Thursday, June 28, 2007

Appliance Power


By the time daycare drop off was finished and I was back in my car I just wanted to come home, curl up in a ball on my bed and stay there all day.


I don’t know what is going on with The Mayor nor do I have the first clue how to handle it and this makes me feel miserable, anxious and out of control.


He turned three almost a month ago and it's like a bomb exploded in his mind and body.


I have never seen such defiance, such tantrums.


On average, I can find my inner parenting Zen for about 80% of the tantrums but
the sudden spike in his rage means that I am losing my cool -- a lot.

My patience. runs. out.


When it does, I take the bench and send K to the parenting field but neither of us have any good plays.


Time out is dead to The Mayor now.


I am the kind of person who is usually willing to face any challenge.

I am a problem solver, a solution seeker.

I am a “roll up your sleeves and get in there” kind of woman.

The problem is that I normally have an approach to the problem at hand.


In this case, The Mayor is a whirling ball of angry chaos and I haven't had any idea what to do about it but stare blankly and doubt my fitness for this mothering job.

Tonight there was, praise be to the great and powerful Oz, a glimmer of hope.

K gave The Mayor... the vacuum.

The Mayor vacuumed the dining room floor (covered in corn kernels and portending incoming fanetti poop), received high praise on his technique and was declared "in charge" of the vacuum.

I invited him to vacuum any room in the house at any time.

He gave me a smug nod of agreement, put the vacuum away for the night and, most importantly, did not challenge us to a throw down.

It seems a little power can calm a wee angry boy.

[I bow down to the vacuum.]


78 comments:

CakeHead said...

Oh boy - yes, whomever coined the term "Terrible Two's" must have done it before the child turned three. My guy is two months from glorious four and though I hear four is not fun either, I can already see an attitude change for the better. *fingers crossed*

Robin said...

I think you're on to something. Maybe it's time to invest in some other motorized cleaning implements - perhaps a bathroom scrubber? My Mom has one.

Also, you might want to see if he has some sensory integration issues. There are some simple things you can do to help him out with the rage...

Clinton said...

We know some people going through the same thing. Their son was polite, kind, even meek sometimes. Then he turned 3. Now he's defiant, rebellious, basically a little shit. The doc told them it's "normal." I suppose alien abduction is out of the picture, but I think that excuse would have comforted them more.
Good luck.
Ella turns 3 this fall, but she's been a little hellion for quite some time, so we're not expecting a big life change here.
Hail to the vacuum!
Clinton
shelookslikeme.wordpress.com

Orangeblossoms said...

Genius. I'm totally borrowing that technique. Loud, powerful, productive. Most excellent.

Karly said...

Enjoys power...named The Mayor...yep. It all makes sense.

tulipmom said...

"By the time daycare drop off was finished and I was back in my car I just wanted to come home, curl up in a ball on my bed and stay there all day."

Oh boy do I know this feeling. All too well.

One good thing: Sounds like you're gonna have some clean ass floors from now on.

Anne Glamore said...

One of my three totally loves tools, vacs, Swiffer, anything mechanical, so as he's gotten older I've taken advantage of it and taught him all the stuff only I know how to do: reset the computer router, take apart and clean the vac, etc.

This may be the start of a wonderful handyman relationship!

Velveteen Mind said...

Babe, it sounds like you've got this thing figured out after all. I'll send you my address so you'll know where to send the Mayor the next time he gets pissed. I'm thinking that letting my baby hoover the floor with his mouth is not the best approach to cleaning.

liv said...

Yeah, 3 is not great, but based on preliminary findings in my house, it was definitely better than mouthy four.

Super B's Mom said...

All hail the vacuum. Strap a couple of swiffers to his hands and turn that boy loose!

Queen Heather said...

writing this down and sticking in my bag of tricks for a future use.

Three is so much harder than 2.

slouching mom said...

Oh, J.

Ben at three was rotten for us, too.

Every single transition was met with a tantrum so fierce and severe that my hubs often had to carry him like a sack of potatoes away from the place he didn't want to leave.

