It’s a good thing…

19 May

We don’t diagnose mental illness in toddlers. Because HELLO BIPOLAR. Your name is Eli. From his daycare today:

“Weekly themes and concepts: Soft touches, sea creatures

Eli has been testing frequently this week. Nic and I have been giving him structured choices in place of some free time (he is prone to stripping away toys from others and having confrontations with his peers). Art and the train table work well for distractions when he’s into negative attention situations. We played with finger puppets frequently during circle and he clapped and asked for more. He’s recognizing “The Berry Patch” song and saying his name on his turn. P.S. He’s digging the new Black Keys album. We caught him more than once rocking out to it by himself in a high chair!”

Needless to say, my boy’s been a bit of a pain here and there. He was an outright PITA this evening with me. All he wanted to do was what he knew he couldn’t do (slam the toilet lid, have a cereal bar, hit me repeatedly) and he would melt down over and over when he was told no. At one point I was so frustrated I led him to his room and sat him down and told him he could just scream it out in there and once he was calm he could come out. He sat right there and screamed a good five or ten minutes and once he calmed down, I went in there and we read a book together. About 10 minutes later he saw his bubbles sitting on the dresser and asked, “Bubbles?” and I said when Daddy got home he’d give him a bath and he could do bubbles then. He said, “Okay!” and ran off, perfectly happy. He made it about 10 steps before he lost his mind. “BUBBA! BUBBA!” (bubbles) over and over again. I told him that if he was going to scream and cry he could go sit in his room again until he calmed down. I’ll be darned if the kid didn’t walk right into his room and sit in the middle of the floor and scream for another five minutes until he got distracted by some toys.

Andy got home about 45 minutes later and took over because I was at my wit’s end. Of course, Eli was in a decent mood for him so now I think Andy thinks I was just overreacting (“I don’t mean to rub it in but he seemed okay with me”). Eli’s still really into hitting and still mainly it’s with me. Parents out there, what say you? When he hits me I say “No” and I’ve tried ignoring it, putting him in time out (he likes that), telling him “No, we don’t hit. Soft touches.” Once we got on the soft touch kick, he would come up and smack me then say “Sooooft” like he had to smack me just to prove he knew what the difference was. Sometimes it’s obvious he’s just excited because we’re playing but most of the time, he’s not happy about something and he’s letting me know it. He still does it. I need to pick a reaction and be consistent with it but he doesn’t seem to respond to anything I’ve tried so far. So frustrating!!

Obviously, it’s not all misery. He’s a wonderfully smart boy and can repeat the ABCs after me and he can identify E’s, O’s and sometimes I’s when we hold up the foam letters in the bathtub. Even with all the smacking, I get the most hugs and when he’s hurt, I’m the one who has the best comfort for him and I’ll take a whole lot of smacking for that! Several times a day he’ll want to just sit in my lap and let me cuddle on him, no books or anything. He goes down for naps and bedtime with nary a complaint, runs to the bathroom when it’s time to brush his teeth or wash hands, and helps out with a lot of tasks around the house. He’s a pure joy. I just wish he’d stop hitting me.


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