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My daughter has never been an easy child. From birth, she was always irritable, not a good sleeper, not a good eater. If something could be done the hard way, you better believe she’d find out how and then insist on doing it that way. My husband and I always say to each other: “She is your daughter,” when she does something we’ll just say, out of the ordinary.
Her latest thing is running from the room like her pants are on fire, screaming at the top of her lungs when she has been told not to do something. It makes my blood boil when she does this.
It could be something as simple as telling her that she needs to be gentle with her five month old brother or she might hurt him. Or she needs to use her walking feet or she was going to bust her eye (again) by running into something. I try to not use no and to use a soft calming voice like all the experts who I swear has never actually raised a kid, tells you to do.
The typical conversation on a day by day, hour by hour basis, goes something like this:
“Quinn, I would like you to be gentle with your brother. You have to tickle him like this so it doesn’t hurt his baby skin,” and I would proceed to get down on the floor with her and show her like I had so many times before. I don’t know why I even bothered wasting my breath and using the extra calories it took to move across the room to get to her. I mean, I might as well have told her she could never ever and I mean NEVER play with her baby brother again because she was an awful big sister and only awful big sisters hurt their little brother’s unintentionally. Because that’s what her reaction is equivalent to.
She will get up and scream like a baby, except more ear-piercing and more annoying and with a hint of if-I-could-rip-my-eardrums-out-I-would.
Then stomp while running like a T-Rex with her mouth opened as big as possible screeching.
I’ve tried to remedy the situation. I’ve tried ignoring her and letting her scream until she gets distracted by a shiny object; I’ve tried sending her to her room until she can use her quiet voice, I have tried hugging and talking it out. Nothing works. Nothing. Nothing! NOTHING!
And so yesterday, when her older sister went to the extreme and actually did tell her she could no longer play with her baby brother, she ran screaming from the living room and this momma lost it. No more of this insane temper tantrum because she didn’t get her way! She was too old to act this way! She could use her words and stay there and work it out and by God, I was going to make her do it!
So I went and I grabbed her by the shoulders. “Enough of this! Enough of the screaming when you don’t get what you want or someone tells you no! You will go back there and you will stay and talk to her and work it out!”
And I made her. And you know what? She did it! She told her sister she didn’t want her to tell her what to do and her sister told her why she did it. And Quinn got over it and we all lived happily ever after…
Until later that night, when the time started ticking by and I had to take the kids to their meet the teacher night at their preschool by myself and then do bath time by myself and put them to bed that night by myself. My jerk of a husband who was golfing for the THIRD time that week wasn’t home yet and wasn’t answering his phone to let me know when he would be home and it was starting to boil my blood. I was getting ready to lose it and I swear if it wouldn’t have woken up the three little kids I just put to bed, I would have ran around the house screaming like my pants were on fire! How dare he take yet another night away for fun when I have been stuck at home with four children with no relief for the fourth day in a row? HOW DARE HE!
So when he called to tell me he was just leaving dinner and would be home in less than an hour, I hung up on him.
When he walked through the door two hours later, I ignored him. I glared at him when he walked in the room to talk to me and I promptly left.
And then, like a freight train in the night, it hit me. Quinn was exactly like me. The only difference was that I knew better. Just earlier that day, I demanded she stay in the room with her sister and talk to her. I demanded she act more mature than she was and handle the situation the way I knew she could.
But when I was faced with someone doing something I didn’t like, did I talk it out? Did I stay in the room and face it head on? Come to a resolution? Nope. I ran from the room, quietly screaming at the top of my lungs.
When I made the realization that I was expecting my four year old daughter to handle her conflicts better than I was, I blushed. And then slowly, I mustered up the courage to face my attacker. I stared that big jerk in the face and I told him what I thought of his selfish behavior. And you know what? We worked it out. By talking. Imagine that.