Barnes and Noble...
Our best friends' house...
The playground...

I have blocked out a lot of that time. Thankfully, though, it did not last too long. I think it was about six months or so at most.

Nothing we tried worked. I think it was just a matter of time passing, and maybe his brain and his body getting in better sync.

Cathy said...

I found 3 to be a terrifying age with Child No. 1. And she's my quiet, mannerly one.

Which is why I cringe every time I think about how rapidly Child No. 2 is approaching 3. In fact, he's starting to scare me already.

Many thanks for the vacuum-as-a-placating-device idea!

slouching mom said...

Oh, J.

Ben at three was rotten for us, too.

Every single transition was met with a tantrum so fierce and severe that my hubs often had to carry him like a sack of potatoes away from the place he didn't want to leave.

Barnes and Noble...
Our best friends' house...
The playground...

I have blocked out a lot of that time. Thankfully, though, it did not last too long. I think it was about six months or so at most.

Nothing we tried worked. I think it was just a matter of time passing, and maybe his brain and his body getting in better sync.

GoteeMan said...

hey - whatever works! Being the dad (and primary parent, since my wife is fully disabled), I completely understand. I walked into the room to my oldest with both hands around the neck of the little guy, shaking him and yelling at him... ugh!

After I threatened him with taking away his ability and desire to sit down for a month, he didn't do it again, but geez... Why do they come out of the womb knowing how to disobey? I mean, whose sense of humor was that?

The awesome part of being the parent of strong willed kids is that they really stand their ground, even with peers, when the get bigger. Mine are now 11 and 8, and they march to their own drum. They don't go along with what others want them to do unless they really want to.... so now, it pays off some...

BUT - my 11 year old is still mouthy as hell... he is a lawyer, not a judge - when he is trying to get what he wants, he isn't asking to make up his mind or get information, he's arguing - sneaky feller...

So we just put a stop to the arguments and that did it. I refuse to get into a battle of wits with him for 2 reasons: 1) It's pointless and 2) he would anhialate me anyway...

So this way, I keep what is left of my dignity and I don't have to get tangled up in the arguments anymore. All in all, it works, and I am proud of the two young men growing up before my eyes.

J.

Alpha DogMa said...

I don't know why the Two get such a Terrible reputation, because Three is way way worse. Good luck with your despot-in-training.

momomax said...

uh boy. I really had no idea there was a phase like this. I thought it was bad now with my 14 month old.

I wish the mayor and the vaccum a long and peaceful reign

Jordan said...

Phew, 3 is rough. I've decided that 2 has such a bad rep because it's the *beginning* of the insanity, which with my #1 continued through age three and culminated in age 4 - with some residual crazy at age 5. Thus far, I am the world's biggest fan of AGE 6!! Thank God every age came with a huge dose of CUTE, too...

When the going got really tough and my patience was worn to a nubbin, I broke the anger cycle by "catching him being good" (which I now do with my little one, too) - just start noticing every teeny tiny good thing he does ("Wow! You put your cup back down on the table!") and put a sticker on one of a series of smiley faces on the fridge. When my son got a certain number of stickers for me catching great behavior, we spent some special time together or I gave him one of his favorite cookies or something. It was always such an immediate relief to ME to start seeing anything that was positive again, and it has always turned around a great deal of the behavior quickly.

In the meantime, you are really onto something with the vacuum! My boys also love "dusting" with rags, washing windows with spray bottles and paper towels, and using the Swiffer mop. They feel helpful and it's giving them some heavy work, which is calming. I would also work with him on some anger management for kiddos - deep breaths, punch pillows, play with play doh...help him identify what he needs to calm down when he starts to feel so angry.

Good luck - this too shall pass!

bfmomma said...

I remember when #1 turned three. DH and I had no sooner patted ourselves on the backs for making it through the "terrible twos" so beautifully (there's no such thing as terrible twos--must just be terrible parents! our sweet girl was delightful to be around at age two... blah, blah, blah) when she turned three. I swear, on the morning of her 3rd birthday, she woke up and made this...noise. It took over her body and everything she said was in that tone... and that attitude and... UGH!

