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Archive for April, 2010

Rage in Aisle Four

Our eldest is now five years old.  She has always been very smart for her age, speaking late but wanting to learn letters and to read by age 3.  She can now read most simple words and can breeze through first reading books.  She is also  a physical rockstar, and has been for years.  Learning to sit at 4 months, walk at 9 months and ride a 2-wheel bike at 4 years shows the sheer determination and physical mastery this child has.  Unfortunately, despite her advanced language abilities, physical adeptness and ability to get along with children and adults of all ages, her emotional coping skills are off a cliff.

She can keep it together most of the time, but when she loses it, it’s like she’s trying to win a marathon.  There is nothing less than all-out for this child.  We know that the tantrums and rages come at times of transition in her life or when she’s hungry or tired.  So, it’s most surprising after a day of beautiful behavior at a science center, crowded pizza shop, and some good outside running-around time that these rages show up.

I used to get caught alone with these when it was just me and the two girls.  Once my littlest started walking, my eldest’s rages got worse–very physical and uncontrollable.  I used to have to leave a crying and scared toddler to restrain my eldest or someone would get hurt.  Now, though they can still be quite physical, it’s the screaming at the top of her lungs that gets me the most.  Well, that and maybe the public sphere in which she chooses to meltdown.

Today, her venue of choice was a large, fairly busy fabric shop.  My only salvation was that it wasn’t my hometown fabric shop.  After saying “no” to a cheap book, she lost it.  She knew she wasn’t going to win the battle, so she dropped like a sack of potatoes.  And screamed so loudly that I had to step back and cover my ears.  For a split second I wondered what the scene around us looked like since she chose to do this in an isle where she couldn’t be seen well by those standing. 

But, what stuck with me wasn’t the scene around me, of probable looks of scorn and judging.  It was of the fact that this was both a learning and teaching moment for me.  Too often I see children mistreated or treated rudely in public spaces, and my heart aches for them having to grow up with such little respect or honor.  I try to do it differently–even through rages, for me and for those around me.  So, having to restrain her and listen to her scream at the top of her lungs, I calmly told her that she needed to get up and that her behaviour was unacceptable.  I repeated this gently and often, but in a low tone and with no emotion.  I tried to pick her up to bring her to the car to finish her outburst, but 45 pounds of rage trying to hurt me was too difficult, so I managed to get her toward the door for the tradeoff with my partner and the baby.  I’m not sure how, but we managed to get her into the car and calmed down in a matter of minutes.  After a good cry and some gentle back-rubbing, she was in a good mood and ready to go home.  Just like that.

No doubt, people around me wished I would slap her or spank her or otherwise assert my will upon her.  I did have to hold her hands down to keep her from hurting me, but unless I let her have “her moment,” I would only have made things worse.  And, I don’t want my children to fear me for any reason in their lives.  I am her mama, and though these can be the most trying times we have, I want her to know that even in her most difficult times, I will be there for her and not violate her trust in me to keep her safe.

I feel like these episodes are a relief valve, not a planned effort of manipulation.  It was the book that set her off, but it could and would have been anything.  After she calms down, she often expresses deep sorrow at her behavior and seems to be disappointed in herself and lack of control.  I do not perpetuate that shame.  We all need a stress relief.  We should all be lucky enough to have someone to be there with us through it and offer hugs and lovin’ when it’s all over and we need to settle down.

I hope that one person in that fabric store was grateful for the way I handled my child and the situation, but I don’t need anyone to approve of my parenting techniques.  I learn lessons about my own strength and hers with these rages, and though it would be easier to not have them, I can’t wish that kind of repression on my child.  I can only offer her alternative coping skills to better manage these emotional times.  And, I get better and better at handling them each time they show up, getting closer everyday to the kind of mama I want to be.

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Rebirth

Spring is obviously a time of rebirth for our earth and all her creatures. 

It’s a time when I like to sit back and watch the bulbs sprout and flower, open up the windows and take deep breaths.

It’s a time for me to take stock of all the things I’ve accomplished, whether recently or over a lifetime and make plans for the new season.

It’s a time to save the past as a piece of history, but remember that what’s done is done, and now it’s time to look forward.

Life is new.  Plans are new.  Attitude is new. 

And, as Grandfather Sun wraps a tighter and tighter hug around my part of Mother Earth, I take a deep breath, make new intentions and take one step forward.

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Sweet Spring

We’ve been so busy here trying to ready the house for market and keeping the kids sane (and tidy) at the same time.  But, it’s become easier to cope with the stress with this little preview of summer that has come to us these past few days.  I’ll let the photos do the talking of all the beautiful sights of spring unfolding around our very own home.

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