Friday, August 24, 2012

Second Time Around

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There are 4 people in our household.  Three of them are being terrorized by the other one.  The smallest one.

Little A is just being a complete nightmare.  Grumpy, surly, unreasonable, irrational and unpredictable.  After several weeks of eating marble cheese like it's going out of style, I put a few pieces on her dinner plate the other night and she shrieked, "I don't like this!" and flung it across the kitchen.  Virtually every night she kicks up a huge fuss about going to bed with ongoing requests for us to come back into her room and hysteria if we don't comply.  She has refused to swim for the last 2 weeks at swim lessons, and she throws tantrums like every 2 minutes.  Why?  Oh believe me, she'll find a reason!  Remember the peeing doll she begged for?  Well, she is now asking for the jewelry box craft activity we'd initially been looking for.  She told me she's now done with the doll, and I can give it away.  Maybe she'd like to go with it?  Her daycare teacher told me this week that she is 'frighteningly clever, with manipulation skills far beyond what a 3-year-old should have).  Oy vey!

Her irruptions into screaming, whining or crying are so frequent, I recently realized that I've started developing anxiety issues again.  You know how when you are a parent the sound of your child crying/screaming/whining can put you into that automatic fight-or-flight response?  Well I feel that way virtually every second she is around.  Not good for my physical or mental health.  I'm working on developing better coping skills so I don't end up in a straight-jacket soon.  Time outs have never worked with either of our children.  But they work for me.

Other things are helping me get through this too.  Like remembering what a difficult time I used to have with Big A, who is now - for the most part - delightful and cooperative.  Just 2 years ago it was Big A waking up in a rotten mood and starting every day with tantrums while Little A was my ray of sunshine.  Now it's completely reversed.  Big A is happy and charming from the minute she gets out of bed, while Little A trudges down the stairs with a dark expression and stormy mood.  At least I know this will eventually come to an end.  In addition, when Big A was at her worst, we didn't even get along during her better moments.  We really just didn't get along period.  In the infrequent and fleeting moments when Little A is in a good mood these days, she is her absolutely adorable TRUE self.    Just her smile, alone, is enough to melt me like chocolate on a hot day.

I am also much better about not letting myself get sucked into trying to negotiate with her, the way I used to with Big A.  Yesterday morning she wanted to eat the brownie she got from my in-laws yesterday, for breakfast.  When I refused, she lay on the floor and screamed.  I simply ignored her and went about my business getting dressed and ready.  She eventually gave up on the brownie.  Of course, she did have about 12 more trantrums about various things before we left the house, but at least she gave up on the brownie and ate a whole-wheat bagel and cream cheese instead.

I survived the tryanny of Big A and she is now a lovely, bright, sweet girl who we are very proud of.  I know we'll survive this too and eventually Little A will put this behind her and return to her delicious sweet self.  Until then, I just have to keep reminding myself that this is a temporary stage...and that it is not okay to drink wine at 8am!!