Thursday, December 18, 2008

Using our kind voices

We have turned it around now, I think.

Last night, the ride home from daycare built into a candy cane related tantrum that frayed all our nerves before our evening had even properly started. After we peeled off coats and boots and scarves and mitts, and Munchkin stamped her feet and threw punches at us ("I! WANT! THE BIG ONE! CANDY CANE! RIIIIIIGGGGHHHT NOW!") and we started snapping back at her with warnings about time outs and tone, we ... stopped.

I scooped her in my arms and told her we all needed to be kinder to each other, to use our kind voices, to be gentle and to have a nice time together. I don't want to fight with you, I told her, I want to hold your hand and pat your hair and relax with you for a minute. Let's calm down.

It worked, mostly. We sat in front of the television, watching Pokoyo and silently snuggling. Pynchon set the table and prepared supper. It became--amazingly--uneventful. Flareups were smothered with kind words and soft voices.

I'm not going to lie to you: it was very hard for me to heft this particular train wreck of a week back on track. I'm feeling petulant and put upon, but, after all, I'm the grownup, right? When I let go of my anger and resentment and tiredness and disappointment, I open a sliver of space for, maybe, grace. Munchkin is a beautiful, wicked smart, willful, strong kid. She loves me desperately. December is tiring and busy and overwhelming, for all of us. It's my job to help her learn how to cope better. You can do better than this, I tell her when she screams and rips her socks off, punches us, throws food, I know you're frustrated. Mommy will help you do better than this. Let's be kind to each other.

I sang to her last night, a song she loves, new words each time narrating the story of "My name is [Munchkin] and I ..." We sang of "I love to snuggle my Mom" and she lifted her head off my shoulder to cradle my face in her toddler hands: "I DO love to snuggle you, Mom,"
she agreed, and fell back into me with a sigh, peaceful at last.

We can do this. We will use our kind voices.

--------

Oh--you want to see why our backs hurt from hauling her around? Here's a recent photo, with Pynchon (5'9") included for scale:

11 comments:

Kyla said...

I'm glad things are getting better!

How tall is she? She looks quite a bit taller than KayTar!

Beck said...

She is a long, cute drink of water!

And I'm very glad to hear that things are easier. I think every parent goes through this - I certainly do.

Cloud said...

Wow, she's big. Having a tiny little girl has its own issues, but is at least easier on the back.

I like your new approach. It sounds a lot like the "time in" idea from Larry Cohen (in Playful Parenting), but I confess that when I first read about that I thought there was no way it would work. I guess I should give it a try!

cinnamon gurl said...

She's so tall!!! I mean, I knew that already, but wow...

I'm always a little sheepish to discover that Swee'pea's tantrums get less frequent when I get less stressed and snappy.

Patti said...

Wow. I'm not a parent, but can I just tell you - your post might help me through my day at work today, a little better. Thanks!

NotSoSage said...

Oof. I'm glad that you seem to have reached a solution. That's some heavy tantruming.

And look at her! She's a weed!

Jenifer said...

That is one cute and big toddler! Glad to hear you had an easier time.

Mimi said...

Hm. I'm not sure exactly how tall she is--haven't had her measured since her last ,18mo, well-baby check. Maybe I should ... I agree that she's very cute :-)

Playful Parenting? I think I might check that out. Last night was another tantrummy, not-listening disaster, it's all so volatile and she's playing us off each other, but we're trying to keep our cool and remember to be kind ...

Sin -- I'm sheepish a *lot* of the time lately, it seems ...

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kittenpie said...

I have often found my best parenting moves sometimes come at times of desperation when I realize we're about to go over an edge to a bad place, and I have to sit down and figure out what else I could do, what other direction I could take. Sounds like you've had one of those moments, too - and a great response.