Monday, March 12, 2012

monday morning madness

There is no public holiday here in the west. It was another rough night, a sniffily teething babe difficult to settle, and so it was with much effort that I dragged myself out of bed ready to hit the peak hour traffic to make an early doctor’s appointment. Pretty much from the moment my feet hit the carpet we were running late,  not helped in the least by me losing track of time as I stood in the shower, I was dropping balls left, right and centre in the juggling act and in the end missed out having a morning cuppa.

On arrival at the doctor’s surgery it became clear that Ms. M was determined to make trouble. She started her antics by picking fights with both her brothers; pinching and scratching the younger while snatching toys from the older. She was fighting a war on two fronts. Meanwhile Baby O had done the biggest shit of his life and needed to be changed. In the tiny bathroom at the doctor’s surgery I discovered that  (i) he had soiled all his clothes; (ii) the wipes had been left open and were now relatively dry; and (iii) there was no change of clothes in the nappy bag. Eventually I scraped all the fecal matter from his body and dressed him in just a nappy (which really wasn’t a big deal since it was another 38°C day)

In the doctor’s office Ms. M decided that she would blow wet sloppy raspberries at the doctor in close range over and over and over again covering our doctor in spit. Irrespective of what I said she just kept going. Simultaneously E. discovered the wonderful feeling of “tap dancing” on wooden floors in old buildings and seemed determined to audition for river dance there and then.

Back in the waiting room again, biding time to see the nurse, Ms. M’s attacks on both her brothers got to the point where I needed to take her outside to chat away from the glare of the doctor’s surgery audience – a packed house. I was ranting my key words of “helpful” and “kind” like a mad woman and on returning to the waiting room Ms. M decided to pinch her baby brother, twice for good measure. A now overtired baby O screamed the house down and the audience all shot me disapproving glares. Needless to say I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow us all. But it didn’t and I’m glad it is so because I did manage to get us all to a reasonably peaceful place. Then INSANELY I placed baby O on the floor beside E. to play with the toys (he’d been struggling to get out of my arms to play) and wouldn’t you know it Ms. M decided to flatten her baby brother, his head pounding into the floorboards at the very time his name was called to see the nurse. The crescendo to our drama in the waiting-room round. So there I was Baby O quickly whisked into my arms, shooshing, hushing, bouncing my dear hardly done by babe, doing my best to shoot Ms. M the most intense evil eye I could muster whilst simultaneously smiling sheepishly at the nurse who had called us into her room.

Poor Baby O. Within minutes yucky medicine was pushed down his throat and both his chubby thighs jabbed with needles.

Finally we were free to go. There were more incidents en route home but so much easier to deal with ‘off stage’, out of the glare of the spotlight.

Thankfully the day did get better. The older brother was shipped off to school, the dynamic changed and a solid nap was enjoyed. There was a time when I would have let such a traumatic start to the day snowball for the entire day but these days I’m ever hopeful that I’ll be able to change the tone. It is this hope that can leave situations like this as a bad morning rather than a bad day.

I am, however, left wondering about my middle child. How can I help her feel confident and secure in her place in our family? Are you a middle child? What’s it like? Maybe you have a middle child too? How do you help yours??? Thoughts, words of wisdom, warnings… all welcome. Please do share.


  1. Oh it's so horrible days like that. good on you for not letting it get ruin your whole day.

    I myself had many many days like that when my older children were little, I feel your pain. I don't know if this would help at all, but I had a special toy for both of the older children that they only got when they were out. It did help them to be engaged with playing with it.

    I'm not a middle child but I did have one. Having four does seem to cure that horrible horrible middle child thing. I'm not sure how old your middle child is, but it will pass, eventually.

  2. Unfortunately I can't help, I only had the two and I know three is a completely different dynamic. Though my children are grown and flown I still found myself watching Jo whats-her-name, the English Nanny parenting advice expert. She makes it look so simple. I really like the plans of praise she comes up with and the clear boundaries of acceptable behaviour. What a horrible morning and a normal one too, cos I'm sure most of us could tell you a story like that. I will tell you one thing though, I never worried about the "glaring eyes of an audience" because toddlers pick up on this weakness in adults and play up even harder if they think public places are fair game. Other people can take their judgement elsewhere when I am walking away and ignoring a full blown tantrum on the floor in the middle of K-Mart. Bit hard to leave your child on the "naughty step" outside the doctor's surgery though hey! Another thing I like that Jo does is use a schedule visual. Routines and times. I wonder if you could visually show Miss M that there will be a scheduled time in the day for her to have one on one with you and then the other time it's back to team work? Again, it sounds easy but we know in practice it's harder but still, worth a try.
    One last thing, can I tell you about the time I really flipped; I was having a rage and yelling in frustration at my eldest daughter, prob about 10yrs at the time. She pulled me up short with a quote from Steve Biddulph's book on effective parenting. I was so livid I grabbed the book from the bookcase and threw it into the burning fire then and there and it went up in flames. I think that tells you a little about parenting in my house....

  3. Oh, dear. As I was reading I was thinking, I have a kid just like that, and then you go and ask for advice. I have none. My middle child is...oh, he exhausts me. He's so angry. But he's also so creative and imaginative and interesting.

    Once, at the pediatrician's, the doctor lost his cool with my middle child. It was so uncomfortable, and so over-the-top that the ped called me the next day to apologize for his behavior. I considered looking for another one because it was all so DAMN uncomfortable, but it was just One More Thing at a bad time and I couldn't do it, just couldn't add that huge thing to my list of things to deal with.

    Those disapproving glares were all hiding the inner thoughts, "Glad it's not me this time." Promise you.

  4. Lordy, what a crapola start to the day! But, I can assure you we have all been there - I could tell exact same doctor waiting room stories to this one!

