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cranky Julian - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
cranky Julian
Yesterday morning Julian and I did not have an easy time getting out of the house. He was perfectly happy until he realized it was time to go and he immediately threw a temper tantrum begging to be picked up and carried. I was carrying my purse, two folders, his backpack, my keys and a notebook. I couldn't carry him, lock the door, get down the stairs, open the car door and get him in withouth making two trips. I was running late and I didn't WANT to make two trips.

And so he sat on the top step and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed. What was I going to do? Threaten not to take him to school? That wouldn't have worked because I had to take Aaron, plus I had to go to work. He wasn't listening to any of my bribes, I couldn't think of a plausible (and situation-appropriate) threat, my back was really hurting so I didn't want to carry him, so I was basically out of options. I honestly don't remember how I coaxed him down the stairs, though I do remember promising to pick him up as soon as he got to the driveway. He screamed and sobbed with every step.

Please bear in mind that this kid has been running and jumping and climbing stairs since before we met him 15 months ago.

I got the sobbing, wimpering child into the car, went and picked up Aaron and drove to school. When we parked the car, Julian wimpered to be picked up and I obliged (I refuse to have a meltdown in a busy parking lot) and carried him into the school. When we got into the foyer, I put him down. It's a long hallway down to his classroom and my back hurt and he's frankly too big to carry around all the time. He's over 30 lbs, he's over 3 feet tall (keep in mind that I'm only 5 feet tall), he's simply too big to carry all the time.

So he stood in the entrance to the school and screamed. And screamed. And screamed. And cried. And screamed some more. Then he stomped his feet (while screaming), screamed some more, and cried and stuck his lower lip out so far he would have tripped over it if he'd been willing to walk.

Parents were passing me by, not making eye contact, students were gawking, administrators were pleading with their eyes for me to just give the kid what he wanted. But I am just as stubborn as him. Plus, I really, really, really didn't want to carry him down there and my back really did hurt (I have been sleeping funny and waking up all bent out of shape, literally).

Finally, I kneeled down next to him and put my arms out (which he took as me offering to pick him up, so he took the bait), gave him a big hug and held him tight. I stayed there and told him (calmly) that I love him and I'm going to be by his side. "I will give you hugs, and I will give you lots of kisses, and I will hold your hand, and I will tell you how much I love you, but I cannot carry you to class. Are you ready to walk with me?" "No, Eema! I want picka-up!" "Eema will pick you up and hold you and hug you and give you kisses and tell you how much you are loved, but I cannot carry you to class. Are you ready to hold Eema's hand and walk to see Morah Wendy?"

And, at last, the words I wanted to hear: "Okay Eema," he wimpered. He took my hand and walked slowly down the hall with me, wimpering with every step, holding back sobs, but not screaming. When he started to get upset again, I kneeled down next to him and gave him hugs and kisses and told him how much I love him. And I took his hand and we walked (slowly and with much drama and wimpering) to his class room. When we got there he immediately clung to my skirt and cried and I picked him up and gave him smooches and hugs and told him I loved him. And he wimpered.

And then he saw the fish in the tank and off he went. I ceased to exist at that moment.

Today was more of the same, but no Aaron and it took a lot longer to convince him to walk by himself. The four-year-old teacher told me I was doing the right thing and not to worry; this was a school after all, they are used to temper tantrums and the teachers would rather have a parent not give in to everything than the parent who does.


I'd say it's a morning thing, but he does the same thing coming home. And only for Seth and me. So it seems like it's an attachment issue. I hope that my reassurances take hold at some point. I can't go through this every morning!

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

23 comments or Leave a comment
leahmiriam From: leahmiriam Date: January 13th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's attachment issues but it's positive. He's bonded to you two like glue. He knows who loves him, and he wants to be close to you. You can't carry him down the hall to his class and he's frustrated...but he's two. If the other parents have issues with his tantrums then they have bad memories. His behavior is textbook toddler/small child. This cannot be the first time they've seen this.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: January 13th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
If the other parents have issues with his tantrums then they have bad memories.

*snicker* That made me laugh.
leahmiriam From: leahmiriam Date: January 13th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good! You shouldn't let other people's glares bother you anyway. It's uncomfortable because it's better when he behaves, but meltdowns are par for the course.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: January 13th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, what she said about it being a textbook toddler thing. It's *not* necessarily a sign of early trauma in the attachment field or whatever -- Grace is about the most securely attached toddler I've ever seen, and she does it occasionally also, and did it constantly for a couple of months in there. It's certainly about attachment, but more of a stage than a response to having had disruption. Which means, among other things, that leahmiriam's correct that almost every parent there has probably gone through it at some point.
cellio From: cellio Date: January 13th, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh. How frustrating!

