Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old McDonald's and Daycare Distress

You know how kids say the darndest things? Occassionally Jacob will say something adorable or funny, though it's usually such a fleeting moment that I don't remember it long enough to post it. Lately we've had an on-going funny thing, and yesterday it went to a whole new level.

Have I mentioned that Jacob likes to sing a lot? He can frequently be heard singing the alphabet song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary had a Little Lamb, The Farmer in the Dell, and Old MacDonald, among other things. He's also surprised me with spoken excerpts of Humpty Dumpty and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Not all of it is clear or complete, of course, but the mere fact I can tell what he's saying and it's relatively close to the real thing never ceases to amaze me.

A few weeks back he was singing Old MacDonald a lot. And I guess it happened to correspond with a trip we took to McDonald's (definitely ironic since McDonald's seems a far cry from Old MacDonald and his farm--organic, these days, no doubt). Well, ever since he's been a little confused. Once in a while he'll say he wants to go to "Old MacDonald's". And yes, he's talking about McDonald's, because he usually goes on to reference the golf decor in our local McDonald's, which is located next door to a country club. We don't go to McDonald's a lot, but maybe once a month or so, enough for Jacob to know it fairly well. So he's clearly got Old MacDonald the farmer and McDonald's a little confused. It seemed harmless enough and not worth the explanation. Does it really matter that he might think McDonald's is run by that farmer guy who has the vocal cow, sheep, pig, and dog? Probably not.

Well, yesterday Craig had something to go to at the Ronald McDonald House. I don't quite know why, but he bought this sort of odd, stuffed Ronald McDonald for Jacob. Thankfully it wasn't that expensive, but I find it really quite creepy. Anyway...when Jacob saw it, he thought Ronald was "a baseball guy". I'm not sure where the baseball thing comes from, but he really does see the world through sports-colored glasses, so it probably wouldn't take much. Anyway, he's been happily carrying him around ever since. He even walked him down the hallway last night, which was really cute. But on our way to dinner last night, he kept asking to go to "Old McDonald's" to get a cheeseburger. So odd. The last couple times we were at McDonald's, Jacob barely ate his burger, so I'm hesitant to try it again no matter how much he asks. I guess advertising to kids works, though :) The whole thing is a little bizarre, but it's cute.

The only other thing going on right now is that we're a little stressed about Jacob's recent behavior. Not much has changed around us, actually, but he's gone downhill a bit at daycare. He usually gets a check mark next to "Cooperative" in the adjectives they pick from for how he's been that day. But lately he's been getting a few negative remarks on his daily sheet. Apparently he's been trying to bite kids and the other day he wasn't listening and even tried to wake up his friends at naptime. I don't know if this behavior is due to moving up to the next room, though not much has really changed because the two rooms get together a lot, so I'm not sure why that would trigger anything. The listening issues have been plaguing us a lot at home lately, but I was hopeful that he wouldn't start doing that at daycare because it's one thing for me to deal with it, let alone someone else who's dealing with a bunch of other kids who no doubt are slightly listening deficient as well. But if he doesn't want to do something, Jacob will completely ignore you. No amount of yelling or kneeling down for eye contact does any good. If he wasn't such a good talker (and repeater), I'd wonder if he had a hearing problem. But no, his problem is selective hearing. He just doesn't seem to understand urgency or anger in a voice or facial expression. I'm not sure if he's just being two or if he somehow missed out on something that teaches those social cues. He'll usually just smile and keep doing exactly what you just told him not to. I can't tell you how many times we've been in the middle of the grocery store and he'll be screaming (singing, usually) and he will not quiet down no matter how I try to convince him. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's incredibly frustrating and we're running out of solutions for discipline because nothing seems to impact him--yelling, spanking, gentle talking-to, etc. We're trying to at least be consistent and firm, but it's a battle. I feel bad that other people have to deal with that. I have no idea where the biting thing came from, though I have a suspicion that he's not actually trying to bite. I've noticed a couple times lately (and let it play out last night when he did it to me) that he'll basically just try to mouth my arm. He'll put his mouth on it like he's trying to bite it, but he doesn't actually bite. That's not to say he wouldn't, but based on what I've experienced, he hasn't. I have no idea why he'd want to do that, however, so I'm still rather perplexed about the behavior as a whole.

We know that a lot of his negative behavior mostly takes place around us. It's what kids do. I think the psychiatric explanation for it is that they're comfortable with their parents so they'll take liberties and test boundaries when they're with them because they're exploring their world and don't feel comfortable enough to risk it with other people. I get that, and that's fine. And maybe he's just gotten so comfortable with the folks at daycare that he's starting to act out there as well. I just don't know why he feels the need to do it, though. Attention? Maybe, but it's hard when he doesn't know the difference between positive and negative attention. I try to compliment him when he does something well (eating dinner, listening to me, generally being cooperative), but apparently that's not enough. It's just sad to see your child act out, because you don't know the cause behind it (Did you set them up to fail? Is there something bothering them?), and you feel bad for anyone impacted by it (yourself included). I just keep hoping it's the age and not some greater issue that he's anti-social or tortured by something. Ahh, just one more thing to ponder as a parent...awesome.

No comments: