Yin and yang. Dark and light. Despair and hope. Republican and democrat. Chocolate and vanilla.
Chickadee and Monkey.
Deep, dark pit of angst and… hours of self-entertainment with plastic hair. (Spelling and syntax are, unfortunately, correct.)
Yeah, I didn’t really know they were opposites, either. But then, there’s a lot I didn’t know before I met my kids.
[By the way–seriously, you people are so pretty. But naive. Lord. While I appreciate all of the kind and praising comments I received on this last post, you don’t all really believe that I always handle my flailing children with such finesse, do you?
For every time I write about when I’m frustrated but more or less keep my cool, there’s a dozen times when I probably screamed my head off in response, instead. On Friday I managed to keep it together. But it’s the exception, not the rule, for sure.
I’m flattered you believe me to be that patient. Or maybe I’d just like some of whatever it is that you’re smoking.]
Yesterday we all maintained an uneasy truce. The meltdown of the previous day was not discussed. Behavior was… passable.
Today there were skirmishes. There was a Puppy Incident, for example.
Monkey: Chickie, give it BACK!
Chickadee: I don’t have it.
Chickadee: I DON’T, Monkey!
Me: What’s going on?
Monkey: SHE TOOK MY PUPPY AND SHE WON’T GIVE IT BACK!
Chickadee: No I didn’t!
Me: Did you take his puppy?
Me: Help him look for it, please.
Monkey: She TOOK it!
Me: She’s going to find it for you. AREN’T YOU, Chickie?
Chickadee: I don’t know where it is.
Me: Figure it out.
Chickadee: It’s a stupid puppy.
Me: Chickadee. *getting right up into her face* Did you take his puppy?
Chickadee: No, Mama! I swear!
Me: *getting even closer* Give. it. back. NOW.
*Chickadee retrieves puppy, throws it at her brother*
Yeah, it was a grand day, today. So, um, after that little exchange (which earned her a one-way pass to her room to “think about it” for a while), I thought maybe a major discussion about her recent attitude in general would be a good idea.
So I waited a few minutes for her to calm down, and then I went upstairs to talk to my daughter. She was laying face-down on her bed, and appeared to be ignoring me as I sat on the edge of the bed and talked about how we’re all entitled to how we feel, but it’s up to each one of us to make good choices about how we act.
When I got to the part about how I am never angry at her for her feelings–that I understand if she feels sad, or angry, or jealous sometimes, but I do wish that sometimes she would work to control her behavior better, so that those icky feelings don’t keep leading to such bad choices of how to conduct herself–her shoulders started to shake. A small wail escaped, muffled in her pillow, and led in very short order to full-out sobbing.
I gathered her up into my arms and asked her to tell me why she was crying. For long minutes she could only cling to me, drenching me in her tears. Finally she took a deep breath and said, “I’m the worst person in the world.”
And my chest seized with pain and I blurted out the knee-jerk maternal response, “Oh HONEY, no you aren’t! You’re wonderful!”
This made her cry harder.
It was a long talk, and I don’t know if any of what I said got through to her. She’s not even eight, yet. She nurses a self-loathing borne of perfectionism gone wrong. I know it well, because I’ve fought the same thing for most of my life. Why behave when you figure you’re just, well, BAD? You make one wrong choice and then you may as well just KEEP GOING because WHAT’S THE POINT? Trouble is inevitable. May as well go down in flames.
And I talk her out of this by… ummmm… well, wouldn’t it be nice if I had? I think that would’ve been nice. An after-school special sort of moment. “Tonight, on a very special episode of ‘Mir and Chickadee!'” In a perfect world, I would find the words to explain to her why she’s magnificent, why she must believe in herself, keep trying even when it’s hard. In that perfect world, I say the right things, and she GETS IT, and the problem is solved.
In this world, I do what I can, and it never feels like enough. When she said, “I NEVER learn how to control myself!” I pointed out that I am still struggling with this, myself; in fact, most people are. That it gets easier with practice, but it’s always hard. That this is part of being human, and having a conscience. That I wish she could see herself through my eyes, or her teacher’s eyes, or her brother’s eyes.
I held her while she cried and poured out her fears and insisted that I was wrong, had to be wrong, because she was BAD and could never be good. I said everything that I thought might help. She had a response for everything. (Child of God? “I think maybe I came from that other place, the one down under the ground.” Does sweet and kind things for others? “Yeah well I do a lot more bad things than I do good things.” The fact that she’s sad means she wants to be more like her true self? “No it doesn’t, it means I’m sad that I’m so rotten.”) I tried not to let her see how she was breaking my heart. But whether anything I said really made an impression? I guess it remains to be seen.
Once she was spent, I popped her into a bubble bath. Midday! Craziness! It helped her shed the mood, at least. And her brother joined in, and there was much merriment and wet tile.
Oh, speaking of the brother. Speaking of opposites. Ha!
While I was trying to find a way to convince my daughter not to give in to the downward spiral of blackness, where was my son? Fretting? Agonizing? Finding a cure for cancer?
He was keeping busy. Such an inventive scamp, that one. And thank goodness, because what with Christmas and his birthday it’s not like he has any new toys to play with, or anything. There’s hardly ANYTHING to entertain oneself with around here, so you have to be resourceful. Unless you want to spend the day playing with a stick and a rock. Poor kids. I’m just grateful that he knows how to make do.
The kids have a bunch of these. And really, what’s not to like about a bunch of bendable human figures? Especially when their hair is removable? The possibilities are ENDLESS!
Well, they’re multiple, at least.
Like what if you lost the lid to the powder container? Or needed a little embellishment for the cannon on your castle? Suppose you have an old boat in need of some mast restoration? Or say Percy the Green Engine needs to enter the Witness Protection Program?
And then what do you do once your masterpieces are discovered?
So there you have it. Chickadee’s complicated day, and Monkey’s… less complicated day. Can you believe they share DNA? I have my doubts.
Also I apparently have a lot of little plastic wigs around the house.