Bi-polar, that is. There is either something wrong with him, or I am a huge colossal failure as a parent these days. I just can’t seem to do anything right by him, for him, or around him. It’s too early for the hormonal surge of the teenage years, so it MUST be bi-polar, right?
I was reading a post that I subscribe to this morning where the fella was talking about his life-long issues with depression. I commented that I felt a lot more folks probably have issues with depression than are willing to admit, and that I felt it had to do with how we are raised. As a very general rule, a majority of parents try to quash cries, emotions, anger. I think this is damaging to children, because it doesn’t really teach them how to adequately or appropriately deal with emotions. I mean, think about it. Your kid falls down and bumps his/her knee and starts sobbing and the first thing parents do is say, “Awwwww, don’t cry. It’ll be okay. How’s about some ice cream to make it feel better. JUST-STOP-CRYING”. Children argue with each other about who has played longer with “Bumble Bee” than the the other and we demand that they stop screaming at each other…or to stop crying about it. I don’t have an empirical data to back my opinions up. These are just my observations from the park.
When I first got into this whole parenting thing I was very conscientious about my children’s feelings. I wanted to to be that cool dad that the boys told their friends about in their 20’s: “My dad was so awesome. When we were kids he use to take us to _____ every summer and we’d do _____ every day. Every three months or so we’d _____”. As part of being an adoptive parent through CPS we are required to maintain 40 hours of continuing education hours each year. Fortunately they count reading books as part of that 40-hours. I remember reading a book on adoption once that spouted some crazy shit. This is paraphrasing, of course, but the jist of the author’s point was, “It doesn’t really matter what you do for your adopted child. They’ll never bond with you. The reason is the child has dealt with abandonment issues their entire existence. Even in utero they realized their birth mother’s didn’t want them and would abandon them”. (Seriously, it said that!)
You’re warned as an adoptive parent not to “over-indulge” your adopted children to make up for perceived losses. And I’ve tried to do this. Honestly, though, with my parents and the FP’s mother this is hard. It seems like every third day the boys are getting a package of stuff in the mail. Our house is collapsing under the weight of all the “it’s okay you’re adopted, we love you” stuff. I’m sure that’s not their intent, but… I never thought that my boys would have to deal with these bonding issues that older children are when they’re adopted because we got both of them relatively soon after their births. We got Adrian when he was 9 months old, and Nathan about 2 weeks after he was born. So really, their ideas of abandonment couldn’t, or shouldn’t have been formed yet.
Adrian, the demon spawn I’m having issues with right now, was such a happy baby. OH MY GOD was he a happy baby. He shit smiles. He’s always been an “eager to please” kind of kid…until he started school (pre-K) this past September. Now nothing makes him happy. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. I haven’t been able to do a single thing right since September.
This morning was classic failure on my part. Adrian woke up, cranky. No, not cranky. More like evil. Jed was in the shower in the bathroom and Adrian threw the door open and yelled at him to keep the door open because it was dark in his room and he need the light so he could see. Then he went to lay back down. The 4-year-olds barking got me stirring earlier than usual, so I got up and went in the kitchen to start drinking my coffee. A few minutes later Adrian came out and was all happy, smiles, hugs, and love. I asked him if he wanted breakfast, he said, “Yeth”. So out comes the bowl of cereal and the boys sit down at the table to eat. Adrian puts his head down on the table and starts to go back to sleep. I tell him, “Bear. You need to eat. If you’re tired you need to go lay back down, but you can’t sleep on the table”. He starts sobbing and wailing like I had just shoved a hot poker in his eye. SERIOUSLY, WAILING…”I DON’T WANNA GO BACK TO BED (repeated 18,000 times)” I finally lost my nut with the screaming and yelled back at him (after 10 full minutes of CONSTANT “I DON’T WANNA GO BACK TO BED”), “If you don’t stop screaming and eat your cereal I’m going to throw it out. You’ve been screaming at me for 10 minutes and that’s enough now”.
What happens next is this new(ish) thing that he’s been doing for about 4 or 5 months now. EXTREME-CONTRADICTION. He screams, “FINE! I DON’T WANT MY CEREAL FOR BREAKFAST”, and so I do what any other rational thinking person who is tired of the screaming does. I swoop past the table, pick up the bowl, walk to the kitchen, and toss it down the garbage disposal. Which then leads to an entirely new ranting screaming fit of, “YOU TOOK MY CEREAL AWAY. I HUNGRY. I WANT MY CEREAL. WHY YOU TAKE MY CEREAL AWAY”. I try to explain to him that I took his cereal away because he said he didn’t want it (logical consequence?). And he then proceeds to repeat his “I HUNGRY” rant. Only this time, I’ve lost my nut because I’ve been screamed at for, now, 14 minutes and I tell him to go back to bed and not to come out until he can talk to me in his “big boy voice” and “not scream at me”. He screams all the way to his bedroom, all the way up to the top bunk, and for the next 15 minutes, “I DON’T WANNA GO TO SLEEP”.
