Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stuck in the middle

Poor Mitch. He's struggling right now. Again. I don't mean to push off his misbehavior on being a middle child, but lately I do see why he might be gunning for attention. Any attention. Good or bad.

Here's Owen: firstborn, smart, bringing home Looking Like a Learner and Terrific Tracker awards every other day (which are not so very hard to earn, incidentally), first to do every interesting thing.

Here's Paige: darling baby, only girl, doted upon not only by family but by perfect strangers, many of whom will ooh and aah at her cuteness while looking right over the head of a perfectly adorable blond haired boy.

Here's Mitch: 4 years old, having accidents at school almost every day, talking back then claiming "you broke my heart" or "it's like you don't even love me" when reprimanded, going ape wild in every public place in which we dare to step foot, falling to the ground in the middle of the road because he doesn't want to hold my hand, slapping at me when refused a request, snapping at me to get my attention, knocking both baby sister and big brother in the head for no (conscious) reason at all, screaming at me from the back seat of the car because he doesn't like the song on the radio, making gigantic messes in the playroom and refusing to tidy up...etc. etc. etc.

I know I've written about my hellfiend before. I probably even listed the some of the same out of bounds behaviors. And trust me, I am reacting to and handing down consequences for each and every incident, but lordy-me it gets exhausting. Currently the middle child is grounded from going on errands with me (that means no Target for a week. I must be really, truly mean), banned from computer games, and on the cusp of losing tv/video privileges. I have even gone so far as to consider taking away his beloved Dee Dee. And if you've met Dee Dee, you understand the extremity of such a punishment.

On the other side of things, he's also in an intense mommy-love phase, where every 5 minutes he coos "I love you sooo much," or "You're very pretty, mommy." He insists on hourly hugs, kisses, and nose rubbing and fishes for my compliments all day long: "Does my shirt look nice, mommy?" "Do you like my hair?"

The irony is--and this is true of my other children too--the qualities that drive me the craziest are also those that are most endearing to me. I'm not looking to extinguish Mitch's spunkiness or tame his stubborness. I admire his righteous indignation and his his refusal to back down without a fight. But I do require sane outings, basic respect, and a nix on the snapping at me like I'm a dog.

Truth is, I've missed him on my errands this week. Without someone to chase after, refuse to buy Icees for, and shush 4003 times in an hour, a trip to Target is almost, well...boring.


elexisb said...

Hi Ashley, I am going through the EXACT same thing w/ my 4 year old. She's got such a strong personality - which is both great and bad. She's so tough, demanding, through a tantrum just tonight in Joann Fabrics & we had to leave. But, she tells me she loves me incessantly and always tells me I'm pretty. She's so sweet to her little sister and covers her up and brings her a blanket one minute, the next minute I hear her on the monitor screaming at her little sister.

Being a mom is so hard! But, I love it anyway. Sometimes it's too hard, but usually not.

So glad you like my pinafore tutorial! If you post a pic of your finished product, let me know.

MadMad said...

I think some of it is really just being four... They don't tell you this, but four stinks. (Not so much with your first, because then you still have patience, pre-school and some free time...) But by the second? Pretty much everything between 2.5 and kindergarten? Really, really hard. But 3.5 to 4.5? Especially so.

amp said...

I think Mitchy is just missing me. I will email you tomorrow to plan a date for you to feed me and so I can catch up on birthday giving. Miss you all. a.

Lori said...

I'm convinced that the person who came up with "terrible twos" hadn't experienced a 4-year old. I've decided there's nothing worse. Middle is tough, too. Your post speaks to me because we have a similar demographic except swap the genders. My middle child's favorite question these days is, "Who loves Juliana?" and she repeats it until we answer. She's an exercise in extremes, much like you mentioned you're going through. Thank goodness we're almost to 5; I don't think she'd make it much longer, if not! :) Hang in there.

Victoria said...

I'm with the others who suggested Fours Just Suck. My about-to-turn-five Girlie is exiting an 18-month-stretch of total-assness. (I'm her mom and can say that because I love her, right?) She's the Baby and adorable and precious, yet spunky and street-smart. Punishments are wasted on her (she doesn't care). I don't want to break her strong-willed nature or keen desire for indepedence (I see much of me in her) but....geez, Four is Not Fun.

All my best to you as you navigate this tricky waters, my friend. And (((hugs))) too.