It’s a common refrain in my house, after coming home from a solo grocery, shopping or basically anything trip involving me being out of the house and Dad parenting solo: ‘Seriously, he’s been amazing until this very moment.'
What is that moment? It’s about 5 minutes after I get in the door. It’s also not long after we get home from daycare either. It’s the moment when if anyone saw the behaviour my 3 year old was exhibiting, they would think ‘that kid needs a kick in the ass...that’s just bad parenting’. Yep, that’s the one. Nothing but nasty, rude, aggressive and bordering on out of control behaviour.
I feel insulted and defeated every time but the stats of it became way to consistent to ignore. I go out, I come home, Dad says he was awesome, happy and relaxed. I’m home for 5 minutes and we need to call in the exorcist. Dad would remark: he only acted this way since you got home! eeerrrr….thanks?! He doesn’t mean it that way, it’s simply the straight up facts!
What was I doing wrong? Was I not being enough of the disciplinarian? Was I too soft and gave in to everything? I do feel judged sometimes for not reacting and nipping every little bad attitude in the bud but honestly, if I did that, I’d be doing it ALL DAY LONG! It would never end! The boundaries that this kid will test will me are on the far outer limits of mental.
I didn’t understand why all of his worst personality traits seemed to shine when he’s with me! It’s so fucking exhausting! Well, as it turns out, it’s not me! Well, it is me, but not in the way I’ve been blaming myself for. There is actual scientific data that confirms that "The primary caregiver is generally the person with whom a child feels most comfortable expressing his strong feelings," says Karen Dudley, a child-development specialist at UCLA.
This rings so true to me going all the way back to his young toddlerhood, from 1 year to 18 months for sure. I remember picking him up from daycare and they would remark on what a wonderful day he had...happy, playful, decent nap. Success! Well I wouldn’t even hit the car in the parking lot before all hell would break loose and I couldn’t even get his butt in the car seat! The remaining hours until bedtime were a nightmare of tantrum after tantrum and for the longest time we did nothing but count the minutes until his bedtime.
Now, all of the reading I’ve done doesn’t make these things go away, but it does make me understand what’s going on in his little brain better and have more compassion for him. He’s not being nasty to me because he feels like it, but because he has been holding all of these feelings in about a multitude of situations he’s encountered and he just needs a safe place to let them out. That’s not to say I’ll be kowtowing to all of his ridiculous demands but I’ll endeavor to have more empathy for the reasoning behind them.
I recently came across this song written by the incredible Mr. Rogers….seriously - the world did not deserve this amazing person. I will be playing his music regularly in my house!
Article source: http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/split-personality-behave-one-parent/