Welcome back, and if you are joining me for the first time, welcome. I started a new series on August 2, 2021 – Starting Over At 54; Parenting 2.0. Someone suggested I journal my experiences starting over as a mommy at 54, so here we go. Today it’s all about tantrums. Oh, the joys – not!
Journal Entry 8/9/21
2020 brought many changes for people all over the world. Life came to stand still as the world dealt with the virus. Unfortunately, the world is still dealing with the virus, some more than others.
In April 2020, my little red-headed grand nephew came to stay with us. We didn’t know how long he would be here, but we were delighted to have him. He was about 17 months at the time.
When I was younger, I always dreamed of having a son. My only experience as a birthing mom was a beautiful little girl who has grown up to be a wonderful blessing in my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. Today, she begins her new journey as a Kindergarten teacher. Today is “Meet the Parents” day. I am so excited about this new chapter in her life.
A fun fact – I wanted six children, but a failed marriage ended that dream pretty quickly.
At 31, newly divorced and a new mom, my hands were full, making a go of the single mom life. The single mom life is harder than it looks.
I remember the days of rifling through recycling bins to get whatever aluminum cans I could find to recycle to buy milk for my baby. I dumpster dove often behind country bars and nightclubs for beer cans while my daughter lay sleeping in her car seat. The smell of stale beer and empty ashtrays is the worst.
In the midst of my divorce, I had to file bankruptcy. My ex didn’t like to work, so everything fell on me. Financially, I couldn’t swing everything. I fell behind on my bills and his and ended up filing for Chapter 7. It was so humiliating. The ex didn’t care. He came to the relationship with very little and left with very little. His new honey had money and a sporty car, so he didn’t feel a thing.
I, on the other hand, lost two cars and a great credit score. All those years of excellent credit went down the drain, all over love. It would take years before I trusted another man.
Through a series of events, I left our little home and moved a few hours north to start over in a town where I knew one family. It was in this new town; my life changed for the better.
Never saw this coming.
Fast forward 22 years, and I am now raising a little boy. I could have never imagined I would be in this position at 54. I am starting over, and he is not a grandchild. I can’t have him over to my house, run him ragged, sugar him up and send him home. He is here to stay.
I mentioned that boys are different in my first blog, and I have a lot to learn. Admittedly, the first thing that came to mind as I changed his first diaper was to be on guard for the hose works. I heard boys tend to make impromptu rain showers on you from time to time, so even now I proceed with caution.
The dreaded covid.
When covid hit the United States hard, the ability to go here and there was greatly diminished.
I wanted to take Jaxon to the park, a zoo, or maybe the mouse house, but covid hit, and everything shut down. Work moved home, and my daughter’s job shut down. Suddenly we found ourselves caring for this little guy 24/7 inside with few alternatives for fun. Try entertaining a new toddler when you can’t leave the house because of the virus. Many of you have done that and more this past year.
The first thing we tried was walking around the block. Jaxon was able to walk, and so we thought, why not? Let’s go for a family walk around the block. If he gets tired, we will carry him home.
A nice leisurely walk turned into a run. Jaxon took off down the sidewalk and ran almost the entire block. He is running, and so are we to keep up. Where did this come from? At 17 months old, Jaxon ran past 30 houses before coming to a stop. Do you know what that means? Auntie ran too – something I haven’t done in years. I hate running. At 54, one shouldn’t have to run if they don’t want to. But Jaxon didn’t understand the word stop, so I ran.
As I jogged breathlessly behind him, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would trip and fall. If he fell, the running would come to an end and he would most likely suffer skinned knees. I didn’t want that. But he kept running without incident. I thought I was going to die. My heart was racing, and beads of sweat ran down my back. It’s been years since I ran that far.
Note: Jaxon likes to run, and he can run fast. Aunt Net cannot.
Does this mean I should sign him up for soccer when he gets older? Track and field? Get him running shoes? How long would this last?
Thankfully, it didn’t last long. However, running turned into investigating. Jaxon no longer ran around the block. Instead, he walked into people’s open garages. He tried to enter their backyards. Jaxon had no concept of trespassing. And his favorite new thing – run into the street.
