Monday, May 20, 2013

Friend or enemy?

B. He's trying to kill us...slowly. Honestly, I think we may need professional help, because we are all about to lose it...

He wakes up grumpy, with a pouty, scowl-y face, which would be comical if it weren't so annoying. Refuses to get out of bed, change out of his diaper, put on clothes. I've tried all kinds of incentives, games, distractions, songs, races, etc... I've let him pick the order of things, pick his own clothes, let him do it himself vs. help him vs. do it for him, wear PJs all day if that's what he prefers. Nothing works. Eventually there is hitting (he hits us), flailing about and crying. 

The new thing (for the past few days) is "idon'tlikethisshirt" repeated constantly in a monotone with eyes glazed all day long, despite the fact that he PICKED that shirt, and doesn't want any other shirt (because, idon'tlikethoseshirtseither"). He circumvented that with letting him wear PJs, but now its "idon'tlikethesePJs". Seriously, ALL DAY, like a malfunctioning robot on the (completely adorable) robot PJs that he really doesn't like. 

What do you want for breakfast, B? We have x, y, and z. "What do we have?". X, Y, and Z. "what do we have". Like I said, X, Y, and Z. "what else do we have?" Nothing else. "what do we have" X, Y, and Z. repeat for 15 minutes. "I want X". Make X, give it to him. "I don't want that. What do we have?". and then "i'mhungry...i'mhungry...i'mhungry...."X100000. 

Then there's the hitting--me, daddy, L, the dog, whoever is within reach. This I really cannot abide. I want to discipline but again, nothing works. He has no toys he is attached to, no real physical objects other than his lovey that I would never take away as a punishment. So I take away privileges--he likes watching videos of his songs on youtube after dinner, eating ice cream for dessert, listening to music, watering the plants, "helping" with some cooking task. These things are all tied to behaviors and they are all usually gone by 7AM...then what? Time out doesn't work because he doesn't stay (and I am iffy about the whole concept), and I have to forcefully put him back over & over & over---hitting & flailing & kicking all the way.

Oh, and last week he bust out with "stupid". Now its on heavy rotation. G contends he learned it at daycare, whereas I'm pretty sure he learned it at home, from G! This was something I didn't expect for another couple of years so we didn't have a good strategy in place when it suddenly came up. I tried to be calm about it yet convey that we do not use that word...and now whenever he is angry, he will wield it. He has no clue what it means, and doesn't say "you're stupid" or "that's stupid", just "stoopit stoopit stoopit".

 Patience is hard to maintain (I admit I've sometimes given way to banshee-shrieking on a tired hurried morning). Always handling things consistently, over time and between the two of us, is really really challenging when its a constant barrage. Everything I read is conflicting---"take away privileges", "positive discipline", (and if you dare read comments "ass whooping") etc... And the household just feels...heavy.

I know 3 is a notoriously tough age, with all the cognitive development short-circuiting his little brain. I know this behavior is the outward manifestation of some inner turmoil---but I can't figure out what the turmoil is or how to quiet it. It hurts me that he is clearly suffering from SOMETHING to be so angry and sad all the time. But yet, I can't let him go around hitting or saying bad words, and there is no hearing person on earth who could withstand that high-level whining for very long. And of course there is the part of me that can't help thinking...what the hell is so awful with your life you ungrateful little...

There are good times, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. Even bedtime stories, previously full of cuddling and giggling, has been replaced with "idon'tlikethisshirt" "idon'twantthatbook" and tantrums when the stories are over.

Obviously any advice is welcome, as well as words of hope. Or wine. We're running dangerously low. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Distance Between...

...expectations and reality is where most unhappiness resides.

I feel this most keenly around holidays--pretty much all of them. Well, maybe not Memorial Day. There aren't many hopes & dreams pinned on Memorial Day are there? We don't hold these images of the "perfect Memorial Day" in our heads since childhood. Nor are there any obligations on either my part or anyone else's. I like Memorial Day. 

The other time I feel it is at the end of a stressful period. I just imagine there will be some sort of celebratory, festive something...but, no. I came home Friday fresh in the triumph of a challenge met and got right to...making dinner. 

