The Roles are Reversing

I’m not sure I thought I would (anytime soon) profess that Brogan was my easy child. But over the last couple of weeks, Brogan has begun to show maturity. He is controlling his emotions more and we can actually reason with him. There are less tantrums, there is less stress, less screaming and more enjoyable time together. I’m feeling a tiny sense of relief that the path I thought he was on 6 months ago may not be his destiny.  Now, I’m not professing that he is an angel – not at all. But relative to his 3-year-old self and relative to his 2-year-old brother, he is now much, much more manageable. He is still Brogan, so he’s 90 miles an hour most times or “relentless” as my father-in-law says. But I can deal with high-energy and high-maintenance. A while back, my sister-in-law drew the perfect analogy for him. We were talking about one of the good things about his strong personality is that he’ll definitely be a leader. And then in jest she said, “We’re not sure yet if we’re dealing with a Lincoln or a Hitler, but he’ll be a leader!” Well, thank the Lord, but the Hitler route does not appear to be where we’re heading. Let’s hope this trend continues.

DSC_0784

Now Beckett. The little guy has picked up some of Brogan’s habits and has been flexing his independence lately. He’s been running off, being defiant, and flat out acting like a wild animal. He’s been throwing major temper tantrums… and gave me quite a doozy this weekend with my mother-in-law while we were in Kroger. He didn’t want in the cart; he didn’t want in the little car attached to the cart. He didn’t want to be held, or walk. So he threw himself on the floor and threw an absolute fit. I tried the tactic of walking away and paying him no attention. But he just screamed louder. So I picked him up and carried his kicking and screaming butt outside where he sat in timeout until he calmed down. I was very thankful I was not solo during this outing. And while none of this is abnormal for a 2-year-old, this is my sweet Beckett we’re talking about. That mild-mannered child who took it easy on mom while she did her best to wrangle his older brother. That sweet child, I fear, is moving to the dark side. I’m hoping we learned some lessons with Brogan that have left us better equipped to handle a disobedient toddler, and perhaps this phase gets nipped pretty quickly. We can only hope.

DSC_0607

I’m beginning to realize that age has a lot to do with the behavior issues. I think a child’s personality can either amplify or lessen the standard age-appropriate willfulness/tantrums/talking back/disobedience/etc. But regardless, some of this stuff is inevitable. Let’s just hope Beckett only gets a case of the terrible twos… and not the terrifying threes like ole Bob had. And let’s hope that four is a year of continuing maturity for Brogan and that things can be “easy” for a little while. At least until it gets really crazy come December.

And speaking of Bob, this phase has not gone away. He continues to refer to himself by that name… he continues to write his name as that name. We’re not making a big deal about it (for fear that oppressing it will make it worse), but I still call him Brogan (to which he corrects me occasionally). I’m concerned that when he goes into Pre-K in a few weeks, it will be “Bob” that he wants to write on all his papers. Not sure what to do here… except chuckle, I suppose, because this kid sure likes to keep things interesting.

And speaking of keeping it interesting, Brogan has been wooing the ladies again. In particular, a 4-year-old girl this past weekend. The little girl had come over to Blake’s parents’ house with her grandparents and had been swimming and playing with Brogan for a couple hours. When it was time for her to leave, Brogan was a little sad and deflated, because obviously, he wasn’t ready for her to go. So as she begins to walk away, he says confidently, and I quote, “there’s only one thing left to do…” and with that the proceeded to walk over to her, give her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Proud of himself, he walked away with a grin. The little girl said, “Yuk.” Her grandmother said, “That’s my girl.” And they left. I was sitting there with my sister-in-law when the whole thing went down, and we were pretty much dumbfounded by what we heard. Like, seriously?!? Where does he get this from!  It seemed fresh from a soap opera script, but the little guy doesn’t watch soaps. So maybe some kids are just born with all the right things to say and a natural charm. But after every episode like this, I get more and more worried about his teenage years. Oh what am I in store for…

Oh the joys, oh the joys. I say that half sarcastic and half for real. Parenting really is a joy. Especially when you can loosen up and appreciate your kids for who they really are – the good, the bad and the ugly. I think sometimes kids just need to be accepted and loved and somehow all that bad stuff that we’re worried will keep them from being productive members of society one day will just go away.  My kids aren’t perfect and I’m not the perfect parent, but I really am enjoying this ride they’ve got me on. Oh the joys!

