Thursday, October 20, 2005

The spoils of war

I feel I must preface this post with the I-shouldn't-even-have-to-say-it assertion that I love my kids. All of them, equally. Fierce love.


Simon and, to a lesser extent, Charlotte are driving me INSANE today, and have been for a while now. I'm freaking out to the point that I feel like I want to peel my skin off, if it will only STOP THE CRYING!

There is a war being waged between these two, and I am the prize. I'm Jerusalem. Simon is the Palestinians, and Charlotte is the Israelis, and I'm Jerusalem. I used to belong to Simon. Charlotte invaded. I'm the capital to both peoples. They both have legitimate claims to me. They cannot seem to split or share me. And so? The louder shall win. The one with the more advanced weaponry.

Is this metaphor in poor taste? I'm sorry. My brain is so addled from THE CRYING--DEAR GOD THE CRYING-- that I can no longer discern relevancy or employ tact. You have my sincerest apologies. Please forgive any gaffes I may commit. My brain has been shaken loose from its moorings in my skull by the supersonic and endless wailing.

Charlotte wants me to hold her 100% of the time, apparently. And something else. The old me would've cringed to admit this, please understand. The girl is a screamer, like nothing I've ever experienced from the boys, and I think it's because she's a girl. I don't behave any differently towards her, I promise. I don't snap into action at her every shriek, because that would just encourage this behavior. I only respond to the genuine emergencies, needs, and/or fears. I'm no puppet. She's just LOUD! And she screams ALL THE TIME! God. I really do think it's a girl thing, the piercing, angry-dolphin screams.

And, like any decent mother, biologically programmed to be upset by and respond to these sounds, I CAN'T CONCENTRATE ON ANYTHING when she's in this mode. Which is all the time. I pretend to ignore the blatantly manipulative fit-screams. I respond in a calm, quiet, rational voice.

I'm faking it.

Inside, I'm a giant ear in a chasm filled with fingernails and chalkboards.

And then there's Simon.

Simon, bless his heart, is not adjusting very well to being a middle child. At. All.

He is so desperately needy with both Andy and me that, honestly, no matter how much I empathize and understand where he's coming from, it's... distasteful to me. Like that one pitiful boyfriend you had where he liked you WAY more than you liked him, who made himself so totally your slave that he completely turned you off.

Uh oh. That was another inappropriate comparison, wasn't it? But this one was a simile! I know this because for two hours today I was a poetry teacher, and some residue of those two hours has remained in my consciousness. It won't last.

Simon cries at the drop of a hat, usually when Charlotte is also crying. He physically inserts himself between me and the baby whenever possible. He's incredibly clingy. Sometimes I catch him snatching things away from Charlotte, or, like, poking at her. I often discover him thwarting her movements around the room. And, for about the past 2 weeks, he has been getting out of his bed, in which he's been sleeping without a problem FOREVER, and creeping in between me and Andy at, like, 4:30 a.m. EVERY MORNING.

Most troubling, he's SO desperate for attention that he will act out in ways totally uncharacteristic for him, and you can see in his eyes that he's MISERABLE while he's doing it, but it's like a compulsion and he can't stop himself.

It's hard to watch.

And, trust me, Andy and I have been going out of our way to lavish him with alone time, and special outings, and story-readings, and everything else, but it's not enough to fill this black hole he's got going on where his former youngest-child certainty used to be.

He's got playdates with grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and his best friend, and special art classes at the children's museum, and cuddle sessions, and sometimes I even pick him up and just hold him in my lap like a baby, so desperate is he for that intense attention that babies demand.

And yet it continues. At this moment he is pawing at me and making sad, nonverbal, whiny-puppy sounds.

I don't know what else we can do. I'm so exhauted and spent at this point, so completely addlepated and high from lack of sleep and ministering to other people that I'm vibrating with anxiety and, like, seeing dead people.

But the crying continues.

Jerusalem endures, right?


Or does it get blown to smithereens in some apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenario?

Maybe it's better not to know.


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12:52 PM  
Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

Man, I can just picture your house today.
I don't have kids, but I do have numerous nieces and a couple of nephews. Some of these are the aformentioned screamers(Emma) and some are the needy neds (Lydia). They tend to grow out of the screaming, especially if you beat them *kidding*. The neediness lasts until they convince themselves that there is no way you could forget them, they are too special.
Having said that, I have no idea how to bring about that much desired state.
I do know that my sister in law once locked herself in the bathroom until they stopped whining.
Good luck, and my St Jude ( Patron Saint Of Impossible Tasks) be with you.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Ugh. Been there, done that! If you want strategies that worked for us (with one very, very challenging child and one very, very dramatic child) email me!

2:49 PM  
Blogger yucaree said...

oh god. that's all i can say. your day sounds like what i fear will happen once the girl is born. (and, indeed, the coincidence of our postings is eerie!)

i fear the girl will be a screamer just 'cause she's a girl, and the boy will revert to his annoying habit of whimpering and crying at the drop of a hat. i think i have to remember that he's only 5; he doesn't have all of the emotional tools yet to deal with everything and anything that he may have to deal with for the first time.

anyway, are things better? have charlotte and simon signed a cease fire treaty? i hope so, for your sanity!

i think this is one of those days when you deserve a big kiss from all your kids and andy, and then a nice, hot bath ALONE.

8:27 PM  
Blogger yucaree said...

p.s. i found your metaphor and simile to be extremely appropriate. who said parenthood was ever tactful?

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

I don't think your metaphors are at all inappropriate, unless by "inappropriate" you mean "spot-on". I'm just impressed you were able to explain it all, because when we have days like that (and we have them frequently), I tend to lose all power of coherent speech. Hang in there.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Daisy Mae said...

As mom to 2 twenty-somethings and a 17 year old I would say that it gets better, but why lie.

10:14 PM  
Blogger grudge girl said...

Thanks for your understanding, ladies. Seriously. Of course some days are great - but some are really rough, especially when I'm working like 3 other part-time, evening/weekend, and late-night freelance course-writing jobs, and I'm sleepless.

When I'm feeling strung out, it helps to check out the scene going on up in here, for sure.

Except for you, Daisy Mae. You're just mean.


8:44 AM  

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