Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'll Cry If I Want To

It's been one of those parenting days that brings tears to my eyes. And not in a good way. In an "I'm feeling sorry for myself" kind of way.

The morning started rough. I had sort of an upsetting rehearsal last night and was up late ranting and raving about it to David (patient man!) So I wasn't "perfectly rested" (as he would say) when the trouble began. Seems a certain person in this house is not always keen on getting ready in the morning. And the situation seems to escalate dramatically with very little provocation. Like, I can say "Let's get dressed now" or "Let's brush teeth" and suddenly there's a lot of screeching, foot-stomping and slamming of doors. What was all this about the terrible twos? And when are those supposed to end, exactly? My kid is pushing five. The furious fives?

Before I knew it, I was holding her door closed (it's the only way to keep her in the room after saying "Go to your room.") while listening to heavy objects ricochet off said door and the frequent repetition of "I don't like you! You're not my friend!" (An aside here: I actually find it almost painfully adorable that this is the worst thing she can think to say.) By the time we were able to get her shoes on without a scuffle (David had to hold her upside down for a while--it's not what you think; she requests it) she was almost a half-hour late and I was missing my scheduled morning walk with a friend.

I took a moment of gratitude as I watched them drive away, reflecting that we'd surely seen the last of Hurricane Jarrah for the day. Silly, silly me.

When I picked her up this afternoon, I had grand plans to take her thrift shopping (I need a giant pink purse for my costume), followed by fro-yo. There were even some gently used princess dress-up clothes in it for her if she cooperated. But the plan fell apart almost immediately. First, she refused to use the bathroom before we left school (a problem, since thrift stores don't have them.) Then, she said she wasn't going shopping no matter what. When I bribed her with fro-yo, she demanded fro-yo FIRST. That's when I said something I probably shouldn't have:

"No, not first. After we shop. I'm the mommy and I make the rules."

That did not go over well. More of the high-pitched screeching and foot stomping, and then she fled to the car. I ran after her, mouth set in a grim line. She refused to hold my hand crossing the parking lot (luckily it was empty) and ran screaming to the car. She wouldn't get in the car, so I got in and waited. She got in and resumed screaming, now with additional seat-kicking. I got out of the car. She got out. I got back in. She got back in. Rinse; repeat. I could feel my blood pressure rising like the water in the washing machine window at the beginning of the cycle. Suddenly, I swooped around, picked her up, and pinioned her into the seat with one hand while clipping her in with the other. I'm surprised she let me.

Now she shrieked that she wanted the window open. Then closed. She wanted the music lower. Then off. The shrieks became more and more specific.


I have to admit, this stung a bit. I furiously repeated in my head, "She's four, she's four, she's four. She's trying to get a rise out of you. That's all." But I could still feel my temple throb.


I remained eerily silent throughout. I didn't really trust myself to talk. When we got home, I went in the house, and I could hear her muffled shrieks from the car. Eventually, she came inside and continued where we'd left off.

There was a very funny moment (do not laugh, do not laugh, do not laugh...) when she stomped into the kitchen (where I was emptying the dishwasher) with a murderous look on her face, positively poisonous, but she was holding a sparkly purple pinwheel next to her face while she did it. She paraded the pinwheel through the room, glaring daggers at me, and then stomped out. It was like a Parade of Fury.

Eventually, I walked to my room and put myself in a time out. I locked the door, climbed into the bed, and pulled the covers over my head. And cried, just a little bit. But I didn't stay long. When I opened the door, Jarrah came shuffling around the corner, her little face swollen and tear-stained.

I'm sorry, Mommy. Sorry I had a fit. Can I have a snack now?

Not so fast, young lady. We need to have a conversation.



Robyn said...

Oh Sam! I have totally been there. I'm so sorry. But can I just add my opinion that offering fro yo as a reward for cooperative behavior while at the thrift store and sticking to that order was TOTALLY the right thing to do. You ARE the Mommy and you DO make the rules. I really dislike when things don't go the way I plan because of someone (read: Jared) and his temper tantrumish mood. Some days should just be complete do-overs!

The Wades said...

Just read your comment on my blog. Funny--I was at yours right before my company came over. I was so happy reading "you" again. Look away from my photos?? Come on--you don't mean it!

As for your parenting woes, I'm sorry. My friend, a most excellent preschool teacher, tells parents to imagine their children wearing imaginary backpacks that they reach to grab various tactics. Sometimes it's "I hate you" or the like. She said they are justing reaching in and seeing what might work. Her advice is to never get emotional when that happens. Let them know that trick is not effective by not getting sucked into their emotional black hole. Sounds like that was what you did today. Good job, mama. Keep on keepin' on. This to shall pass.

I love how Jarrah later apologized to you. What a cutie muffin.

Myrnie said...

Ugh ugh ugh. I think Jarrah and Ernie could be twins, separated...well, separated a lot ;o) The tantrums, the demands...the entire day is spent waiting for her to finish a task, or listening to her yell at me for stepping in, or listening to her ask for more...anything. But in between, there's sweet little thank yous and hugs and pleases...

I have to laugh, though- I've waited 4 1/2 years for Ernie to play by herself. But now that she does, it takes an HOUR to go to the bathroom. And it's only that short because that's the point I intervene.

Courage, Mama! Courage, courage!

Stephanie said...

And now I've cried just a little bit too. So sorry it was a tough day, hope your conversation went well.

Samantha said...

You guys could not BE more awesome. Thank you. It helps to know that I'm not alone one these days! :)

@Robyn: Thanks for validating my choice. :)

@Michelle: That backpack image is great. And helps. Thank you. About your photos: I'm one of those hypocritical carnivores who gets skeeved out by cows. Feel free to judge me. I deserve it. :)

@Myrnie: I hope Jarrah and Ernie can meet some day! Should be interesting! :)

@Steph: Aw, girl. I hope it was a cleansing cry. Lord knows I enjoy those. ;)

@Cheri: My favorite book EVER. Seriously. I have the whole thing memorized. Thank you for bringing it up. And I remember the lawyer story. Classic! :)

erin said...

Now do that and take care of three other kids and you have my daily life.

Well, four days of the week daily.

I could say this too shall pass, but it probably won't . Or at least not for a very long time.

There's some crappy advice from your 28 year old pretend baby sister.

Melanie Sheridan said...

Yesterday morning my so said he needed my help to get out of bed. And to find his shoes. When I said I saw them last in the garage, he started to go out there and ran back in the house rubbing his arms. "It's too cold out there, you get them," and much whining ensued.

Keep doing what you're doing. The fact that she apologized means the message IS getting through.

Mary said...

Dear Sam,

I am so sorry, too. Kids just seem to know where and when to push those buttons. I used to joke that the kinders would be plotting against me at recess. Hang in there. You are the boss!

BTW, I have an enormous pink purse! You are welcome to borrow it.



DrSpouse said...

Our adoption prep course told us that with children who have been neglected/institutionalised you should say "I make the rules" as it helps them to know who is in control - there is possibly some vestigial memory of things having been totally out of control. J seems happily adjusted but even if other parents suck in their teeth at the phrase, it is sometimes recommended.

Stephanie said...

I think reminding any kid who makes the rules can be useful at times. One of my current go to phrases is, "...and I'm not changing my mind." The hard part of course is that you can not change your mind, not ever, once those words have been uttered!

I think putting yourself in timeout is a really powerful tool too, thanks for the reminder to use it. Kudos.

Martha said...

Oh yea. Been there.

We're a sad but proud sorority, aren't we? We'll laugh about it one day, I hope.

Today isn't that day.