DSC_0934 DSC_0791 DSC_0849

 

Hi, My Name is Bob

We’ve been going through a little phase lately… our oldest has renamed himself Bob. You know, as in “the builder”. Upon introducing himself to anyone new, he insists that his name is Bob. Some people believe him. Until we interject – “his name is not Bob, it’s Brogan.” To which he pipes back, “No it’s not! My name is Bob!” Well okay then.

This past weekend we were working a booth for our gym at a benefit festival, and he introduced himself to the MC as Bob as well. Which turned out to be funny when Brogan asked if he could sing a song using his microphone. It’s hard to turn down this sort of request from a charming 4-year-old, so as I sat at our booth I hear the announcer over the loudspeaker say, “We’ve got Bob here, and he’s going to sing a little song for you all today.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

And then this last weekend for Father’s Day, I asked Brogan to sign the card to Blake. I handed him the card and the pen and he started writing… B… “good job buddy!” I said… O… I stopped him, “bud – I think you forgot the R”. “No I didn’t” he replied. And he continued writing…. B. And he looked at me and smiled. I busted out laughing and asked him how he knew how to spell Bob – his response, “I just knew, mom!” Blake got the same kick out of it when he opened his card.

Bob's Father's Day Card

I guess this is a way for him to assert his independence – to have some control over some aspect of his life. I suppose it doesn’t do any harm and the more we try to correct him the more he’ll dig his feet in and then who knows how long “Bob” will be around.

But I’ve decided that when Brogan does something awful, I’m just going to blame it on Bob. Because certainly that sweet baby that I gave birth to and named Brogan could not possibly get into half the trouble that my child gets in. No way. So just the other day “Bob” took things to a new level. Where his shenanigans and destruction impacted someone outside of this house and where Blake and I will literally be paying for it.

So we had a guy come to our house to purchase some broken lawn equipment. The guy backed up his truck in our driveway and was loading up the lawn mowers when my hammer wielding “Bob” came out to “do some work”. In the blink of an eye, I hear the hammer hit metal, and look up in horror as I see a gash about 10-inches long on the side of this man’s truck. This man’s nice truck. This truck that he obviously took pride in and took care of. That truck. And about 30 seconds later, this nice man noticed the same scratch and was just sick about it. Even though I knew the answer, I asked Brogan… I mean Bob, “did you do that?” He hung his head down in shame, “Yes.” Let me tell you, if you’ve never been here it’s a pretty awkward place to be. The guy was a nice guy and you could tell that he didn’t know how to handle the situation. But I told him that we’d take care of it, and wrote him a note to that effect. Well the next day I get a call from him and he already had three estimates… and when you factored in the rental car that would be required, it was looking like we would be out $1,000. Luckily I called our insurance company and discovered that incidents like this fall under the liability portion of our policy for which there is not a deductible. However we did lose our 15% discount for no claims, but I figure with 3 kids, some sort of claim is inevitable. Our insurance company even had a specific code for “innocent acts by a minor” (and although it could be argued exactly how innocent this was), apparently this sort of thing happens.

So Bob, thanks for keeping things interesting. We love you in spite of (and also because of) all the excitement you add to our lives.

Hi My Name is Bob

 

Things I never thought I’d say

Becoming a parent means you subject yourself to new experiences – new joys, new challenges. You often find yourself in situations you could have never, ever fathomed.  And in these situations, there are things that come out of your mouth that are just crazy.

Brogan has put me through the wringer over the past two weeks… which makes for some serious stress on the home-front, but hey, it gives me something to write about! (Although in all seriousness, these are not all things I’m happy to be writing about!)

So here are the things my three-and-a-half year old has caused me to say as he’s been testing boundaries, pushing the limits and being downright defiant.

