Bring on the Padded Room.

November 21, 2012 at 9:18 am | Posted in Battles (aka: toddlerhood), NaBloPoMo, Parenting, rants | 15 Comments

(Or: A Rant.)

Age 4.75 might actually be the point where I lose my mind completely.

I don’t know if it’s the incessant whining, the active Not Listening, the inability to carry out the most basic requests I ask him without a meltdown, the random complete fucking freakouts over something I haven’t actually SAID yet, the obsession with all things screen-related, the insistence on doing non-age appropriate things (like stirring something in boiling water, for example), the yelling (and hitting. Awesome.) when he doesn’t like an answer I give him.

How a child could be so INTENT on doing Big Kid stuff in one moment and completely helpless the next boggles my mind.

Add to it the ANGER when I DARE to help him with the straps with his carseat, for example… it’s too much.

But this morning you flipped out when I asked you to do it yourself and told me you DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT!

I swear to god, he’s Sybil and I never know what I’m going to get with him.

Our nights and mornings are filled with this lately. Yesterday, when I got to daycare to pick him up, literally SECONDS after his teacher told me, Lucky had a fantastic day! Lucky was screaming and yelling and crying and running away and throwing himself down into the dirt at the corner of the playground.

For what? No fucking clue.

He spent the rest of the night asking for screen time and playing with stuff that he knew he shouldn’t (seriously, plugs? What are you, freaking TWO?) and then flipping out when he was told it was dinnertime and then bathtime.

About the only time he was NOT like the exorcist kid was when we were quizzing him on how to write words.

So we have the worst of the terrible twos and awful threes, sprinkled with some literacy.

I GET it. It’s a tough time for him – he WANTS to grow up, but he’s scared, too, so he keeps going back and trying to be a baby, in between the push for independence.

But seriously, last night my nerves were so frayed, by the time Charlie brought him upstairs I kind of wanted people to get me and put me in a padded room.

At least it’s quiet in there.



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  1. As you know, I can relate to this for SURE. Our hardest time (to date) was the few months before The Big Sis turned 5 and the few months right after. I know we’ve talked about our approach, and it truly worked wonders. We still have our moments, of course, but we are in a much, much better place than a year ago, for sure. Big hugs — it sucks to feel like you’re at the end of your rope and that no matter what you do for them, it’s never the right thing.

    • Yes. This weekend we’re going to implement the approach with crossed fingers…

  2. Well, this is NOT the kind of post I like to read 2 weeks after the girls’ 4th birthday! I have a hard time with the nonstop demands/flip outs, especially during the 4:00 to 5:30 time period before D. comes home. I want that padded room sometimes, too. There’s a fine line between frayed and shattered.

    You’re right — it is a tough time. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be 4 again. Last night D. wanted to try a new pizza place. All N. really wanted to do was stay home, eat her third peeled apple of the afternoon, and play on the seesaw until bathtime. Add a restaurant that was tiny, a little too formal, and not at all kid friendly, and in 70 minutes we had a hysterical, sobbing, confused little girl and a $70 tab.

    • 4 was a relief in a lot of ways, E, I promise. Most of it has been great. This behavior is new in the past couple of weeks, probably a factor of Charlie traveling and Lucky being almost-5 and tired (developmental milestones have ALWAYS interfered with his sleep. I think with the writing stuff he’s still trying to process. And he’s pushing bedtime later and/or up at 5 in the morning lately) that we’re seeing the worst of his behavior. It’s exhausting for me. But I wouldn’t want to be his age, either, that’s for sure!

  3. You are SO not alone. My son turns 5 at the end of December, and sometimes he acts like a big kid, and sometimes he acts younger than his 2.5 year old brother. He’s a lot like Lucky from what you write of him, and so you might understand that what I find most frustrating is that intellectually, I know he gets it, he gets how to behave and how to handle himself and different situations, but emotionally, he just can’t execute that all the time. Holy crap, is it frustrating.

  4. I don’t usually comment, but this so perfectly describes life with my 4 year old son right now that I had to leave a note to commiserate!

  5. Please forgive my laughter, but this was so my life with my son at that age. It was maddening and mystifying (and frustrating). All I can offer is this too shall pass. In the meantime, it will require an adjustment to how you respond to him (playful parenting is helpful) but it’s hard to know how he’ll perceive any response.

    Good luck and I am sorry.

    (PS even at 5.75 we have some issues (whining, refusal to do things, tears that are way out of proportion to the request being made of him) and the most successful technique is sending him to his room. As soon as it starts, I give him two options, calm himself down immediately (deep breaths) or go to his room to cry it out. He almost always picks the former (if I catch it in time) but if he is too far gone, the latter it is)).

  6. I’m right there with you. My daughter turns five in a few weeks and we have the same story in our house. It has to get better, right??????

  7. It’s funny, we are going through a lot of the same irritating stuff, and I’d been blaming it all on J’s feelings about a new baby coming. But apparently, according to you and all these commenters, it would be happening anyway. Yay. Also, the difference between now and age 2 or 3 is that now J can actually HURT me, so hitting (jumping, climbing, etc) are a much bigger & more important issue. Mer’s comment above is so on target – knowing intellectually that it’s wrong and yet not being able to control his emotions.

    Anyway, I think (so far) age 4 does have a lot more fun moments than the younger ages, so let’s hope you can have more of those and fewer like this one.
    (also, I supervised a woman named Sybil once. She was truly evil. Hmmmm….)

  8. So much for the it gets better after 3? Ack! H *finally* had a pretty good week last week. It is SOOOO frustrating. Good luck.

  9. Oh man, that sounds exhausting. I know you saw the link I posted to Ask Moxie, which was all the assvice I had, given I have yet to hit this stage. But I feel for you, and I hope things get easier soon. One of my friends has a husband who is often away for three days, or a week, and her two sons are just-turned-5 and just-turned-3, and she said that it is clear to her that her husband’s absence is now REALLY affecting her sons and the household- they push all the boundaries all over again the moment he gets home, just to see if the rules are the same, and everything gets stirred up, and then he leaves again and she’s left to try to re-establish their no-daddy-routine. It is tough.


  10. Twin 4-year-old boys here, who turn 5 in March. Have to commiserate, too, because you just described my life, except times 2. Bring on the quiet padded room!

  11. That sounds so awful. Four isn’t always fun- it’s easy to lose your cool. I hope it gets better soon.

  12. This makes me feel surprisingly better about our own 4.5 year old son’s behavior. Many times, i wonder what on earth we are doing so wrong to cause the incessant whining, the alternating between sweet as can be and Mr. Hyde, the complete lack of listening…I guess I’m just relieved to know it’s not just us!

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