I remember when my son was just turning 18 months, right around the time he entered the terrible twos. He was always a little ahead of the curve. I remember coming home from a summer walk, me, the kiddo, the dogs and my husband. It was a beautiful evening. Perfect.
I remember walking in the door, to be confronted by a sassy-as-can-be almost two-year old. I looked at my husband and said, “It’s normal to be completely annoyed with our child, right?”
That was over two years ago. The kiddo, now approaching his fourth birthday, has entered a whole new stage of annoying. The backtalk stage.
Not a single day goes by without him saying the exact opposite of what I’m saying. Of responding with “I’m NEVER gonna!” to every single request I make of him. From going potty to washing his hands to helping me make rice krispie treats. His go-to response is “No”. “I’ll never”.
You can’t make me and we both know it.
I handle this in a variety of ways. Battling with him to the bitter end, which seldom results in either of us feeling good. Compromising. Tricking him. And more often than not, just flat out ignoring him. Here’s a little secret, he’s probably going to do what I asked anyway. He just wants me to know that he has the power to say no.
After an extremely long week of single-parenting the boys while my husband was traveling for work, I was just done being a mom. So much so that at the end of bedtime on Saturday night, I looked at my husband and tears trickled out of my eyes. I had no control over them. I was just so completely burnt out.
What sent me over the edge? The attitude coming out of the kiddo. Everything is a battle with him, which comes with the age. But more than that, it was realizing that he’s doing these things to get under my skin.
He has learned how to annoy me, and he’s using it like a weapon of mass destruction. And I am completely unprepared to deal with it.
Ignoring only works if I can hold out longer than he can. Most of the time he’ll continue the behavior until I finally give him the attention he’s looking for. Attention which usually includes the “mom look” I’ve crafted over the last few years. You know that look, right? The one that you give your kids which silently says “you better stop that RIGHT NOW”.
I’ve tried changing the subject, which results in him ignoring me, and going right back to the annoying behavior.
I’ve tried giving him choices, asking questions to lead him to the desired behavior. Both of which are met with one of these most stubborn faces I’ve ever seen.
I’ve tried reasoning. I’ve tried consequences. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried.
Until finally, brilliance struck. There’s very little that I can do. Kids were put on this earth for so many reasons. To bring us joy. To give us worry. To fill our bodies, hearts and souls with love. But above all, they were put on this planet to annoy the heck out of us.
Let me just say, my son, he’s perfected the art of annoying.
And me? I’ve learned that it’s okay to be annoyed with your child. In fact, it’s okay if he’s annoyed with me too. It would probably be weird if he wasn’t.