Last night was a little rough at the Nelson house. I came home exhausted after a very long week and felt like crawling in bed. Instead, I made us dinner which included some gluten free spaghetti for me since I can not eat the delicious supreme pizza that I made from scratch for Devan and Craig (just kidding-store bought all the way). But I also made a giant yummy salad and some lemon-dill carrots, and fresh pineapple so it was a somewhat healthy and appealing meal.
Devan ate half his dinner, decided he wanted my spaghetti instead, and threw the tantrum of his lifetime when told he couldn’t have any. (I’m not heartless- I usually do share but I had only made one very tiny portion of spaghetti and Mom was HUNGRY). By the end of the evening Devan asserted firmly that he did NOT like Mom, and Mom had totally lost her temper at Devan. Not fun for anyone, and I fell sleep on the couch about 20 minutes after Craig had finally wrangled him into bed.
This morning started off SO much better and I gave him a haircut and bath before heading north to have some Mom and Devan maternity pictures taken. The morning went great, the pictures were so much fun, and Devan was a total doll. I was in such a good mood and so pleased with his excellent behavior that I decided to take him out to lunch as a special treat and so we headed to Crown Center, and I’m sure you can deduce where this is heading…
Things started out well enough with lunch at Fritz’s, which in my mind was the big treat. For those who aren’t local, it’s a little train-themed diner where train engines travel around an elevated track and bring you your food. I though Devan would get a kick out of it, and he did. I even let him stay for another 20 minutes after our meal was finished so he could get his fill of watching the trains.
It comes time to leave and that is when it started. He wanted to sit in the big train. Okay. He wants a treat. No, we just ate at a special restaurant, that was the treat. He wants ice cream. No. He wants a balloon. No. He wants to go up the escalator again, go in that toy store, buy this, buy that, wants candy, is thirsty, is hungry, wants to see the trains again, wants more french fries…All of this in a whiny, verge of a temper tantrum voice.
I kept my cool and redirected him to the crayola store to color and then I let him pick out a set of color pencils as something extra special before we headed home. I had to drag him out of that store as he expressed even more desires, and by the time we got to the car I was about to pull my hair out. So I told him I had fun eating lunch with him, and could he say thank you for the special lunch and treat?
No, he said, he didn’t have fun. I asked why not? He said- I don’t like you. I told him that was a mean thing to say and it made it hard for me to want to do something special with him when he doesn’t appreciate it and whines for more (yes, right over his 2.5 year old head, I realize this.) He reasserted that he didn’t like me and he wanted Dad.
I closed his door without another word and climbed in the car, cranked the radio to drown out further whining and drove off with tears in my eyes. One part of my brain was telling me he is a two and a half year old, way too young to understand appreciation and feelings and gratitude and limits of a persons sanity. The other part of my brain said “Brat.”
As we got closer to home I noticed that he was dozing off in his car seat, and indication of pure and utter exhaustion and my heart softened just a little. At least enough to get him home and in bed for a nap without any further incident.
But I confess I am left feeling fairly inadequate as a mother. He will readily tell me he loves me, but when he says he doesn’t like me it stings like nothing else. He has always clearly preferred Dad but lately I feel like he really doesn’t even want to be around me at all. And honestly, it seems like every time we try and do something a little bit special with him (picnic at the park, zoo, eating out) we are left with a whiney, cranky, demanding kid and two incredibly irritated parents. Maybe he is too young to really handle the excitement of these “special” things, I don’t know.
What I do know is that my excitement of spending the summer months home with our new baby girl and her big brother is quickly turning into apprehension. If I have this much trouble dealing with his demands when I am (somewhat) sane, what about when I am completely sleep deprived with a demanding infant? And more importantly, how in the world will I ever survive the teenage years if Devan is even remotely as saucy as I was? Isn’t this parenting thing supposed to get easier and not harder??
I guess time will tell. And now, if you will pardon me, I must go talk to a certain toddler who by the level of noise in his bedroom, is most certainly NOT taking a nap right now. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.