    I hope your day gets heaps better.

  5. Shit a brick, what a day. sorry no advice her, not being a practised mum.
    Perhaps it's just a phase she's going through, how old is she now, 3? i think Lexi of potty mouth mama is having similar problems with her daughter.
    being a second born ( but also the youngest) i have no advice as I was the "good" kid while my sister was more prone to trantrums.
    hang in there chook xo

  6. Sally I am glad the day turned around for you..that's something I need to manage more as a morning like that would just set me down hill for the rest of the day.

  7. it sounds terrible to say I laughed through this post, doesnt it?! Not in a mean way though, just in a laugh or cry sorta way. I can't believe you managed to turn it around though, that is so impressive. I cannot imagine how hard it is to juggle three kids and get out of the house to make it for an appointment on time and then wait and wait for the doctor etc. Even with perfectly behaved angels that sounds like a big ask!
    Obviously I have no idea how to manage a middle child having only 1 1 yr old myself, but I did read somewhere that when children are pushing you away the hardest is when they need your love the most. I'm sure it may feel like the opposite of what you'd like to do when pushed to the end of your tether but perhaps a big hug or cuddle might calm her down and get her to change tact? what about some sort of special cuddle reserved just for these times?!
    I don't know, when you figure it out, let me know and I will store it away for future use!

  8. & all this time i thought i was the only soul in this world who had days like that! it was comforting to read it happens to others (even as terrible as it was) it was also comforting knowing that we all do get through it, & sally you managed much better than i would have. i would have written off the whole day.
    as for the advise...hmmm....i'm not good with advice but heres what i have learnt.
    mine was like that for a loooong time & ive decided (only recently) that its a combination of things. (a) the older she gets the more you can reason/negotiate/communicate (b) as her older brother has started school her world is a little more peaceful (c) as the baby is growing & needing less attention & playing with her its easier on her & (d) i have accepted that maybe 2nd child syndrome (thats what a i call it) is always going to set certain challenges as does being a 1st child & 3rd child etc...not advice but just my experience :)
    hope your week is better.

  9. Oh Sally, there are two places I hate taking the kids. The doctor's and the Post Office. Ok, so there are more places than that, but they are the worst. Your doctor's visit sounds almost the same as mine are. The last one was not too bad, but they really let go at the last minute, and the middle child was running up and down the hall-way shouting, "Can't see me, can't see me!"

  10. Oh dear, it sounds even worse in detail. Thank goodness you managed to keep a bit of humour around it all, if only in retrospect, love the sentence about E's river dance audition! I can just imagine your feelings of mortification! Thank goodness it was all over after the morning, good on you for putting it behind you.

    Not having kids, I'm not very good on the advice stakes and nor am I a middle child but maybe you could have a 'date night/afternoon/morning' with M and go out and do something special together just the two of you. And then another time she could do it again with D?

    I dunno, quality time is something that matters a lot to me but not necessarily to her? I read a book a couple of years called The Five Languages of Love. It's more of a relationshippy book and it was quite interesting (I don't normally read this sort of stuff but it was recommended to me by a friend who got a lot from it so I thought I'd give it a go) but it could also apply to your children as well. I've got it at home if you want to borrow it.

  11. Oh Sally... a lot of wise words and empathy comments. I really dont know a solution at all. I am getting a lot of stuff from my middle boy as well... What ever ae they are and part f the family dynamic they have there is always a reason we come up with a reason. I like to think like us we have crap days and they do to...

    Well done for soldering on. Ignore the glares Like Tanya said people are usually thinking - glad it is not me or I remember those days or even that mum is doing great!

  12. Oh Sally - while I must admit I did laugh out loud at the vision of Mr E doing Riverdance I cringed with recognition at the badly behaved child that you cannot get through to under the gaze of an angry mob.
    I am a middle child but am not sure what I can offer.
    I have two sisters very close in age to me and I took on the role of 'Tom boy' of the family - perhaps in hindsight as a way to find my place.
    It might be something that just takes time - no consolation to you I am sure.
    The hard part is to live through it all while still garnering praise and positive experiences for her when you probably don't feel much like doing that.
    Take care - tomorrow is a new day and I am glad the day improved.

  13. Being a middle child I didn't suffer any effects from it, or well, you tell me ;) and I reckon her behviour is more a normal 3yo, only girl, baby-brother's-getting attention-and-being-carried-by-mummy behviour than a middle child behaviour.

    I think you do a fantastic job as it is and I can only say just keep swimming, she will get there, you will get there! Maybe some M and Mum time, you know girls night out sort of thing would help with her though? Oh and put the blindpatches on and don't mind the looks, I am sure some of them had been there and done that and weren't judging you.

  14. You are a trooper and well done for not letting it ruin your day....stay in the moment even if it is a crap one and it will pass. I have read all the Sarah Napthali books about Buddhism for mothers and she writes really well. She shows that she too is normal and reacts to the kids just like everyone else but offers little tips for looking after yourself thur it all which I have found is the key. Check her out I think you will like her.

    I too had a chuckle at the River Dance audition, not at you, with had us all right there with you :-) xx

  15. Reading this makes me wish I was there to help you, at least hold the baby or something.
    I am a middle child and I have a middle child as well (who is eight).
    The only thing that I can suggest is to hug and cuddle her as much as possible. When she asks for a cuddle, let her be the one to pull away. She is probably missing those baby cuddles and the only way to get your attention is to annoy the baby. As my mother says, any attention will do, even if it is bad. Good luck, I think it gets better, my is into whinging, which I find I am winning the war with the 123 magic method.( Well this week anyway)
    Another tip, if you lose the wetness out of your wipes, just put water on them, they work just as well.
    I hope things settle for you soon, Alisa


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.