At least we were prepared when #2 and #3 turned three! :)

Omaha Mama said...

I keep hoping that 4 is better also. Our girl turns 4 in a few weeks. At age three, it's like their little bodies are completely out of control and they have words to match. For Brenna, it's like her emotions are right at the surface at all times. Sticker charts, praise, times outs, go to your room, tantrums (from me), yelling, and yes...even a few spankings. We've almost survived the tumultuous threes!

Good luck with it all. Zen 80% of the time is pretty good in my book!

Stepping Over the Junk said...

Mine actually do the same thing, but in cleaning up their room! They "make" me stay downstairs when they are sent to their room and then I come up and they are well behaved and the room is cleaned up and they enjoy the double excited response from me, both at their cleaning as well as their getting along. Sucking up so they are allowed OUT of their room I think.

I have a hard time at 4 1/2 compared to twos and threes. 4 1/2 I deal with control from the little one. Which comes along with tantrums.

Jenifer said...

You know for us it more about the attitude we get which may be because we are full of girls at our place. Neither of my kids has thrown a tantrum as you described, but my godson has been known too. To the point where they simply cannot control him.

I never really know what to say when I hear about them. We are pretty strict and they are not so he is not usually punished for this type of behaviour. He will have to be dragged, will take off his shoes and has even unbuckled his car seat when he didn't want to do something.

I am not sure what the right answers are, but you seem to have found a way to channel the anger so that is great. With my godson he will be fine one minute and in a rage the next, you just never know what will set him off and for a while we had to limit our visits, my girls were being harmed.

Now at 5 he is much calmer I think his body and brain are working together now. It is scary though to see this sweet boy you once knew turn so angry.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I should've videotaped the tantrums my now-4 year old used to throw (from about 2 on!). They were INSANE and, often, at 2am! Fun times! Wish I had known about the vacuum cure.

Natalie said...

It's hard to be 3 - so many rules to remember, so many more expectations regarding your behavior and abilities, so many emotions running through your head to have to learn how to harness - when all you want to do is play and be loved.

notfearingchange said...

Wicked....the Mayor will be a good partner in the future....I've heard of another kid who just "LOVED" the vacuum. I say tie some sponges to his hands and knees wet the floor and let him to the kitchen and/or bathroom...windows however should probably wait til 10...unless you get him to use a harness then maybe 8. ;-P

David said...

The vacuum is all powerful in the minds of my girls! They love their Nunu! Must be because it is a Dyson. My wife has taken movies of them hugging, kissing and tucking the vacuum in for a "night's" sleep!

Kids are funny!

Mamma said...

The "terrible twos" is the biggest misnomer. Three is much worse.

Oh, the tantrums!

Great talking today. Hope I didn't make you reconsider my invitation to the BIG event.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I needs me one of them magic vacuums.

And why can't moms get time outs, but with alcohol and chocolate?

Jen said...

You always hear about the terrible twos but I found 3 to be much, much harder. Who knew that a little vaccum cleaner was all it would take to sooth the savage beast. I'll have to try that with my husband.

Hol&J said...

Vacuum + temper = cheap labor. Very well done!

I joke, however I was told to go "pick" rocks out of the garden when I had a temper/attitude.

I will stash this vacuum idea away for future reference.

Charming Driver said...

Eeeeeeeeeeeek the only thing worse than a two year old is a three year old. Lurve the vacuum distraction.

A.J.Reams said...

When my son was small he loved to vacuum too! Now that he's 8 he wouldn't even think of touching it.

CamiKaos said...

3 was the most difficult age for K. No question. No thought. It was hard. But I discovered after about 5 months of anger and hate and tantrums and seething rage that what she was trying to tell me was something you just discovered. She wanted power. She wanted to do things for herself. She wanted responsibility and we had to hand some of the reins over to her... It was a tiny miracle for us... I hope it works as well for you...

