No Self Control

November 12th, 2012

Well, the election happened, I became totally disillusioned with humanity and lo! here we are, crawling back out of the pit that was October and all THAT misery, am I right? Do we all . . . still like each other?

(I have weird politics, so basically, I like everyone, but everyone hates me. But! They covet my vote, knowing it could SWING EITHER WAY!)

(I really hated Mitt Romney, but that was personal, not politics.) (Classy, right?)

(Social issues, I’m a FAR LEFT SWING, so, you know.)

Right.

(Or left.)

Also, my daughters got sick and OMIGAWD, two sick babies kind of blows, and would you believe the sadder of the two was Sam? Ergh. She was SO sad and heartbreaking and she tried so hard and . . . ugh, poor kid. I guess it does boil down to age and personality, because Allie, per usual, was smiling and giggling in between hacking her lungs out while Sam, when not sick, is . . . three. Oh, three. You guys, three and a half is going to kill me dead, kill me dead, KILL ME DEAD.

I’m having a hard time dealing with her lately, and while she is/can be dreadful (all age-appropriate, not like, a truly dreadful child, Future Sam. Even dreadfully three, you are the best kid ever), I am more appalled by my own reactions and behavior. My personality skews to, ah, hot-tempered, and it’s something I generally like about myself. I mean, not that I ENJOY that I can lash out and act crazy and lack impulse control — OH HO HO, no, although that is absolutely true. I am not what you call a slow-burn. I get angry very easily, and my reactions, to people who don’t know me, can seem disproportionate to the issue at hand. I snap, I wave arms, I get all indignant. And then, just as quickly as it came on, it’s over and I have, I shit you not, completely forgotten about it. COMPLETELY. That last part — the forgetting about it quickly — that is what I like.

I remember a few years ago, when I was editing a newspaper, some source had done something really shitty. Not like, career- or even story-ending shitty, just a shitty thing to pull at the last minute that made things harder. HOO BOY, I was ranting and raving and arm-waving to MY editor about it, and then went back to work. I think it was . . . fifteen minutes later? If that? She asked if I was okay, and I literally, LITERALLY, had no idea what she was referring to. I’d moved on and forgotten about it completely. Completely.

(You see how Twitter can be a problem for someone like me. You see?)

I mean, I’m not CRAZY or anything — I’m not going to bite your head off because you didn’t use the right hanger or use margarine instead of butter, and I’m not completely unreasonable, or in some kind of wild fugue state when I’m angry, I’m just . . . snappy. Once someone points out that I am being snappy or quick-tempered, I can usually be talked off the ledge, and God, this is such a long way to explain something that is common enough to not need explanation, I am sorry. Next up: how I do this unique thing called ‘breathing.’

The good news: I hold a grudge approximately never. A combination of quick-hot, quick-cool and ADD is quite delightful if you want to make someone angry and still have them love you in the morning. I can easily be your punching bag. Insult me! Then apologize! I won’t even REMEMBER.

(This is more true than you realize. In fact, it’s pretty damn accurate. Short fuse! Short memory.)

Anyway, a short-tempered personality + an exasperating, limit-testing, overtired and completely insane three-and-a-half year old = bad news bears, man. Bad news. Combine this age with the move to a twin bed PLUS the end of EDT, and she’s hardly sleeping, which means I’m hardly sleeping and this. This is how I ended up lying face down in her bed this morning while she played with her tiny princesses on my back.

I get so frustrated with her that I find myself treating her like an adult and asking her WHY she’s being so ridiculous, as though she is going to answer me rationally. Or snapping multiple times in an HOUR, much less a day — and that one kills me, because up until this point, I have not been short tempered with any of my children. At all. I don’t yell, I don’t get too upset, I am very patient and I roll with things easily, and I don’t say that smugly, because if I WERE smug, my comeuppance is now. Three turned me into someone who is . . . the antithesis of those things. Someone who actually YELLS, “WHY ARE YOU YELLING?”

I think it’s best to lead by example.

I’ve become, at times, a little too desensitized to her whining that sometimes she’ll actually have a legitimate, age-appropriate gripe, and my instinct is to be all, “STOP WHINING. SUCK IT UP!” Oh, wait, you dropped an anvil on your foot? MY BAD. Here, give Mama a hug.

It’s a hard age and a hard time, and I’m making it sound like it’s all WOE around here, and it isn’t — most of our days are awesome, and this age is so, so delightful in a million ways. She’s funny. She has a sense of humor now, and tries to make me laugh every day. Thanks to school and her friends, she’s also having experiences and learning things that have absolutely nothing to do with me, and it’s mind-blowing. Her sensory stuff is improving SO quickly and she’s just . . . well, she’s an awesome kid.

She’s just, you know, three and a half.

But she’s still the best big sister in the world, man. She really is.

 

*Peter Gabriel.