In actuality, it ended up being quite a lovely weekend. I did indulge myself in a tiny bit of self-pity about all the things that did not go as desired. Strangely, I didn't really have anything concrete in mind for how I wanted the weekend to go, just...differently. Better behaved kids? More agreeable husband? More sunshine? If I don't even know myself what I wanted, how should anyone else? (they just should, that's all. they should simply read deep into the winding crevices of my mixed-up mind)

On a whim I had bought & planted some strawberry plants in a container out back. Yesterday we saw 2 tiny pink&white berries. B was so excited. L lunged immediately to pull them off the stem. I stopped him but he did end up grabbing up half of my chives, and wailed for a couple of minutes in frustration at his thwarted efforts. 

It's complicated, life these days. Its really impossible to have a homogeneously "good" moment, much less a whole day. But that would be boring, right? (right?)

Monday, May 6, 2013


In a fit of purging---and of feeling completely exhausted and defeated by the job of mothering a 3 year old & a toddler---I gave away ALL of our outgrown baby clothes & items.


Friday, May 3, 2013

In others' eyes

Have you seen those silly "Real Beauty" ads that are making the FB rounds these days? Where traditionally attractive women with skewed self-image are weeping with joy to hear that in a stranger's eyes they ACTUALLY ARE traditionally attractive. Empowering....ummm...not really. 

What might be empowering is hearing the strangers' takes on the REAL real beauty of these women. The beauty that is independent of facial features and body shape. Kindness, intelligence, wit, charm---what do people notice about you that you have never noticed about yourself? And would hearing about those traits change the way you see yourself?

Two examples in my life come to mind.

Once was ages ago, at a party in college. I danced with a guy---a stranger at the time---for hours. I used to love dancing back in the day and this guy was a worthy partner. At the end of the night, he told me I had endurance.  That was a not a word I'd associated with  myself---it sounded "sporty"---and as I'd always been slow & uncoordinated, I stayed far far away from anything resembling athletics. Yet---I was able to dance energetically for hours at a time. I DID have endurance. From then on out, I considered myself a person with endurance. Hiking? Sure, I can do that. Train for a marathon? Yes.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy who was rotating through the lab. Can't quite remember the context but he said this to me: "You seem like someone who is extremely determined and focused on what you want". At the time I laughed---lately I've found myself distractable, procrastinate-y, and slow to take definitive action. Yet---I have indeed achieved some things in life through persistence and hard work. I may drift into browsing summer sandals or reading blogs when I'm supposed to be writing a pilot grant (e.g. a lot of this week), but the grant WILL get written. And when I'm actually interested in a project, I will take the necessary steps to get it off the ground. When I've come against setbacks more recently, I've remembered that statement, and its bolstered me to action. I WILL make this happen because I am determined.

Of course the opposite is also true---negative words by strangers and loved ones alike have altered my self-perception for years, for life. I'm trying to drown those words out and replace them with the healthier ones.

I often think cynically of friendships that don't last or the tedium of dealing with people. Yet in those chance encounters and fleeting relationships there can be life-changing moments. Connections---important even for an introverted  misanthrope like me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Evolution of a response...

My grant is going up for second review in 2 weeks (the one where they actually make funding determinations) and I just found out (from the NIH contacting me) that one of my mentors is leaving our institution. I contacted her and her response "today's my last day, I'm heading on vacation, I can't deal with this, good luck". They want me to identify a new mentor (as well as address some other issues) in a letter by next week.

  • Cue immediate stress and self-esteem plummet. I'm a terrible researcher, no one will want to mentor me, the grant will never be funded and I'll have to find a new job, etc... 
  • Coping mechanisms are mobilized---buy $50 sunglasses on line, complain to G,  drink wine, go to bed early
  • Self-esteem rebounds, and annoyance takes its place---what a piss poor mentor, wouldn't she notify all her mentees and help them develop a game plan? How is this MY fault? 
  • The steel enters my backbone---I'm not going to let this one stupid thing ruin what several others have stated are pretty good chances for funding.
  • Action---I have met with and identified a new mentor, someone who has some interesting thoughts for how I can further develop this project (and who agreed that ex-mentor did a pretty shitty thing). 

All within 24 hours.

And I wonder why I don't get any "work" done at work.