Of course she still did throw tantrums here or there and still does (like last night when I tried to get her to sleep) but it went from several a day to several a week, one a week, a couple a month and now they are so seldom, so rare... good luck and good job.

andi said...

Fun! Oh, how I'm dreading three. I have three more sweet months of two (which is not as terrible as they say) and then I will know your pain, my friend.

EE said...

Do you think the vaccuum trick would work for a 7 year old????

flutter said...

Holy wow, who knew?!

Ally said...

Oh, I feel your pain. Three sucks.

Since you are solutions-focused, I will offer up what has worked for us: find, enroll, and attend a "Love & Logic" seminar in your area. And get the book, "Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood." This technique literally turned around hubby's relationship with Sylvia (age 3). They rarely battle anymore, and I'm not just saying this because I'm being paid. Just kidding. It has worked for us. And it is really easy to learn. Good luck, OTJ.

wordgirl said...

Is it a Dyson? Because it has a transparent canister that allows you to view what you suck up. Awesome!

Little Miss Moi said...

Dear oh the joys. That's funny - who would have thought such an Important Job and The Vaccum would cure a littlie of tantrums, even for a night? Props to you!

Caro said...

*takes notes for future reference*

You know 2-3 year olds are called trolls in Denmark.

carrie said...

Who knew . . . the vacuum?

I've always heard that young children spike behavior "issues" around their birthdays and half birthdays, so basically every 6 months.

We're having a similar "tantrum" and "whiny" phase at our house right now and then it dawned on me . . . Katie is exactly 3 1/2. The theory is that she'll grow out of this developmental time with new skills, so let the countdown begin - I say!

Who know if this holds any merit at all, but if it helps to tell myself that, well, then I do.

Whatever works to get you through it, because parenting does not come with a playbook for every situation and child. But I really wish it did!

Hang in there!

Carrie

jchevais said...

My daughter is going on seven in October and she is still a hurricane. While she doesn't roll on the ground anymore, she will stick her tongue out at you, turn around and wag her hiney in your face for spite.

Apoplexy. I tell you.

It used to be worse, it is getting better. You do what you can and wait it out.

Wish I had thought of the vaccuum.

canarygirl said...

Wow...I so feel your pain! My son, Sam is coming up on 3 in November...he has begun a shrieking (SHRIIIEEEEEKKKIIIINNGGGG at a level that gives goosebumps and breaks glass)tantrum stage that some days I fear for the safety of my sanity. I love the idea of the vacuum, alas we have no carpets...I wonder if a dustcloth or mop would work. One thing that helps us though is the kiddie pool outside. He is gleefully entertained for hours with the water. Best, nikki

WILLIAM said...

May I suggest another technique that starts with the letter V.

For you not the kid.

Vodka.

karrie said...

Survival.

It's all about survival.Seriously, *nothing* works for us, except making sure Max is safe, and we are remaining relatively sane.

I noticed a pp mentioned sensory issues. An eval. could not hurt, but FWIW, my son's behavior is similar and is "within normal limits for a three year old boy."

The Mayor is a "young three" too, which the slew of professionals that have evaluated Max--three in early August--have assured me goes hand in hand with this kind of defiance.

karrie said...

Oh, and giving chores does help us a bit, so I think you're on to something with the vacuum. Any kind of "heavy" work too is beneficial. Do you have a wagon? Have him pull Roo around the yard or neighborhood for an afternoon and see if that wears him out and calms him down. Swimming is good too.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Yup. A little power goes a long way...

And words help the tantrums...As soon as they start "using their words" to describe their feelings...the tantrums usually subside...

But really, what do I know?

Diane said...

Try that book "The Happiest Toddler on the Block." It's amazing! He'd probably give you a thumbs-up on the vacuum idea. I'll remember that when my son hits 3!

Tabba said...

