I really have to start taking my own advice. Frequently, when AT gets frustrated or confused (or denied her precious “shows”) she lashes out and gets really upset, and I always try to calm her down by saying “take a deep breath”. My mom taught me this one and it works for pretty much any scenario where you feel stress. With AT, it works most of the time. Sometimes she even realizes that she has overreacted and apologizes for her misbehavior, which I think is pretty great for a newly minted 5-year-old. I’m really proud of her when she does that.
That being said, it feels like I’m constantly repeating myself, trying to get her to listen and pay attention and sometimes I break and I yell. I hate myself when I do that and I also feel like they are completely avoidable if I just “take a deep breath” before reacting to what I feel like is the end of my rope.
Here are the most likely scenarios when this happens:
1) Rushing to get out the door in the morning. AT is both a very natty dresser as well as the ultimate “girly-girl” as are many of the women-figures in her life. As much as I want to blame those figures for influencing her I think this is a birth-trait. She is not yet fighting for gender equality or sporting a pixy cut, but I look forward to the day when she does. She’s f-ing 5 year’s old and we had a screaming fight recently because she didn’t want her classmates to see that she was wearing pants under her dress.I made her wear pants under her dress because it was supposed to be 55 degrees that day and she had just finished telling me how cold she was. Tears, screaming, even perhaps an “I hate you” ensued, and trust me, she lost her cool too. (j/king about the “I hate you” bit).
2) Brushing her teeth before bed. AT is actually really good at brushing her teeth, but she’s even better at stalling bedtime. She has nailed the act of falling asleep and we have a good routine down, but that period of brushing her teeth, perhaps because it is the last act before she enters the sleep chamber, can be a struggle. I’ve found myself a couple times grabbing the lazily grazing toothbrush out of her hands, pulling her mouth open wide and violently brushing her teeth. It is not one of my finer moments and I need to work harder to not rise to the bait. She is always really tired if it gets to this point, sometimes even deliriously laughing, definitely not paying attention to what I’m telling her. But being tired is actually a valid excuse for that. It’s not a good excuse for my behavior.
3) She is singing and dancing in her own world. This is the most egregious failure on my part. I love that she loves to sing and dance and make up her own songs and lyrics and I try to always encourage this behavior. She is also very sharp and there are many times when I think she is simply singing-through my requests. I don’t know though, perhaps she is just really into her mashups or so deep into her own creative energy that nothing else externally matters. That’s how Mariah Carey and Bieber got started and how do I ever expect to retire on her talents, if I don’t continually encourage this?? Food for thought.
Regardless, there has been more than a time or two where I’ve screamed at her to listen to me. We also talk about at the very least acknowledging someone when they talk to you. She always agrees it’s the right thing to do and then promptly forgets to do it.
Mostly I realize that any conflict we have in these scenarios are a result of me losing my patience and not listening to the adage “take a deep breath”. I’m going to try hard to change this. Namaste.