...that's what it is like at our house this week. I guess Aiden has finally realized that Aubrey is here to stay and not just a "visiting annoyance," so he's finally decided to react to her presence--and not in a very positive way. He hasn't turned on his sister at all--he's still sweet as ever to her--but he's decided to lay all of the anger and blame at the feet of those truly responsible--his parents. Whenever Brad or I ask Aiden to do anything, he does the exact opposite. He throws tantrums over the smallest things--yesterday, he threw a 15 minute fit in a restaurant because they didn't have root beer. He's become down-right difficult and defiant,and Brad and I are struggling to keep our patience.
Thursday, I took Aiden to Willow Bend mall to play on the indoor playground. The weather had been cold and horribly windy, so we weren't able to go to the outdoor playground at our neighborhood all week and Aiden was getting a pretty bad case of cabin fever. I thought the mall play area would let him burn off some steam and run around, so I bundled us all up and of we went. Aiden had a great time playing and got to frolic around for about 30 minutes when the cleaning crew scared us off for the scheduled cleaning time. I piled the kiddos back into the stroller and we walked around for a while and then grabbed a hot cocoa from Starbucks. After about 30 minutes, they re-opened the play area, so I took Aiden back over and let him run around for another 45 minutes or so. By now, it was about 6:45, time for us to head home for dinner and to get ready for bed.
I called Aiden over to me to tell him that he had 5 more minutes to play before he left, but he took one look at me when I called his name and ran off, hiding behind the play equipment. He refused to come to me, so I told him that if he didn't come to me by the time I counted to 5, we were leaving immediately. I counted, he refused to come, so I walked over to grab him, and he took off. I chased him for a minute, then threatened to take marbles out of his reward jar and got him to come over to me. I grabbed him, told him that because he disobeyed me and ran away when I called him, we were leaving now, no extra time--and the tantrum began. He screamed. He kicked. I put him on his jump seat on our stroller and began putting his shoes and socks back on him, and he ran off down the corridor of the mall. Aubrey is in her car seat, not yet clipped into the stroller, so I grab her seat and start running down the corridor after Aiden, yelling at him to freeze (which he blithely ignores).
By this point, I have quite a crowd staring at me, and at this particular mall, where most kids are attended by nannies and not parents, I'm getting clucked at and whispered about by several mothers whose own children were at home with the servants, out of sight and out of mind. I finally round Aiden up and drag him back to the stroller. After several more escape attempts, I finally wrestle his shoes back on him and get him strapped into his seat. He screams and cries the entire way through the mall, through Macy's, and then out to the parking lot. We get to the car and I literally have to hold him down while I strap him into his car seat--he kicks and fights me the whole time. I get him in his seat, then go to the other side to clip Aubrey's seat into the base in the van, and he's already un-clipped his seat belt and is pushing the button on the van door to open it. I run around to the other side, grab him, warn him that if he unbuckles himself again, I am spanking him. He uses his foot to press the button that opens the door to the van as soon as I close it. I go to the front of the car and lock out the rear doors, so he can't open them, then go back to loading the stroller while he screams at the top of his lungs the entire time.
Finally, I get us all loaded in and pull onto the street--and Aiden unbuckles his car seat while we're moving. I pull over, make good on my threat to spank him spank him (I rarely spank, but for something as important as car seat usage, I'm not messing around), buckle him back into his seat, climb back in, make it about a 1/4 mile, and he does it AGAIN! He gets spanked, AGAIN, then I have to wrestle him back into his seat, fighting the whole way, and start driving. We get a whole block down the road before he does it AGAIN! Once again, I wrestle him into his seat, and now I am at my breaking point.
Up until now, I've been firm but pretty calm, keeping my voice level, but this time I read him the riot act and really yelled at him, telling him that he WILL wear his seat belt, and that if I have to stop every 5 feet to put him back and spank him, he's NOT riding without it. I guess the spanking and yelling combined finally made him realize that I was serious, so he goes back to screaming, but thankfully, gives up on climbing out of his seat. I got back into the car, put my head down on the steering wheel and started praying out loud, God, I don't have the patience, but I know you do, so you're going to have to help me out here. I can't do this! You live within me--give me some of your patience, please! I took a few deep breaths, and thankfully, He answered my prayer. I calmed down, took a few deep breaths, and after a few minutes of coaching Aiden through some deep breaths, managed to get him calmed down, too. I explained why he can't run away and why it is so important to stay in his seat, and by the time we made it home, he had stopped the crying and screaming.
It took me an hour and a half to get from the play area to our house--a trip that should have taken 30-40 minutes tops, and I was exhausted by the time we got home. But wouldn't you know that just an hour or so later, he was back to throwing screaming fits because it was bed time. I've put up with at least one extreme tantrum every day this week over SOMETHING. It's getting ridiculous, and what's more surprising is that he's NEVER been a kid to throw a fit like this. We've had a few tantrums over the years, but they are usually pretty low-key. I thought we'd escaped this parenting nightmare, but I guess not. So for now, Brad and I are spending a lot of time praying for patience--and sharing a few glasses of wine after bedtime to bring our blood pressures back down! Let's hope this phase goes by quickly!