emotions running high
Life seemed to be going on more or less swimmingly until this recent spate of tantrums. Sometimes I think it’s a hunger thing, or maybe having had too much sugar, but other times I’m at a complete loss as to what sets her over the edge. When she’s in a mood, she speaks more loudly, more rudely, and when she’s really mad, she hits her fist on a surface and stomps off very loudly (well, thanks to the hardwood floors). Her anger is blatant and I sometimes have to wonder where all this pent-up emotion comes from. Lucas thinks she gets set off easily when she doesn’t get her way, which is probably true when she’s already in a bad mood. Yesterday, there was the instance when we suggested she carry her bag of tomatoes vertically rather than horizontally to make it easier but she was anything but open to our suggestions. And then asking her to take her tights off when we got home resulted in a crying fit, but I think that was due to hunger as she hadn’t had much to eat at lunch. In the evening, Lucas told her to go back to bed while he was searching for something in a box and she got upset.
Lucas and I had a long talk after that last one. The recent tantrums seem to mostly happen in his presence (ie. it rarely happens when it’s just me and her) and perhaps that’s a result of him being more likely to stand his ground and his sterner parenting style (his words), something I think he’s internalized from his own childhood. He said that growing up, he’d never have dared question anything his dad said or he’d have gotten it. I said that from my point-of-view, as a parent, it sucks and is annoying when Raspberry’s being defiant but I’m glad she’s questioning things and standing her ground, because I don’t want her to grow up to be passive, all-accepting and uncritical. At the same time, I understand it’s hard to shake what you’re familiar with, as I’m the same way. But in recent years, I’ve sort of adopted the idea when parenting Raspberry that if it’s not going to hurt anyone or anything, then why not? I’ll admit that my knee-jerk, Type-A personality reaction is often to say “no, you can’t,” but then when I really think about it, if we don’t have to be anywhere or if it’s not life or death, then it’s all right. This stands in contrast to Lucas, who isn’t as permissive, and sometimes Raspberry says things like, “don’t tell Lucas,” if she does something that she thinks he’ll get upset over. Like a few mornings ago, when she woke up and had to pee. Lucas was already up, getting ready to go to school and she said, “don’t tell Lucas I’m up.” But she had to go so I told her to just go. When I told Lucas this story last night, he said that it was likely because once, many months ago, she woke up early when he was getting ready for school and startled by her presence, he told her in a not-very-pleasant tone of voice to go back to bed. Of course, he’s uncomfortable with the fact that she tells me not to tell him certain things (he said that the very first time she said that months ago) and I don’t like it myself. I want both Lucas’ and my relationship with her to be the kind where she can tell us anything. He said he’s not sure why he reacts more sternly with her than someone else, if they pulled the same crap. I’m not sure, but maybe because she’s his kid. I don’t know. We didn’t really resolve anything last night; I think I was mostly a sounding board for Lucas.
Today, Raspberry had an epic meltdown while we were at a community breakfast; I’m not sure if this was many days in the making or if it’s just the tip of the iceberg. People were about to leave and I said she could have one more slice of bread before we went. She’d brought her stuffed duck, Paprika, and placed it on the table. Lucas moved it because the table was sticky and covered in crumbs and she freaked the hell out (in recent weeks, she’s been very protective of her stuffed friends — according to her, Lucas and I aren’t allowed to touch them), full on screaming and wailing. And we were in a small bakery filled with people, so you can only imagine how loud it was. To an adult, it was clearly an overreaction (like two weeks ago when she started crying — real tears and all — that her imaginary paper snowflake had been ripped).
I took her outside immediately, but it didn’t help and her tantrum only escalated, complete with jumping up and down. She kept yelling that if I stopped talking, she’d calm down, so I did but it didn’t help any. Lucas brought our coats and my bag out and insisted we start walking, but I was still hopeful that she’d stop crying and screaming. She repeated a number of times that she wanted me to help her do deep breathing and I said she had to calm down first in order to do that, but she didn’t. I can get triggered easily by Raspberry’s outbursts and end up being horrible and mean and yelling (definitely not my proudest moments), but today, I surprised myself by being level-headed the entire time, but I think I tend to be when I’m not personally involved in the tantrum, that is, Raspberry’s beef isn’t with me.
We must’ve been quite the sight with all the wailing, as I noticed this man outside the bakery watching us (he’s the guy in blue in the above picture; I didn’t want him in my picture but he wasn’t leaving). At first I thought he was just curious about the commotion, but as Raspberry’s tantrum showed no signs of abating, I saw he was still looking at us. I’m wonder what he thought was going to happen. Maybe he thought we’d start yelling back at her, creating even more of a sideshow? Maybe he thought I was being ridiculous, taking pictures of my crying child (I took only two and sometimes when I feel helpless during a tantrum, I turn to image-making instead as a temporary diversion)? Who knows?
We started walking home, as Raspberry kept on crying and that seemed to help as she did stop eventually. As we walked, high on emotion, Lucas and I talked about the situation and how confused we were as to why it happened, as she was having such a great time immediately before the meltdown. We talked to Raspberry about it once we got home. Normally an incredibly chatty child, she clams up and is a reluctant talker after something happens, so it was like pulling teeth when we asked her questions to help us understand why she reacted the way she did. She did say that she was angry and we tried to help her come up with some ideas to deal with her anger. It was good that she was able to offer some solutions on her own, but the tricky part is her employing them in the heat of the moment. It’s going to take a bit, just like it took her a while to remember to use deep breathing to help calm herself down. I think she’s experiencing more negative emotions lately and having a hard time being able to control them so they all come rushing out in the form of a tantrum. Actually, I think she’s always had a hard time with her emotions since she was little. Anyway, I’m not sure about Raspberry but the events of earlier in the day were emotionally and physically draining for Lucas and I. I can only hope this full-blown tantrum “reset” her emotions but as with just about anything else with kids, her moods will probably be unpredictable.Advertisements