Tuesday, May 02, 2006

OMG, this is hard!

With Em, that is. And it's not like I ever counted on Bub for beneficial support with her before. In fact, I tried to never involve him when it came to difficulties between her and I because his wrath was always so swift and unjust. So why does all of this seem monumentally more difficult now? I feel as though I have the weight of the world on my shoulders with her, and I seem to be cracking under the pressure. The way it goes now is that I send her off for fun and games and the long yearned for undivided attention of this newly nice daddy, and I am left to deal with real life; chores, bathing, schedules, school, discipline, and simply trying to assert my laughable authority. So, how exactly did I end up with the short end of the stick on this one? Why does it have to be such a struggle? I certainly can't compete, not when, on top of everything else, the responsibilities of every day living are squarely up to me. I'm the killjoy, the one who must determine when fun time is over in order to make way for things which cannot be overlooked or neglected. Who could blame her? I never operated under the assumption that this new life would be all peaches-n-cream, but I certainly expected us to have more relaxed, un-oppressive fun together. Was I kidding myself? Or was I just blinded by my expectation of Bub's reaction and my assumption that his time with her would be so much more limited? How did he end up getting to be the good guy in all of this? At least in Emily's eyes that is. Yeah, I guess you could say that I'm finding myself a bit jealous that he gets to be the fun one now, especially considering the hellish misery that every day life with him had reduced us to by the end. It's just not fucking fair. And that's not all, there are other, already present issues, that need tending to as well. The most prevalent being how she reacts to disagreements and confrontation with me. She rages when she feels as though she has no control or if she finds herself unable to force me into complying with her wishes. (gee, wonder where she gets that from?) When she doesn't get what she wants, she lashes out. Physically holding on to me so that I'll have to listen to her hysterical ranting, reasoning and demands. Kicking, screaming, spitting, throwing and destroying things. This is nothing new, although infrequent, but she's done it since she was small, and it's gotten progressively worse over the years. I am certain that it's selective and controllable, as she's never once don't this with Bub. No, she saves this distinct pleasure all for me. Perhaps because she feels safe, but more likely just because she knows she can. She knows I am weak, she knows that she and others can and do walk all over me; a fact which has been successfully demonstrated time and time again. She knows I'm not gonna rage back and scare and intimidate or hurt her. She is obedient for Bub due to his consistently harsh and ridged training, and her very real fear of the consequences her non-compliance would incur. But me, she'll taunt and overpower, saying you can't make me, and what are you gonna do about it, among other things. And she's right, what am I gonna do about it? I honestly have no clue, and quite frankly, I'm at my wit's end. How do you make someone understand that you can't force your will on another human being when they're not receptive to it? Definitely an issue for her counselor, as it's something that's needed dealing with for some time now, and I'm simply at a loss.

In other, lighter news, we're off to WalMart tonight, to find the makings for a poodle skirt, as tomorrow (Wednesday) is the much anticipated third grade sock hop. The first one in which the little boys haven't been completely repulsed by the little girls, and vise versa. Thus her own little McDreamy, Hunter, asking her if she would go with him, much as two awkward third graders can "go" anywhere together. It's all so cute and sweet, and dear god, way too freakin' soon! I do try to talk to her (as much as she will let me) about not taking any crap from these stupid little boys. About being strong and standing up for herself, and not tolerating anything at all that makes her feel even remotely uncomfortable from anyone. I so desperately want her to not turn out like me, to not make the same kind of weak and naive, destructive choices. I guess it's no wonder we clash as we do, since our personalities are such polar opposites. But that's a good thing, IMO, at least maybe she'll have a chance to develop into the strong, independent woman I always wished I could be. But I guess that still remains to be seen. Now, just how the hell do you make a poodle skirt?? Heh, this oughtta be fun! ;D


Anonymous Sandi said...

Bev -

Wow, didn't see this coming, that's for sure. I think bringing the counselor into this is a good idea. However, you are going to have to get tough, my dear friend. She will continue to treat you that way as long as you let her. She needs to know EXACTLY what your going to do. There has to be a million things you can take away from her. How does she react to punishment? There is nothing wrong with being strict with her. That includes rules, punishments and even some getting mad. I know it's not like you, but she cannot think for one minute that she can control you. You've already showed her you mean business with Bub.

With that said...do you think this lashing out is a partial reaction to your leaving Bub???

