I always assumed that as children grow parenting gets easier. (Until they became teenagers obviously.) Once we were passed the sheer exhaustion of the baby years, the sleepless nights, the nap battles. Heading out of those two year old tantrums. Battling your way through the threenager stage and don’t get me started on the f*&^%g fours. It was time for parenting to get easier, I mean the only way is up right?
Five was going to be our year. Plain sailing. My parenting battles would rage solely with the little one as he heads for his third birthday. The five year old was going to be the perfect child. The one who I held up as a pinnacle to my parenting prowess. The glowing example to us all.
I was wrong.
Oh I was so wrong.
I could not have been more wrong if I tried.
Oh my word. Each and every day is a battle of parenting wills. A duel of wits. And I am tired of it.
The attitude, sass and back chat. If I say something is white he would argue until he is blue in the face that I am wrong and it is in fact black. Every conversation he needs to have the last word.
Please can you put your shoes on?
Because we need to leave for school now.
Because school starts at 7, it’s already 6:40 and it takes 15 minutes to drive there.
We don’t need to leave yet
Yes we do, as I’ve said we’re already late
We’re not late.
Time is still ticking on it’s now 6:42. Trust me we’re late.
That’s not late
PUT. YOUR. SHOES. ON.
Infuriating. And that is on a good day, a day where we will still make it to school on time. Where I am running through the doors.
The procrastination, the sullen attitude and the teenage sighs forgotten as my sweet little boy gives me a kiss and a cuddle at the door.
The feeling that it is all in my imagination, the difficultness is MY problem not his. A morning spent away is a morning to reflect, to come up with a plan of action.
And then comes pick up.
And with it a realisation that dealing with a tired, hangry, grumpy child once again means parenting isn’t the walk in the park that I thought it would be as he grew.
Sullen car rides.
Shouted words of anger.
Defiance at the simplest of tasks, no he will not get out of the car, no he does NOT want to go and pick up his brother. How DARE I make him.
No he will NOT do as I say.
That is NOT the right answer.
Why do I not know and anticipate his every need? LEGO is boring. I DON’T like apples any more. No I CAN’T do that. I WON’T do it.
The fighting, the pushing, the pinching, the shoving.
The yelling, the screaming, the tantrums.
Cuddles on the couch.
Sitting on the steps.
Talking calmly, rationally.
Screaming like a banshee.
We have the full range each and every day.
And no matter what by the end of every day I am pulling my hair out. I have no idea where it’s going wrong, where the clashing of heads comes from.
The anger, the defiance, the back chat, the attitude.
I am tired.
And I am lonely
Because it feels like it is only my child providing this level of resistance to parenting. When we go on play dates, at the school gates, trips out with friends, the other children are perfectly behaved.
They listen, they have conversations rather than back chat, there is no anger.
And yet, at these times I look at my eldest and realise that he too is behaving perfectly. When he is watched by friends he is a absolute delight and angel. That when we are out he morphs back into my sunny, happy, little boy.
He saves the depths of his anger, his uncertainty and his defiance to when we are at home and alone. To when he is safe and can lash out.
So I try to remember this.
And yes, it doesn’t stop me being tired of it, or fed up, or wanting to run and hide under the stairs.
But it does help me understand a little better, hold my tongue a little longer and remember that I am not alone. That chances are someone else out there is dealing with the same (I hope.)
And that most importantly that although it’s harder than I ever imagined, it is always worth it. The good moments forever weigh out the tough times.