Ah, the joys of motherhood are incomparable. The warmth of a snuggling, cooing infant in your arms. The happiness and pride of a child's first steps. The screaming preschooler in the timeout chair who declares, "I hate you, Mommy! You are just one big meanie." It's what we live for, really.
Parenting Liam may turn out to be the most difficult thing I ever accomplish (if we accomplish it!) in my life. It is tempting to think, "Aidan wasn't like this," or "Ellie never acted like this," but we have to remember that Aidan and Ellie are only 22 months apart. They have had roughly the same maturity levels their whole life. There are over 5 years between Aidan and Liam, and over 4 years between Ellie and Liam. The "big kids" are embarking on new horizons: middle school, technology, the upstairs "Tween" level of the public library. Little Liam tries oh-so-desparately to keep up, but he can't . . . and shouldn't.
The fact that Aidan and Liam share a bedroom compounds their relationship as well. Aidan is moving toward more "grown up" toys and books and games, while Liam faces another year of preschool and is generally the culprit when their room is a mess.
While we love summer, it will be a little easier (I hope, I pray) when school starts and Liam has a routine. He can throw the biggest tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants. We have been using the timeout chair, taking away Minecraft, and restricting his privileges, but when he sees the big kids with their seemingly unfair freedom, it can be maddening for the poor little guy.
After a particularly rough afternoon, Liam and I took Gingersnap for a walk (walking the dog and driving in the van seem to produce the best mother-child conversations), and through the use of the "Gentle Leader" halter, Liam was able to hold Ginger's leash and walk her like a big kid. He was absolutely beaming with pride. And of course, I used the scenario as an opportunity to talk about how much I liked it when he is a big boy and acts right.
I suppose it can be labeled inconsistency, but I prefer to positively reinforce good behavior, as opposed to responding to punish every little infraction. I will often ignore his little comments so as not to validate them. Attempting a logical debate with a screaming 4-year-old is futile. The storm passes, and he is much more apt to process logic when he is calm.
I keep reminding myself that one day, I will miss the screaming toddler in some small way -- maybe not as much as I miss the snuggling infant -- and consider this period of our lives a joy (to have lived through, I mean).