Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moments to Remember: Crying Uncle!

People often talked about the ‘Terrible Twos’ but truly two wasn’t too bad at all.

Now 3…that’s proving to be more of a challenge.  My amazing little girl is strong and has a mind of her own and even though most of the time she listens willingly, there are also times on a daily hourly basis when she chooses to exert this new independence.  Sometimes we just go with the flow and other times…oy!  It’s tough!! 

Most of this blog is upbeat, fun and shares some of what we do.  Today I want to share another part of our life right now that isn’t as much fun but I still want to record it as someday I know the memory will fade…even though today I wish it would!

Daycare pickup continues to be a challenge.  It’s only a 5 minute window but still a challenge almost every-single-day!  Ugh!!  (She’s fine for Mom when she picks her up on Thursdays.  Hmmm…)  Ange and I are working together to figure out how to help Hannah through this transition but so far have yet to figure out a good solution.  Ange now has her boys say goodbye as soon as I get there and they go into the family room which is helpful but the challenge continues to be Hannah.  I think it’s a combination of her having fun with her friends and not wanting to leave along with her way of showing me that she’s not impressed that I left her for an entire day.   Add to that that it’s 5:15 and she’s getting hungry and we have the recipe for challenge.

Hannah shows her independence by not coming to the door or if she does she then turns and runs away.  When I finally have hold of her she’s often uncooperative with putting her coat on and her legs turn to spaghetti when it’s time to put her shoes or boots on.  What should be an enjoyable time of the day as we’re back together again is a daily challenge. 

Once she’s in her car seat she’s great once again and happy tells me about her day.  It’s only the transition time that is rough and by that time in the day I’m tired and hungry too so my patience is decreased.

Today she was particularly upset about having to leave the sandbox she was playing in even though I gave her two countdown warnings that we’d need to leave.  When it was time she did her normal routine of saying, ‘No’ and not moving.  I moved to her, explained that we needed to go and took her hand.  With a little coaxing she came out of the sandbox but then did the spaghetti leg routine and crumbled at my feet.  I reached down, picked her up and the wiggling began, complete with kicking her feet thus causing her boots to fly off.  I put her down and asked her to put her boots back on which was met with a whining, ‘I don’t know how!’  After one more request I picked her up plus her boots and headed to the car.  She was not impressed!!  As we made our way between the houses on the way to the front yard she was yelling, wiggling and then to be sure I knew she meant business she reached up and slapped my face! 

Oh baby, this mommy was doing her best to stay calm but it took a lot of effort on my part!

To avoid being hit again I slipped her into a football carry and took her to the car that way, all the time the wiggling, kicking and yelling (no more hitting) continued.  I put her into her car seat and got into the driver’s seat.  She didn’t even ask for her car snack as she knew that was long gone. 

Normally our drives are upbeat and happy but today it was quiet….very quiet.  She was still mad and I was still trying to calm myself down.  I can take a lot but when the hitting begins it takes conscious effort to stay calm.

When we got close to home (about 5 min drive) I attempted to quietly talk about what had happened but Hannah was having none of it.  She was still ticked off as her body language of crossed arms, head to the side and eyes firmly closed told me.  I told her that she needed to cooperate at daycare pickup and when it’s time to leave she needs to come with mommy.

That was met with a resounding, ‘NO!!!’ so I knew she needed more time.  I’m pretty sure it was at that point that I yelled back at her so mommy needed time too.

I wanted to drop something off at a friend’s house so stopped by our place to pick it up and then headed there.  My friend Carol was just going in her house when I drove up and collapsed in tears in her arms.  I try to stay strong so much of the time but there are times when this mommy gig is just tough and it’s ok to cry!  We went back to the car and I shared with her some of the challenges and she listened quietly and offered her support.  Her kiddos are teenagers now but she remembers the time when they were little and the challenges that it offers.  She was a great listening ear at a time that I really needed it and was also able to offer some new ideas of what I might try to see if we can find a new calm at daycare pickup.  Thank you Carol!  I appreciate you so much for so many reasons and today was just one of the many.  Love you!

By the time we got home Hannah had calmed down and told me she was sorry.  I told her I was sorry too for yelling when I was upset.  I told her I forgave her but knew that I was a little quieter than normal after that.  I hate that this daily transition is so difficult and wish I could find a way to make it easier for both of us.

I prepared supper for us and we enjoyed that together and talked a little more about daycare pickup and what is expected.  Normally once something is done, it’s done and I don’t bring it up again but this has been a challenge for a number of months and we need to find a resolution so we talked about it when we were sitting close, calm and fed.  

Tomorrow is a brand new day and I’m hoping that today’s challenge and what we learned from it will make tomorrow’s daycare pick up go more smoothly.

Here’s to a brand new day!

Have any of you struggled with this or something similar?  What worked for your family?


  1. Oh sweetie, no advice here, just hugs!! Oh, and kudos for staying calm -- that is tough tough tough when your kiddo is pushing every big button she can. I'm not so great at that, but trying!

    1. Unfortunately I didn't stay nearly as calm as I wish I had. By the time we were in the car and she yelled, 'NO!' I yelled right back at her! Not one of my finer mommy moments and it has induced much guilt tonight and yet at the same time I know I'd be doing her no favours if I let her continuously get away with such behaviours. Tough tough tough for sure!

  2. Oh, that is so hard! Especially when it's dinnertime. Maybe she could already have her coat and shoes on when you arrive? Xanthe will hide when I pick her up at a friend's house and it's so embarrassing. If Ange had her ready to walk out the door, maybe she wouldn't try to test her independence in mommy. Who knows? You're a wonderful, thoughtful mom. It will all work out. Good luck!

    1. That's a good suggestion Circe. I'm going to see how the rest of the week goes. When I pick Hannah up I enjoy a quick chat with Ange each evening to see how their day went and what they did. Hopefully tonight's experience was enough that Hannah will remember tomorrow that when it's time to go, she needs to do so without a fight. If not, I'm going to try your method for sure.

  3. Oh Catherine....Im so sorry you are going thru this. I know how tough it is, especially at the end of the day. When Channing first came home from China and I would pick her up from Montessori at lunch time (she only went 1/2 days then) she did not want to leave. She would be kicking and screaming while I carried her out of the school. At that time she was used to staying at school all day & night (being in the orphanage) and didnt know why she had to leave. So after about a week I couldnt handle the kicking & screaming I finally broke down and bribed her with something she loved (she came from China with a great love of GUM). I bribed her with a double bubble. I told her when i got to the school if she walked out holding my hand she could have bubble gum in the car. Worked like a charm! Not a fan of bribery...but whatever works at that time & only had to do the gum trick about a few days then the routine was down pat. Good Luck & hope Hannah's phase passes QUICK! Hang in there....HUGS

  4. Oh my... I thought I was reading my life on your blog! I have been in tears for four days... Mostly missing my mom but put over the edge by Tate's behavior. There is a battle over EVERYTHING! Almost call M3 to see if she wanted another child... Tate. I hear the 3.5-4 is the hardest then it gets so much better. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, Tate will be 4 in August. Hope I survive.

    Good luck... you are a great mom.

  5. To build on what Circe said, could you include some kind of reward system, sticker chart, that she earns stickers for. Maybe if she comes the first time without you having to get her, she gets a sticker. If she puts her shoes and coat on without a fuss, she gets a sticker, and saying goodbye and thank you to Ange without a fuss a sticker. That's three little stickers each day. On Friday if she has say 10/15 stickers to start, she gets some kind of reward, treat, snack, special activity with you. You could also make a little social story about this time of day. I'll think some more but how hard it must have been for you when she hit you! You did very well to stay so calm.

  6. We used to have the problem in the mornings. In the end I just dropped off and left immediately. Even if she was crying or screaming. I would sometimes sit in the car and cry but the staff always said she was fine as soon as I was out of sight.

    In your case, I'd give her 5 minute warning. Then just pick her up and carry to the car. Forget about trying to get boots etc on.

  7. My girl is just a month younger than yours - 3 is definitely a challenge. I got hit in the face the other day on my glasses and also did the yelling, so I can relate!

    A little reward system has worked for us on flossing teeth and getting out the door in the morning (who knew a 3 year old can take five minutes to put on one shoe?!!). Hannah probably figures you are not ready to leave yet when you arrive so the having her ready when you arrive (call from outside??) may help for a few days.

    Good luck and hang in there!

  8. Longtime reader - just wanted to say I love these posts. Through your honesty, your love for and desire to be the best person for Hannah comes through so clearly.

    Transitions are hard. Sticker charts and small prizes always help do the trick around here - also can her sitter start prepping her for your arrival in advance? Turn it into a game? How many minutes until Mommy gets here?

  9. Yep, "Terrible Twos" almost always IS a lie propogated by the toddler elite so you'll let your guard down and be unprepared for the real onslaught: Three.

    Good knows, though, Four is AMAZING.

  10. I would have her daycare provider make sure she is dressed and ready before you come in. Maybe you could call her 5 minutes before you get there and she could start getting her ready and be enthusiastic about her getting to see Mommy and what fun you both will have at home that evening. Then when you arrive and if she is dressed she can receive lots of verbal praise and hugs for following directions.
    Another suggestion is to make a picture schedule to show her what is expected at pick up time. Such as shoes on, coat on, say bye bye, go to car, seat belt, etc. If she refuses to do these steps, I would take her, football hold if necessary, to the car as is and let her know that you will NOT allow her to dictate when she will or will not leave.
    I felt 3s were harder than 2s also. Maybe because we missed the first year or so of our kiddo's lives, they are saving it for later!
    There have been times that we have walked out the door and the kids have no shoes on or are not ready. I had prewarned them that if they were not ready they would go to school/daycare in their jammies, barefoot, whatever. It only takes a time or to of following through with you command for them to get it. Don't back down and do NOT give her "one more chance." She has to know who is boss.

  11. Catherine,
    I am a single Mom to 3, soon to be 4 adopted kids.
    This was the most painful momemt of all.
    As I read your note I thought right away that Hannah is showing you she is ready for preschool. The increased structure, discipline, need for meeting expectations may help. And it will interupt this unfortunate cycle, she will be happy to see you at the end of the day. So instead of the bad behavior being a focus it will be a distant memory. Sounds like she has bonded to you, she may not need so much intimacy, may need more opportunities to learn.
    Just my experience , you will have yours,
    My name is Joan, I need to publish anonymously though

  12. I am the mom of a terrific four year old adopted from China. And I would definitely say that age 3 was the most challenging, and 4 has been a dream, so I'm sure that better days are to come!
    We very sparingly (for two major issues) have used sticker charts in our house for difficult and challenging lessons and they have worked like a charm. The idea of not getting a sticker is too much to bear for my little girl. We do them for 3 weeks at a time (3 weeks to make a new habit!), and then there is a reward at the end (although I've discovered that's really optional, because it's the day to day interactions about the chart that are the most meaningful). We did our first Chart when our daughter was 3 3/4; I'm not sure she would have been developmentally ready for it much before then - although it sounds like Hannah may be more mature than my girl was at her age. So generally I agree with others that you should think about what "reward" would motivate your little girl, and give it a try. I'm not one for bribes myself, but at this age, it really does work for those sticky situations.

    I also lost my cool a few times when my little one was two and three, and I sincerely regret those moments. It is so hard when the young ones don't understand the impact of their behaviour. But what I find now is that my girl really gets the impact of bad behaviour, and responds appropriately way before we ever get to the point of lost tempers or harsh words.

    Good luck! I know that you view motherhood as I do, that is the best thing that ever happened to me and a blessing. But that doesn't mean it's always perfection and rainbows!!

    Catherine in Winnipeg

  13. Oh My Friend! How tough it can be at times. I am so sorry that you and Hannah are having this struggle. It seems to be the consenses that three is tougher than two. Z has only been three for four days and I can tell already that three is going to be a rough ride.

    Saturday morning Z didn't like what we were doing and he didn't want to have any part of it so he bit me. He bit hard on my shoulder. I was shocked and instantly yelled and dropped him. Not my finer moment, but I couldn't wrap my brain around what just happened.

    Many people have given you lots of good suggestions. I think, for me, consistency is the key. I feel that Z is pushing new buttons because he is testing for wider boundaries. He is constantly testing. As hard as it is at times and I up for all of his tests. I hope to be as consistent as possible, and as even tempered as feasible. I know there will be days that are going to be rough, but I am in to win the war - not each and every battle. (Hope that doesn't sound silly.) ;o)

    Big Hugs to you both. You know I think you are amazing. You do a really tough job, and I marvel at how well you do it, and how easy you make it look. Love you.

  14. I agree with the poster that suggested that your daycare provider get Hannah ready five minutes before you arrive. You could perhaps call from your cell phone to say when you will arrive. IF this is part of the routine that Hannah expects and if your daycare provider is consistent about this, then this will help.

    Also, I have to say that hitting mommy is never acceptable; even from a three year old. Some consistent discussions about why hitting is never okay is a great idea over the long term. I agree; not in the 'heat of the moment'...but when Hannah is rested.

    This will pass...I promise...

  15. We are going through the same thing... right down to the boots and the slap on the face... but mine was in a store parking lot.

