If this is a blog about moments, then here is a moment that definitely needs to be shared.
Me yelling at Sis to stop yelling (err screaming? screeching? plus some whining? Ear splitting. Headache inducing)
She is intense.
I say it all the time, but it doesn't make it less true.
Sometimes I think I have a handle on it...as in, I have a game plan.
Plan: Day will go smoothly. i.e. no timeouts, minimal whining, and definitely NO fits of the screaming/screeching kind.
Scenario: Leaving a friends house. 'Time to get shoes on, go home and eat peanut butter and honey!!' (the only thing she wants to eat ever anymore..although I won't complain. She will actually eat and likes a wide variety of food. EX: on the way home from the farmer's market 'I WANT TO EAT MY BROCCOLI!!!!! Please.') Sis says 'Yummy! I love peanut butter and honey! while putting her shoes on.
Score: me 1 day 0
And I think, yes! I can do this! She just needs to know something MORE exciting than wearing her friend's green tutu is coming.
The plan works for three weeks until suddenly she is not into peanut butter and honey anymore (obviously this is a seriously fictional account as she would never actually NOT be into blessed pb and honey anymore) and we find ourselves back at square one.
Square one: 'Time to get shoes on, go home and eat peanut butter and honey!!' 'NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I DONT WANT TO GO HOME!!! I dont like peanut butter!!' Followed by streams of unintelligible screams/screeches/noises. And I usually end up having to either:
1. put her in time out
2. carry her all the way home (because she refused to move and/or put her shoes on)
3. combination of both
And the result is that everyone is stressed out. She is stressed out because she has a hard time switching gears...EVEN when we give her five warnings that its coming (that was for all you advice givers) or we give her choices (go home now or in two minutes. You put your shoes on or I put your shoes on. I carry you home or you walk home.) Giving her a choice used to work like magic. Now it just makes her more angry. 'Those are NOT my choices! I am NOT putting my shoes on. You NOT putting my shoes on. I STAY HERE!!!!!!!!!!!'
I am stressed out because her screams are on such a decibel level that it automatically makes my blood pressure jump regardless of what else has been going on (i.e. she screams like that on an otherwise calm day and I still get super stressed). Bubs is stressed because we are both stressed...err well, ok that's probably not accurate. He's not paying attention to either of us, just the 'big rock momma!' or if he is paying attention he most likely is laughing thinking the scenario is 'Funny momma!!'
I realize that it is sometimes appropriate to be so loud. When something really horribly awful is happening. i.e. being kidnapped, being bitten by a wild animal, etc. So I don't want to give her the impression that it is NEVER ok to be loud.
But when you can't get the zipper to zip properly or Bubba is trying to tell you that the sign is yellow when it's in fact green (and you are older so you obviously know the difference) or your mother wants you eat your last bite of broccoli before eating strawberries...these are examples of daily frustrations that we all face, but not a cause for screaming loudly, continually, and not stopping until you get your way.
I've realized recently, like today when I was yelling at Sis to stop yelling, that I'm 'harder' on her than Bubs. I lose my patience quicker and she ends up in time-out faster. It's because of the screaming. The (few and far between) days that Bubs screams like Sis he is time-out more often.
Also, she is also not a cuddler-and never has been. Even when she was a baby she was not into it. And now, if you try to sit with her in your lap she just moves and wiggles and touches my face (which I can't stand for some reason!)
Between the screaming and the not cuddling...
I have been giving a fiercely independent creative sensitive gift of a child.
I think most people, when they see her in action and do not have an intense child of their own think its our parenting that is the problem. I can see it on their faces. The judgmental frown, the 'just get her under control' vibe.
But I can't. I don't think it's my job to control her in the first place, rather to guide her, giving her the tools she needs to navigate life successfully (which right now means figuring out what tools she needs in order to calm herself down when she gets so upset) And even if I thought it was my job to control her. I can't.
She has a thing with her daddy. They get each other in a way that I don't get either of them. He has that same creative sensitive spirit that is full of life and is untamable and beautiful.
But in a 3 yr old is overwhelming. And is particularly overwhelming for me when I am not intense like her. Like them.
I feel helpless parenting her...and I have worked with kids all my life and thought I knew everything there was to know about parenting.
So now I am faced with my own brokenness, my own humanity, my own shortcomings, my own 'stuff'. For a moment today I saw something ugly in myself. And now I need to let that go. How am I going to stay calm in the face of her screams? How am I going to see the real problem and deal with that rather than the screaming?
How am I going to get more of that?
I guess I'll start by apologizing to her. And move on from there. One day at a day. Moment by moment. Right?