Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Effing Fours

Too. Damn. Long. That's how long it's been since I updated this thing.

What have I been doing? Excellent question.

Well, for starters I have this kid. Maybe I've spoken of him? I've also spent the past year trying to figure out what the heck I'm going to do with my life. Callbacks are a nice temporary ego boost, but begging to shill for products that I'd never purchase in real life (I'm talking to you, artificially flavored macaroni product) can start to feel feel a little demoralizing. So this summer I took an internship at Big Duck - check it out, non-profits - and am now lucky enough to be freelancing for them. The learning curve has been steep (OXYGEN!) but it's nice to feel like I'm doing something that helps someone, somewhere. I was also name-checked in the HuffPo last month which was pretty awesome, and I might be writing a feature for a Big Magazine. I've also been playing a lot of Angry Birds.

So the kid! He's almost four, which is great? When he's not being a little jerkface? I thought three was tough, but this almost-four bullsnit has got to go.

*Universal disclaimer: I love my son more than anything in this world. Being a parent makes me happier than I've ever been, and gives me more joy than I ever imagined. But there are times when I want to leave him by the curb with a "Free To Good Home" sign.

Parents of four year olds - any of this sound familiar?

- Dropped your toast? Don't like your socks? Dripped some water on your shirt? Why not scream like you just put your hand in a working blender! When your parent runs in to help you, either:

A) immediately start kicking and hitting because you "don't WANT help!"
B) start screaming louder when irritated parent walks away.
C) when they return, scream that you don't want them, you want the OTHER parent.

- Refusing to eat. Or nap. Or do anything that might put you in a better mood.

- Trying out fancy new words and phrases like "hate" or "go away" or "stupid." Particularly with strangers on a crowded elevator.

So four. Yeah. Brutal.

A lot of this ugliness is due to the fact that he's given up his nap, which is why I'm able to write this a 8:23 pm instead of playing Scooby-Doo. With no nap, his sleep schedule is all buggered up. Most nights he's asleep by 6:30 pm, which is awesome for Matt and me,* but he's also up every morning at 5:30 am which is just a kick in the balls.

I know what you're thinking: Make him go back to sleep! Tell him he can't get up until 7! Do something to make that kid sleep later!

Trust me, we've tried.

The big trouble is his bladder. After 11 hours, that puppy's full. By the time he gets out of bed, goes to the potty, turns on the light, tries to focus on aiming towards the water (towards the water! TOWARDS THE WATER!), he's awake. We've instituted a rule that he's not allowed to play until the sun comes up. Recently he's taken to crawling into bed with us and staring at the new Christmas lights, but he doesn't go back to sleep.

By 1:00, he's a little cranky. We make him have quiet time. He just lays in bed and talks to himself.

By 3:00, he's really cranky.

By 5:00, he hates daddy. And dinner. And books.

By 6:00, he's DONE.

The advice givers tell me to make him nap, but how exactly do I do that? You can't exactly force a kid to go to sleep. I keep hoping that it'll get better as his body adjusts, but it's taking forEVer.

Parents: how did you get through nap transition? Do I have a full year of jerkiness ahead?

(*I know that "me" is the proper word choice here, but it still feels wrong.)

8 comments:

Missy said...

I don't know how you make a kid nap either, other than to put them in a car and drive. That's no guarantee though. Have you thought about waking him up and having him go to the bathroom right before you guys go down for the night? I know you might be risking him being fully awake for a bit, but maybe if you kept it fast and very lowly lit he might go right back to sleep? I don't know, other than gritting your teeth and making him stay up a bit later so he sleeps longer. Neither one of ours gave up their naps until Kindergarten, so my advice is fleeting at best. Of course as I now know after getting to spend more time with my husband's extended family the past couple of years, he comes from people who are olympic gold medal nappers so perhaps it is a genetic thing.
So great to hear about the stuff with Big Duck and all that. Hope more comes down your way!

Parents said...

My second son was the worst four-year-old I have ever known in my life, and I love him fiercely and can say with confidence that four, at least for him, was awful. And yes he called me stupid in public and threw temper tantrums at Target so embarrassing I can't go back because I don't want the security guard to recognize me (perhaps because I was so angry I dragged him out by his arm). While four was happening, I started to really question my parenting (I mean, the older one never did this stuff??!!), but now that he's five - this is crazy - he has stopped all of it. He's loving and agreeable and really the sweetest kid ever. My point: Just wait, five is coming.

Congratz on Big Duck, that's amazing, and I'm with you on doing something that makes a difference!!

Great blog!

Doni Marie Monroe Welch said...

Well I must say "finally"! It seems forever since you have blogged. However being a mom of 3 boys of my own... boy do I NOT miss the 4's. As far as the nap conundrum goes: it is generally a catch 22. The earlier they go to bed the earlier they get up. My best friend and God I love her to bits but I still think she is a bit nuts. She puts the 7 year old to bed at 7:30.... and by 4am he is up and ready to go. Now, while I understand that he is much like yours and grumpy by dinner time, I can't see it getting better. You can't make him go to sleep but you can't make them sleep until a proper hour either! My only advice as out of practice as it may be: (my youngest is almost 12) is figure out how long he needs to sleep in a night and slowly adjust his bed time in 1/2 hour increments to equal what time you are okay with him getting out of bed. Have faith though they do eventually realize that they don't hate everyone and know that elevators are not the best place for declarations.

Glad to hear about Big Duck and the upcoming article. I will definitely be reading it! You always put such a wonderful take on life. Thank you!

pursuedbyabear said...

Congrats on your writing career taking off. Well deserved. I think you are really brave to blog. WHich it seems was the seed to your success. I started doing it, but everything that came out was either dark dark dark, or trite. Occasionally funny.

6:30 to 5:30 is actually a REALLY GOOD sleep schedule for your kid at this age. It's just hard because you don't go to bed also at 6:30. Try not to stay up too super late yourself. And ALWAY REMEMBER everything is changing all the time. Few months it will be a different unsurmountable problem.

I really am proud to know you.

A

pursuedbyabear said...

P.S. : kids "supposed" to get at least 10 hours of sleep a night at that age. If my math is right, which would be a first, he's at 11. Healthy. Boy. Keep breathing, remembering you are modeling behavior for him.

abbysinthe said...

I have no advice but thank you for blogging again :)

3 years from now when my soon-to-be 11 month old (who is also an early to bed & way too friggin' early to riser) has become Satan's spawn, I'll look back on these posts and thank GOD I'm not alone.

Seriously, though, you rock and I love your blog.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hey Alisha! I'm right there with you in the Ferocious Four stage. Two was pretty fine, three was Terrible but Four is AWFUL. Big enough to continually yell that they "want to do it [they] own self"s, but small enough to still need help wiping their own butts. Four sucks.

I wish I could help, but Logan is the same way: ugly as hell by 6:30 pm, awake and hollering for Cheerios at 6:30 am. I'm just waiting for kindergarten to kick their butts with so much work that they'll fall asleep on the way home from school. That's the only hope left for napping.

Alternatively, try a dart gun. I'm thinking of investing in a pair....

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hey Alisha! I'm right there with you in the Ferocious Four stage. Two was pretty fine, three was Terrible but Four is AWFUL. Big enough to continually yell that they "want to do it [they] own self"s, but small enough to still need help wiping their own butts. Four sucks.

I wish I could help, but Logan is the same way: ugly as hell by 6:30 pm, awake and hollering for Cheerios at 6:30 am. I'm just waiting for kindergarten to kick their butts with so much work that they'll fall asleep on the way home from school. That's the only hope left for napping.

Alternatively, try a dart gun. I'm thinking of investing in a pair....