She Says… Adjusting

As I mentioned yesterday, we’re all adjusting to being home after a lovely week of vacation last week. I’m still crying over the state of my inbox, but I’ve surrendered to the idea that I just have to power through and work a little harder to make up for lost time. Oh, and get off Twitter and Facebook and FOCUS, woman!

Owen, on the other hand, is not doing so well with the transition.

Umm, let me rephrase that.

He’s acting like a different child since we got home. And NOT in a good way.

I’m trying to see it from his perspective. For almost an entire week he got to wake up whenever he wanted and spend THE ENTIRE DAY playing with awesome new friends (aka cousins). He got to dictate what he did and when he did it (for the most part… we only left the house for two outings, one for ice cream and one to go the Children’s Museum, so our days were very much dictated by what the kidlets wanted to do and how long they wanted to do it). He got to eat a few less vegetables than normal and no matter what was going on, there were no less than 3 people ready and waiting to entertain him. He spent some portion of every day in the pool, which he loves. In short, he was in heaven. And now, he’s just… home.

Don’t get me wrong. Home is awesome. We generally love our weekends spent taking walks and going to the playground and even going to Target and the grocery story. But this past weekend was filled with a few more necessary errands than normal and, most importantly, NO COUSINS and no one other than good ol’ mom and dad to play with him.

Oh, and he also got an hour or two less of sleep every night last week (and some shorter naps), which perhaps has caught up with him as well.

Letdown after vacation + sleep deficit = a side of Owen I’ve never seen before.

The whining. Oh, the whining. Prior to our trip he whined only occasionally, when it really mattered. You know, for animal crackers instead of pretzels… the truly important battles to fight. He had little outbursts of fussing, sure, but they didn’t happen very often and rarely lasted very long. Since we’ve been back it seems that any little thing sets him off. Instead of even waiting to hear the end of my sentence, he’s wailing and crying his head off. NOT like him. I don’t even know how to react.

He told me yesterday that he learned it from his cousins. To be fair, there were a lot of kids and a lot of different parenting techniques and an undeniable elevated level of craziness last week, but I can’t believe that it’s the first time he’s ever heard whining. Or seen tears used as a mechanism to get what you want.

I’m doing my best to react the same way I’ve reacted in the past. Together we calm his body. I ignore the outburst and let him know how he could ask nicely and model the good behavior. I stay calm and talk softly. Acknowledge his emotions and help him find an appropriate way to let them out. Act like it’s not bothering me.

But you know what? It does bother me. It’s HARD to stay calm and talk softly when I want to scream right back at him. It’s HARD to ignore the way his tone and volume escalates and the tears and the wriggling, squirming, thrashing body. It’s even harder when other people are around and I want to scream, “He doesn’t usually act like this!” (not that it matters that they know that, of course). It’s HARD, people.

Yesterday I kept feeling his forehead almost (almost!) praying for a fever so I could blame this irrational and out-of-character behavior on something other than my sweet little child. Unfortunately I think “being 2 years old” is the only thing I can blame it on at the moment.

Does your kid act like a total pill after a long vacation or other fun activity? Puhlease tell me this ‘tude will come in waves, and it won’t be like this forever from now on? Where did my easygoing kid go?

P.S. Alison, one of my favorite bloggers and internet girl-crushes (and now email pen pal), just wrote an awesome post about the “publish or perish” blog-writing philosophy I touched on a few weeks ago. Go read it! She will crack you up.

Just for the record, though, I am nowhere near as famous as she thinks I am. Shhhh! Don’t tell her.

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12 responses to “She Says… Adjusting

  1. Elizabeth McCracken

    It will pass! Just be consistent with your rules and he will figure it out again. And honestly, if he gets on your last nerve and you blow up once (or… um, twice), that also works to get his attention. I always like to show my kiddo that mommy is a PERSON and has feelings too… and you are stepping on them! It’s ok not to be perfect. But yes, coming down from vacation is hard hard hard. Same as transitions back to school, etc… Good luck!

  2. Hey Internet girlfriend! You are not alone. After our 2 week tour of the eastern half of the US, my kids turned into raging demons. IT COMES IN WAVES! Pinky swear. I think it’s about weathering the storm and remaining measured in your approach. (I most certainly need to be mindful to this message.) I try to calmy say, “this is not how we act/talk/respond” and then walk away. And for the 4 year old, I try to say, “I know we had a lot of fun the past 2 weeks and are a little off schedule.” I mean, not sure he gets it, but I try to put words to why they may be all out of sorts.

