Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Worst Day Ever

I'm about to tell you all about THE worst day I've ever had as a parent. I think I've let so much time pass because, for a while, I couldn't think of the incident without crying.

My husband woke up in the middle of the night to find me gone from our bed, and scoured the house looking for me. He was dressed and ready to leave our sleeping child alone in the house to look for me, only to find me whimpering in a corner in our basement. I told him what happened that day.

Tallu is pulling the books off the shelf after I had just cleaned her room. I tell her to put the books back on the shelf or I'm taking the shelf out of the room. She continues to take the books off; I get up and push the bookshelf into the hallway. She starts crying, and that makes me angrier. So I threaten that if she doesn't stop crying I'm taking the kitchen from her room. She starts crying harder. I grab the kitchen and shove it into the hallway, yelling at her all the while.

Then I stop.

I hear my daughter bawling, begging me to stop taking her stuff.

I look in the hallway at the mess I'd made of her stuff, and of her. I go back into her room, sit on her bed and start wailing, head in my hands. She's still bawling, only now she's saying "Stop crying, mommy, please stop crying!" I'm sobbing "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." I'd completely lost control, because her tiny fingers couldn't put the books back on the shelf in the anal-retentive way I'd organized them. Because she's playing with the bookshelf like it's a toy. It's on the wall across from her bed. It's the focal point of her room; of course, she's going to play with it! If I put the kitchen in that space, she'd play with it all the time! D'uh, Mom! I wipe my tears, and bring everything back into the room. Only this time I put the toy kitchen on the wall facing her bed, and put the books on the bookshelf haphazardly, in the space where the kitchen used to be.

It was a horrible experience for both of us, one that Tallu still recalls on occasion. "Remember when you threw all my stuff out of my room, and you were crying and I was crying?" she'll sometimes ask. "Yes," I say, "I remember." It still hurts that she remembers and recalls it, even a year later.

What did I learn that day? I learned that my child was two, and she didn't give a damn if the books were arranged in size order or alphabetically. I realized she would play with the kitchen more if it were in her line of sight. I learned that if I put the books on the shelf in a way she could take the books on and off the shelf easily, she would. I discovered that I didn't need to keep her room neat all alone, she could help me. I thought to myself as I stacked the books on their sides on each shelf. "I don't care how she puts the books on the shelf, as long as she puts the books on the shelf, I'm cool with that," I told myself that day. I continue to tell myself when she does something I find annoying that I am the adult, and I must be in control of my emotions and responses, so that I can model healthy behavior for my daughter (and now my son, as well).

What's New with Tallu

In this issue:
Potty Trained!
Big Sister-hood

The Great Chop
So Angry, She Could Spit

I took this pic of Tallu the morning I was in labor with her brother. Since this pic, she's become an older sister, slept in a berth on a train trip to South Carolina, fell and hit her head on the ground near a pool (she was fine, no need for a hospital visit), fell and split open her chin (five stitches!), and been trapped in the house when not traveling with her family because it's been too damned hot outside.

Tallu is out of diapers and diaper-like underwear! I forget exactly when this happened, but it was before her brother arrived. Her dad and I were hesitant about letting her sleep with no overnight diaper, but we figured it was safe when she was consistently waking up dry. My mom suggested stopping her from drinking at a certain time, but I've found that if she goes to the potty before bed that's enough. Of course there have been accidents, but that's par for the course. I'm just grateful she was finished the diaper thing before her bro came, with no regression phase after his arrival.

Their grandmaman brought Tallu home the Monday after Sam was born and witnessed their meeting. She was very surprised when Sam turned his head at the sound of his sister's voice. Tallu talked to him inside my belly all the time, so it was no surprise to me that he'd respond that way.

Tallu's adjusting very well to having another child in the house. Sam hasn't interrupted her life much more than he did while he was in utero. She was trapped in the house because I was pregnant in the winter, and she's trapped in the house now because it's too hot for either of them to be out this summer. They are not sharing a bedroom, and her bedtime rituals are unchanged. Tallu is allowed to touch her brother, although I wish she would touch him less, and she is rather affectionate toward him. Sam, in return, smiles at her, coos at her, and focuses on her when she is near him.

Tallu also got a haircut, which was so very necessary with this heat. I took her to my stylist a few days after she became a big sister. She loved every minute of it! She got her hair washed in the back by Ursula, who ushered her back to the front to Shelley's chair. Tallu was grinining from ear to ear every time she looked in the mirror. It's a short bob, and it makes her look like big girl. She has another appointment scheduled at the end of September.


No update would be balanced without some misbehavior, right? Tallu has this habit of spitting when she's really angry if she's received the answer 'no'. There's no distance, just a foaming at the mouth and letting it fall to the ground in my general direction. When it happens, I send her to her room to go to sleep or calm down and something is taken away for the day. I'm sure there are many of you out there who are shaking your heads at what sounds like a very casual response to rude behavior.

Here's my thinking: she will do it more often if I get all riled up with her. I have to be the grown-up and respond appropriately. She's usually super-tired when she does it, so the way to adjust the attitude is to go to sleep. She'll wake up refreshed, or she will have time to calm down. We talk about not spitting again, and spitting at me is not the way to make me change my mind about something. Then we move on. It's a rare occurance, but I have to remember she's immature. She doesn't get what I've said no to anyway, so isn't that the greater victory?