This Too Shall Pass

I haven’t been blogging here a lot lately.

Mainly because I feel like the biggest failure of a father ever.

I wasn’t ready for this!  Usually my kids do cute things like walk over to me and put their heads in my lap so I can tickle their back, or funny things like telling us they’re not a ‘stinker’ but a ‘sticker’.

When Ella was two it wasn’t terrible at all.  And Pax used to be this pudgy baby boy who was content to sit in the middle of the room and look around.  Life was good.

But now! Now I’m tired all the time.  Now my energy is completely and utterly spent after only being home a few hours with them at night!  I seriously don’t know how my wife keeps it together?

Pax is mischievous and on the move.  He’s into everything and constantly running away from me and heading towards something he shouldn’t be getting into.  If the pantry door’s open, he’s there pulling boxes of food off the shelves.  If the dog food is left out, (heaven forbid that our dog should actually get to eat!) he’s grabbing handfuls of it and throwing it in her water (or worse…eating it).  If the bathroom door’s open… if the gate’s not up… if the computer’s out…if the stairs aren’t blocked…if the remote’s on the couch…it NEVER ENDS!

Then, Ella has been going through SOMETHING I don’t even know what?!  But man is it exhausting.  She laughs when we discipline her.  She flat-out tells us “NO!” and refuses to go to timeout.

I just don’t know what to do.  I keep telling myself that it is just a phase, to keep consistent, to not give up, and my constant prayer is that I will be patient and gentle and loving.

There have been times that I’ve lost it.  I’ve disciplined incorrectly.  I’ve gotten angry and impatient.

But even when I try.   Even then, the results don’t seem to come.  I know I shouldn’t expect to see results immediately but I need some evidence that what we’re doing is working.  Some glimmer of hope would be nice.

I was talking with another dad at work today about it and he had this consolation to offer me,

“Yeah, three was rough for us too.  So was four.  But don’t worry Lee, by the time she gets to be five…or six…she’ll mellow out.”

Please don’t tell me this will last for three years?!

I used to think I wasn’t a ‘baby person,’ but more and more I find myself longing for the days when they were just blobs you held close to you in your arms and watched them smile.  (If I’m romanticizing that stage of life at all just slap me in my face or punch me in my gut.)  This must be why people end up having a third kid…

…and that’s where I am right now.


4 Replies to “This Too Shall Pass”

  1. Sorry to hear it’s been so rough of late for you Lee. We had our share of struggles at 3 as well. However, we have had recent sucess with implementing a star system with Lukas. He can earn stars for being good, staying in bed, helping clear the tables, feeding the cats.

    Then if he wants something, like a video, he has to pay with his stars.

    I was skeptical, but it has worked fairly well.

    Good luck and I hope it gets better soon for you.


    1. I’m interested in this, but as Erica and I were discussing it last night we had a few questions. How many stars do they get for being good? and when they do something bad do you take stars away? And how many stars does it ‘cost’ to get to watch a dvd, etc.? You always have such good ideas!


  2. Hello Lee and Erika!

    To start the star system, we first figured out his “problems” and then figured out what he loves to do.

    We give him 1 star for little things that previously were a “problem” – like using good meal manners (eating nicely, helping clean up), being nice to the kitties, having dry underwear all day, etc. I’ll bet you can figure out our “problems” from these examples. 😉

    We give him 2 stars for things that were bigger problems – like staying in bed after being put to bed at night and being nice to his friends at school (no shoving, pushing, grabbing).

    He can earn a total of 10-11 stars per day, but never quite makes it – but that’s o.k. because if he earns even 1/2 his stars it’s a pretty good day. We then charge 5 stars for a video and 10 stars for a weekend movie night. We also thought of little things he likes to do that sometimes we are too busy to do – like read extra books. So, he can pay 1 star and we have to immediately read him a book.

    We don’t ever take away stars because we want to focus most of our attention on good behavior. We make a big deal about him getting a star, so he gets a double bonus – he feels good for earning the star and then gets the bonus of earning good rewards. If he engages in bad behavior we generally talk out loud about him to each other and discuss how it’s too bad he’s acting a certain way because his behavior certainly isn’t going to earn him any stars. Then, if it’s not a safety issue, we drop it and don’t mention it again. We still make him clean up his messes, and apologize when he hurts someone, but that’s expected anyway.

    It also helped that we used physical “stars” – poker chips with stars drawn on them – and made a “star jar” with a slotted top like a bank. He can count his stars and add and subtract with them, figuring out how much he needs to earn to get things. So far, its been VERY motivating!

    Oh . . . we also give him 1 star each day for being a super good boy. That one’s automatic. 🙂


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