My entire morning was spent calming my child because she intentionally bit herself. Yes. Seriously. She chomped down on her delectable little Tootsie roll of a finger, and then blamed me for it. She blamed and whined and cried and screamed for a solid 15 minutes. And I was powerless to stop it.
I have no idea what transpired over the course of the last week, but my child, my bright, verbal, advanced little angel has turned into a combative, rude, attention-seeking stranger. I am heartbroken. And confused. And pissed that I thought we made it through the ‘Terrible Twos” unscathed. Clearly, I was mistaken. We are green horned rookies who need all the help we can get.
I have been scouring articles and chapters of books looking for the right way to go about handling the new ‘stage’ in my daughter’s life, because I am clueless. Unbelievably, I can’t seem to find one titled “What to Do When You Are 6 Months Pregnant and Your Two and ¾ Year Old Wakes up One Day Hating Your Guts” (WTF, writers? You’re missing out on a GOLDMINE of an opportunity!) Anyway, all this advice-seeking has succeeded only in making me feel like a parental failure because I do approximately 10% of the ‘right’ things, according to today’s giant trend of ‘Positive Parenting’.
Do you know about Positive Parenting? No? Okay. Here is a role-playing synopsis:
The Xanax Parent
Circumstance: Child happily lights kitchen on fire with flint rock and kindling while mother is in the bathroom. Mother walks out to find her kitchen engulfed in flames and smoke. She removes child from burning structure and quietly says, “Little Jimmy, I know fire is pretty, and it would be really fun for you to watch our kitchen go up in flames, but smoke inhalation is very dangerous to your health, so we can’t do that right now, okay, buddy?”Child screams and punches mother in the eye, causing immediate orbital blindness and swelling. Parent responds: “I know that you are angry right now because you can’t burn our house down, and I understand that you hit me because you needed to show me you are angry. But hitting is painful to mommy. I can understand why you feel frustrated. Let’s go for a walk to the park and get some ice cream.”
Okay, obviously I am exaggerating a hair, but to be honest, I can’t hop on the ‘No Time Out or Raising Your Voice under Any Circumstance” wagon that is currently barreling through modern-day parenting psychology. It is impossible. Sure, it would be super nice for me to calmly, coolly, explain to my babe the ins and outs of why things can’t work her way all the time, and for her to immediately grasp the concept and happily skip away and find a quiet game to amuse herself. But, for us, this magical land of whispers and butterflies doesn’t exist. In our house, if you spit milk in mom’s face, you get a time out because you are old enough to know better, period.
But, reading all this pansy-parenting technique did seep through my skull a teensy bit last night, when my daughter was trying to purchase coloring sheets on an app on my iPhone. Of course, she was frustrated that I had to keep taking the phone and clicking ‘no’ to the purchase and resetting it to the screen she could play with. And I was frustrated by having to stop brushing my teeth fifty times to do so. Then, I it dawned on me that she’s smart enough to learn which app choices she can click on and which she can’t. So, I showed her to steer clear of the pages with the little blue locks on them, and to click the little ‘x’ if she accidentally chooses the wrong one. And guess what?! She did it! And she was so proud of herself. And I was proud of both of us. Don’t get me wrong, if she had smashed my phone off the ground in frustration, I would have gotten pretty pissed and she would have had a consequence. But, it didn’t come to that, and for the most part, we had a pretty smooth evening.
So, realistically, part of me knows that I will always be that fish wife mother who bellows from the first floor to the third. Maybe I’ll cry right along with my kids when we are having bad days. Maybe I’ll never do consistent discipline as long as I am raising two year old Tasmanian devils. But, I am happy to say that my own application of Positive Parenting, as skewed and off the charts as it may be, is something I can work with for now…along with the grace of God and a little vodka, of course. (Don’t worry. I will wait a few more months for the vodka).