Yesterday morning I bumped into a friend in town. She is moving away soon, and I’d not seen her for a while – so we had lots to talk about. She had her young daughter with her too though, and young daughters are not so fond of mummies standing around, chatting. At first she was happy enough to show me her teddy, but soon she began trying to shove the teddy up her mum’s jumper, and then pulling on the cords of her jacket, chattering over our conversation, playing with their shopping bags and generally being… a five year old. You couldn’t say she was misbehaving; she was just bored, and wanted to spend her Monday morning doing something more interesting.
But my word, was it ever irritating!
I could sense my friend getting more and more stressed, as her clothing was pulled at, the cords on her jacket were being tightened and pulled. She bent down and spoke calmly to her daughter: “sweetheart, we’ve spoken about this before, and I won’t be able to carry this shopping home if my clothes are all twisted up.”
We both agreed that it’s hard to keep one’s cool when a child is in one of those “mummy, mummy, MUMMY, MUMMY!” moods. S is going through a stage at the moment where she will regularly just sit and say “mu-mmy, mu-mmy, mu-mmy…” over and over again in a sing-songy voice, even when I’m standing next to her, asking what it is she needs. It’s infuriating, especially after the first ten minutes of it – and very difficult to remain calm and not just snap at her. I’ll admit, sometimes I do snap and find myself shouting, “WHAT? What is it you want?!” At this point shse begin to cry, and then I apologise and we sit and have a cuddle while I try to explain that mummy just gets a bit stressed sometimes, but she’s not done anything wrong and I’m very sorry.
My friend told me that when they’re at home, she has another way of dealing with her frustration. When she gets to that point where she feels like she’s about to explode… she acts the fool. She dances around, she raps, she sings, she pretends to be a monkey. Her daughter laughs; her frustrated energy finds a release that doesn’t involve yelling at a small child, and life is sweet.
My friend tells me she got this idea from a friend who has three young sons who regularly get up to mischief, and that while they find their mum’s crazy antics amusing, they’re also now old enough to understand that when she gets up and starts dancing about like a lunatic, they’ve pushed it a little too far.
I absolutely love this idea and am determined to adopt it with S. I would much rather make her laugh, than blow up over what is essentially nothing. Sometimes I get really irritable over the slightest little thing and I know that it’s not her fault; she’s not actively trying to drive me around the bend, she just really wants to poke at me or call me a million times in a row or whatever else. I don’t want to yell at her, ever. I want to make her laugh.
And so that is what I will try to do from now on.
How about you? How do you deal with it when your children push you to the point you want to scream?