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54 Comments Add your own

  • 1. PinkieBling  |  November 13th, 2012 at 2:15 am

    That PHOTO! Talk about KILL ME DEAD!!

    I’m the same brand of quick-hot, quick cool, and if I’m tired or sick, LOOK OUT.

    I’m so happy to hear that Sam, aside from being sick, is doing so well. I hope she’s feeling and sleeping better, starting tonight!

  • 2. PinkieBling  |  November 13th, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention how many lines in this post cracked me right up. Possible favorite: next up, how I do this unique thing called breathing.”

  • 3. Veronica  |  November 13th, 2012 at 6:25 am

    The WHINING that is three and a half. SHOOT ME NOW. My boy will be four in January, but all he does is whine and I just don’t even know how I make it through the days sometimes. And then his big sister will tease and taunt him and his little sister will suck up all of my attention and I will send them all to bed and then feel really bad for him.

    It does get better, although the 6yo has a smart mouth attitude at the moment and a tendency to gyrate inappropriately to pop music, making me more uncomfortable than I want to admit. (Side note: Where do they learn this things? Is a hip swivel nature or nurture? Are her school friends all tiny pole dancers? I DON’T KNOW.)

  • 4. Erin  |  November 13th, 2012 at 8:07 am

    “I get so frustrated with her that I find myself treating her like an adult and asking her WHY she’s being so ridiculous, as though she is going to answer me rationally.”

    Um, hi, welcome to my life. And my kid is only 20 months. I KNOW FOR A FACT she will not answer me rationally even if the answer wasn’t “I’m a toddler”, because she doesn’t even have the vocabulary to say “Because”. And yet.

    I wish I was the type to not hold a grudge. I’m quick-tempered like you, but I hold a grudge. And even if the grudge goes away, I always *remember* that I held it at one point. I’d be a very difficult person to be friends with if I wasn’t only quick-tempered about things that are worth being upset about. As long as you’re basically a decent human being, I’m probably not going to get mad at you. I guess that’s my saving grace and the only reason I have friends.

  • 5. Jenna  |  November 13th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Oh good GAWD yes. Three and a half with my older, more sensitive kid was SO FREAKING HARD. I felt like such a failure on a daily basis when I couldn’t keep myself calm in the presence of a reactive, whiny, irrational three year old.

    The good news? Well, we all survived and her more easy going Allie-like little sister is now three and a half. And she’s no where near as challenging as her big sister was. Or maybe I’ve matured and simmered the eff down. Or maybe I’ve just totally given up.

    Either way, you will be happy to hear that for me, with very similar kids, this spot you are currently in was the absolute worst. It’s all up from here!

  • 6. heidi  |  November 13th, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Wow! I thought I was the only one who would explode and then 10 mins later totally forget why.

    As for 3… it was my favorite/least favorite age. They are perfect one minute and evil the next. It is a wonder I lived through it 4 times. There were moments I really wasn’t sure. Now of course I’m trying to survive 4 teenagers. There are moments…

  • 7. Kate  |  November 13th, 2012 at 9:44 am

    The other day, on the way to school, Jacob asked me why I was mad. I said, “I can see my life stretching out before me, with each morning spent with someone cranky and uncooperative, and I just can’t stand that.” His response was to tell me a joke to make me feel happy.
    Oh, three. So unbelievably cute and sweet. So deeply annoying and frustrating. Lucky for our 3 year olds, they only have to experience our temporary insanity for a bit longer. RIGHT?!?

  • 8. Jeremy Norton  |  November 13th, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I can never ever get mad with kids like those, they are so cute. I envy you because even after many hours I’m still raging mad and imagining everything that went in a fight. I wish I can also forget.

  • 9. jenfromboston  |  November 13th, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Just wanted to chime in that the WHINING – almost moreso than a full-on meltdown chaps my ass (and I have – on the whole, a pretty chill kid – but I still lose it). And she is only 2.5 years old. I tend to hold it together, but only barely, but then there’s the crack and I know it is only a matter of time before the phrase “Jesus *CHRIST*, Carolyn” gets repeated by her in front of her grandparents and I look like an asshole. Oh, tip: And the # of times that phrase has improved the situation? Zero.

    My husband, on the flip, actually talks to her in a calm, yet “wtf?” manner, like, he’s asking her to legitimately respond to why she’s acting like an asshole, which only adds to my heat. (Like I’m some kind of Mensa parent getting snippy/rasing my voice).

    Anyhoo-

    The election – yeah, so glad THAT’S over (and we are a fam of “I”s, too.). We canceled each other out on the votes (which, frankly, surprised me) but it’s over and I’ll just say I’m happy with the results (did I just show my hand?) but aligned for the 3 questions (yay for medical mj?)

    Lastly, the pic – swoon. Swoon swoon swoon.

