Friday, October 19, 2012

A Letter to my Spirited Child

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Today you screamed for two hours because I wouldn't give you juice.

I try to be patient, I really do. I know deep in my heart that you don't hate me. That you aren't doing this out of spite. I understand that in toddlerland there is no such thing as moderation and the fact that you had already drank your juice quota for the day is irrelevant to you. I get that, in your head, the rules of possession state that apple juice in the fridge belongs to you and only you and that when you saw me pour a glass you saw that as stealing. Unfortunately after the first half an hour of screaming my nerves were shot and I was more short tempered than usual.

I cried.

Just a few tears of frustration. My body's natural release whenever I am stressed. I'm still puzzled by the fact that you continued screaming even after I broke down and finally gave you the juice. What's with that? I think at that point you had forgotten what it was you were crying about and were so worked up you were just crying for the sake of crying. Nice touch with the flopping onto the floor and kicking your feet by the way. Very dramatic. I might have been able to see the humor in it if you hadn't told me to f*** off when I picked you up. You remember? Right after you bit me?

I cried.

More tears of frustration. Some days it is so damn hard to not lose my temper. It takes every ounce of patience I possess to stop myself from yelling. It's not that it hurt when you bit me, certainly not as much as it hurt your sister when you bit her this morning, it's more that when I see you lashing out it makes me question my abilities as a parent. I should have been able to nip this whole biting thing in the bud a long time ago. I feel like I failed you. You can count to ten and sing "Twinkle Twinkle" in its entirety. How am I not able to get you to understand that biting hurts. As far as the language goes, well, you don't know what it means. You probably overheard me on the phone, dropping f-bombs while I chat to my friends. That my fault. I'm not punishing you for swearing. It's the biting. I couldn't just let it slide. That's why I put you in time out.

YOU cried.

I know you hate time outs. I wouldn't like them very much either. They weren't an option when I was growing up. I got a slap across the face when I misbehaved. Or a strap across the back of my legs. Neither was very effective but they sure gave me pause. Mostly I paused thinking about how much I hated my family. It never made me stop and think about what I had done wrong. Apparently I'm supposed to be biting you back. I don't quite get how this is supposed to discourage you from biting, especially since you model so many of your behaviors after me. This is why we do time outs. I gotta say though, the end result seems to be the same. Especially when you told me you hated me.

I cried again.

This time it was ugly crying. Body wracking sobs of pain. I don't know why. You don't even know what you were saying. You're two. What do you know about hate? Besides, of course, your hate for vegetables. I don't know where you picked that up from. TV? Do we need to be more careful of what we watch when you're around? When I am moaning about doing housework do I need to start spelling out my distaste for folding laundry? Especially when you grab a pile of your sisters neatly folded clothes and throw them over the railing.

I stopped crying.

I sat down with you on the couch. I got down to eye level with you and told you I was sad. You put your chubby arms around my neck and told me "Don't be sad Mummy". You went and grabbed your smelly blanket, the one you wont let me wash when you're awake. You climbed into my lap and put the blanket around us both. "Snuggle?" you asked tentatively, as if you were afraid of my answer. The smile that lights up your face when I say "Of course we can snuggle" is priceless. It is the look of a blind man seeing the sun for the very first time. We lay there on the couch, big spoon and little spoon, watching Dora the Explorer. I can smell the oatmeal and vanilla of your shampoo as I kiss the top of your head and breathe in deep. All is forgotten, all is right with the world. In ten perfect minutes we have erased hours of tension and frustration. In ten perfect minutes we reset the clock to zero. You reach your tiny hand out, grab my arm and pull it around you.

I cried.

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Anonymous said...

Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne said...

I cried. This is truly lovely