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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nature Versus Nurture

I have been thinking a lot lately about why Big A and I seem to butt heads a lot. I do think there is an element of that child-caregiver goodness-of-fit theory at play. I am not a patient person. I am an obsessive-compulsive goal-oriented person. Big A is very needy with Adam and I. I don't really get it. By all accounts she is outgoing and happy at school and daycare and usually with relatives. But her default demeanor with us is to be defiant, moody, sullen and whiny. I am beginning to understand that this is how she tries to command our attention. The problem is it drives me nuts. I am very quick to get snappy and frustrated. Worse, I've noticed that even when she is behaving and acting happy, I still get frustrated with her because she wants my attention every second. Listening to "Mommy, mommy, mommy" a hundred times a minute quickly frays my nerves. That really isn't fair.

What worries me most, is that I remember feeling like I never had my mother's undivided attention. She too is a neurotic, goal oriented person. I always wished she would stop doing what she was doing and (look at me, listen to me, just focus on me!). And yet here I am. I've become my mother.

I do think it would be easier to overcome this tendency of mine - of always flitting about trying to get things done - if I didn't already start out frustrated and annoyed by Big A because she is misbehaving. But obviously it's a vicious circle.

This morning Big A mentioned that she wasn't feeling great, but she's been pulling the sick card almost every weekday since school started up again after the new year. She was in a good mood but she didn't eat as much as normal for breakfast, so on a whim, I took her temperature. To my surprise she actually had a fever! So I kept her home with me. Once she new she was staying home, she was elated. She kept saying, "Mommy I love you." We had a good day together and some positive bonding that we rarely get. She quietly watched tv while I did some work this morning. Then she watched me to my Jillian Michaels DVD. Then she went on the bus with me (public transport is a huge thrill for her!) to the eye doctor, where she watched Angelina Ballerina on her portable dvd player while the eye doctor did my contact lens examination. We came home, she ate a bit of lunch and then I read her a story before she, without any resistance, went down for a nap. And now, 3 hours later, she is still sleeping!

It makes me wonder how much she has internalized the fact that I pack her off for school/daycare every day. It's then when we always have the most conflict. Does she have abandonment issues? Does she interpret this as rejection from me?

I feel Big A is a sensitive soul but is obviously not mature enough to understand her own feelings, let alone articulate them to others. It really is up to me to try and be patient with her and remember where some of her less attractive behaviour is likely coming from. It's not easy. I think this is something I am going to have to continuously work at.