I’m still laughing at my socks and shoes post.  I crack myself up sometimes.   But behind the laughter I was losing my mind.  I’m at my wit’s end with my daughter’s behavior.  Even worse, I am doubting my ability to handle it.  She is 6-years old and still throws the mother of all tantrums.  And I feel like I’m “doing it wrong.”  All of it.

Once she starts her freak out, she cannot calm herself down.  The rational side of me, the one that reads the books and listens to the “experts” (a.k.a. friends and family), says this is normal.  Even her kindergarten teacher worked with the whole class on ways to calm down; things like “belly breathing” and “noodles” which is about letting all the muscles in your body go limp when you feel like you’re going to explode.  So it happens to all kids at this age, right?  They blow up and freak out?  I repeat to myself over and over “normal…normal…normal.”

It’s hard to see the normal when you find yourself walking on egg shells because you never know what’s going to set her off.  During an epic tantrum last week about us not having anything for her to help us with outside (OMG REALLY?) she wouldn’t snap out of it and it escalated.  It turned into hysteria about how we don’t want her anymore and then about how the bugs were scaring her.  The screeching!  She was physically throwing herself around too.  It was only a matter of time before she banged an elbow or a knee, making the tantrum even harder to control.

It reminded me of the time we tried to sleep train her and she cried so hard she barfed in her bed.  So we had to make a choice:  Ignore her and let her calm herself (and risk the barf), speak to her and try to talk her off the ledge, redirect her to snap her out of it, or coo and soothe her.  But really, I wanted to shake her, scream at her, tell her to stop acting like a baby.  To snap the fuck out of it.  Yeah, let that sit with you a minute.

I understand that she is going through a lot of changes.  She’s developing and growing at a rate that is shocking to me.  I take for granted that a lot of what she does and sees these days, she’s experiencing for the first time ever.  Sometimes these experiences are scary, sometimes they’re confusing.  She must feel like nothing is within her control in this world of grown-ups, schedules and rules.  I have to remember that.  But boy, does this girl know how to push my buttons!  And more often than not, it’s my buttons that get pushed, not my husband’s.    Why does she always pull this crap with me?  Because she knows how to play me.

Oh, you freaked out because you don't want to go to camp? Let me find someone to take you to the zoo instead... Photos: C. Poloski, babysitter extraordinaire

Oh, you freaked out because you don’t want to go to camp? Let me find someone to take you to the zoo instead…
Photos: C. Poloski, babysitter extraordinaire

Has she figured out already that I hate confrontation and will do anything to avoid it?  I am most likely the one to try to talk it out with her when she’s like this or try to calm her by soothing her.  It never works and I usually just walk away in frustration.  I do my share of belly breathing.  Dad then has to step in and be the “heavy” and that’s not fair to him either.  He shouldn’t have to be the bad guy all the time.

The choices we make as adults, as parents, affect our kids in ways we do not know yet-in ways that we may not see for years.  Isn’t that a scary mo-fo of a statement?  You constantly have to be on your guard and try to make the right choices.  The way we talk to our daughter and the words we choose are absorbed.  A comment you make in the heat of the moment or that you consider to be an off-hand remark can stay in a child’s mind for a long time.  Her brain is not aged Swiss cheese like mine; she never forgets.  The way we adults talk to each other, the way we treat each other is also absorbed by our kids.  Even the things we don’t think they see, they see.  But seriously, folks, no pressure.

It’s time to take my own advice.  Snap the fuck out of it and get it together.  I have choices to make now that will affect our mother-daughter relationship for years to come.  I have to find a way to be solid, firm and consistent but still allows me to maintain the lovey-dovey side of the relationship.  She needs more than a mom who coddles her.  I have to tame the beast, but is the beast her and her tantrums or me and my insecurity?  The wise woman answers, “Both!”

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