Friday, September 07, 2007

calgon, take them away

Charlie threw his back out yesterday, swatting at a fly.

This is not nearly as romantic as the last time he threw his back out.

Nor, will it result in a delightful gift, nine months from now.

I think he was angry because he'd tried hitting the fly for a good 10 minutes, before he put all of his energy in to the final swing - and then - winced in pain. When I saw his body position and watched him collapse to the floor, I winced in pain. Because I immediately knew that there was no way he was going to be able to do anything for at least three days.

Once upon a time ... before we had children ... this wouldn't be a problem. But to have half of our defensive line down with an injury is brutal. Especially when the other half of our defensive line is sick and took a cold pill this morning that has them seeing stars.

Add to that, the kids have been driving me nuts. Absolutely, positively nuts.

I cannot put enough of an emphasis on just how nuts they are driving me.

They are destroying everything that they come near.

Plants, furniture, walls, electronics. You name it.

They whine. They scream. Not a happy scream, an ear piercing scream that doesn't sound like it is from this earth. They throw their food, utensils and toys.


I swear they are doing it just to watch the wrinkles pop out on my face and the white hair sprout from my head.

Although they sleep fine at night, the girls won't nap together. I've had to split them up and put one in our room, one in their room. But the problem is that our room is not set up for a toddler AND I DON'T WANT IT TO BE. There needs to be at least one small part of our house that is sacred and free from children.

Unless I want to sit in their room for the better part of an hour while they "settle down" ... or give them spankings ... they won't go to sleep. Sadly, even with me in the room, they won't settle down. Suffice to say, I'm getting too good at spanking.

I picked up a book yesterday called "Discipline without Shouting or Spanking" and I stayed up late last night reading it cover-to-cover. It seems easy enough. All I need is to have a patience and a level head. It's not rocket science.

But where do I get patience?

Is there a drug I can take??

So help me, as soon as they wake up and start their screaming and fighting - any patience I have goes faster than a Klondike Bar. And when I take off their diapers because they insist they have to go potty ... and then don't go potty ... and have a huge man-sized poop seconds after I put a fresh diaper on, I can feel my head start to twitch. Then, they'll tell me that they didn't go poop and will throw a huge fit so I won't change their diaper.

Which if I don't change, will result in a bad, bad rash. I've tried this - thinking that they would realize how awful it is sitting in a poopy diaper. Although this logic might work for a rational person ... it doesn't for an itty bitty irrational one.

Or worse yet, they go potty and then stand up and before I can process what they are doing, they remove the plastic receptacle and put it on their head like a hat. It doesn't matter how many times I tell them not to do this.

What the parenting books need to include is a 5-year prescription for an antipsychotic and a bag that we can place over our head and beat with a stick.

Today, I did something I know that I shouldn't have done. I went head-to-head with a toddler who was having a temper tantrum.

During an outing, I had bought a play mat for the baby - one of those little numbers that has toys suspended above it. While Henry was laying down, happily staring at the little star and pony that were dangling a few inches above his face, William, Elizabeth and Carolyn, with their runny noses, come over and start batting at the toys. Then, they started to pull them off and lick them.

Of course I'm worried that they are going to hit Henry - but I'm also frustrated that the kids have to touch and taste EVERYTHING in the house.


So, as calmly as I could muster, I tell them "Hey guys, this is Henry's toy. You have a load of toys throughout the house, yard and garage. Please go play with those. In fact, look! Here are some blocks, let's play with blocks!!"

Elizabeth looks at me and says "NO, MINE. Deese are MY toys."

Then, for good measure, she adds "MOOOOOINE!"

I looked her square in the eye and said "NO. These are Henry's toys. You have lots of toys through out the house. Like over there - see - there is your baby doll. Can you please play with your doll?"

And thus, it began.

Elizabeth screaming, "NO. MINE!!!" and me, telling her, with rapidly decreasing patience, "NO, IT'S NOT YOURS."

I know that just because your child has a temper tantrum doesn't mean that you should, too ... but I can now see why the kids scream all the time. There is something so freeing, so intoxicating about hollering at the top of your lungs.

