So let me just be honest with you here for a moment, internet, if I may.
I believe it’s traditional around these mommy blogger parts to copy Dooce as often as possible. We’ve all written the letters to our kids on their birthdays, right? But this year when Eli turned 5, you may have noticed, I didn’t write a letter, and although I am sure I could have trotted out a few nicely turned phrases about the colors of his eyes or how he knows all the names for all the dinosaurs, the truth is that I was afraid it would have rung false. The truth is that I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough nice things to say about him to fill an entire letter.
Eli didn’t so much do the terrible twos. He was saving his energy for the horrible threes and the tremendous asshole fours, I guess, because honestly, it’s been years now. YEARS of this just…effing awful behavior.
To be quite frank with you the only thing that has kept me sane through being at home with this child have been:
1. My husband and my neighbor.
2. My belief that somewhere in there, there must be someone who was not in fact a tremendous asshole.
3. How cute he looks when he’s asleep.
4. All my friends who don’t blink when I send emails with the subject lines “tremendous asshole” to them four times a day. Because honestly hearing about how fabulous your child is while my child lies on the floor and screams at me because I asked him to get dressed? It has limited appeal. Hearing that we’re all going through this together and we’re going to actually enjoy these horrible beasts someday? Even though today is not that day? It helps more than anything else does, pretty much.
5. And the fact that Katie is a really easy charming baby who is pretty much happy all the time, because otherwise I think by now I’d be locked up in a crazy house or else I’d have sent my four year old off to military school. Seriously. I told everyone on the tour that Alcatraz sounded pretty good to me. and I was serious.
It may stun you to hear this, but I try not to come to this space and complain about things. When I am mad at my husband or frustrated with my family or dealing with a four year old who is a tremendous asshole, I don’t know that it helps enormously to air my grievances in a one sided forum where no one else gets a say. After all, I hear that being four is a tough business, especially when you get a brand new sister that everyone is always making a big stupid deal over.
But the fact is that raising this child has been very very hard for me. My darling Eli, he is really something else, and it’s taken every ounce of everything I’ve had and some days I just haven’t had it. Because for awhile there our days were nothing but non stop tantrums and screaming and discipline, and nothing seemed to work and nothing made any difference. I counted up time outs one afternoon and I think I got to 4o time outs before I lost track. FORTY TIME OUTS, and it was like water upon the desert. It seemed to make no difference, and after awhile, it was hard to even face the day, knowing that it was looking something like: Ask Eli to get dressed. Get screamed at. Put Eli in time out. Get screamed at. Tell Eli to put his pajamas in the laundry basket. Get screamed at. Put Eli back in time out. Get screamed at.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
There were phases, to be sure, ups for the downs. But to be honest with you, the good phases weren’t so much good phases as lulls, and then we’d enter another phase of wretched awfulness and think “Oh. Wish I would have known THAT was a good phase so I could have enjoyed it more.”
I’ve been holding on for 5 with everything I’ve got, basically, because I just had to believe that 5 was going to better. I just had to believe that this wasn’t how kids are always are, because honestly, if it was? No one would do this. No one would choose this. It seriously was that damn bad.
But. I think. I think, just maybe, maybe…5 is better. I think we may have turned a corner.
I am not quite sure we’re all the way there yet. I still get screamed at. I still have to take a deep breath and face the day. I still wish the damn sun would come out. But I am pretty sure that actually? There IS a wonderful amazing fabulous smart fantastic funny delightful wonderful charming boy in there, thank the good lord above. I am very hopeful that we are done with the screaming. I am very hopeful that now comes the fun part. And I cannot wait to find out just how cool this kid actually is under the layer of complete and total pain in the ass that is finally finally! starting to wear off.
(Especially because I am pretty sure that SOMEONE just started the terrible twos three months early and VERY EXTRA LOUDLY.)