Before I became a mom, I remember looking at other parents of screaming preschoolers and thinking, “If that were my kid I would ……” insert some blanket statement of how I would give them consequences for their actions, and rationalize them into better behavior, etc., etc. Then I had children of my own.
When Moses went through this stage, I was pregnant with Cy, so I thought his out of control behavior was simply an outward portrayal of some inner jealousy with the new baby that was coming. I have this very vivid memory of me being 9 months pregnant, dragging a 4 year old Moses out of a Moi show, him kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs, me crying and thinking. “Is this for real?” Now it’s Cy’s turn, and there is no new sibling coming, no excuses, nothing to blame it on except the pure simple truth, he is three. If things don’t go his way, he screams, flops on the floor, yells out “no”, kicks, punches, pulls my hair, spits at me; the list goes on and on. My favorite is that most of this behavior happens ONLY when we are out in public, as if the world is his stage, and he’s been saving up every outrageous overreaction possible for the scowl-faced onlookers who shake their heads in disbelief and disgust. With Moses, I had no idea what I was doing as a mom. I thought it was something wrong with him, or me, or both. With Cy, it was to be expected, although he seems to have taken this appalling behavior to an all-new level. His new favorite thing to do is to run away from me if he doesn’t get his way. Today that meant he almost ran into a very busy street, me running full speed ahead to grab him before he did. He also loves to hide underneath tables, chairs, benches, anywhere out of reach, to protest his disapproval of life in general. Today it was at a restaurant. In the moment I think to myself, this is absolutely ridiculous. I am a college graduate, for gosh sakes. There has to be a better way. I’m an educated, qualified person. I am a professional. But there I am, on my hands and knees, trying to persuade him, reaching for this strong-willed little man, as he shrinks away from me, his voice blaring loudly all the while.
To top off the afternoon, while waiting in line to pick up my car after getting an oil change, he went into full force temper tantrum mode. With Moses, I would have been desperate to get him to stop, completely embarrassed by the whole situation. Today, I figured, shoot Cy, go for it. Maybe it will make the workers clue in and actually help me, who were by the way grown men playing and giggling over some tool that was making the sun reflect in each others’ eyes, while my kid is screaming and rolling on the ground. After what seemed like a lifetime, one of the men came to help, “Must be getting close to nap time, huh.” I gave him the stare down thinking to myself, “Ya’ think?” Cyrus proceeds to kick me in the shins repeatedly, as I make the payment. By the time we left the shop, I was exhausted.
I’m worn out. Frustrated. I look in the rearview mirror into back seat, and he is fast asleep. His blonde hair falls softly over his sweet rosy baby cheeks. I begin to forget the last awful moments, and begin to remember the sweet moments of the day. Like when we were coloring together and he looked over at me and said, “Mommy, I wove you. You are bweautiful. This is weawy fun cowowing with you.” He let me hold him and cuddle with him for a few minutes at the doctor’s office. He had all of the nurses laughing hysterically at his really bad “ouchie” that was no were to be found. Dramatically dipping his fries in his ketchup at lunchtime, cherishing every bite. In the midst of it all, I have to remind myself that this stage isn’t going to last forever. The good outweighs the bad a million times over. I love his laugh, how his eyes sparkle mischievously, how he makes anything into a weapon, he loves to fight and joke, he makes life so much fun, he is a linebacker in the making, our “Cyrus the Great”.