Especially when you are also pounding your chest and shouting "NO! IT'S NOT YOURS!! IT'S MINE. EVERYTHING IN THIS HOUSE IS MINE. INCLUDING THE CLOTHES ON YOUR BODY. MINE. MINE. MOOOOOINE!!!!

Now, granted. I am normally not so volatile. But there is only so much a person can take before they revert back to acting like a 2-year old. I've said "OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME" more times than I can count. I've tried prayer. In fact, I haven't stopped praying since sometime last week.

Realizing that I'm not going to "win them all", I've tried to pick my battles. Like today, I let William go down for a nap wearing his sister's clogs. And then I let the kids scribble with chalk all over the beautiful new gymnastic mats I bought them for Christmas because it would wash off - and most importantly, it kept them quiet while I was cleaning the garage. Then for lunch, I served everyone whip cream on a spoon before turning the can on myself. Although it may not seem like much, these are huge steps for a self-proclaimed dieting control freak.

If the past few days are any indication of what's to come ... getting a mother's helper won't help. I need at least three more people, some antipsychotic medication, bags and a few sticks.

Or, better yet, a boarding school for preschoolers.


  1. Jen- OMG! You poor, poor, poor thing. I have so been there. MANY, MANY, MANY, MANY times! My kids would not sleep in the same room together after they got out of cribs either, if I didn't stay in there. Then the only reason that works is because I've threatened them within an inch of their lives if anyone so much as WHISPERS once I turn the lights out. Believe you me, a little fear goes A LONG WAY!!!! SCREW THE BOOKS!!!!!!! Those books are written by morons who probably don't even have kids. Love and Logic? Sure.

    Would you like your beating now or later???

    (I'm KIDDING, sort of!)

    But I really, really, really think the kids are acting out because they are jealous. I think it's plan old fashioned jealousy. They are jealous of the baby. Mine were jealous of Austin too in the beginning. But maybe if you get a really fun young girl to come in the afternoons, when you are totally burnt out and sick unto death of them, maybe they'll snap out of it. That's what worked for us. A breath of fresh air to completely change the dynamics of the environment in the house on some days.

    Or get some drugs. Lots and lots of drugs! Happy pills????


  3. You know how people will say "LOL" but they just mean "that was funny," not "I literally laughed out loud"? Well, I literally laughed out loud at the part where you were yelling that everything in this house was yours including the clothes on their bodies. Oh! So, so funny! Actual audible laughing.

    I also loved: the photo in the older post of Charlie on the couch, nearly completely obscured by three curious toddlers; "I cannot put enough of an emphasis on just how nuts they are driving me"; "But where do I get patience?" (if you find out, drop me an email--I get so tired of people acting as if it's something I can just pick up at Walmart...unless it IS something I can just pick up at Walmart?); the part about how parenting books should include a 5-year prescription for antipsychotics; the triplets LICKING Henry's toys; and "turning the can on myself."

    I loved this whole post. I think you're doing great.

  4. 1,2,3 Magic is a great book and worked for me when I had 2 year old twins and an infant. It is an easy read, takes a little effort in the begining and then you are rolling.


  5. Sign me up for the patience drug too.

    Where are the parents of older kids who are supposed to be telling us it will get easier soon? Now would be the time to speak up!

  6. while you were cleaning out the garage?
    Hello? What about while I had my son in the front pac and i was lying on the living room couch fitfully napping? RELAXING or trying to at least i had my feet up and my finger of the trigger of the Reddi Whip can. Or maybe a squirt gun in one hamd and the Reddi whip can in the other :)

  7. Honestly, it's reassuring to me that other mother's have moments like this too. And all I can think about is "I ONLY HAVE ONE CHILD!". You deserve to have bad days.

  8. Oh Jen, I just don't know how you do it with three, especially how you do it so well!! I can't help but chuckle. Did I actually read, "While I was cleaning out the garage." Seriously... how do you do it? I can barely do the dishes and floors and I have one!!!!