Seriously Jess, that's what it's about right now. Something as simple as a wee bit of power will make all the difference. Even giving him a choice between 2 shirts to wear in the morning - and letting him decide - will help.
All it is simply put, is the illusion of control. You control the two choices, but he gets to pick.
I learned that in Behavioral Clinic with Connor.
I sat there with a dumbfounded look like, "duh".
Not to sound like I'm giving advice.
Just feelin' ya sista.
And that little piece, figuring it out is the difference between the insane asylum and complete peace.

Good luck!!

Pattie said...

Can I borrow him for a few days? My floors are filthy! :)
Glad you found something that works.

Aliki2006 said...

Three is a tough age. I'm sure what people meant by the "Terrible Twos" either because the Terrible Threes were much worse. Much.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I keep hearing that three is worse than two and if this is truly the case I think I may just go to bed now and not come out until Chicky is five.

Hang in there, I know the loss of patience that you speak of.

Lotta said...

Ok, here's my advice as a mom of an active 4 year old dude.

First, there's nothing wrong with your kid.

Second, whenever Mack was heading up to a physical growth spurt I swear he would get a testosterone surge and act extra aggresive. Mack also always compares himself to everything. I'm bigger, taller, etc. I believe when boys get insecure - just cause they're growing and needing to separate and it's freaking them out - they feel the need to reassure themselves that they are strong and powerful. This often translates as tantrums and aggression.

So what to do? Just when you are ready to clobber him - hug him. I have to reach deep down and fake love sometimes when Mack's driving me nuts.

Also try to find things that you are proud of in him and be really verbal about. "Dude, you can't dump out the plants. But do you remember how you ran so fast today? You were like a superhero!" Almost like dating again when you needed to keep the ego happy. And preschooler/toddlers are all ego baby.

Hope that helps!

Arwen said...

It's a good thing that none of the closet doors really close in our house because there were a few times were I thought about sticking Noodle in it and waiting until she calmed down.

Lawyer Mama said...

I keep hearing that 3 is worse than 2 and we are rapidly approaching 3. Crap.

The vacuum has a similar calming effect on Hollis - hell, I did a post about his love for his "Cleaner" but he won't let it go without a fight. So my hat is off to you for getting the Mayor to calm down and to agree to put the vacuum away!

Mrs. Schmitty said...

That's what I do with my kids now because time-outs just aren't cutting it. If I have to stop the chores I am doing and deal with their fighting or tantrums they have to do the chore (age appropriate of course).

Jenn said...

All Hail King Vacuum.

And placate The Holy One with fresh filters and long cords.

Two Shews said...

Is no one else getting the punniness that this post is about giving a raging child a vacuum and everyone keeps saying it 'sucks?' That is stinkin' funny.

I am so right there with you-- I think both of our kids are about the same age-- and I echo the Love and Logic thing. It works really well when it works, and when it doesn't work, nothing is really going to. It is great for getting kids to start thinking about their problems, and how they are going to fix them-- not you.

I have to reread the damn thing about every two months because it's easy to go back into that hounding cycle for me. Hard for me to "let kids make their mistakes now, while the consenquences are small, rather than waiting until they are older and the consequences more dire."

Good Luck with the Mayor. I hear it passes quickly?

jen said...

send The Mayor to California. I beckon him to come for a visit. I'll take him to work. He'll come back singing your praises :)

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Yeah! More to look forward to. Your blog title is ever so appropriate..oh. the. joys!

Nancy said...

It's great that you found something that works. Perhaps you could start him polishing silver? Or do you need your hardwoods sanded? Windows washed? Maybe you could take him to the gas station and he could use the super sucking machine to remove crumbs from the cars? The possibilities are endless!

(I do feel your pain. I think we're going to head from the terrible twos to the tantrum-filled threes with Rosie.)

Lisa Fine Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

Yes, the thunderous threes. We are quite Firm miliar with them. Aaaaaaack. Brilliant with sending that energy into housecleaning. We actually shortened the stick to our Swiffer, and my son mops the floors. he also waters the garden and loves spraying the hose. Maybe it is a power thing.

Lisa

Anonymous said...