  • Don’t lick the gum on the sidewalk!!!” Oh, I wish I were making this up. At Stone Mountain this week, he was messing with some (very old) gum on the sidewalk, when I said, “Hey, that’s gum, don’t mess with it.” I turn around and before I knew it he’s down on all fours licking the gum. Freaking disgusting. Goldfish off the ground ain’t looking so bad anymore.
  • Put that ax back where you got it!” Brogan was playing outside and I notice that he’s carrying Blake’s ax from the shed around the backyard. I run outside to address the situation, and he says, “Don’t worry mommy, I’m really, really careful with sharp axes.” Right.
  • Do not put gas cans in the back of mommy’s car!” Followed by, “and don’t ever play with gas.” Pretty unfortunate story here… In an effort to not engage him in a power struggle and not yell and not chase him around my car, I allowed him to “drive” my car when we arrived home one afternoon last week. I took the keys and went inside with Beckett. Less than 10 minutes later he comes back inside, in a great mood and being somewhat compliant. I was thinking, Win!  Fast forward to the next morning on my drive in to work. Something caught my eye in the rear view mirror and as I look closer to figure out what in the heck it is, it dawns on me that there is a can of gasoline in the back of my SUV, sitting on top of my stroller. I start the four letter words under my breath (or maybe out loud, I was by myself, after all). Fast forward about 5 minutes and all the stupid cars in front of me slam on their brakes, requiring me to slam on mine. I checked the rearview mirror and there was no more gas can. The four letter words are certainly audible at this point. Seconds later the smell of gasoline hit me like a ton of bricks. And so although it was 20 something degrees outside, all the windows went down as I tried not to get high/pass out/die from the fumes. And now a week later, my car still reeks. I’ve had the carpet vacuumed, fully detailed, tried kitty litter, baking soda, airing out my car all weekend, all to no avail. Still riding around with windows down, hoping I’m not doing permanent brain damage to my kids (or me). The best advice I’ve received was from my neighbor – she suggested I put it on Craigslist, because there just might be people into that sort of thing.
  • It’s not okay to pee in the garage!” One morning last week, Brogan, while waiving me goodbye, proceeded it pull “it” out and start peeing, right there in the garage. Holding “it” with one hand, waiving to me with the other.
  • Do not kick your brother in the forehead down the stairs!” Okay, admittedly this did not come out of mouth verbatim. Unfortunately, it did happen, however, I was too busy screaming in horror as I watched Beckett fall backwards down the entire flight of stairs to reprimand Brogan in the moment. Thank God Beckett was okay – nothing more than a bruise on his face. Beckett was wearing a heavy coat so that helped keep most of him protected as he went down. Brogan was acting out of anger towards me… I had taken a toy away and he was throwing a fit on the stairs and when I told him to be careful (obviously, because he was on the stairs) and Beckett happened to crawl up and got a shoe to the noggin. The little guy was just an innocent bystander. We had Brogan write Beckett an apology note…

photo-5

Sorry Beckett Love Brogan (squiggly lines at the bottom are the stairs)

On a positive note, the boys were really good tonight. It was low-stress, fun times in this house. Frozen pizza for dinner, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on repeat and no major catastrophes. After the last few weeks, I really, really needed it. So say a prayer for me… and Brogan… and Beckett… and might as well throw Blake in there too. Pray for listening skills, composure and safe keeping. Pray that this rash of incidents was just a blip on the radar and that we’re sailing into calmer seas. Pray that age four will agree with Brogan a little better and that we will all reap the benefits. And then lastly pray that Beckett does not pick up all of Brogan’s bad habits and that I’m not writing about the same stories in two years, authored by my youngest son. Amen.

Words of Wit and Wisdom

So I’m not sure what I expected communicating with a 3-year-old would be like before mine could talk.  But I am daily amused and amazed (and occasionally appalled) by his wit, his intellect and his sass. I think all parents go through this when their children start speaking like little adults. They’ve soaked up words and phrases from school and family members (and you) and TV, and then those little brains get to processing and they blurt out something way beyond their years.  A couple funny ones from Brogan recently… the italicized words reflect real inflection in his voice. The funniest part to me may actually be the way he says these things…

After twisting Beckett around in the swing and letting him go and watching him unwind really fast (and Beckett squealing with laughter) Brogan, in recalling the scenario to me, “Mommy, it was so funny I just died!”

