Aidan at the Playground
Aidan at the Playground 07.13.2009

As the summer goes on, the challenges of having Aidan around all the time are really starting to rear. Ever since he saw that ghost on The Sims, it’s been a fight to get him to bed at a reasonable hour. I used to let him stay up until 10 or so, and then send him on his merry way, with a snack and a hug and a kiss. Now, what happened in his room was a different story. I’d hear him jumping on his bed, yelling at the TV, and even yelling out his window to the neighbors in the back. Adam and I had to go in and tell him to close the window and go to bed. We don’t mind him talking to the people in the back, but we DO mind him being up past midnight!

Anyway, it doesn’t work like that now. Adam and I have to tell him about 50 times to go to bed, and no matter how firm we are, Aidan still manages to stall about it. He cries and says he is scared. We go and reassure him, and then he cries again, or he calls us for a snack or a drink or just to tell us that the guy upstairs is stomping around. He always wants me to lay with him for about an hour or so before I can go, and I’m just to the point where I don’t want to do that. I mean, an hour? Especially if I have freelance work to do that I couldn’t work on because of Aidan constantly asking me questions or showing me stuff. So, I’ll read him a story (or more accurately, make HIM read to me while I help him figure out the more challenging words), but he’s a classic example of give an inch, take a mile. If I stay with him for five minutes, he wants me to stay for 15. If I stay for 15, he wants me to stay for 30. And so on. I eventually just have to push him away and tell him I have to go. Then I feel bad all night. :( I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing–I mean, will he feel rejected? And God forbid if he cries. Even if it sounds fake, I still feel bad.

Tonight was (and still is) especially challenging. After we sent him to bed, he stood by his door and “sobbed” for about 15 minutes very loudly. Adam went in and gave him the “first graders don’t act like this” talk, but Aidan rebutted with “I’m not in first grade yet.” He called for me several times after, and each time Adam went in and talked to Aidan and answered his random questions. Then, after Adam had fallen asleep, instead of calling for me, Aidan started calling for Adam. THEN he started calling for me again, and I just finally went in. Again, he just wanted me to lay with him. He’d wet the bed on purpose because he was “scared” to go to the bathroom, even though I’d seen him go in the middle of the night plenty of times before.

I don’t know if all of this is resulting from that brief incident with The Sims, or if this is something deeper. All I know is that it is exhausting. I love my little boy, but sometimes I just need a break. I do know that he has definitely inherited my night owl tendencies, which is nice when I want to sleep in, but not nice when I am ready for him to go to bed so I can focus on work (or just screwing around on Facebook) or just turn my brain off for a while. I don’t think 10 or 10:30pm is an unreasonable time for a six-year old on summer vacation to go to bed, especially if he knows that he can watch a DVD or read a book to help him fall asleep, but I still feel guilty. Like I’m being a bad and self-indulgent mom because I make him go to his room at night so I can have a few hours of quiet and ME ME ME time before I crawl into bed.

And then there is the picky eating! He has some foods that he’ll eat: chicken nuggets, chicken fries, French fries, oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, turkey breast (oven roasted only), chicken breast, beef Ramen noodles, almost ALL candies (of course), bacon, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Malt-O-Meal, Froot Loops, Trix, Fruity Pebbles, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, spinach, peas, mashed potatoes (no gravy), rice (yellow), and spaghetti. Actually, that seems like quite a lot, but really, it isn’t. He will barely choke down a peanut butter sandwich, will not touch any other type of sandwich. He won’t eat ketchup or gravy. Or any kind of beef. And some of it is pretty normal, I mean, I don’t recall being that big on beef when I was little unless it was a cheeseburger–but Aidan WILL NOT TOUCH ANY KIND OF BURGER. Or hot dog. Or grilled cheese. Or just about anything that most people have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And even that is OK, but his reluctance to even try stuff is very impatient-making. I TRY to be patient. I don’t want to traumatize the poor boy when it comes to eating. Lord knows that is never a good thing. We want him to just TRY things. Just one bite. I don’t give him food I don’t like. It’s obvious that he’s made up his mind that he will NOT like certain foods no matter what. I’m not a cabbage pusher or anything like that… but sometimes I just wish we could go to a Mexican place and he’d eat a taco. And I know that is NOT going to happen for a long time, if ever. I feel like he is missing out on so much because he’s so used to having his own way when it comes to mealtimes. And I don’t know how to fix that without causing a major battle at the table.

And I’m sure all the parents know about the “whiny” voice. I’m pretty sure every child has this ability to make their voices strike the perfect chord to DRIVE PARENTS CRAZY. And his whiny voice really makes me crazy. It is hard not to lose patience when he does that, especially if it’s for something he is perfectly capable of solving or taking care of. He has shown us his independence many times. He gets dressed himself. He bathes himself. He can make his own chicken nuggets, and mix his own strawberry milk. He makes his own cereal in the mornings. He can change DVDs. He can get games out of the Wii and put in new games. He can do SO MUCH that I am often in awe of it. But sometimes, he’ll just NOT do it and turn on the whine. I don’t understand that. Is it laziness? Wanting attention? To be babied? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I love my little boy. Very much. He is generally a very sweet and amazing person. He’s super smart. He’s super friendly and his world is all happy and bright (most of the time). He goes up to babies on the playground and can win over every single one of them and their moms. Today, a little boy had fallen and was crying. Aidan went over to him and held his cheek and told him everything would be OK. Then, there was a cute little baby in a swing. Aidan went over to help the baby’s grandmother push him, and the grandmother was so appreciative. She told us that Aidan was very sweet and to definitely bring him back tomorrow (today). People constantly compliment me on Aidan’s behavior, his politeness, his general AWESOMENESS. And I don’t want to squelch that by being a hardass, but maybe part of my being a hardass is to make sure he STAYS that sweet and amazing. I don’t know.

I just want to be a good mommy (and Aidan often tells me that I’m the best mommy in the world, but I always wonder if/when he’s going to decide differently), but I don’t want to lose myself in the process. It’s a hard balance to strike.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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