Oh the joys of having a three year old.
It has been a week since we have returned and the challenge around getting kids back on their normal schedule has been beyond trying. Carter hasn’t been getting enough sleep, the changes of being home, then at my parents, then back home have taken a toll on him and the number of tantrums have quadrupled (if not more). I asked the pediatrician what I could do to try to get him back on a good sleep schedule, knowing that was a large part of why the tantrums were occurring, and her advice was lots and lots of exercise – get their heart rates up.
So yesterday Carter, Gavin and I went on walk while we still had some dry weather. I love where we live – the trail systems are right off our backyard, making it super easy to get out and about. We headed out on one of the side trails that paralleled the street leading to our house (it ran in between houses) and Carter ran and ran for about a third of the trail. Then he wanted to go home. Knowing that wasn’t nearly enough exercise, I kept walking with Gavin, encouraging Carter to catch up. Enter epic tantrum #1. Screaming, yelling, crying “I WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW.” He held his ground, not budging, until he could barely see us and then he ran and ran to catch up (I was still within sprinting distance if something happened and could see him). I think that everyone in the half mile radius surrounding where he was at clearly heard how much he wanted to go home.
We finally reached the road, turned around and headed back to the pipeline along our backyard. When we almost hit it, a jogger ran by. We chatted about jogging and that I was like the jogger when I left the boys with daddy and went on runs throughout the summer. When we got to the pipeline, we watched the jogger make his way up a steep hill, so I asked if they wanted to run up the hill. Carter enthusiastically said yes and off we went.
We got about half way up the hill when I figured that was probably far enough. The boys wanted to run down the hill and after warning them several times to go slow, Carter finally bit the dust. No blood, no scratches or scrapes, just some red hands from where he caught himself. I kissed him and told him we needed to hurry it up – Gavin was still running down the hill. So I took off after Gavin, leaving Carter to completely melt down AGAIN. Enter epic tantrum #2. More screaming, more crying, more yelling. This time it was, “MOMMY PICK ME UP!”
I made the decision to not reward that behavior and refused to go get him. He stayed about a quarter of the way up the hill while Gavin and I made our way to the bridge into the backyard. I bet he was a good football field length away, still screaming, still crying, still yelling. Again, I apologize to anyone living in a half mile radius of him. I tried to encourage him to hurry it up and run home, but he wouldn’t budge.
He finally did panic enough to start running home, but it took me sliding out of his view (I could still easily see him). I know that I am going to get the criticism for scaring him, people will say that I likely scarred him and he will now have abandonment issues because I left him and I was out of his sight line. And while those thoughts did cross my mind, so did the fact that he and I would both stand our ground and stare at each other until it got dark out. Because we are both that stubborn.
So I have been reading up on how to handle the tantrums, not wanting to further damage my kid, and found out that for the most part, I did exactly what the experts suggest – Ignore it and keep moving with your day.
Now I am going to remember a different time – where there were still tough moments, but they had more to do with lack of sleep. Oh wait, that still hasn’t changed with him, haha. Hard to believe he was this little just three years ago and despite the challenges of having a strong willed little boy, I love the joy and amusement he brings us every day.