I cried today.
We went to our homelearner’s dropin, my main concern being to keep DS from mauling anybody. That’s one little thing I can say I made good on; nobody had a scratch and DS actually seemed to have a pretty good time. Turns out it was my daughter I needed to worry about.
She wanted to play on a piece of equipment that some other kids were using as part of a game, and flipped out because she couldn’t take it. She asked me to read a book to her, and when another kid came by to listen she screamed that it was only for her to hear. Out on the playground (same group of kids) it got worse. She sassed off at everybody. She told a group of kids that she “knows everything”, then screamed at them when they begged to differ. She drove them to the point where one of the boys said he wished she would just die, and if you read my last post you can imagine how well that went over.
Watching DD that day was pathetic and sad.
The child has absolutely ZERO sense of how to interact with people. It’s heartbreaking to watch her running after her friends, so obviously wanting to join in with them, all the while demanding that they play some game she wants to play, or listen to her sing a song, or some other such thing (which is what caused them to run away in the first place). She just doesn’t get that things can’t be “her way or no way”, and she doesn’t get the Golden Rule at all. I see the looks the other kids give her sometimes – like she’s a freak. And these are homelearner kids who are used to a variety of personality types and don’t generally have an issue with socially awkward children, nor hold to rigid rules about what is cool and what isn’t. Yet none of them act like she does, and I can’t help but feel like there is something really wrong with my daughter, even though I know that she is remarkable in so many other ways. I wonder if perhaps I need to revisit the issue of giftedness with respect to the particular social challenges that such children experience. Gifted or not, DD has serious issues relating to other kids.
Other incidents involved her hitting some younger kid in the face (unusual, even for her), taking stuff that other kids had found and claiming them as her own, and throughout it all lying over and over again. Now, I understand that this isn’t true lying, and I get the whole distinction between reality and fantasy being a grey area right now, but with all the lying lately I can’t tell what’s true anymore. It’s pretty frustrating when you have to ask another 4 year old for the “real story”. And even when there are multiple witnesses she screams in protest if anybody accuses her – you’d think the greatest travesties of justice are committed upon her the way she carries on.
Now, I try very hard to hold to a non-punitive style of discipline, but after too many such incidents today it was ME who really needed to leave. I tried to make it clear to her that she simply couldn’t be allowed to treat other people that way, rather than a “you’re acting bad so I’m punishing you by leaving” thing. But I do realize that, from her perspective, it probably did feel like she was being punished for her behaviour. I felt this situation was severe enough that I could live with her feeling that way. Sometimes, no matter how you phrase it, doing the right thing is going to feel like punishment. And I hoped that the rarity of it might leave an impression on her.
Leaving the playground was one of those nightmarish parenting scenes from hell…my son was upset we were leaving, and I was carrying 40 lbs of struggling, tired toddler and a big diaper bag. At one point he scratched my face and ripped my glasses off. I had no hands free to carry DD, so I took advantage of the fact that she would not let me leave without her, and I began walking away. She screeched, she jumped up and down, she was hysterical but she followed me. When a friend came over to offer help the tears began flowing down my face. I just wanted to go home!
When we finally got to the car, I was held hostage for about 15 minutes because DD wouldn’t keep her seatbelt on. I tried waiting her out, I tried some snuggles, but nothing was working and I desperately needed to go home or I was gonna bawl my eyes out right there on the side of the road. Plus my son needed sleep and was strapped in next to her getting more and more upset.
Finally, I resorted to dirty tactics. I took her playdough and threatened to throw it away if she didn’t get her seatbelt on and keep it fastened until we got home. And please nobody tell me that it was okay to do this. It wasn’t okay for me and it never will be, but I recognize that I’m only human and I was at the end of my rope.
I feel frazzled and hollow inside. I feel like I did two years ago when DD was turning three and mutated into a defiant child I’d never met before and didn’t particularly like. I learned alot from that experience, mostly that my beliefs on how I should handle it are usually right and that the biggest battle is restraining myself from yelling, scolding, and saying mean and hurtful things to DD in an effort to “shock” her into “getting it”. I think the challenge here is the same, but I confess I’m lacking in resources lately. There are some personal stressors in my life these days that I don’t feel like discussing on the Internet, but are obviously taking their toll by draining me of already limited emotional resources. I have lost it with my kids more times than I care to admit and beating myself up over it has become a common mental pasttime. Every day I wake up and promise to try harder. And in all honestly, I suppose I could have done alot worse. At least I felt I was in some control of my tongue, and I was able to draw on reserves of patience I didn’t feel I had. All in all I think I handled it pretty well (playdoh incident notwithstanding) and I suppose for that I should give myself a pat on the back.
However, I think a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia would do even better.