  9. I'm going to guess that Michele S. is on to something; BUT, I will also say that three year olds are the HARDEST creatures on the planet. NOTHING compares. My line of thinking: 2yo is hard b/c they are fighting to gain independence and learning so much. 3yo is hard b/c they KNOW better than to throw food and climb on tables and they dare you to challenge them, UGH! Consistent, consistent, consistent and it's still challenging. DO NOT sell yourself short.

    Get some help in one form or another -- you deserve it and so do the kids. Going loony isn't worth the martyr crown; I know, I've tried it.

  10. I agree with everything Michele S says!
    Are their bedrooms completely blacked out? I have found that if Shayna can't see anything, then she stays put and falls asleep. We actually travel with a blackout shade! She naps for 2 hours now and in the morning/middle of the night she knows the rules - DO NOT GET OUT OF BED OR YOU'LL SLEEP WHERE YOU FALL!!! I LOVE that rule!
    Also, if you need a break, I can throw Shayna in the car and head down south to help out. I can take the girls out somewhere... let me know!

  11. I can't say enough how much I LOVE your blog! Seriously...if I need to smile, and laugh, this is where I come! I LOVE the comment about the 5 years of drugs and a bag with a stick! I think the annoying-kid-syndrome is going around, because I'm feeling it too.

    I pray that you can have some sort of a vacation soon...and that your husbands back will feel better SOONER! :)

  12. All I have to say is 1,2,3 Magic saved my sanity, my voice, my nerves, decreased my stress and allowed me to enjoy my children again. It is hard when you introduce it but now they count each other and I very rarely have to get to 3 (which is time out).
    It is really magic!!!

  13. Okay, so there goes my plan to use you as a back-up babysitter for my dentist appointment next week. If my babysitter falls through yet again, I will just take all three of my two-year-olds with me to the dentist.

    Whoa, now doesn't that sound like a scenario that would land me with a bag over my head and big wooden spoon for bashing it?

    Hang in there, Jenna. And Charlie, for crying out loud, just hang up a bug strip next time.


  14. OK, I have been reading this blog since the beginning and I knew who you were from Carolyn's board. I just have to say that we are living parallel lives except for the fact that I have twins (2.5 yrs old)and not triplets and no other children except my husband. Everyday I read your blog and we have just been through the exact same things.I loose my patience every day. They are driving me INSANE, however, my saving grace is preschool starts next week! 5 hours a week child free, sounds like a vacation to me. You are doing amazing and don't think any less. I read your blog to make myself feel better or just validate my day, so I know that my kids are not abnormal and others are doing the same.


  15. Take back control....1,2,3 magic. It works if you work it. I have four children 7 and under - we had a HORRIBLE day trip this past summer which had my hand around my sons neck, we were both in tears and my 7 year old whined me to a near death. I bought the book and have been using it ever since. And it is working if I work it. Other things that help (with the older children) is tit for tat. My son really loves gymnastics and so I signed him up for lessons. I use it as a bargaining chip almost everyday and it works. Because if momma aint havin fun, aint nobody else is either, that's for damn sure.

    More and more I want my children to realize that we all have a job in life - Daddy's is to work and bring us home $, mine is to be the mom, clean the house, cook, give out the love, and theirs is to go to school, be respectful, gracious and good children. And with that comes rewards and benefits. If you can't do your job, than you don't reap the rewards.

    Best of luck.

  16. edited to add: I meant that our children need to learn that if they can't do their job as children and be respectful, good listeners, follow directions, etc., than they will not get the rewards.

    Not a dig on your parenting, I think you are doing a great job! Show them who the alpha dog is.

  17. Oh no! That is not good. Not good at all. I also agree with Michele. Love and Logic?! LOGIC?? Really that word is used when toddlers are concerned? And 123 Magic has always been beyond me. I count "oooone" and all three look at me and answer "two, three. Yea!!!". Cant get mad at that but cant be thrilled either.

    This too shall pass. I wish I knew when but while its lasting it sure is comical from over here. ;)

  18. Mrs.Carrot9/8/07, 1:44 AM

    I can't say it will get any easier! It will however change as they all get older! The challenges are different. But I do so love the fact that mine are a wee bit more independent, lol!

