Friday, December 10, 2010

I Max

As you may have gathered from previous posts, Max (2 years old, gorgeous, spirited, smart, curious, humorous, outgoing, friendly Max) is our wild child. By that I mean – he’s wild. All of Zach’s books and toys made it through his infancy and toddler years intact. Max comes along, and two years later, everything is broken. Pages torn, blades ripped off helicopters, teddies decapitated. As an infant, upon entering a room full of strange adults and babies, Zach would cling to me for a very long time – say, an hour--before joining in the fun with the other kids. Max, upon entering a room full of strange adults and babies, goes up to one of them and says, “Hi, I Max,” blows a big, wet raspberry, then smiles. They are different children.

I was in the grocery store today with Max. Trips to the grocery store with Zach were no bother. You gave him a cracker or piece of bread and he sat in the trolley seat quietly for ages amusing himself. Max in the grocery store is the proverbial bull in the china shop. I try not to take him if I don’t have to, but if I have to take him I try and make it quick. Supervalu in Glanmire has many good attributes and excellent customer service, but what they don’t have is restraining belts on their supermarket trolleys. So, after about 10 minutes (or less) Max gets bored, sick of snacking, stands up in the seat and starts yelling, “Out! OUT!” I struggle and distract and try to bribe, but he is single minded and in the end it’s too dangerous – he has to be put on the floor. That’s when the fun begins. I spend the rest of the trip trying to keep him away from bottle displays, towers of tinned beans, and so forth. Today, he went behind the meat counter and had to be dragged out; and in a new low, literally got down on his hands and knees and started clicking switches on one of those refrigerated bins displaying meat. I tried to keep him engaged by having him help me shop, but, he throwed things into the trolley ran away from me.

Today, I lost him around the baby wipes. I rounded the corner to pick out a bottle of wine, turned to have a look at him and make sure all the wipes were still on the shelf, and noticed that he was gone. Now, when I’m in the States I suffer a moment of panic if I can’t see my kids. I just think: kidnapping! But, in Ireland, I’m a bit more relaxed. Strangers kidnapping children is virtually unheard of over here (not that we’re crime free).

Anyway, then I started shouting his name, going up and down the aisles. A woman with a boy about Max’s age (sitting quietly in his trolley) started to help me. I was grateful for this. We found Max riding a tricycle for sale.

Later on, I lose Max again for an instant at the check outs. He’s just short – he was actually at the end of the checkout looking at wrapping paper displays. Anyway – the same woman pointed him out.

This woman was then checking out at the counter next to mine. I found out her boy is two and a half as well, and I said, “Oh, look how nicely he’s sitting in his trolley. I wonder why Max isn’t!” As in, ha ha, aren’t you lucky your boy is so well behaved but pity me, poor beleaguered mother, with a lunatic for a son. Further subtext however should imply to her: isn’t he spirited and fabulous?

She turns to me and says, “That’s because I don’t allow him to get out.” I rolled my eyes at her and ignored her for the rest of the grocery visit. Like you have a choice, I thought. You have a Zach on your hands now; but lady if you get pregnant again, the next one might be a Max! Then I thought: I wish a thousand Maxes upon your head.

Maybe I was overreacting a little bit. The bottom line is: I love Max, and I love him the way he is. The destructive nature is his nature, and I think it’s just part of the package. I’m sure I will get some parenting expert commentary on this, but I think that it’s a myth that we have that much control over our kids. With Max, I limit the battles to: you have to hold my hand when we cross the street; you have to wear a seatbelt; you can’t hit people; you can’t throw food or breakables. Beyond that, it’s just damage control. I can’t fight all the time with him – and, frankly, I don’t want to kill his spirit. I have adopted a let Max be Max policy since he was born. That meant: unlimited breastfeeding; sleeping as he needed with no schedules, not cajoling him into falling asleep at a certain time so he could make it through the night; walking when he pleased; talking when he pleased; etc. Turns out that even without worrying or using any special devises such as baby walkers, etc., Max learned to walk. He’s talking well (when he’s not blowing raspberries) and, with the assistance of a lot of time outs, he’s learning to control himself. It will take a while, but Max will also learn how to behave in the Supervalu, too.

Actually, a thousand Maxes on that woman’s head would be a blessing.


  1. love it! I've got a Max, too. (as well as some new gray hair these days) When I am going crazy, I have to remember that he is most certainly living life to the fullest!

  2. My kids are polar opposites too. One is generally quiet; the other can be heard throughout the neighbourhood.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. As you know my little (not so) lady is quite a match for Max and I love her for it! I think you're right about letting him be himself as much as possible. I always could cajole D along when necessary but realised with E that I can't make her do anything, she has to decide that for herself! Is it a 2nd child thing I wonder?

  4. I can't believe that other mom trying to give you a lesson! You are totally right, she's only on #1, that's when you think you've got it aaaaalll figured out. Lucky for her you're so compassionate.

    While you're handing out Maxes, I think I would like at least one, too.

  5. Mamapedia would not let me comment (it was messed up for some reason) so here is mine:

    I have a Max and a Zach (in reverse order) and you are spot on: the only people who think they're parenting creates perfectly behaved kids have Zachs.
    Seriously, you are doing an awesome parenting job with Max.

  6. Lory,
    I have 26 months old Vivienne, who sounds as your Max. The thing is that she was born this way and not sure if those people who are telling you that we should set rules at early age ever experienced this or had more than 2 kids, but like my husband says, there is no child alike. WE have 3 daughters and two of them are compared to our 3rd ..angels. And I raised them the same way..WE do have time out occasionally, but like you said, I won't be spending my entire day saying NO, Don't, .. She will learn on her own the best. I do have the same experience going to the grocery store and even though I put the belt on her in the shopping cart, she learned a year ago how to get out of it. She is very bright, smart but bussy child. Please, don't listen to any of these comments regarding some medication and ADHD testing . I came from Europe and until I came here never heard of ADHD>> It's great way for laisy americans to deal with their very active child. I do have neighbors whose 3 kids are on some sort of medication, but would never ever do this to my healthy child. It's not sickness to have energetic child, and no need for drugs. And if I do have some thoughts and get frustrated, I always say to myself, that how lucky I am to have energetic child. We could all end up with a disabled child who could not run or be very active and in that case, we would be wishing every day , we could have child running around like crazy. These kids are usually very bright and smart if their energy is used the right way. They are challenging, but it is very rewarding in the end. Yes, we do have rules at home, we do say NO, but I am parent in the first place and would never ever allow any medication in my house to slow down my kid. Avoid stores and forget activities you used to do with your Zach, they are different kids and that's what is special about him.. No offense for parents who put their children on drugs.. It's your desicion and you deal with it later on when you have to eventually take your child off of it. Your child will not know how to deal with it, with his feelings and simple problems in his daily life. I do see it every day loking just cross the street to my neighbors house. .. I hope you will appreciatte this comment and feel better that you are not alone in this..


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