minute remaining and told him he needed to get his last bites in...that's when he got up from his chair, and with a smile on his face, pointed at the seat...he'd had an accident. Why, oh, why did the accident have to happen at the exact same time that dinner was done?

And the crying, whining and almost hyperventilating ensued. I took Gus to the potty while Jon cleaned up. When Gus and I finished in the bathroom and returned to the kitchen, it all went downhill. Gus kept asking for his dinner back, he even asked for his vegetables back. I had to stop myself from crying a few times. I certainly want Gus to learn that when dinner is over, it's over, but I also don't want him to learn that if he has an accident we're not going to let him eat.

Through tears, crying, whining and a lot of patience on all of our parts, we were able to get Gus calmed down. After a short respite of reading some books, the non-listening was back. How do you handle a kid who says he has to go potty, but then won't go and won't listen to any reminders (gentle or stern)? He wouldn't listen, said he needed to go pretend potty first, had some mini-protestation about the zipper on his jammies and FINALLY went to the potty. Then, with teethbrushing, he kept moving his head around and talking while brushing. The straw for me what when he (accidentally) spilled his entire cup of water all over me and the floor. I seriously just wanted him to get into bed so I would stop battling him.

But, what book did he choose for his night-night book? Giraffes Can't Dance. Not only do giraffes have significance, but the entire message of the story really hit home. Was I the one in the wrong? Was I not listening to Gus' song? I should be so happy that we have Gus at home, since we have three that aren't, yet I was frustrated and angry with him. I hate days like today. I am happy that I have Gus; I love him more than I can put into words. I wish I knew some different techniques to try to get him to listen, as I know this is part of his age. I wish I could be the calm in the middle of a Gus storm and return everything to tranquility, but that didn't happen today. I only hope that I can take away a positive lesson from this and do better next time.

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