this describes Anni’s main gigs recently.
She has taken to pinching and squeezing and generally messing up any kids who dare come near her. It is not the simple ” hey, this is mine” shove or pinch but like she is declaring full out war, like she found nukes or something hidden in their snack trap. I would expect this action if the other kid had whipped out some sort of weapon but usually they just want to push the car she is in or share the ball. I joke but really it has been tough for me.
Like I am “that mom” who does not discipline her kid and just allows her to go around pummeling poor unsuspecting bambinos. Every time Anni does it I give her a warning and then a timeout (which she hates) but then after saying sorry she jumps right back again and does it five seconds later. Very demoralizing. My initial thought was to run from any place that she may exhibit this behavior in an immature (on my part) avoidance. You know, the awesome logic that if I ignore it it will go away (which I know may be true of small toddler woes but I have also seen the 8th grade result of parents ignoring every negative behavior). I have this skill for somehow making everything about me. Like Anni’s behavior is A. my fault and B. my complete responsibility and C. the sum of who I am as a person.
I have reflected over the past few days about why I am “so patient” with other people’s children, even dealing with 8th graders who punched me and called me so many names I had to google the crazy ones. Somehow I always saw the good kid in there and realized it was not about me when they lashed out. Why is it so easy for me to take Anni’s behavior so personally? Of course the obvious answer is “it is different when it is your own child” but it is deeper than that. I think part of it is that somehow with my 9month pregnant belly I had distorted hopes that my child who lead a charmed life, that she would avoid the common pitfalls of toddler-dom (and beyond). This was never discussed or verbalized but it was somehow in the depths of my psyche as my attitudes of late illustrate. It is a pride thing for me. I am embarrassed of her behavior because it reflects on me. This is my delusion as I need to be concerned for her development into a girl and woman who cares more about what God thinks of her character than about what others think, more concerned about doing what is right when “non one” is watching then when everyone is.
I also am learning just how patient God has been with me, repeating the same sins time and time again and even justifying it as I go. How amazing His mercy is and how undeserving I am of His grace. That is helping me internalize the kind of love I need to foster for Annikah and others in my life. The kind that says “I love you enough to follow through” and “my love for you is not based on your behavior this moment” and “despite what anyone thinks…….”
So back to the squeezing and pushing incident..I realized running and ducking was not the answer. I went back to Tot Lot and was scared she would do it again and was I right. It was like she b-lined straight for the little girl with the beloved and coveted after plastic car and shoved her out of the way and then squeezed her face for good measure. The poor victim never saw it coming and sobbed! After apologizing and a time out for Miss WW3 I followed the advice of an awesome Mama friend of mine and said “Anni, if you do that one more time we are leaving!” followed by “do you understand?” to which she responded with her head nod yes. Not 3 minutes later BAM, pushes a girl on the slide and pulls her hair and then, oh yes squeezes her face. So now I had to follow through with my threat (even though this was my only chance to get out and be with other parents for the day). We left and Anni cried most of the walk home.
Yesterday and today she was much better as I babysat both days and she was sharing and “helping” me with the babies (she calls them babies even though they are only a few months younger but hey, take seniority where you can get it I guess).
I think part of it has to do with my reflection, decision to have a new attitude, and God’s answer to prayer. Not that she will not behave this way again but I feel more equipped to cope and lead and love. Because I know my Father is leading and healing me and helping me love.
Hopefully, things will continue to improve around her or you may see a posting for her on Ebay (ok, it is a joke, lighten up :).