  • 10. replica louis vuitton handbags  |  November 13th, 2012 at 10:15 am

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  • 11. Auntie G  |  November 13th, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Yes. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. It is SO HARD to remember that 3 and 4 (and, I’m sure, 5 and 6) year olds are still little. So little. Because they talk so well! And they have all sorts of opinions! And names for their feelings! And so of course we think we can actually REASON with them. *wipes tears from eyes* Yes, I am reminded of this lesson every damn day.

  • 12. Saly  |  November 13th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Here’s the thing about ages 3 and 4– for all of the whining and total batshit crazy carrying on…I love it. I find the tenacity and opinion expressing and everything that comes along with it positively delightful. (Refusing to leave Chuck E Cheese and telling the door checker “I am not going home with her!” and refusing to show a hand stamp…not so much.)

    This was fantastic, Jonna. And makes me feel better that you don’t hate me for a bad book recommendation. ;)

  • 13. Deb  |  November 13th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Three is the new Two. All those people who tell you about the Terrible Twos and act like everything will be swell when they hit Three are lying bastards.

    Four is pretty good, though.

  • 14. MaggyD  |  November 13th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Oh, three. I don’t remember my now seven year old being so challenging. Of course, I was pregnant that year and spent a lot of time asleep. But, now, with his brother, ooh, boy. It doesn’t help that the three year old has a speech delay and so can’t name his feelings. Or what he wants. And potty training is killing me. Seriously, child? You can put together a Thomas the tank engine track six different ways, you can let the dog out of his cage, you can climb up to the top of the fridge where I used to keep Halloween candy, but you can’t pull your own pants down?
    I call foul.
    I do the thing where you tell the child that you can’t understand him when he uses a whiny voice. He’ll have to use a nice voice or you can’t understand him. Then his big brother will “translate.” He’s helpful.

  • 15. s.m.  |  November 13th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    That photo! So beautiful! Also, it makes me want babies like, uh, right now. Which, RIGHT NOW is not a good time, as I have a paper for my grad program due at 4. :)

    But seriously, that photo is evidence of all the wonderful in your life…all the wonderful that YOU birthed!

    (And now I will go write that dang paper…)

  • 16. Jesabes  |  November 13th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Three and a half has just started here and whoa. We’re kind of shocked. It’s intense. Everything is intense. Even the one-year-old is like, dude, chill.

  • 17. ZestyJenny  |  November 13th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    3 3/4 here, and WHOO boy, the combination of that age and a newborn has turned me into a crazy crazy person. Before Margot was born, I don’t think I had EVER yelled at Clark and now I’m just a yelly, temper losing machine. So sad.

  • 18. Jen  |  November 13th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    This is all a flashback for me to the months after Audrey was born. Oh, three and a half. The WORST POSSIBLE AGE to add a sibling! Haaa ;) Just know that it will get better soon, and she won’t remember the screeching (I’ve asked Maggie. She has no recollection. Yay!) I also did the “WHY ARE YOU SO RIDICULOUS??” line of questioning and if that’s that the most futile thing ever…?? They are not rational creatures, it’s just a fact. But then you get a picture like that one and… man it all makes sense.

  • 19. Jessica  |  November 13th, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I admire the quick temper then forgetting the rage. That is pretty admirable as I can never get mad and just hold a grudge for a long, long time. Not healthy!

    The whining hasn’t gotten better on the 4 year old side of the fence, and one time I felt really bad for getting mad about his whining over his foot hurting and I found out later he had a huge blister on his heel. That stung and I apologized.

    It’s also the best time because he is hilarious and smart and I never want him to get any bigger, but he does and it just keeps getting better.

  • 20. HereWeGoAJen  |  November 13th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Have faith, four is coming and I am seeing glimmers of hope. (And Elizabeth and Sam are only a few months apart. Your glimmers are coming.) She still argues with me, but then, instead of throwing herself to the ground and screaming, she says “okay, okay!” and DOES WHAT I SAID. It’s kind of amazing.

  • 21. Lindsay  |  November 13th, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Man oh man. This post is SPEAKING to me today. I hear ya ten times over. (except I’m only at two and a half… Shit)

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  • 23. Amy  |  November 14th, 2012 at 4:35 am

    Oh God, I hear you. Sam and my daughter are a month apart and recently I seemed to have lost ALL the patience. Where did it go? Oh, I think maybe the highly sensitive/intense 3.5 year old threw it across the room. The other day I said to my husband, “OK, I hate to rush things but I am really ready for the next developmental phase now.”

    3.5 is so weird. At the same time that it’s turned me into a less patient mom that seems to sigh a lot, it is also the best yet. The age when I really have to hold myself back from writing to my friends and family about all the cute things all the time. So basically it has turned me impatient and turned me into one of those “isn’t my kid the funniest?” people. Gee thanks, 3.5.

