Ah, you guys.
I don't even know where to start. I've been struggling with Parenting Issues in my little [hidey hole] corner of the internet and it's been...a struggle. It's a teeter-totter-roller-coaster up in this piece and I debate even how much to write about it, since the internet is all PERMANENT and someday, my beautiful girl will be able to read and do internet searches and well, I wouldn't ever want her to stumble on something that would have her feeling like I didn't Like her all the time, even though, I feel like, well, like I don't Like her all the time.
Oh my word.
There's nothing that makes you feel more reptilian than admitting there are moments that you don't Like your own offspring.
And by you, I mean me.
This is a fairly new occurance around here, actually, but it's not at all new to me. I see it in my job occasionally. Worn-out, anxious, exasperated, parents of a child who has a 'Difficult Temperament' or other challenging behaviors will come into my office for help. They sit on the couch and discuss their child and his behaviors and list all of the books they've read and the techniques they've tried and the meetings they've had with school personnel, counselors, therapists, and doctors. They tell me about the frustrating, irritating, and even humiliating situations that have resulted from these behaviors. And what is abundantly clear, as they are talking and confiding and crying, is that they Love their child. That much is so obvious, it goes without saying.
But equally obvious, and almost always unspoken and (I imagine) carried in the pits of their stomachs like a stone, is the fact that they are having great difficulty Liking their child. And I'm not talking about the flash of anger or resentment that comes with the territory of your kid being an ass. I'm talking about an ongoing, chronic disconnection from feelings of fondness, tenderness, or anything else resembling a Warm Fuzzy.
And so it is for me, internet, these past few weeks. My girl, my feisty one, has always had a tough temperament. She is not terribly flexible. She is tenacious in all the most challenging ways. She is easily frustrated, sometimes anxious and overwhelmed. She needs about 748576 feet of personal space around her or she starts whacking people. She's a little wired and a lot sharp and likes to rattle cages. Kind of like her mother. Go figure.
The interesting thing about temperament is, objectively, there's no such thing as a difficult or easy temperament. They just are what they are, kind of like feelings. It's the context that decides what's easy and what's not, see. Parenting or teaching a flexible, regular, generally contented, movable child is just....easier. (And, uh, I know that from personal experience, as well.) I've always known this stuff about my girl. Re-reading that post I linked was a little mind-bending. It seems that Four is a recycled Two but with more vocabulary! And horse-power!
Without going into the grizzly gorries because, oh my holy hell, she's four years old and her worst isn't that bad, suffice it to say it's bad enough. Bad enough to make me feel like I'm standing off to the side and watching myself watching my kid. With no smile, no tenderness, no warm fuzzies. It feels cold and a little scary to be here at four.
I'm getting my wits about me and we've embarked on the latest round of lollipop rewards, sticker charts and positive reinforcement (all of which usually end up working for us). We've got family meetings and loving talks to counter-balance punishments and frank rage, fueled by my helplessness and fear.
I understand my own feelings pretty well. I know I'm not a reptile. I know it's a normal part of parenting and it waxes and wanes and that, if I'm feeling it, others are too, somewhere. Maybe, one day, I'll be on someone's couch, crying and listing and hoping it all comes out right enough to convey the intensity of my love for this kid.
Because it's like the blazing sun in the desert, you know.
It really is.