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

This is such a common problem for separated parents where the kids live primarily with one parent. The "weekend" parent gets to be the fun one and not deal with any of the day-to-day boring stuff. That may seem unfair right now, but think about the big picuter here: you left partly because you didn't want Bub to have that much influence over her day-to-day upbringing. This is exactly what is happening now: they socialize in small doses and neither he nor she will get past the "fun phase" before it's time to go home again.

BUT THAT'S GOOD, isn't it! Bub can't interfere and lay down his stricter views on upbringing, and Em will only benefit from that in the long run. She gets to see the best of her dad, and isn't that the ideal solution for HER?

That being said, I understand that it SUCKS to have to deal with her tantrums all by yourself and having her regard you as the villain. But she was never your ally in this to begin with. She will be, when she's all grown up! But for now she's a kid and she's gonna be manipulative in order to get what she wants as long as that works. That doesn't mean she's a bad person, it just means she needs boundaries.

OK, so it's not your parenting style to yell and scream at her in order to get what you want. Use your calm demenour to your advantage when you lay down the law: don't react to her. Just say calmly: this is how it's going to be: X, Y then Z. When she throws a tantrum (and she will) give her a warning and tell her what the consequences will be if she says something like that again. And when she does (and she will, because she will test you) follow through on your promise. EVERY TIME.

Ask yourself: what's her currency?
No need to yell, scream or start spanking her. Just figure out what her currency is - what she really cares about keeping/doing - and use that. Use your calm manner to your advantage by not reacting in horror every time she tests you, just let the rules do the arguing for you. "You said A and B, when you know what happens if you do that. Now X will happen." She cannot argue with that logic. ("Did you say A and B?" - "Yes, but..." - "And did I tell you earlier what would happen if you said A and B?" -"Yes, but..." -"OK, then. Now X will happen. YOU CHOSE THAT. Next time, you can avoid it. But this time, you didn't and now you live with X happening." )

I really understand how difficult it must be for you right now, parentingwise. But you've got lots of options here. And the good news is, Bub is no longer a negative factor in how she's brought up.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous jilly said...

Some great advice here already, Beverly, and I'm sure the counsellor will have a lot of helpful input, as well. I think children of that age (especially bright ones) always have their mind working and will naturally try to assert themselves and push boundaries (especially with a parent they may perceive to be more lenient). Her acting out against you may even signify that she desires (or needs) you to reign her in and show her who's boss. Not through the intimidation, humiliation and manipulation she knew from bub, but with calm reasoning (which I admit may be difficult in the face of being spat at!) Let the counsellor guide you ~ she's the expert.

As for the making of a poodle skirt, I have no idea, but I hope no dogs are injured in the process. ;) Oh, and the beginnings of the "boyfriend phase"? All I can say is, these battles you're having with her now may very well be good practice for what's ahead. :P

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Sandi said...

Lisa -

That's some pretty awesome advice there!!! ;)

5:49 AM  
Blogger Dawnyal said...

Wow you have been given some awesome advice from Lisa.
We would go through this same crap every time Chris went to the egg donors. He got to stay up until 2 a.m. watch any (and I mean even sex rated r) movies he wanted, and could eat pizza for every meal. She would then buy him cheap $1 trinkets and make him leave them at her house. So of course he loved going up there to visit on the weekends and would act up horribly once he got home. It does suck but Bub will eventually go back to being his old self and then she won't find spending time with him all fun and games.

If I'm not too late for the poodle skirt, I'll try and help. I don't know if you have a sewing machine or not. You take your felt and fold it length wise into a cone shape. Then you cut enough off the triagle part for her waist. Sew the two sides together (with the seam in back.) Then the circle hole in the center you would put about a 1" hem around it (leaving a small hole.) Take some 3/4" elastic and measure comfortably around Em's waist. Thread it through your top hem (a large safety pin attached to the elastic works great) and then you stitch the two ends of the elastic together to keep it from moving around.
Cut you out a poodle pattern and it's probably easiest to just iron it on using wonder under. HTH

9:59 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Wow, this is all very educational! I now know how to discipline children AND make a poodle skirt! :)

Seriously, Lisa gave great advice. And Sandi is right--it IS time to toughen up, sweet Bev. The payoff when Emily is old enough will be worth it.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa has offered some great advice.

Once you set the boundaries she'll react positively to that. After testing them thoroughly I'm sure.

It can't be all sweetness and light with Daddy or she wouldn't have come home early last week with a headache.

You're doing great, and it will get easier as you settle into your new routines.

Remember you're the mama and she will still love you even if you do say no to her (and what's more will respect the constant consistency as well.

10:19 PM  

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