In Need of a Tranquilizer Gun

June 19, 2008

Yesterday, and so far today, have turned into THOSE kinds of days with PJ.  He’d been so much better over the last few weeks that I’d assumed the worst of the terrible twos were over.  Then yesterday came, and with it the tantrums and awful behavior.

He tested our limits at every turn.  What do you mean I’m not supposed to stand on the couch?  Throw food?  Throw footballs at Mommy’s face or slap Daddy with my clothes?  When have you ever told me not to hit my brother or kick the dog?

By the time dinner was over, we were ready for his bedtime–long past ready, actually–and it was still an hour before the usual bedtime.  It was the first time I was ready to spank him HARD as a way to convey my frustration and anger, not using it merely as a form of discipline like I have done in the past.  (I didn’t, by the way.)

You know what it reminded me of?  When I was in college, one summer I babysat/tutored a 10-year-old boy from my church.  He’d been a terror from the time he was young, and after babysitting for him a couple of times back then, I seriously wondered if they could possibly pay enough for quality babysitting.  I still tell the stories of babysitting him because they are so far-fetched as to be entirely unbelievable.

There was one morning from that summer when he was 10 that I got there before he had gotten his morning medicine.  Up until that point, I had questioned the validity of ADHD, a condition I was sure was overdiagnosed and couldn’t possibly really need medication; it was merely the result of bad parenting.

But in that half-hour before this kid’s medication kicked in, I finally got it.  Let me tell you, ADHD is real.  The kid ran in circles around his house the whole time, leaving a path of destruction behind him as he got into something he wasn’t supposed to and then abandoned it for something worse when I chastised him.  He was the real-life Tasmanian Devil.  By the time his medication kicked in and he was only difficult, I felt like I’d run a marathon.

There are days, like yesterday, when that is PJ.  The hyper takes over and there is no controlling him.  He can run into a wall or a table and hurt himself and keep running without hesitating a second.  He’ll just cry and rub his head on the run.  He completely ignores us when we warn him not to do something and ends up in time-out, where he throws a bigger fit.

Days like this are totally exhausting.  I can’t decide whether I’m an awful parent for letting him get like this or a wonderful parent for not just retreating into another room while he wreaks havoc on the house (and himself).

But then just when I’m about to give up and put him to bed an hour early or leave him in time-out the rest of the night, he climbs up onto my lap (or M’s) and snuggles in close to give us a kiss and tell us he loves us.  He’ll give the dog a hug and then lean into BabyN for a kiss.  I’m reminded that he isn’t a bad kid, just a spirited one.  He’s NOT like that 10-year-old with a real problem in need of medication.  He’s just your average, frustrating two-year-old who can pull a mood change faster than a PMS-ing mommy and prove that you weren’t out of your mind when you decided to take on this whole parenting thing.