Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Being a Little Kid Sucks

Julia has been engaging in non-stop naughtiness for a couple of days now. Yesterday, as we were buckling up in the car to go on a fabulous, fun and exciting trip, she decided she was just going to DIE if she didn't get a drink. The in-laws are standing in the driveway, I have the baby buckled in, and the two big kids in the back seat and it's hot and we're going to lunch first and I don't want to get her a drink. I just want her to zip her trap and sit down and let us get on the road.

But instead, she completely lost her shit. Crying, blubbering, arching her back, yelling. And she is so unbelievably loud. She opens her mouth and emits a sound that is like a tornado siren, "BUT I-I-I-I-IIII'MMMMM SO-OH-OH-OH-OH THIIIIIIRRRRSSSSSTY!" and the next thing I know, I am yanking her out of the car and carrying her inside, where I sit her on the counter, hold her face with my hands and get nose to nose with her.

You are not being a nice girl! You have been naughty all day! You hit your cousin! You tripped your brother! You are yelling and being naughty! What is wrong with you?

She looks at me with big, wet eyes, face streaked with tears, hair plastered to her head and, between great, wracking sobs says "I am only four years old! I just do these things!"


There is something about Julia that pushes every button I have. Whether it's her tenacity (relentless), her volume (supersonic), her temper (ferocious), when she wants to get under my skin, she can do it with lightening speed. I have lost my temper with her a shameful number of times. I have yelled and threatened and been less the kind of parent I want to be with her than my other children. Simply put, she makes me crazy.

Then she looks at me with that angelic face and says something like "I am only four years old! I just do these things!" and I remember that she is this very small person, who - more than anything in the world - wants and needs my love. It is very humbling.

Four is the kind of hard that I have no memory of. Four is just old enough to know what you want, but too little to know how to get it most of the time. Four is too small to soldier on when you're tired or hungry. Four is a black hole, attention sucking vortex. Four has no voice modulation. Julia at four is stuck in the middle, and that's a tough spot to be in at any age. She's spent the past couple of weeks trying to assert her place with the visiting grandparents and cousin. She has plenty of competition for their attention and affection, and it's been hard work for a little kid.

Tonight, everyone else (minus the baby) is out of the house. Julia and I played Hullabaloo and ate pizza and she is waiting patiently for her brother to go to sleep. Then we'll watch a movie together and she'll sleep in our room, cuddling close to me in the big bed. Because she needs to know that, to me, there is no Julia in the middle. That she isn't stuck there, between being the big kid and being the baby. That she is as special and loved and cherished as her brother and sister, even if she spends more time in the corner than either of them combined. She is, after all, only four years old. She just does those things.


  1. that is so sweet!!

  2. This is now my favorite post, I want to go hold my four year old right now. Thanks!

  3. Augh! You're killing me! There have been too many nights that I have wanted to cry myself to sleep due to days like that. "I am SUCH a bad mother.. *I am the adult, *they are the kids.. they worship me and I treat them like crudge". And then I vow to have a better day tomorrow and sometimes we do...someimes we don't. However.. 2 things make me happy(ier).. 1- I don't remember being 3,4,5 so they probably won't either and 2- I find comfort knowing that I'm not the only "bad" mom out there.

  4. I totally remember being 3 and 4 and my mom being unendingly impatient with me as she tried to heal from divorcing my father. I don't think she ever really got over me being just as upset as she was about it (at the time). There were a lot of "you sound like a goddamned fire engine"s and "I'll give you something to cry about"s at that time.
    I imagine if she were writing a blog then, this sentiment would have been hers, except you are taking the extra step to make it better and it should make a difference in the future, really. So thank you, from a kid who drove her mom crazy, for doing for your daughter what I needed my mom to do.

  5. Kristen, I think the fact that we want to be better counts for something, right?

    Jodee, that broke my heart. If you were here, I would crawl up in the bed with you, a bowl of popcorn, and the Spongebob movie. <3

  6. This was a wonderful story.....Julia is just being Julia. What I REALLY want to know is when Sean acts up, how are you able to get him on the counter when he's screaming "I'm only 44! With three children! I'm suppose to act this way!!!"???? Just wondering?

  7. Kelly--I just keep my fingers crossed your darling little son doesn't surprise you with: trying to nurse the mother cat, putting her kittens in his suitcase to take them on a trip, pooping on the slide and locking all the car doors before any adult could get him out to go to daycare, including escape from the carseat! I thought I would die before he grew up. We do survive, however. Love the blog.

  8. Mrs. C - thanks! And I'll keep my fingers crossed for the same thing. OMG!

  9. Love this KElly thanks for reminding me to nurture our crazy middle children. Maybe some day there will be a school with lots of brown lockers for them all to be super cool at....miss you!

  10. Kelly, this is a beautiful post and it made me cry, but in a good way.

  11. Sigh. You mean the middle child is harder than the firstborn??? B/c I SWEAR you wrote this post about my first born. He's 5. My middle (well, soon to be middle in about 5 weeks) seems to be my laid back, relaxed one that I actually relate to most of the time. My first born has made it his sole purpose in life to aggravate me to the point I want to scream (in many of the same ways you described). So, this post was
    1.) refreshing to realize I'm not the only one that loses my sh*t, but feels horrendously guilty once the little blessings are asleep and then I crawl in bed and cuddle them and vow to do it better the next day.
    2.) guilty for not remembering more often that they are just little kids and they do have to do these things. My son has just sounded so grown up from a very young age (most people call him an 'old soul') that most of the time it's SO HARD not to remember that he's ONLY XYZ age.
    3.) Inspiring - I *will* be a better, more patient mommy tomorrow.
    4.) scared sh*tless to realize that my middle child (also a girl) could possibly be worse.

    Thanks - I needed this one!
    ps - I did get a "But, mommy...I *just* can't help myself!" one time. Sigh...

  12. There is always an exception to the rule, Mary! #3 is the wildcard, though - let me know how that one works out for you, lol. Good luck!