Big Brother

I need advice for my commute home each evening with the boys. They are killing me!

Shark Boy loves his baby brother, this I know.

He was exactly four and a half when Bear was born. There were jealousy flares here and there, but when Bear was an infant and I was nursing, Shark just hung with Daddy and considered the baby "Mom's problem" for the most part.

Bear is a toddler now, 22 months old, and of course he is into everything. Naturally, he really loves Shark and Shark's toys. Shark Boy tolerates this fairly well, until he doesn't.

For instance, Shark loves rocks and this past summer he was given a special polished agate slice. A couple weeks ago, Bear broke it into pieces. Shark cried hot angry tears and yelled, "Bear, it's going to be a long time before I love you again!"

These things happen off and on, but for each terrible incident there are a few times when Shark Boy takes his hand on a walk or says Bear can come into his room to play or tickles and tackles his little brother, laughing at Bear's giggle.

Our biggest problem is the ride home after work/school/daycare.

Suggestions are welcome y'all, cause I'm fresh out of ideas.

I pick Shark up first. The 45 minutes or so from the time he and I get Bear to the time we all pull into the driveway can completely ruin my evening, frazzling my nerves and making me want to put both of them straight into their beds as soon as our feet hit the Welcome mat.

Bear is tired and hungry. He fusses, and sometimes even cries, most of the way home. Shark is strapped in right next to him and the noise - the loud cry-fuss thing - just pushes him over the edge.

So he'll yell at Bear. This makes it worse. He'll call him a big dummy, which I then reprimand him for, making Shark madder. Sometimes he'll smack Bear, on the hand or on the leg, and then I'll really let him have it. Sometimes Shark will start yelling at me, because Bear won't be quiet and why should he be in trouble when Bear's being bad, and besides Bear hit him first (and Bear will swat at you when he's frustrated), and besides Mom is yelling too, and it all reaches a crescendo and that's when I take the next stop sign to do the only thing my fuse-less brain can think to do: I text P to see when he'll be home.

Because I'm done, people. Cooked. Ready for bed.

I've tried having a book and/or a toy for each of them, but you know babies just toss it on the floor and whine for someone to pick it up, which Shark will do a few times if he can reach it. But this just doesn't work well for Bear, and now it's too dark on the ride home anyway.

I've tried having snacks. This means my truck is constantly full of the sticky and the crumbly but on occasion this works. Just not all the way home. Bear can eat, and he's fast. Shark will yell, "Mom, I'm out of ammo!! Quick! Give me more!" and I'll yell back, "That's it, that's all I have! We're out!" And so it begins. Anyway, if I have enough to keep them quiet all the way home, I've ruined their dinner.

I've tried drinks, which both of them love. Milk or Gatorade or Apple Juice. But they down it within 10 minutes and then I'm out of luck.

I've tried music too, and look at this! look at that! games with Bear.

I want a peaceful ride home.

I don't want to put Bear's car seat on the left side, putting some distance between them, because I feel better with him in the middle. I could put my third row seat in and let Shark sit in the back-back. Bear will still not be quiet though, so I'm not certain this will help.

I also don't want to fool with the portable DVD player (my truck doesn't have a built-in one), because it's a pain and I'm not sure Bear would watch for very long and Shark would be pissed if Bear screamed during the cartoons. I might try it though, cause I'm desperate.

Am I missing something obvious? Do I just have to live with crying-fighting-screaming until Bear is a little bit older?

help me


Rima said...

Oh, that sounds pretty crazy-making, alright. Unfortunately, I don't have much advice because riding in the car is pretty much the ONLY time my kids aren't at each other's throats, as long as we listen to the same Lithuanian language kids CD over and over and over again. I know you feel more comfortable with Bear in the middle, but just a little extra space between the car seats just might do the trick.

Ringleader said...

Something about the confines of the back seat makes my kids turn up the annoying to full blast every time too. We got a SET of portable DVD players for a long trip (less than $200). They are a a hassle to get set up at first, but once they are inplace- I amtelling you ... BEST money I ever spent! There are two- AND, we have them wear earphones so they can't hear the other one's movie (or screaming). Or, get an adapter so that two sets of headphones can work on a single unit. Also, try lollipops. I know- sugar, but really, the calorie content of a lollipop is pretty low and it takes a while to eat one- then they aren't full by the time you get home. Good luck- I really, truly feel your pain!

Anonymous said...

Your boys are absolutely precious and that photo is stunning. A real heartmelter.

Unfortunately my Little Imp is NOT a car kid. From the time I had her until the present, she hates the car. A portable DVD player was our ONLY, and I mean ONLY salvation. The next car we get is going to have one built in, because yes, it can be a pain, especially when you want to switch a DVD which takes about 5 minutes. But you needn't bother with those funky looking straps they enclose with a portable DVD player. A couple of velcro straps does the trick nicely.

