Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sigh...

There are many things that Jacob excels at. He's very good at sports. He can remember minute details at the most random times. He's a relatively good sleeper. He can eat certain foods (pizza, cereal, snacks) like a vacuum. Unfortunately, he also happens to excel at ignoring instructions and ruining fun activities. His Jekyll & Hyde tendencies were definitely on display this weekend, and it made what should have been a fun weekend rather frustrating. Craig was on the road, and considering our upcoming weekends and the placement of Easter this year, this seemed like a good time to visit my parents. We hadn't been up in a while, not since early March as I recall. As usual we headed up Friday night. We got out early enough that I figured I'd let Jacob watch a movie and he could fall asleep once we got there, relatively close to his normal bedtime. That plan went swimmingly until we were about five minutes from my parents' house and he fell asleep. I did manage to get him into the house, into his pajamas and into bed without a full wake-up. He did rouse a bit but seemed a little dopey still, so I figured he'd drop right back off. No such luck. I think he was awake until after 10:30, and then woke up at 6am!! He never does that at home, even with the earliest of bedtimes. I knew right then that it might be a rough couple days. I let him snuggle with me a bit and eventually he did fall back to sleep for a little while. The morning wasn't horrible, but then again, we didn't do much. I actually went out for a half-hour run (about 2.75 miles, I think) since the weather was so pleasant. Things got a little challenging near the end of lunch, and his nap was much anticipated. But despite well over two hours of sleep, he woke up difficult. Not a good sign. On the agenda for the afternoon was golf. First we went outside for the first crack at real golf with the clubs my parents got him for Christmas. He did surprisingly well, all things considered. We figure he could do it all day if given the chance. I'll post some videos tomorrow. Here's a preview...He's been studying golf swings via the videos of my parents checking their swings, which my dad keeps on his iPad. He always asks to watch them. He generally made good contact with the ball and even managed to hit a couple good ones. He did really well when they tried again on Sunday. Interesting, if nothing else. Next on the agenda was mini-golf. Jacob has been begging to go all winter, and actually pretty much since last summer when we took him. We drive by a course every day on our way to daycare, so it's tough to forget about it. Alas, Western New York weather isn't particularly conducive to mini-golf in the winter, so we had no choice but to wait. Still, I figured there had to be indoor courses around somewhere. I finally found one just a few minutes from my parents, in their local golf dome. I thought it might be a good reward for Jacob filling in the potty section of his potty chart. It took over two months, but it was a lot of squares and he's not home a lot, so I don't know how successful that is. Not very, I suppose, since we'd ideally hope for at least a couple pees each day and there were only 29 spots on the chart. Still, he did it, so off we went.

Looks sort of lush and tropical, doesn't it? It was a pleasant atmosphere, almost to the point where you could fool yourself that it was a cloudy day somewhere nicer. The driving range was nearby (white structure to the left of the picture), and Jacob probably could have watched the golfers all day. At first mini-golf was sort of cute. He putted pretty well but he kept picking up his ball and putting again. I noted that it was an improvement from the last time we went, when he'd putt once, pick up his ball, and drop it in the hole. At least he understood that you need to put it into the hole this time. But eventually it got to be difficult. He never wanted to move on to the next hole, he was dragging his putter, throwing his ball, and getting into the real sand traps on each hole. And no matter what we did, he wouldn't listen. It got old very fast and it was a very long course. Normally that's a good thing, but not in that scenario. On the bright side, he didn't try to throw anything into the various koi ponds throughout the course. I thought that would have been his first target. It was pretty painful in general, regardless, and we were all relieved when it was over. Here are a couple shots--one of his hockey-esque stance that we're trying to get him out of the habit of... And another of him looking like an old pro... And one of him checking out the fish and simultaneously ignoring my request to turn and smile for a picture... The rest of the weekend things were back and forth, from good moments to bad moments. We ate a couple meals, went to church, and saw my grandma...all with pretty mixed success. He had good moments and bad moments, and I'm still convinced that he's just hyper-sensitive to changes in his sleeping patterns. I'm not sure what that means for future weekends. Do we leave first thing Saturday and miss a few good hours? Do I force myself to pack every single thing possible Thursday night so we can leave super early on Friday after work? I always try that latter option but it just never seems to work, as we have too many things that we use on Friday morning. So frustrating!

It just kills me that we try to do fun things with Jacob and his inability to listen and obey just ruins things. This isn't a new problem, as this was an issue at least as far back as last February when we took Jacob to the Strong National Museum of Play. That fun day was ruined by Jacob's difficult behavior as well. On one hand you wonder why we put ourselves through this torture. On the other hand, life will get awfully boring if all we do is sit around the house waiting for him to learn how to behave. I want to provide him with different experiences and encourage him to learn to be a good boy in those situations...because if he's a good boy, we'll be more willing to do more fun things. It's also very frustrating as a working parent to finally get a couple uninterrupted days with your child, only to spend most of the time yelling, disciplining, and obsessing over how to make it through an activity without a meltdown.

I keep hearing that three year olds are just as bad, if not worse, and it scares me a little. I keep hoping that one of these days he'll just all of a sudden understand empathy and logic, and even if we have to talk him through why his behavior is a problem, at least he'll get it once we do. But right now he just gets in these moods--often out of the blue--where he's got this mean streak. You can see it in his face and his behavior, and no matter what we do or say, it's not easy to get him to listen or obey or just be gentle. Moments like that make me worry that there's something more at play. I wonder if he'll end up diagnosed with ADHD or something else, and these are warning signs despite the fact that he seems perfectly healthy to most casual observers. Some days it seems like this just can't be normal. I look up at the board at daycare and see so many other kids with five stickers, and wonder why, just this once, peer pressure can't do its thing. Why can't my child seem to understand that his behavior causes problems, and that all the stern warnings aren't something to laugh at? He can be so smart, so his lack of understanding is that much more confounding. I just keep repeating to myself, "Someday..."

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