  • 24. SwingCheese  |  November 14th, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Blech. I dislike 3.5. Boyo was FINE when he turned 3. Then we started school. And things were still fine. Then, this summer, the “no, I won’t” started. Then, then, then: they switched up his classes at day care, and all of his friends were put in a different class, and a new little guy moved into boyo’s class. Who is a HITTER and focused on my son with laserlike focus, which meant that boyo was miserable at school, and begin hitting me at home. It was AWFUL! I tried everything and ARGH! I can handle the whining, and the tantrums, but I cannot stand the hitting. Thankfully, he’s growing out of it. He still whines, I still get “No, I won’t”, but I don’t get hit nearly as much, so that’s good. The worst, though, is that I’ll get mad, then he’ll look at me with sad eyes and ask, “You happy?” It breaks my heart every time, even if I’m annoyed by something that has nothing to do with him. He’ll be 4 at the end of January, so hang on – there is hope. He’s not perfect, but it is so much easier to deal with now.

  • 25. Lara  |  November 14th, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Oh man, Jonniker, you are terrifying me about age 3. Could it possibly be worse than the period between 18 months and a couple weeks ago (2 years and 2 months, I’d say)? Because that one? AWFUL.. (and also: wonderful. but you know what I mean.)

    Also, don’t even get me started on politics. I defriended someone on FB, partly because she and I were never all that close but mostly because she posted that anyone who voted for Obama is “an idiot” and why would I stay friends with someone who thinks I’m an idiot? Anyway, she responded by sending me an insanely vicious private message about how I’m an intolerant liberal and a shitty parent. Seriously. (Clearly, I should have stayed her FB friend, because look what a gem of a person I am missing out on now!!)

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    O my god, either complain or don’t complain! Pick one! Most of us have had 3 yr olds, we KNOW.

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  • 37. Samantha Jo campen  |  December 1st, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I never screamed or yelled at Theo (no seriously, I was like you) until he turned Three. Whooooo boy. So I hear you.

  • 38. Discount Golf Clubs  |  December 6th, 2012 at 9:56 pm

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  • 39. Leonila Silvia  |  December 8th, 2012 at 2:03 am

    That was October and all THAT misery, am I right?

  • 40. birthdaypartynewyork  |  January 8th, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Once someone points out that I am being snappy or quick-tempered, I can usually be talked off the ledge, and God, this is such a long way to explain something that is common enough to not need explanation, I am sorry. Next up: how I do this unique thing called ‘breathing.’

  • 41. jeffryblair  |  January 8th, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I like everyone, but everyone hates me. But! They covet my vote, knowing it could SWING EITHER WAY!)

  • 42. Kyla Fortner  |  January 11th, 2013 at 1:39 am

    The good news? Well, we all survived and her more easy going Allie-like little sister is now three and a half. And she’s no where near as challenging as her big sister was. Or maybe I’ve matured and simmered the eff down. Or maybe I’ve just totally given up.

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  • 44. unesalledebain  |  January 16th, 2013 at 3:04 am

    I guess it does boil down to age and personality, because Allie, per usual, was smiling and giggling in between hacking her lungs out while Sam, when not sick, is . . . three. Oh, three. You guys, three and a half is going to kill me dead, kill me dead, KILL ME DEAD.

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  • 46. Jacquelyne Roller  |  February 12th, 2013 at 5:16 am

    I never screamed or yelled at Theo (no seriously, I was like you) until he turned Three. Whooooo boy. So I hear you.

  • 47. Iluminada Medlock  |  February 13th, 2013 at 2:53 am

    I like everyone, but everyone hates me. But! They covet my vote, knowing it could SWING EITHER WAY!)

  • 48. Edda Harwell  |  February 23rd, 2013 at 6:07 am

    The good news: I hold a grudge approximately never. A combination of quick-hot, quick-cool and ADD is quite delightful if you want to make someone angry and still have them love you in the morning. I can easily be your punching bag. Insult me! Then apologize! I won’t even REMEMBER.

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  • 51. asset protection  |  June 18th, 2013 at 3:19 am

    And then his big sister will tease and taunt him and his little sister will suck up all of my attention and I will send them all to bed and then feel really bad for him.

  • 52. birthday gift ideas  |  June 19th, 2013 at 5:56 am

    I am not what you call a slow-burn. I get angry very easily, and my reactions, to people who don’t know me, can seem disproportionate to the issue at hand.

  • 53. refrigerator not cooling  |  June 19th, 2013 at 9:39 am

    This is how I ended up lying face down in her bed this morning while she played with her tiny princesses on my back.

  • 54. Lloret de Mar Spai  |  June 20th, 2013 at 3:30 am

    I was okay, and I literally, LITERALLY, had no idea what she was referring to. I’d moved on and forgotten about it completely.

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