Brogan was going through Blake’s toolbox, trying to find a tool that was “really, really special” to him and I told him no (we have enough tools strewn all over the house – which I explained to him). Instead of his typical M.O. (throwing an absolute fit), he got a really serious look on his face and said, “Mommy, that makes no sense!”

In response to my disciplining him, I get a battery of “that is so rude” and “the way you are talking to me is so ugly” and “the way you are acting makes me really, really sad.”

In response to me explaining that mommy and daddy are going away for the weekend and he’ll be spending time with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, “Mommy, I will be so, so, so worried about you!”

After observing me correcting Beckett for misbehaving, (in a patronizing voice) “Mommy, Beckett doesn’t know any better.”

After I’ve responded that Beckett, in fact, does know better, (in a really patronizing voice) “Mommy, sometimes Beckett doesn’t know any better, and sometimes he does know better.”

After waking up at 4:30am on a Saturday, crawling into bed with me, “I’m hungry, mommy. I want breakfast.” To which I responded, “It’s really early, go downstairs and get a snack.” “No, mommy, I don’t want snack breakfast, I want real breakfast.” (He is so my kid.)

Witty Brogan

The Email from School

The email from school… similar to the call from school – the heart drop that follows seeing the school’s name on the caller ID – it’s not what a parent wants to see in their inbox.  So today’s email from Brogan’s preschool director went something like this…

I told Brogan I was going to email you to let you know about his behavior today walking to and from the library.  He was refusing to acknowledge whether or not he heard us talking to him, calling his name, etc.  On the way back he was walking across an area closer to the road so I called his name to stop.  He didn’t respond so I called it much louder (Brogan!) while moving over to stop him.  I told him it was very dangerous to ignore people when you are walking down the sidewalk because he could get hurt.  I love Brogan.  He is a sweet child who wants to please people but he also has been stubborn recently and refuses to acknowledge us when we talk to him.  Could you please speak to him about working on that for me? 

I’ll tell you, it’s one thing when they don’t listen to you… but it’s another when they don’t listen for others.  Although I shouldn’t be surprised because this is the same Brogan we are constantly trying to wrangle.  It is upsetting and it’s scary that his disobedience could really get him hurt.  During the car ride home, I started the conversation of disappointment and scolding, to which Brogan responded, “I don’t want to talk about it!!” (Is he 16??) But talk we did, both Blake and I until we felt he finally listened.  And then it was time for the punishment… and since nothing has seemed to work, we went back to the drawing board.

Blake’s (mastermind) punishment was that Brogan had to sit on the couch for the entire evening.  No playing outside, none of his TV shows, no toys, no helping mommy cook.  He tried to push the boundaries, but Blake was firm. Blake stayed in the living with him the entire time to make sure he wouldn’t get one over on us.  And despite Brogan’s pleads and trying every possible angle he could think of to get off the couch (pretending to fall off, needing to throw something away, extending his leg just so far so that his big toe would touch the ground, etc., etc.,), that kid stayed on the couch.  When dinnertime rolled around, I have never seen him so excited to eat.  And subsequently, I have never seen him so excited to take a bath, and then to go to bed.  What a turn of events. These “transitions” from one nightly routine to another are always difficult, but I suppose for an active 3-year-old, when the alternative is sitting on the couch, anything else is fun.  Brogan was begging for bed 30 minutes early, but we made him stick out the couch confinement until his normal bedtime. And to continue the antagonizing, Blake insisted that he be the one to bathe Brogan, dress him and take him to bed (all things that only mommy can do on any normal night) – and we continued to explain that this is what happens when you don’t listen to grown-ups.

And in a last-ditch effort to butter me up, Brogan drops a couple of lines on me right before bed.

Brogan:  Mommy, I love you. Did you know that?
Me: Yes, buddy, I know, and I love you too.

Brogan: Mommy, you’re a great mom!
Me: Thank you, buddy.

Brogan: Mommy, you are a hard worker-girl! You work so hard, but you don’t have wear a hard hat like the hard-worker men.

This kid just makes me smile sometimes, even in the midst of all his shenanigans.