    I lost my cool and she tantrumed for 1 hour. The next day I got online and was looking for parenting books for strong willed children. I found 1-2-3 Magic and thought, what the heck, I'll give it a try. It has worked for me. I will say though that it may mean that Hannah has to go in timeout at the sitters before you get in the car, or the alternative time out is removal of a priveledge (like going to bed early, don't get to read special book,etc.) So far it has helped us. I've got my fingers crossed that it continues.

  16. My son has special needs and transitions among many other things are hard. I have been hit countless times and well as bit, hair pulled etc. The football hold is common around my world.
    If I may offer a suggestion can you ask the babysitter to start prepping Hannah to warn her you are coming to get her. Maybe 15 min before or when you call and say you are on the way she can start to separate her from the other kids. Start having her to a quiet activity she enjoys and can finish in the car at the table of front room. Just something to help her prepare herself to leave. I hope you find something that works.

  17. We had a similar power struggle over getting into the car to go anywhere. My son was motivated by mints, and I always have a container of the small breath mints in the car. So he gets one mint if he gets right in the car and puts his seat belt on immediately. We started this at four years old. Good luck, I think you are doing a great job!

  18. I was never one to bribe my kids to do the things i asked them to do. I figured that it should be enough for them to obey me because i was Mummy. Which is not to say that we didn't have power struggles! We had tons. And depending on the situation, sometimes a compromise was reached. But when it was a big deal, i always felt that i had to win it. And first time obedience was a big deal. If i said COME,PLEASE and they didn't, i didn't ask again. I just went to where they were and picked them up and took them out (generally kicking and screaming haha). And probably they got a smack on the bum.

    Catherine, you're doing a great job with Hannah. My hat is off to you! Hang in there because all too soon this stage will pass. :)

  19. Thank you for sharing your struggle. It's actually a relief when I read about other Mommies having struggles with their children. It's a comfort to know that we are not alone in our journey to raise our kiddos to the best of our abilities.

    My daughter was feisty and spicy since we adopted her at the tender age of 10 months and once she started figuring out her independence in her twos, her feistiness got worse. When her 3rd birthday rolled around I thought there was a light at the end of tunnel but nobody told me that the 3's were actually worse than the 2's. Her third year was my toughest and I was one stressed out Mama. I finally figured out that the reward charts and immediate consequences for bad behavior worked for us. Now we are only two weeks away from her 5th birthday. Her 4th year was a dream. She has her independence but now that we can have a back and forth conversation with one another, transitions, decisions, and negotiations are much smoother now.

    I put together a little bucket full of inexpensive goodies and then bought the Melissa and Doug magnetic reward chart. When she got through the day without a tantrum, she got the smiley face. If she had at least 5 days with smiley faces, then she got to pick something from the bucket. It worked wonders!

    ((Hugs)) to you.

    1. I think this is a wonderful idea. And I love this sentiment: "It's a comfort to know that we are not alone in our journey to raise our kiddos to the best of our abilities." Catherine, I've been lurking long enough (since way before you brought Hannah home) to know you are a very positive, upbeat person (a quality that eludes me). That's your gift to Hannah, for sure, but I think it's important to let our babies see us at our less upbeat moments so they see how we recover from adversity/frustration/flat-out anger. Oh, and another thought: Hannah is so clearly and completely attached that she feels totally safe behaving this way with you. She trusts that you aren't going to walk away. I'm sure she trusts your mom, too, but you are the one she's going to test and test. Over and over. It's what kids do. I admire your energy and your strength. I'm glad you had a friend you could break down with. That's also very important. Power on, Mama!

  20. This is SOOOOO common, and yep it could be avoided if she is ready when you get there, and you and Ange could to find another way/ time to communicate... but she may just stop, ours did!

  21. What if you called the daycare provider when you were leaving work and she could have Hannah "ready" when you get there. She only seems to have the transition problem for you because you said she didn't do it with your mom.

    I remember going through those days with my sons. Used to irk me to no end! Like they didn't need me! I was crushed and angry at the same time. If your sitter is willing to try this method, it may help. Are you still doing the car snack thing? Maybe have the sitter ready her and hold the car snack in site and when you show up, Hannah will gladly go to the car to get that snack already in her sites.

    I hope things improve. Really, she is just making you stronger for those dreaded teenage years......I know from experience! That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!!


  22. I think when she goes to daycare and EVERYONE leaves, your problem will disappear. Right now, her buddies continue to play, and only Hannah has to leave! I would agree, for now, start a reward chart, and work towards inexpensive prizes.