After I’ve calmed my nerves down I go in and talk to him, very calmly, and say, “Bear, can you tell me the difference between the right way and the wrong way to ask for things”? And he tells me (in his TWO YEAR OLD VOICE) “say please and say thank-you"? And I say, “Yeah, that’s part of it. But what else”? He tells me he doesn’t know. And I tell him that he needs to “ask in his big boy voice and needs to stop screaming at daddy”. I ask him why he’s screaming at me and he does his fall-back move, wraps his arms around my neck and starts crying, “I don’t know”. So I hug him, and hold him, and tell him I love him. And magically the tears stop and he’s ready to be reintroduced to the rest of the family.
NOT TEN MINUTES LATER the bus comes for Nate and we all walk out to get him on the bus. When the front door opens, Nate runs out ahead and the fireworks start again. Adrian starts sobbing and screaming, “HE’S BEATING ME”! I tell him it’s not a race. I tell him it’s NATHAN’S BUS to get on. Adrian doesn’t even ride the bus! He sobs the ENTIRE TIME I’m trying to get Nate buckled in his seatbelt. After getting Nathan secured, I pick up Adrian and he wraps his arms around my neck and lays his head down, the crying stops, and we go in the house.
Next we start working on Valentine’s cards for his classmates that are due on Thursday. We barely get one done and Adrian starts screaming at me again that he doesn’t want to do it. By this time I just want him gone. (For the day, of course!) I don’t want to be around him any more, because now he is just making me angry. I get him some yogurt and a banana and (surprisingly) he says, very sweetly, “Tank you daddy”. He finishes, puts all his stuff in the trash (like we taught him) and comes to give me a hug. In an effort to save the day so he’ll have a good day at school I say, “Hey, you want to go hit the park before we go to school”? And he says, “YEAH”! (Incidentally, the park is next to the school and EVERY SINGLE MORNING since school started he asks to go to the park when we pull up to the school. Some days, if we’re early, I take him, some days I don’t. The days I don’t…FIREWORKS!)
Walking from JUST THE FRONT DOOR TO THE CAR IN THE Adrian starts playing a little hopping game. And he says, “Daddy, you need to hop”…and so I do. Only, apparently, I don’t hop in the right spot because he starts, angrily, yelling at me that I didn’t do it right. At this point I just want to drop it. Because it wouldn’t matter if I hopped on the 3rd rectangle paver on the right corner or the left, it wouldn’t matter WHAT I DID, I wouldn’t be able to do anything right by him. I hadn’t done a single thing right that morning. So I bark at him to just get in the car. I go to help him up (cuz I drive a big butch Jeep) and as I’m picking him up he yells, “WATCH OUT FOR MY HEAD. DON’T HIT MY HEAD”…and (I don’t) I toss him in his car seat and he starts sobbing AGAIN and screaming, “OWWWWWWWY. YOU HURT ME” (while rubbing his head). I say, “ADRIAN! I-DID-NOT-HIT-YOUR-HEAD”. And he says, “No, my arm”! I want to say, “WELL THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU RUBBING YOUR GOD DAMN HEAD”, but instead, I drop it and just want to get to the park so I can TRY to make him happy at least once this morning.
I load up all our stuff in the car and we head to the park. We have, like, 10 minutes before the school bell. While getting out of the car he sees a Beanie Baby (or “sleepy time toy” as he likes to call them) and says he wants to take it with him. The school has hard and fast rules about not bringing toys to school. So I tell him he can’t because the school rules prohibit toys. He starts sobbing…again…and tells me I never let him have any toys. I remind him AGAIN he can’t take toys to school. He reasons, “It’s not a toy it’s a SLEEPY TIME TOY. I NEED IT FOR MY NAP”. And I laughed, because the kid who thinks he’ll die in his sleep is going to try to convince me that if he has this toy he’ll actually nap.
As we’re walking across the bridge to the park, I can see ONE SINGLE MOMMENT OF HAPPINESS in my child’s very near future. And do you know what that little fucker does the second we get across the bridge? He says, “I DON’T WANNA GO TO THE PARK…I just wanna go to school”. At this point, I’m done. I’m done talking. I’m done being yelled at. I’m done trying to appease. I’m done trying to fix. I just say, “fine”, and walk him into the school and sit in the hallway for 10 minutes until I can throw him in his classroom and get the hell away from him as fast as I can.
I honestly have no idea how to make my four year old happy anymore. I honestly believe he hates me and is trying to kill me.
Any thoughts? Suggestions? Words of encouragement? Cuz, I really don’t know what to do anymore. And the other child is coming up on 4 quicker than I care to think.
Today’s show has been brought to you by the letter “D” and “F”, and the number 4.