Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Other Version of Reality

Lest you think, based on my previous post, that he poops rainbows and tiny, fuzzy kittens, living with a 1.5 year old isn't always a walk in the park. Sorry if I gave you the impression that it was. In fact, it's sort of like, I imagine, living with someone who has untreated bipolar disease, or perhaps a multiple personality disorder. Most of the time, Rolo is quite sweet and charming. But a switch gets flipped sometimes and a little devil takes over his body.

He has his own ideas now on how things should be done and it's charming and MADDENING at the same time. Since he can't yet use words totally effectively, it means a lot of guessing. What, do you want this? How about this? Or you want to do this? No? Why are you screaming? I don't understand what you want. Okay, eating the carpet isn't helping. And the screaming still isn't helping. How about this toy? Or how about a banana?

Generally speaking, Rolo is a good eater. He also has an amazing arm. Like, seriously, I need to make sure I start this kid in little league as soon as it's possible. Unfortunately, in the meantime, he likes to throw his food. It's not because he's no longer hungry. It's just something to do. So if you come over to my place, there's a good chance you'll wind up ducking a flying carrot or that a meatball might go whizzing past your head. Good times. You should see my carpet. It greatly resembles a Jackson Pollack masterpiece (as an aside, yes I am aware of those lovely little drop cloth thingies you can put under a high chair, but 1) they look ugly and 2) more importantly, I'd have to drop cloth the entire apartment as Rolo is capable of launching food from his high chair well into the living room, about 20 feet away).

But the worse thing that 1.5 has brought is hitting. Me, specifically. And by that I mean Rolo hitting me and not the other way around. Sometimes he goes after other kids too. You can read TONS of literature on toddler hitting, why they do it and what to do about it. Believe me, I've read about it. I think Rolo hits for a couple of reasons. About 10% is probably out of frustration. But the majority is to get attention. Obviously, negative attention and specifically from me. When I pick him up from school, I watch him for a minute or two before he sees me. He's always playing with the other kids just fine. For the last week, without fail, as soon as he sees me, he either slaps one of the other kids or pulls their hair. And then he looks at me and laughs.

His teachers all swear that he's not aggressive at all throughout the day and I believe them. When we've left Rolo with either set of grandparents for the day or overnight, they all say he's fine the whole time he's there. But when we arrive to pick him up, he'll start hitting. I'm sure there is a sociology experiment in here somewhere about how a child who is abandoned by his mother from 9-5 every day is punishing her and seeking attention any way he can find it.

In reality though, you never know when the hitting stuff is going to start. He and I could be home together all day on a Saturday, reading and playing games and all of a sudden he'll get this gleam in his eye and I know he's about to hit. I read somewhere that kids who hit for attention should be ignored and when they no longer receive the reaction, they'll stop. At the time, I was like "Are they crazy? How can you just ignore it when your kid hits you? You've got to discipline them." Honestly, though, I think Rolo would probably stop if I ignored the behavior. The problem is that only works if we're at home. If he hits another kid, you kind of don't have much of a choice but to react, lest you look like you're breeding a monster.

So, I continue to plod through this parent/child relationship journey, working on solutions to problems I never thought my kid would have (yes, I do believe at one point I said out loud, "well, I just wouldn't tolerate my child hitting anyone", as though my desire to tolerate or not had anything to do with it). Despite the tantrums and throwing and the hitting, he's still a pretty cool kid though and so, I guess I'll keep him.

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