First off, thank you so much to every one who shared and contributed to our gofundme or in person! We appreciate your help in getting the word out about this and for helping in big and small ways.
As before, the link is gofundme.com/rcw2zg. Now that we've crossed $500 you can search for it several different ways. It's titled "Eden's Medical Fund."
This blog didn't start off intending to be just about our journey with her medical issues, but about our family as a whole. I write it to remember the things we go through as a family and to remind myself in the future that I thought I was in the worst of times and I came through it. So today I'm writing about Elijah.
My sweet middle child has really gotten the shaft. He didn't get any showers before he was born, he got fewer handmade items from people. He's the second boy in less than 2 years, so he wasn't as "special" to others, though he was precious to us always. He's bigger than Asher was at his age, more physical in everything he does, and has gotten less one-on-one time than either of his siblings.
Asher got books read to him every night from about birth on. Elijah got some of that. Asher watched lots of PBS and we worked on letters and numbers and colors with him so he was reciting his alphabet by 18 months and pre reading by 2 and reading by 3.5. At 2.5, Elijah knows some of that stuff.
He's not behind, he's really pretty normal, he just isn't as far as Asher was at his age and sometimes that's hard to remember. He's not quite as verbal, either, so when he gets upset and can't get his wants across, he melts down and starts throwing things and crying and kicking. We have insane temper tantrums every day.
Or at least we used to.
Easter Sunday was the worst for us. He was beyond exhausted after a morning of fun at church and then an egg hunt at Oma's house and dinner getting a little delayed because we weren't quite ready on time so around 4, he had a full on melt down to the point that he physically injured himself. Nothing major, but he scratched his face to the point that he drew blood. Austin couldn't calm him down, he was so worked up. So, we packed up and headed home. I was practically in tears and later, when Austin and I were talking, I did cry. This was my life every. single. day. A child who's so strong he has very nearly knocked me over when he gets going throwing temper tantrums like this every evening. Austin had been going in later in the morning which meant he wasn't home until 7. Any stay at home mom knows the "witching" hour starts around 4 on a GOOD day. Imagine it lasting for 3 hours and you'll see where I was. I have to protect Eden from his fits of throwing and flailing on top of protecting her from his coughing and sneezing (allergies are monsters around here) and that's hard to do when I'm nursing her and he starts throwing his cup at me from across the room and screaming and hitting my legs and arms because I won't come right this second to get him a drink. He's gotten lots of spankings and swats and forcible removals from rooms.
A lot of this is because of Eden, we know that. He not only lost his place as the baby, but he lost more attention because of her health issues. He's too young to understand why, all he knows is that now he's more alone than he was before. (Alone meaning playing with his trains by himself in another part of the house.) Part of it is because he's 2.5 years old now. Apparently that's worse than 2, then you get a brief respite at 3 before it all goes downhill again. Asher didn't really have a terrible two phase, not like this. He turned into a pill around 3.
I read, and agree with, the reason 2 and 3 are so tough are because kids have a hard time explaining and expressing themselves. They understand adults a lot better than we think they do because their verbal skills just haven't developed. We tried teaching the boys some sign language to help with that and they know the same signs: more and please (very helpful at dinner, not really helpful any other time.) So when we can't get Elijah to communicate (when he's really frustrated or angry he becomes nonverbal. He won't open his mouth to talk) we ask him to show us. That doesn't work too well either, but it's better than trying to guess.
So, rather than feeling like I'm beating my child every day and he still won't obey (I wonder where he got that stubborn streak from?), we decided to try something different. As much as possible, when he starts to melt down, we just pick him up and hold him, talking to him gently until he quiets down and can be calm. Sometimes it's just a few seconds, sometimes its a couple minutes, sometimes its longer. It depends on the situation.
The worst tantrums always came at nap and bedtime, so I quit on naptime. I'm not going to try to deal with that by myself with two other kids in the house. So he doesn't nap at home anymore unless he's just exhausted and falls asleep on his own, which he does a couple times a week. At bedtime, we randomly let him sleep in his chair in the living room one night and he went to sleep early (9) without a fight. It was incredible. So every night this week, we've let him do that. And we haven't had any trouble.
He needs our attention and gentleness instead of our frustration and distraction and that's hard to do right now. It really resonates with my Mommy Guilt that such simple actions as letting him sit in my lap or stroking his hair when he's upset are enough for him. Letting him sleep in the chair in the living room so he has his own space is an interesting discovery, too. As a result of that, we're starting to actually work on getting the room situation for the boys figured out. We haven't quite settled on how it'll work yet, but something needs to change for everyone's sanity.
It's only been a week, but it's been a week with much fewer tantrums from Elijah. He's a sweet boy, really. He's got a great smile and he tells me he loves me and gives me instructions on proper kissing technique. He brings me the snacks he wants for me to open them for him. He eats pretty much whatever we give him, one of his favorite items being broccoli.
He is still 2.5, though, so he still throws things and has a temper (again...where did that come from? lol) but when he quiets down he's a cuddler and really just wants me to watch Thomas with him. He loves his baby sister and likes to look at her and kiss her head and knees and pick out her hair bows. And no matter how many swats he gets in a morning, when I come to pick him up from FKO or after Sunday School, he comes running down the hall with his arms stretched wide shouting "Mommy!" with a smile on his face. And that makes it all worth it. Hopefully we'll get to a point where I've always got that sweet smiling boy around. Or at least more than the angry, frustrated toddler.