    Atleast the poo is on their head and it washes out easily, hee. Here's a funny for you. When I had my second child we had a giant poo mess.Ok, who am I kidding we had many poo messes! Anyways I had just finished up nursing the baby in the other room and I decided to check up on the child who is never quiet but just happened to be quiet at that very moment. Ya, that kid! I walk around the corner and all along a span of 20ft wall there's poos smeared everywhere. All over the mirror, the wallboard, the carpet, and himself. He looked at me with innocence and said can we take the baby back yet, I don't want her here. Omg!! I felt so lonely and bad, yet so mad and frustrated!! Well thankfully he's a teenager now and no longer does these things. And if he knew I was on the net telling his poo stories he would be so mad, rotfl!


  19. OK Jen and Heather,
    I'm a parent of older kids but I'm afraid to speak up because I dont' have multiples - not twins, not triplets...the only thing I ever got two at once of was cats. So I feel like my early childhood experiences can't compare.
    But it does get easier. REALLY!
    We are raising two teenagers and it is SO much easier. There are still worries, and there are days I feel like poking my eye out with a rusty ice pick. But I can look back and see how quickly the time has flown.
    I DO remember these days you are in. I remember how each day seemed to drag on forever sometimes.

    Long days, short years!!

    Hang in there. And keep the sense of humor. It will save you many many times.

  20. I have tremendous sympathy for you and hope it gets better soon. When my trips were three (getting closer to 3 1/2) and my surprise was a newborn was truly the nadir of our existence - and not because of the newborn. I once read a book about three year olds (I think the title actually was "Three year olds: Friend or Enemy?") and the only real advice they had was to hire a babysitter. Except for the triplet newborn/premmie/NICU stage, three was definately the worst. The best thing, though, is that by around four the triplets because the most delightful human beings (most of the time) and the work you put in at this stage will finally pay off. In addition, you don't have to worry about this stage when your youngest hits it because, as with most stages, one child going through it is a walk in the park after three (I have also found that the triplets pick up some of the burden in bringing the youngest up to a semi-civilized standard, taking some pressure off my husband and I - they spent last weekend bickering amongst themselves about who got to take the youngest to the bathroom since we are in the midst of potty training him and they have turned it into a family project). Once you make it through the next year or so, I hope you can enjoy the "golden period" of the early school years which have really delighted us.

  21. Wow, I cannot imagine three toddlers! You rock, girl. I have ONE toddler (and another boy Henry's age) and I have the worst time not going head-to-head with the toddler tantrums. Oh, it's so HARD to ignore that kind of completely irrational craziness. Like, what the heck is his problem sometimes? There are days he goes down for a nap and the fact that he's in one piece gives me a sincere feeling of accomplishment.

  22. Ohhh man!!!
    I had a similar moment a couple weeks ago. Nathan was screaming uncontrollably for the 45th time that day b/c I dared to change his poopy diaper. He screamed in my face, so I just started SCREAMING in his face! Matching his tone and volume!!! Needless to say, it wasn't a successful tactic, but it did kinda feel good!

    Btw, I'm reading and liking "Positive Discipline." Might be one to check out.

  23. I can't REALLY relate to having triplets, however I do remember when my youngest daughter went through what I call "The Uncontrollable" phase. I felt so out of control when everything I tried failed. Spanking didn't work and neither did much of anything else. I did learn that if she threw a temper tantrum, if I copied exactly what she was doing she would stop.
    She also started refusing to take naps which was EXTREMELY frustrating. It was a terrible time of parenting. It WILL pass and you will wonder how time slipped away so quickly. Good luck!

  24. Try reading to train up a child it will be very helpful to you, I think.

  25. Poor Charlie! He had to get a rest somehow! How about calling another child over to play like the little girl next door who is so sweet and put them out in the yard? They have been exposed to so much, I think they gt bored. Do you miss us?

  26. Oh my God! I'm so sorry to be laughing so hard at all this - I do remember how awful, awful, awful it all was, and you've summed it up beautifully! I think I lived this very same day once. (Or 100 times. Or over and over and over till Kindergarten started, if you want me to be perfectly honest... Oh well. Kindergarten does come, eventually.)