Monday, December 28, 2009
It has been an emotional roller coaster in our house the past 24 hours. I know the holidays mess with routine and the ups and downs of excitement and anticipation and too much sugar and not enough water or sleep all add up to hyper children who make bad choices. At 2 a.m., Teagan woke and started calling for Daddy. Repeatedly, loudly. Not scared, not in a panic. Just demanding. He goes to her. "Cover me up" she whines. He covers her. She whines that she is still cold. He puts another blanket on her. She cries and whines that she doesn't want that blanket. She cries and whines and yells for the next 45 minutes with Jeff and I taking turns going in and trying to figure out what she needs. She even wakes Zach with her hysterics. Morning comes. She starts out pleasant enough- playing independently in her room while the rest of us sleep. But once everyone is awake, the demands and complaints start right away. After the 2 a.m. incident and her mood upon waking, I decide that I'm not taking her to church. Normally she comes with me for both services. She loves being there early and going to Sunday School twice. This wasn't done as a punishment- I just didn't have the energy to put into being part of worship and managing my child. I knew I couldn't trust her to be in her seat alone for the time I would be up front singing. I knew I wasn't going to let her have any donuts or sugar laden treats. Church rejuvenated me. Understanding and hand holding during prayer from a friend (thank you, Ashli- it meant so, so much). Listening to the sermon, getting refocused. I left feeling much better. Got lunch came home. As soon as we start eating, Teagan starts announcing that she isn't sleepy and won't be taking a nap. If we respond, she fights. If we don't respond, she escalates. It's a smidge maddening. I do get her down for a nap. I got Zach down, I sent Jeff off for some alone time to recover from his morning at home with the kids (which did include some fighting Teagan, of course). And eventually got her asleep, too. But first we had a little conversation. About how I know Teagan is this really awesome kid who is funny and caring and sweet and smart. About how Daddy and I love to spend time with her and play with her and hang out with her. And that no matter what, we love love love her. But that sometimes, I don't like the choices she makes. I don't like the way she chooses to act. And that something has to change. I jump into my afternoon project- organizing and cleaning out toys. Once everyone wakes up, I'm feeling much better. Teagan and I head to the grocery store in the midst of a beautiful snowfall. On the way home, we have another lovely conversation. She tells me that she isn't going to be "mean Teagan" ever ever ever again. She tells me that she knows I love her no matter what and that there isn't anything she can do that would make me not love her. She tells me she likes making good choices and being part of our family being happy. And the evening proves out her assertions. We get home and I make dinner. She eats every bite- even though it's food we've never had at home before (lil cheesy smokies in a blanket). She even eats her veggies (peas). Bathtime is no issue. It's fun and pleasant. She gets into jammies and she and Daddy read a book. The book is the print version of Disney's "The Princess and The Frog." Jeff gave it to her for Christmas and told her that they would go see the movie on Monday when she was home with him for the day. We've talked about their plan this afternoon and about how it's good she's making such good choices now so that she and Daddy can have their special day tomorrow. We've not made a huge deal out of it but it's been brought up once or twice. So they finish the book. Jeff covers her up, rubs her back and tells her good night. And then the peace is gone and Teagan-hell breaks loose. And we are back to screaming, demanding, whining, crying, hysterics. Switch- flipped. Getting angry doesn't work. Staying calm doesn't work. Responding to her lovingly (like going in and shushing and holding her)- can't bring myself to it because it just feels so wrong, like a reward for her behavior. But the frustrating thing is that we don't know what she wants. It's not like it's a power struggle and we aren't going to cave. She wants to tell Daddy something- he stands there, sits there, listening, asking her what... and she just keeps saying she wants to tell Daddy something. The thing that eventually works... and I hate being this way, doing this... I tell her that she needs to lay down, take a deep breath, get quiet... and if she gets up, calls for us, repeats the statements she's hooked onto... I take something and she will have to earn it back. Tonight, I took her new Tinkerbell music box, her new piggy bank, her new necklace, her new Christmas shoes, her new book, her new coloring set, one of her blankets, and a few other things. And she calmed down and got quiet and the hysterics and tears stopped... I hate it. I'm just so frustrated. I don't like my temper when she gets this way. I don't like the smirk on her face as she plays the game. I don't like seeing how much she pushes my normally patient, calm, and loving husband. I had such hopes that school would make things better. It's what others told me would happen. That the routine and structure and exposure to new ideas and expectations and the opportunity to do better and shine would lead to better choices all around. Nope. Is this really normal? These mood swings? I mean- she was A W E S O M E this afternoon. She played with Zach, she cooperated and listened. We played together, the kids played together, she played in her room. Then the last moment of bedtime hit and BLAMO! End of the world. I'm at a loss. No book seems to address it. My instinct is stumped. Part of me thinks that it might be time to talk to our family doctor. Just to make sure there isn't something abnormal going on. But I really don't want to medicate her. I don't, in my gut, feel like there is something wrong with her. I think this is just part of her, who she is. I think she's passionate and dramatic. I think that if I can figure this out, figure her out, we can find a way to hone this passion and drama into... energy, hard work, and so on. But I'm flailing. Am I off track? Am I missing something? Is this normal or am I off base? Should I talk to my doctor? Should I keep on keeping on? Do I crack down and continue being strict? Do I let up and let her lead the way? Or do I just take each day as it comes and hope that there is truly a light at the end of whatever tunnel I'm currently lost in?