Monday, October 7, 2013

PICU and the Biting Beast

I don’t know when it began, but somewhere in between finishing first year of residency and starting in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (uggghhh, acckkkk, poooo), my cute talking toddler became a biting, hitting, aggressive little beast. Sometimes he’s soo sweet and soo cute and I forget that at any moment, when we run out grapes or he can’t find his motorcycle, things could get very ugly, very fast.

When it’s ugly, he hits, he bites, he smacks. Who? Me, my husband, his favorite friends, his not-so-favorite classmates, his bath toys, his Froggy. Oh yes and when we recently tried to redirect him by holding his hand when he swats at us, he even tried a head butt. My husband and I sat stunned, where does he learn these things?

And did I mention I’m in the PICU?!? It makes everything worse. The guilt I feel about his aggressive behavior is exacerbated by my sheer emotional and physical exhaustion. I arrive home sometime during twilight outdoor playtime only to take him away from his beloved friends and the sandbox. I then clean him up and prepare him for bed while he wails and hits. Daddy pours the wine, puts his headphones on, and begins his nighttime graduate-student-writing routine. The only respite I get is story time, where Zo picks out his favorite books and says, “Sit down Mommy” and pats the couch beside him. Then I rock him to sleep as he cuddles and rubs my ears. After that I sit mindlessly perusing the internet for the countless hours while my husband repeatedly says, “Don’t you need to go to bed, don’t you have to get up at 4:30am?”

I have begun polling friends and have gotten: smack him, give him time outs, redirect him, it’s a developmental milestone, this too shall pass. Knowing that this phase is developmentally “normal” means nothing when I pick him up from daycare for the first time in weeks and his teacher says, “Sorry Miss, but Zo bit a friend, again” as she points to the cherubic chunky boy Zo has taken to like an apocalyptic zombie.

I can now proudly say that PICU is over and I learned a lot. I can also proudly say that Zo has made it 3 days in a row without biting anyone besides his toys, we celebrated at school today with dancing and he seemed very proud of himself. He starts everyday with a new family mantra “No biting people!” It’s the little-big victories; we have at least temporarily slewed the PICU and the Biting Beast.

6 comments:

  1. I can not tell you how many incident reports my son has received over the past 3 years. It is exhausting and frustrating in a much different way than an over night call. The guilt and pressure that this kind of thing puts on a mother (or father) is unbelievable. All children have different personalities and dispositions, but I am especially sympathetic to mothers of little boys with a fast, impulsive, and physical personality. Good luck, and know that there are other mothers in your boat too!

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  2. My daughter has a "boys" personality. She is rough, energetic and tough. I always knew I wasn't spending "enough" time with her when she acted out violently. I don't know where parents find "time" to spend with their kids in residency. Every waking second goes to them or the job. I feel your pain. I'm sorry you're going through this. The moment you can spend an extra moment with him (reading him a book, cuddling on the couch watching HIS show) do it....and get daddy involved too. Kids need both parents. Hang in there.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Hope I didn't make it seem like my hubby isn't involved. While I am in PICU and other intense rotations he is essentially a single parent. He does the time outs and the picking up and the cuddling and he is amazing at it. Our arrangement is once I get home (unless I tell him I can't handle it) I am in charge of bedtime (sand removal, teeth brushing). It works for us and daddy gets a few hours of uninterrupted grad student time. We both get wine :-)

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    2. I hear what you're saying. Same thing over here. It's just such a shame these training years have to be so rough. Apparently "it gets better". Good for both of you to get your wine. Parenting is hard no matter what in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your challenges. We can all relate. And I second that book suggestion: Teeth are not for biting. We have to bring it out every once in a while.

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  3. Sounds challenging (PICU and the biting, alike).
    I know this may sound or may be a little simplistic, but here's a nice little board book you could read together (nightly): Teeth Are Not For Biting, by Elizabeth Verdick.

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    1. Hi Dr T, Thanks! Learned about it a few weeks ago and it is already on my amazon wish list :-) We are now at 8 days no biting. Woohoo.

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