Dear Jessica,
Be thankful for car seats. You were three and riding in the car when you got mad at me and opened the door to "leave". Thankfully, you were in the front seat (I know bad Mom) so I could reach over and grab your arm and pull you back into the moving car - 30 MPH! Three year olds like POWER! You were also 3 when you were sent to your room and "showed Mom just how angry you were" by defacing all your library books. POWER was what you were all about. Ha! I'm enjoying your challenges ;-) Good luck. Now you know why somedays when I saw you Dad I would say, take over before I kill her - my patience was so long gone. Love, Mom.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Are you living my life?

Junior Mayhem LOVES to throw his tantrums in public! Those are my happiest mommy moments! UGH!

I think it stems from them not being able to express themselves the way they would like to......that, and being a stinking butthead at times!!!!!!! :)

Hang in there girl.....if anyone can do it...YOU can!

Damselfly said...

So for my future reference when Fly becomes a toddler .... If he throws a tantrum, I should make him do housework, and all will be well?

Melina said...

I can remember when my youngest brother who I took care of a lot (remember I'm 18 years older then him) would throw these tantrums and he would even spit at you. I would put him in his room and have to hold the door shut (no lock) because he would try to get out, and he just wore me out.

This too shall pass, now he is 14 and so polite and so handsome and just a great kid. But ooooh I could have killed him when he was 3. Good Luck!

ewe are here said...

I've found myself at the end of my rope with my 2 year old all too often lately, forcing me to change my approach just this week. It does seem to be helping...

And vacuuming for you? Brilliant! Right now it takes the 2 year old about 20x as long to vacuum an area than me.... but he so enjoys it.

Paige said...

If three is worse than 2, I am so screwed.

Avery is channeling the Mayor's defiance in ways that have driven me to gin and tonic just as the hubs is pulling in the driveway.

MamaMint said...

I'm going to "steal" your idea/revelation for JuniorMint. He's found his voice and attitude already and I know I'm doomed.

carmachu said...

sarah was the same way. Beautiful through two...and then she turned three and someone hist the switch.....ugh.

But now she's four and much better....

Mama en Fuego said...

Hang in there Jess, I remember how wicked my brothers were at 3 and it was not easy.

He may be having some issues that he can't express, you may want to talk to your pediatrician. I would also suggest keeping a log of when the occurances happen, when you go back and review the situtation later you might see a pattern you aren't seeing at the time because you're solely focused on keeping calm and handling the situation.


You'll be okay... He'll work it out.

{{hugs}}

Annie said...

Welcome to my world! Except mine's been at this since she turned two, we haven't hit three yet!

I have to tell you that reading the other seventy odd responses to this post has helped me get our own picture in perspective. They're only little once - taking the rough with the smooth is the challenge we as parents face, in making sure we all come out of it with that warm fuzzy feeling :)

Biddy said...

jake has his own vacuum...and LOVES it. "i'll take care of this room, you can do that one" is a common phrase hehe

and when he gets uber pissed, he stands in the shower (not sure why because there is no water running) and counts until he can control his temper. it's absolutely HILARIOUS!

Seattle Mamacita said...

ditto on the love and logic book ally recommended!

shauna said...

My son just turned three in May and you couldn't have described it better: "it was like a bomb exploded in his mind and body." The week after the PAR-tey he was a beast--defiant, angry, and oh-so-ready to squirm off the timeout chair. It's still a challenge and I'm witless half the time, but my oldest son (now 6) was the same. He's a good kid; he gives me hope.

Jen3 @ Amazing Trips said...

I'm going out ... tomorrow ... and buying TWO MORE VACUUMS.

I've been having knock down tantrums with our trio for the past month. I need to resort to something FAST. We're going to have another baby in less than a week and with the current domestic situation > I don't want the hospital to release me. EVER.

Erika, Plain Jane Mom said...

Brilliant!

Fidget said...

this will bring you no comfort


three is so much worse then two. Who ever coined "terrible twos" hand dealt with a three year old yet. They start to even out at 4 and by five are almost pleasant.