  23. She may be mad, but she is also aware she is getting attention. As a Mom and former daycare provider, she may need you to not be sympathetic about this. She needs to feel that you are okay with her going to daycare - your confidence will equal hers. I don't mean to sound harsh - that really isn't my style, but sometimes, in certain situations children need the cut and dry, emotionless, "I am mom and you will do this - no discussion.' Again, I am a huge believer in talking about feelings/expressing ourselves--but if this has been going on for a month or more, this may be one of those times when the attention stops and she must follow through. When I was the provider, it really helped when I got a phone call 5 minutes or so prior to pick-up. Everything would go in the bag (usually the kiddos loved helping with that), shoes went on and their coat was in hand. For one child who was having a hard time, we followed that routine, and until things smoothed out, his mom and I didn't really even talk when she got there- we had a combined here's your coat, hug goodbye, adn I shut the door. Mom and I would touch base via phone later. It also helped that I reminded the child everyday what was expected right before his Mom got there. She also instituted a sticker chart at home (she may have kept it in the car for instant effect) - everytime he did what was expected at pick-up, he got a sticker - after a set number of stickers they did something special together. I normally don't go the bribery route, but like that she explained to him that he had to cooperate b/c it is the right thing. However, sometimes we all need a little help breaking a bad habit, so they were going to try it for just a little while. Things turned around FAST. After a few weeks, she told him that she was so proud of him and they didn't need that sticker chart anymore - now they had extra time to be together and have fun because they didn't waste time at pick up. Once things were going smoothly for a while, the mom and I could visit again at pick-up time. Oh - and make sure you are consistant with count downs. If you give a countdown, that's it - don't give another one - if you do, she won't know if you really mean it this time.
    It is obvious from your blog that you are a great mom. I really believe 3 is the hardest age- fiesty, fun, and frustrating all at once! You know your kiddo best - if my ideas help, great- if you think that's not so great with your kiddo, I'm sure it will work out! Hang in There!

  24. OMG, been there. Frustrating. Have ZERO tolerance! When I would come to pick her up and she was doing something fun, she would shoot me the evil eye! I would kindly tell her it's time to go and if the drama started I would say "excuse me" in my Atitude of Atitudes! If she even muttered something I would pick her up and toss her over my shoulder and head out. Shoes/no Shoes...didn't care. No talking. No snacks on the car ride home. (no snack is the kiss of death for G) Sometimes I'd have to give a verbal warning if the drama from her mouth got too bad. Occassionally I've pulled the car over and spanked her heiny!! (yes I do...when deemed necessary) Done THAT on I95 too! I can't drive safely with a SCREAMY BANSHEE in the car...it's just not safe. We always talk about the behavior when we pull into our driveway. I tell her it's unacceptable. I tell her I don't want her to do it tomorrow and if she does...same result. Do it five days in a row (stubborn girl) and EVENTUALLY she gets the hint and stops. Slapping your face in UNACCEPTABLE. Our kids are adorable and good 95% of the time but oye...that 5% is KILLER! I am VERY VERY tough during that 5% with ZERO tolerance. My fear is that as a single mom I have a teenager that I just cannot handle and in this world of today, that scares the life out of me. Yes, it's DRAMA. Do what you have to DO. DON'T feel guilty as it is only 5% TOUGH PARENTING and the rest will be lovey dovey kind! She will respect you and love you for your boundaries and consistancey. I truely believe. Hugs.

    1. Oh Catherine, I've been going through the same with Meigan. I think those of us who found the two's to be terrific, pay for it big time with the three's! It was especially difficult the first month or so, I think Meigan had a big letdown after Christmas and her birthday, and seemed to realize it would be a long time until we celebrated both again. This weekend was tough. I ended up sending her to bed w/o reading to her, after I found a book that she had ripped. She alternated between "that's NOT fair" and "I don't like you." as I put her to bed. Then yesterday after making a mess with puzzles, as I was cleaning up the house, she sat on the couch for an HOUR refusing to pick them back up. ay yi yi.

      I wonder sometimes if it's more challenging for our girls, when it's just the two of us. I know sometimes I fall into the trap of treating Meigan like she's older, because she usually acts like it. But sometimes I think she gets confused about the "equality" between us, esp when I have to make it clear that I'm the one in charge.

      I have found two books helpful, "positive discipline" and "how to talk so kids will listen." In fact, I have the latter in my purse, so I can start re-reading on the way home. :)


  25. Choices, choices, choices. "Do you want to put on your shoes, or do you want me to put on your shoes?" "Do you want to walk to the car or hop to the car?"


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