  3. Ugh, boo! Vacation can be so overwhelming at this age. We made the mistake of going away a couple of weeks ago and our 2 year old would not sleep. AT ALL. She wouldn’t nap or sleep at night, so after the first night from hell, I drove her back and forth from home to where my in-laws were staying (~1 hour 15 min each way) for 3 days. It was incredibly exhausting and not remotely relaxing. And, to top it off, after that was over, she wouldn’t sleep at home! It took a little while, but we got her back on a schedule. And it scared her so much I am afraid she is scared for life. She still talks about it and starts to cry. :( It was honestly so much of a disruption that I have zero desire to go away again.
    But she did return to normal, so hopefully Owen does too ASAP! After a week or so getting back in a routine, I would be he will be just fine.

  4. @Elizabeth McCracken, You’re so right. I actually blew up this morning when he was wailing in Benjamin’s face and not allowing him to change his diaper because he wanted ME to do it, but I was already late to catch my train to work. I yelled from downstairs that he’d better STOP CRYING and COOPERATE and COME DOWNSTAIRS RIGHT NOW. He stopped crying the second he heard my voice so angry. I’m not proud of how I reacted, but it certainly got his attention.

    @Alison, I am SO glad to hear that. I will repeat it to myself: “This will not last forever. This will not last forever. This will not last forever.”

    @Megan, Whoa, that sounds intense! I’m so sorry!

  5. Toooootally an age thing. Amber is passing into more epic meltdown territory as well. They’re working on so much. Take a step back and realize “we’re in it”. Should be back to relative normal in a few weeks, there will be a glorious lull, you’ll let down your defenses and then BAM: boundary testing again.

    The joys of toddler hood ;-) (can you tell we’re in the same place over here? Toddler moms unite! Here’s some virtual wine…)

  6. Owen sounds like my 2 year old son. Except we deal with this pretty much every day :) Part of it I blame on his new sister, but mostly it’s just being 2 I think. I tell myself to hang in there and this will pass soon enough. Good luck! It’s hard not to yell.

  7. When in doubt, blame 2 year molars. It’s what helps keep me sane. Sure, we still don’t actually HAVE them yet, but I like blaming them. If my toddler was Germany, those molars would be the Jews.

  8. It definitely sounds like he’s a 2-yr old who just got back from a wonderful vacation. Sorry he is acting up … it’ll pass. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

  9. Really, Kara, really?

  10. The EXACT same thing happened to Maeve after we got home. For the first time I actually kind of didn’t like my kid. Don’t get me wrong, I always love her–but I think it’s OK if we go through phases of not exactly liking them at the moment. Anyway, after about a week of normal schedules, catching up on sleep and coming down hard on bad behaviors (lots of time outs) my precious little girl was back. Now, of course, being 2 she still has her moments, and still spends time in time out–but it’s nothing like that first week. Hang in there! Maybe now is a good time to read up on “Magic 123″?

  11. Cameron has his moments like that too when he is a sweetheart 95% of the time. It bothers me just like you. It’s a roller coaster of toddlerhood and I think you’re exactly right. A week off of routine and all of that would definitely throw him off, but in a week, I’m sure he’ll be back into his old self ways again. And per your response above, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being angry and yelling up/down the stairs – they need to learn the “angry” tone and it sounds like he understood it! It’s when parents find themselves yelling all.the.time that it becomes ineffective! It’s SUPER hard to keep calm and appear all cool when they are not listening!

  12. Oh, man. It happened to us and we had not even been on vacation. We had this awesome kid and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, for two weeks we had someone else’s demon child. Seriously. She suddenly was throwing actual *fits* all the time. She was hitting at parents. She bit Mama. BIt her! Where was our daughter?

    We struggled through it. We tried to be calm and continue to believe in and implement our parenting techniques. We second guessed ourselves. And wondered about teeth. We got a little sterner because some things must have dire consequences. When it became clear that things were worse for Mama than for Daddy and me, we rearranged our schedules as much as we could to make sure that Mama did not have to solo if we could avoid it.

    And then it just went away. Seriously. Just like it came out of nowhere, it went back into nowhere. Sure, we have all kinds of theories. In hindsight, our best theory is that her brain was going through some kind of serious development right there and she just could not keep her sh*t together.

    It happened when she was about 2.5 years old. That was about a year and a half ago. We’ve seen similar incidents since then, where there will be a bad few days. But only rarely and never for two solid weeks like that.

    So, yeah, this is a long way of saying what others have said: This will not last forever.

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