I'm totally with ringleader on this one, the DVD players are the BEST BEST BEST money we have ever spent! Plus, if you ever go on a flight, pop them into your carry on and you have instant amusement for the tots on the plane, which we did last year when we went to Seattle.

I'll keep you in my prayers. I know how draining and frazzling the drive home, with screaming kids, can be.

Lori said...

I hear ya sister! The Princess screams at all of us as we wait to pick up No. 1 Son. And then she screams all the way home. The principal has even heard her. I've tried everything you have. Food, drinks, books, music, getting out of the car, running away from the car (oops! That's just one I've thought about doing.)

My only suggestions are find the quickest way home and think about putting in privacy glass between the front seat and the rest of the vehicle. I think about the glass every day!

Anonymous said...

space between the car seats really helps. honestly, the best is when they are in 2 different rows.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any advice as I've only got 1, but good luck, sweetie.

Sarahviz said...

I concur with all the rest - space between them, DVD player, and perhaps (appetite ruining) dum-dum pops?

Amy said...

I've tried suckers. They work actually, for the 15 or 20 minutes that they last. But I can't do that everyday and rot their teeth out. So it's a once every few weeks type of trick.

Move Bear to the passenger seat, huh? I guess if I had that other baby I'd been planning, he'd already be over there, with baby in the middle. That's one way to look at it.

I guess I'll ask P to hook up the video feed...

Skunkfeathers said...

One good visit desoives anuddah ;)

I have no ideer, unless your chariot is one of them new-fangled thangs, widda DVD player that can so totally occupy the attention of the kids in the back, while you concentrate on imagining you're driving along a quiet, babbling-brook countree road, with only the wind in yore hare, and not two rowdy young 'uns. See, iffen you had that DVD thang, you could put on the re-trained Barney video, where he IS chasing around and eating Hollywood libs, all the while singing those silly songs.

Oops..those silly songs will destroy the babbling brook serenity, not to mention the occasional *belches* that Shark might start learning to imitate.

Never mind. Bad ideer. Bad Skunk...bad, bad Skunk...

Heather said...

Car rides longer that 3.5 seconds are SUCH a PIA with little ones.

I have my two separated in the 2nd and 3rd row because they fight too much and they're 6 (almost) and 8. Does it ever get better?

I swear by the portable dvd player. If you're at your wits end, it might be worth the try for some peace of mind.

Rebecca @ Mom-a-Tron said...

If you figure it out, let me know.

True Confessions: We drive long distances just me and the kids. Once the little one threw a finger puppet at me in a tantrum. I rolled down the window and pretended to throw it out. After a stunned silence, tortured crying ensued from both kids who were stunned at my cruelty. Eight hours later I delivered the finger puppet with the promise that if anything flew into the driver seat ever again, it would go out the window for real. Mean, bad mommy!

Cynthia said...

I got nothing...sorry:( I am in The Big City, we never drive. I hope you find an answer:)

Anonymous said...

Well, my youngest was not good at all in the car and after trying everything, I relunctantly agreed to let the hubby hook up a DVD player. Lo and behold . . . it worked! He used to hate to go in the van, but now he loves it. We don't play it all the time, just for those times when he is super fussy.

FYI -- I was one of those parents who used to frown on these DVD players in vehicles, thinking them gimmicky, unnecessary and even lazy! Karma huh?!

Unknown said...

Well, I don't have firsthand experience with 2 - but it sounds like the biggest issue is calming baby so that Shark stays chill, right?

Best thing we've ever used in the car to keep Braden from having fits (and omg, Amy, Braden is a car fit/whine/fuss/cry/toy-throw KING) was the portable DVD player John bought on sale when he was on the road at some point.

I guess it depends on the kid, though, but that always makes Braden happy. We even started taking it to restaurants with us on someone's suggestion and it holds him over when he's getting crabby while we eat out!

In fact (sorry to ramble on) we even took it to the OBGYN the other day and B watched it while we all waited in the exam room together. LOL

If I can think of anything else, I'll let you know... but you've already tried all the stuff we go through (toys, snacks, drinks).

PS: Just saw ringleader's comment and earphones for Shark sounds like such a good idea!

Anonymous said...

Well mine are 6 and 2, and like shark boy mine is obsessed with sharks which has carried over to the 2 year old. I carry those plastic toy sharks you can buy at target and they have a blast with those. I also bought a huge book filled with lots of sharks and orca pics and he will often read that to her, which she likes. It's cool because now she can identify many types of sharks and whales. It makes her feel big and him also because he taught her. Plus, I love hearing him say "Salli can you say Mako shark", or "Salli you know that is a thresher, look at the tail". Precious. My shark boy misses yours so much by the way.

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