"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crappy Parenting Gets Pushed to the Wayside

I sat in Princess's therapists' office, depressed, exhausted, numb, defeated. She explains to me something to try against a reoccurring behavior that sets me off like a grease fire at a shrimp boil. I listen. Then I startle. Because what she is saying? I am a pro at. Or I was. A year ago, I would have done exactly what she was describing without even blinking an eye. I was great.


"I used to do that," I sobbed. "I wish you had known me before I was all burnt out. I was fabulous at this!"
"I have no doubt you still are," she said.

The girls were playing in our ugly blue pool, and it was clear Princess wasn't going to last long. She had thrown a blueberry at me (although not in malice- I've long accepted her motives are going to be mysterious), and was feeling ashamed, I suppose. I couldn't pin her ragged behavior on anything else, anyway. Sure enough, the complaints came closer and closer together, each time with swift denial and blame from Princess. The highly suspect kind. I gently reminded Princess that if she wanted to stay in the pool, she was required to find a way to get along with her sisters and follow the safety rules. Then warning one. Then two. Then three.

I gave Princess her new choices: the other part of the yard (which includes the swing set, trampoline, fish pond, sand and water tables, wading pool, deck, and me), or sit with me.

Guess which one she chose? By default, naturally.

And she actually voiced that the problem was that I didn't give her enough chances. That she would have made a different choice if I had given her a fourth chance.

I've been defaulting to the exact wrong thing: the time out. But even before the talk with the OT, I realized that no matter how Princess was behaving, three-quarters of the day in time-out probably meant it wasn't working all that well. For anyone. That, and the memory of her last time-out. The ten-minute one that took three hours (yes, THREE HOURS) because she kept trying to amuse herself by bizarre antics such as parading around (outside her room) with all her pairs of p@nties tucked into her waistband.  Not. Working.

This time, I slowly and cheerfully chased Princess around the backyard, because I know she has almost no endurance and the last thing she really wants to do is run fast for an extended period of time. Then I led her to my lounge chair, sat in a way that made it difficult to get hit or kicked, and picked up my book.

Screaming ensued.
I asked her to please pinch me hard enough to make the bruise show up on the camera.
Which really, really freaked her out, enough that she stopped pinching.

And I held her. Swimsuit skin against shorts and tank top skin.
And held her.
And held her.
And held her.

She calmed.
She asked me to get her a bunch of stuff.
I reminded her she made a choice.
She said she didn't want this.
I said bummer.

And eventually she started talking to the ants.
And I feel much better.