I spent many days pulling him out of people’s garages and backyards, and the middle of the road, only to watch him completely melt down on the sidewalk or in the grass. When Jaxon has a tantrum on walks, he rolls in the grass, arms and legs flailing about, expressing frustration that he could not play in the road. There were a few times, he actually laid down on the sidewalk and purposely hit his forehead. The first time he did it, I was so upset.
I waited for the goose egg, but it never came, and he never cried. What was he doing? Why would he bang his head on concrete on purpose? I didn’t understand. I have never seen this kind of behavior before, and you don’t ever imagine seeing it at my age. I’ve seen tantrums before, but nothing like this.
What is happening?
What do you do when a child purposely hits their head on concrete or tile floors during a tantrum?
Jaxon has hit his head purposely on tile or concrete no less than 30 times since his stay began a year and a half ago. To say the behavior is disturbing is an understatement. One cannot forget the sound it makes.
And yet, he never gets a bruise or goose egg. He never cries.
I read up on the subject. I watched videos and tried all the things they suggested. Preventing it is not as easy as they make it sound.
I talked to his pediatrician about the headbanging, who said he wasn’t worried about his frontal lobes but did say he needs to see a behavior specialist. What is that?
When Jaxon doesn’t get his way, or you say the word “no”, he has a tantrum. This involves running from one end of the house to the other, verbally expressing his frustration in words you cannot understand. He bangs on walls or doors because he doesn’t get his way. He smacks himself in the face and head. At some point, he drops down and bangs his head on the tile, sometimes two to three times in the same moment.
Why do you allow it?
Some people ask why I allow that. It’s not that I allow it; oftentimes, I can’t get to him in time to prevent it. I’m not exactly built for speed anymore at this age.
Many have suggested ignoring the behavior. When you ignore the tantrum, how can you prevent him from banging his head? You can’t. Others have suggested a safe room. He doesn’t understand he needs to go into a safe room. So I ended up buying him a small bounce house and there are times he would run into it in frustration. That worked pretty well – until it ripped.
It’s heartbreaking to watch.
So, I have done more research to see what I can do to prevent it.
Jaxon has to learn how to manage his emotions, and that requires training and a lot of patience.
This is new to me, so I have talked with other parents, read blogs, researched studies, and joined Facebook groups. The information is overwhelming.
My go-to parenting techniques that worked well with my daughter do not work with Jaxon, so I feel like I am starting from scratch. No one gave me a manual for this model. There are many days I cry out of frustration. How did this happen? How did I get here? Where is this leading?
No should be ok to say, but it sets him off.
I have learned it’s one day at a time and one situation at a time. I have to stop thinking so far into the future. I have also learned that these tantrums may be tied to something bigger than the terrible twos.
My focus has to be today and how I can help Jaxon work through these tantrums. It will take purposeful study and action on my part. There are so many things that need to be done to get a grip on what is happening and there’s so much I need to learn about the root causes.
The tantrums have gotten much better, but we have a ways to go yet. Now when we walk, I push him in a stroller. It cuts down on the meltdowns in front of all the neighbors.
Starting over at 54 is difficult.
I’m not going to lie. I have heard of others who are doing the same with their children’s children. Grandmas and grandpas are raising their grandchildren because their own children cant handle it. Some are strung out on drugs or alcohol. Some are in jail. Some parents are completely overwhelmed or have health issues.
The older generation is raising a baby generation, and it isn’t as easy as one thinks. You don’t have the same energy or body strength it requires to carry 36 pounds around the house, especially when they throw their arms up in the air, making it harder to grasp them. I’m not too fond of it when Jaxon throws his arms up, making it practically impossible for me to pick him up. He knows what he is doing when he does that.
There’s a reason.
I keep telling myself the Lord brought him here for a reason, and I am serving the Lord. Jaxon is my mission field, and there’s a reason. Little Jaxon is teaching me things I never knew, and I am growing in unexpected ways.
While I walk this road, I will fully rely on the Lord. He is the only one who can hold me up on days I want to fall. The Lord is my strength and my portion. If he brought Jaxon here, which I believe he did, I will serve him faithfully each day and trust the Lord will provide everything I need.
Does it make it easier? No, but I love the Lord, and it is what I believe he has called me to do.
So I trust. Why? The Bible tells me to. Check it out.
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
The Teaching Lady