Is he too young to understand that he's humiliating himself in front of his friends? (I don't remember at what age I started caring about that, but once I did a reminder that people were watching often helped end bad behavior.)
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: January 13th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
He's several years too young. Le Sigh.

I don't really want him to feel humiliated anyway. If he has emotions he needs to let out, I'd like him to do it, but I need to find ways to help him communicate those emotions more constructively. I know that's a several year project, but you've gotta start somewhere.
cellio From: cellio Date: January 13th, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Feeling humiliated is bad -- which is why, when a kid is old enough, pointing out that his behavior is humiliating him can modify the behavior. You point out that he's doing it to himself; you're not doing it to him.

All of which is moot if he's too young to care, unfortunately. :-(

Good luck in teaching him better behavior. Yeah, several-year project...
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: January 13th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
As a point of clarification, his behaviour is generally good. What he's doing is completely age-appropriate, though frustrating. It's obvious he's experiencing some anxiety which is not the same as bad behaviour.
From: have_inner_lady Date: January 13th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are wonderful. This is a beautiful story of your kindness and patience. I hope you can hold in your heart that you are doing just the right thing here, even when he screams. It's a very hard lesson to learn: "I am loved even when I don't get XYZ."

Most people know an adult or two who never quite grasped that one. I sure don't blame little Julian for struggling with it.

But *you* are doing a fantastic job.

(And the fish part was hilarious -- and just too true.)
ichur72 From: ichur72 Date: January 13th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooof. Not fun. But I think you handled it exactly the right way. And he's over 3 feet tall? That sounds huge.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: January 13th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
It IS huge. He's 99th percentile for height.
(Deleted comment)
ginamariewade From: ginamariewade Date: January 13th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
If he did, Seth has some splaining to do.
sethcohen From: sethcohen Date: January 15th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)

He can't have gotten it from me

I haven't gotten any shorter since he moved in.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: January 13th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
We've had similar problems with Grace at times, and do very much the same thing. "Mama carry!" "No, you can walk." "No, Mama CARRY!!!!!" "Mama will hug you and give you a big kiss. (Does so.) Now it's time to walk." Etc. as necessary. I've found that if I don't explicitly *tell* her prior to the hug and kiss that she's still going to have to walk, she will often respond to being held for a minute by saying "I walk now," and I can put her down and offer a hand to hold, but not always.

Good luck...
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: January 13th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope it doesn't last.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: January 13th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Grace only did it consistently for two months; it's become less and less of the time since then. And I suspect it would've lasted less time yet if we hadn't given in at first -- for a while, we just carried her when she asked for it, because she was small enough and I was strong enough and she's a snuggly little armful and a lot of fun to carry. This was a mistake.
kressel From: kressel Date: January 13th, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

I admire your stubbornness. I wish I had more of it. It's really necessary in parenting.
From: cecerose Date: January 13th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't go through this every morning!

I know this is hard, but sometimes (not all the time) you have to let them cry and get it out of their system. I remember when I was 9 years old and my mother went back to school, I had to take care of my two year sister who would scream, kick and throw herself on the floor. I was seriously scared, but that's the only thing I could do. An hour later, it was if my mom hadn't left.

But overtime, with positive reinforcement and maturity, it will pass. It's a necessary phase, I guess.
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: January 14th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I do let him cry it out. That's why it takes us 20 minutes to get from the car to his classroom! I'm not going to pick him up just to get him to stop crying!
ginamariewade From: ginamariewade Date: January 13th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Little Bear did this, too.

Two is one of those transition ages, between infant to child (another one is age 8, another is age 12) where kids are making that developmental leap from one stage to another, and so they simultaneously want to be treated like an older child and a younger child. This makes stuff like transitions from one activity to another very difficult.

Keep doing what you're doing, and he'll get through this.
hannahsarah From: hannahsarah Date: January 13th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
You did the right thing. Rivka tends to get clingy from time to time, too.

Last year I was carrying her downstairs, and I slipped and fell. She landed safely on her bum, but I sprained my ankle and tore some serious ligaments. It scared her as much as it scared me.

Now when she wants to be carried, I just remind her that "Mommy had owie foot" and she's ok with that. She also loves to "help", so I ask her "Can you help Mama, and walk like a big girl for me?" That's the magic word. Any time she thinks she's "helping", she's all over it.

Just hang in there!

mysticchyna From: mysticchyna Date: January 19th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
i think you handled his wanting to be carried issue wonderfully...good parenting...a lot of people could take lessons from that.
paigedayspring From: paigedayspring Date: January 23rd, 2006 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I wholeheartedly second that and have practiced this myself several times with my own children.

(a regular Seth reader whos' just popped over for Julian news ;) )
23 comments or Leave a comment