April 2nd, 2011
I write posts like the last one for two main reasons. First, I get a lot of great parenting ideas from blogs I read, and I figure if I have a decent idea I should pay it forward and share it with others. Second, if I write it down then I’m less likely to forget about it.
It’s ironic (or is it?! I’m always fuzzy on the definition of irony, thanks to Alanis Morissette) that the day after writing a post about how much easier our lives could be if I just remember to be more playful, I am writing a post about how my parenting report card today would be stamped with a great big FAIL.
Today I lost my temper at Annalie over something kind of stupid. She threw a fit over having to leave the house for dinner, then got mad because she had to put on long pants (a fight I have with her EVERY SINGLE DAY, every time we need to leave the house, oh my goodness does this kid ever need to live in Southern California). Then it went even further downhill, probably largely because she was hungry, which was why we were leaving the house to get some dinner.
I was hungry too, and I have the same tendency to be 300% more irritated by life when I’m hungry, so it took a lot of effort for me to stay calm. But by golly, I did. I spent 20 minutes patiently, calmly talking to Annalie. I reminded her she was hungry. I pointed out that 45F isn’t warm enough to go outside in a skirt and tank top. She was not entirely happy but had simmered down and even put on tights and was ready to leave.
And then she changed her mind. I don’t even know exactly what it was, but something set her back to square one and she told me, in that hmmph-so-there voice that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, that she wasn’t leaving the house ever again and I couldn’t make her. Then she laid down on her bed and grabbed the headboard like I was going to have to pry her off.
I saw red. I yelled at her. I pushed her down the hall towards Troy and stomped into my room to count to 100. I rested my forehead on the wall and took deep, shaky breaths. I listened to Annalie wailing, to Troy talking to her, to poor Elliora strapped into the infant seat, crying her head off. I hated myself just a little bit.
I pulled myself together and joined my family. I took Elliora out of the seat and comforted her. I hugged Annalie and asked her how much better she thought I felt now that I’d yelled at her. She said she didn’t know. I told her, “Not better at all. I feel worse. How do you feel?” She admitted she felt worse too. We all calmed down and talked and apologized and forgave. We went to dinner and came home and Annalie went to bed happy and serene while I laid on the couch and nursed Elliora and had a good cry.
I think what’s going on right now, mainly, is that Annalie is dealing with not having me to herself anymore. She is understandably frustrated at having to share my time, and that it often seems like the lion’s share of that is going to Elliora these days. Lately Annalie has been unusually snippy with me and angry at me. I know it’s all part of the process of learning to deal, and I’m glad she is taking it out on me and not the baby (with whom she is unfailingly gentle and loving), but it’s still trying. And today we were both hungry and I was tired and breastfeeding hormones probably played a part and just arrrrrgggghhhh.
On top of that, school has been challenging. I’ve been trying hard for the last month to get back into a routine with school, and Annalie is fighting me every step of the way. For every hour of school we do, I spend easily another hour convincing her. It’s exhausting.
Part of me thinks it’s no big deal. She is in first grade; putting the curriculum on hold and unschooling for another month or so won’t hurt her. We still read books every day, and she reads and writes plenty on her own. We talk about time and dates and prices and measurements every day, in real-life situations at the store, while cooking, while planning a trip. Now that the weather is warming up, and Elliora is a bit older and doesn’t hate the car quite as much, we can start going to the library regularly and hitting the museums again. We can keep plugging away at our year’s curriculum right through summer if we want to. We’re going to start using Time4Learning as a supplement (thanks, Yara!) and I’m hopeful that it will be a good fit for Annalie’s learning style and our needs right now.
[I am a bit apprehensive leaving the negative stuff about homeschooling in this post because I've gotten some pretty negative responses from people about this kind of thing in the past. Please know that I am not saying homeschooling is too hard for us, because I'm not; I'm saying that right now homeschooling is challenging but we are persevering because I want to teach my kids about perseverance and flexibility just as much as I want to teach them how to read and write. If I honestly thought homeschooling wasn't working for us anymore we wouldn't be doing it. It's as simple as that. And I want to be honest about our struggles because if someone else is struggling in their homeschool at least they won't read my blog under the erroneous impression that homeschooling comes easily to everyone else in the world but them.]
On top of everything else Troy’s job is crazy busy right now and he’s basically leaving for work before we get up and getting home just in time to tuck Annalie in at night. As you can imagine this is stressing all of us out for various reasons.
I’m truly okay now. I talked to Troy and my mom and Brenda and Madge. Brenda and Madge both told me that when I lose my temper at my kid, it’s an opportunity for me to help her learn how to deal with anger and angry people, and also a chance to teach her about how even her parents aren’t perfect. (Gasp! Shocking but true.) My mom and Troy both had good ideas for ways to help Annalie learn to deal with her frustration. They all reminded me that things will get easier and I know they are right. I am stretched pretty thin right now, with nursing a baby and homeschooling a first-grader and attempting to keep the house in some kind of order on days that are too cold for Annalie to play outside, and I need to be as kind to myself as I would to anyone else in this situation. So I’m trying.
Sarah commented on the last post that Annalie’s vocabulary is so good for her age that it’s easy to forget she’s just a little kid. I confess I have the same problem sometimes. Annalie is so mature and smart and empathetic in some ways, but in other ways she is still very much six-going-on-seven. I am guilty of expecting too much of her at times. Especially since Elliora was born, I think, since in comparison with a four-month-old Annalie seems impossibly grown-up. But she’s not. She’s still a kid in need of snuggles and silliness and reassurance and guidance and tons of patience and understanding and love. Though really, what adult doesn’t need those things too?
Tomorrow is another day. It might bring more temper tantrums, it might not. Either way, we’ll handle it and I will attempt to remain calm and remember that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances, knowing it will get easier eventually. Or I’ll get stronger in the process. Probably both.
How are you today?