I emailed the teacher back, apologized for his poor behavior and ensured her that we spoke to him, punished him, and that we were trying.  Any notifications of misbehavior at school will mean the couch for Brogan. Crossing my fingers and saying a prayer that some part of the tot-torture he endured tonight will sink in and he’ll start listening. And if he doesn’t, it’s going to be a long, long week…

Brogan on the couch

Interview with a Three-year-old

It’s a pretty ridiculous idea, but as I was swinging the boys on their play set and I was asking Brogan questions about his day, I thought, what if I just started asking him random questions – like I was interviewing him? Wonder what sort of answers I’ll get…

Me: Brogan, what is mommy’s favorite thing to do?
Brogan: Cook. But you’re just a home cook. Daddy’s a chef.

Me: What’s daddy’s favorite thing to do?
Brogan: Put the boys to bed

Me: What’s your favorite thing to do?
Brogan: Play fire trucks woo woo woo [spot on sound effects]

Me: Why do you like playing fire trucks?
Brogan: Because you get to use the walkie talkie and say Roger that we are on our way!

Me: What’s your favorite animal?
Brogan: A mouse
Me: Why?
Brogan: Because mouses are quiet
Oh, the irony

Me: What’s your favorite color?
Brogan: Pink
Me: Why?
Brogan: I love it because the girls like pink
Shocker!

Me: What’s your favorite food?
Brogan: Pizza and sausage and pancakes

Me: What’s your favorite vegetable?
Brogan: Seeds
Me: Why?
Brogan: Because squirrels love seeds
But of course!

Me: If you had a lot of money and could buy anything, what would you buy?
Brogan: Sunflower seeds

Me: If you could go anywhere in the whole world, where would you go?
Brogan: To the market
Me: What would you buy at the market?
Brogan: Sunflower seeds
Duh, that was a stupid question

Me: What do you like most about Beckett?
Brogan: I like him because he is sweet to me. But when he’s not sweet to me, I don’t like him. And when he bites me, I’m going to bite him back.
Eye for an eye, son

It’s never a dull moment. I think I will periodically ask him these questions and see how his answers change. Such a treat to get a glimpse into his spunky little mind.

photo-3

From the Mouth of My 3-year-old

DSC_1056

It is true, kids say the darndest things.  My 3-year-old continuously amazes me with his remarks. Especially when he says something which lets me know that he knows more than we give him credit for… or when he demonstrates a brazen act of talking back, but said with such innocence, that he has you questioning whether he was really just talking back.  The answer to that question is almost always  yes – he’s smart and he’s a charmer, so he’s already mastered the art of manipulation.  So here are a couple of his one-liners from the last couple of days.  I really need to keep a pen and paper more handy because this child gives me so much material!

Brogan:  Mommy, I’m thirsty.
Me:  Sorry buddy, you just had some water and you don’t need any more because you might wet the bed.
Brogan:  That’s okay. I’ll just get out of bed and get more when you go downstairs.

Well, at least he’s honest…

Brogan:  I want a marshmallow.
Me:  Buddy, you have to eat your dinner, and if you eat really good, you can have a marshmallow for dessert.
Brogan: Uh, no thanks, I’m good. I just want a marshmallow.

Well, at least he knows what he wants…

Me:  [in the bath] Brogan, stand up so I can wash you.
Brogan:  [stands up] See mommy, I know how to listen!
Me:  [no words; utter shock]

Me:  Beckett, no sir!  Stop hitting your brother!
Brogan:  That’s alright.  I will handle it.

Brogan:  [shouts something to me from another room]
Me:  What did you say?
Brogan:  Nevermind.
Me:  No, buddy, I couldn’t hear what you said.
Brogan:  NEVERMIND!

Oh, how much fun he will be as a teenager!

And my favorite from this weekend… more proof that my son is, in fact, a ladies man.  This was said to my sister-in-law’s pretty little 16-year-old friend.

Brogan: [upon seeing Savannah for the first time in a couple of months] Savannah, I’ve been missin’ you! [as he runs to her and gives her a big hug around the legs]
Brogan: [about 30 minutes after the first comment, obviously he needed some time to find the right words] So Savannah, do you like to go to the mall?

Really?? My 3-year-old has already figured out the ladies like when you talk about things they are interested in… Oh, Brogan, you are wise beyond your years, my son.  I only hope that you are able to charm the moms and dads as well as you charm the girls… in an effort to decrease all the parent calls, of course.  Oh, the joys.