Rough parenting week

After Jackie twisted her elbow, we went spiraling down into emotional arrhythmia. 

We have had a pretty good streak before. Even that day, the day of the twisting, we went on a long hike in the woods with good friends, their kids and their dogs. It was cold but memorably good. We hiked for miles. Jackie was understandably tired but didn’t take a nap, as usual. 

She decompressed at the birthday party after the accident, and it’s like she remembered we are a good source of energy, to latch onto us and suck all the attention out of us during her rehab. 

I’m sure she felt pain that first day… enough o go to the ER and get an x-ray. But she soon felt better. Obviously so. But she didn’t want to let go of her convalescence. We told her if the arm will hurt on Monday she can tell the teacher to call us and we’ll get her. But we ended up keeping her at home on Monday. On Tuesday, though she had already started using her arm well, she asked me, while we had guests, if her arm hurts the next day, can she tell the teacher to call us and we’ll come get her? I told her flat out no. Because her arm is fine. As we witnessed it all day Monday. 

Maybe that’s when the ball dropped. I don’t know. But then she tested us. And we felt our patience wearing thin. I told her that her arm is fine. That is  what the X-ray already confirmed and there is no need for us to drive across town to pick her up during class. We will always be there for her, and would not want her to be in pain if there is something we can do, but coming to get her during class is not a game. And even if she thinks it’s a game, we’re not playing. 

She pushed buttons. We must have been on edge too. I remember yelling on a few occasions, loosing my patience. Not my finest moments. I try hard to stay calm. One morning I sent her to put her white school shirt on (as usual). I went to her room 5 minutes later and she was sitting on the floor, fiddling with the shirt. She got distracted. 

I sound like a thunder when I yell “TODAY!” She got startled. She was now able to function even less. 

This has been our lives this week. I also found out that she got put on red for talking during class. (I was actually surprised she doesn’t talk or interrupt the class more). Eventually the teacher separated her from the girl she was chatting with. 

At home she was unusually distracted and seemingly defiant, agitated, chatty, loud, noisy, not following directions. The harder we tried to get through to her, the harder it got. Or maybe she is just a 6 year old kid going through a low season, and we asked too much of her. One thing is certain – this week provided us with ample opportunities to practice our patience and we failed lots and lots. But there is grace. And with Conrad we devised plans, we prayed for our sanity and ability to parent well. 

If her sister had already been here, we would have blamed all these challenges on the new addition. And we would have been wrong. Obviously. The reality is that we all go through hard seasons. Some make sense. Some don’t. The best filter I can use is putting myself in her shoes and think how I would want Conrad to relate to me during such a time… Nonjudgemental. Patient. Loving. Hopeful. Kind. Even when we are hardly lovable. 

I took special time to connect with her. Have long talks, just like she likes. We reinstated the quiet time while Conrad and I finish working after lunch, so she doesn’t interact with us every few seconds, while pushing all our buttons. And then she is the one acting all hurt that we don’t give her undivided attention. 

Now we finish working while she plays in the other room quietly. When that time is up we play together for an hour (or two). It is a lot more fun with boundaries of space and time. And she has a better attitude because it doesn’t feel like we ignore her meanwhile. It’s all about perception. Plus, we don’t get annoyed at the constant interruptions. 

I must say, these days I didn’t like her very much. It’s rather scary. But then there are days when I don’t like my husband very much. And I tell it to his face, with kindness and frankness. And then I feel all better. 

I think we as parents are taken aback when we don’t like our spouses or our kids at times. But I think everyone has those days and they don’t define reality. We just need to face our own emotions, deal with them and move on. 

By Friday our stars had aligned. We had guests and Jackie was a lovely host. Prior to that we set boundaries on one hand, and became more flexible and stretched our patience on the other. On Saturday we had a fantastic day, playing soccer in the cold (which she loved) then we went swimming as a family. At home we cooked yummy food and watched some cartoons together. She went to bed 2 hours earlier than her usual hour because she was so tired and satisfied.

Writing about the rough patches is as important to me as immortalizing the great moments. We want to stand tall grounded into reality. I forget a lot faster my unpleasant feelings. But remembering them and knowing they pass is more important.