Friday, June 11, 2010

nightmares and Clark the Menace

Something's up with my girl, and I don't know what it is. Nightmares? Fear of being alone? Simple anxiety about independence? Her terrible hay fever? Here's what she does: goes to sleep just fine, then an hour/ two hours/ the middle of the night later she wakes up whining. I want a drink, or I wanna have a sleepover, or ahlsimfiemthtnelfiibktyy. She seems like a thinking wakeful person, which generally leads me to ask, "What is it you want, honey?" But that is the wrong approach. This much I've learned. Asking her how I can help her only ratchets up the whining until it turns into screaming (4 am screaming is really not pleasant) and then, full tantrumming. Honestly, I don't think she's even awake.

What does work is picking her up and putting her on the toilet (with a guess that having to pee is perhaps what woke her in the first place), then carrying her back to bed. I cannot, as I have learned, tell her to climb on the toilet seat herself, or pull up her own pants, or walk back to her room even though I am right beside her holding her hand. Verbal communication only escalates everything.

Mitch thinks it's her brother. Clark hits her all the time, randomly, not just out of irritation but also out of boredom. I don't know why it doesn't occur to her to turn around and hit him back, but it doesn't. Instead she just gets this pitiful exhausted helpless look on her face and whines, "Mommy, Clarky hit me again."

I try my best to get him to quit this shit but am obviously not being effective. I get down in his face and make him look at me and I tell him that we can't act like that etc etc. (the frown he gives me during this is quite theatrical). Anyway, I do that when I have enough wherewithall not to simply shriek, "Clark, no hitting!" He generally goes into time out which is not such a bad place in the pack-n-play with toys and sometimes even his blanket. Two minutes, until the dinger dings. Then he very willingly (and adorably) says he's sorry, everyone hugs, and five minutes later he's hit her again.

This morning Mitch noticed her tone of voice and facial expressions when she's upset in the night are just the ones she uses when Clark hits her and she feels powerless and frustrated. Hm. What to do?

I've been focusing on trying to get Clark to quit it dammit already, but it occurs to me this minute as I write (a-ha! the intended result of blogging about the stress of being a mom!) that maybe I need to give her some other skills. I've been trying to tell her to tell him how it makes her feel, but maybe I should teach her how to say that if he's going to hit her she's not going to play with him, or going to go into the other room, or whatever. That would be a much more thorny consequence to him (oh he loves playing with her. To him the hitting is just part of that play somehow) than listening to me or going into timeout.

Oh yay! I'm going to talk to her about it tomorrow. I hope it works. Or something works.


andrea said...

Seriously this sent me back in time. Max went through a series of tantrums at night because he had to pee and we would spend so much time just getting on the toilet and peeing that is seemed like someone's version of hell.
After he did pee he went to bed and the "episode" was over.

I also have a younger sibling that likes to hit his older sibling. Is it because they want to be bigger? Is it because that is their only power? I sure would love to know.

The executives who make millions running companies would be left sucking their thumbs with a giant bottle of wine at their side if they chose this for their profession. It does have better rewards and so many more hugs and "I love you's" but it also can drive you into wanting to lock yourself outside for an hour just to breath in peace.

This too shall pass. I love your words and thoughts and the way you project the reality of it all.


Cali said...

thanks for your thoughts andrea! it's funny--from your blog i wouldn't guess you struggle w/ some of the things you admit to here. you mentioned recently other people's blogs and the lovely photos and their lovely lives, and that's sometimes what i imagine of yours. :) it's always good to hear someone else has experienced the same version of hell, though that's a funny thing to give you consolation. i'm glad to hear it passed and you think BACK on it now as memory. hope for us yet!

andrea said...

You are so right. I like to pretend my life is full of water parks and hummus.
I guess it helps me look at the good in my day instead of the parts that make me want to drink at noon.

I admire honesty, grit and the rawness of life. It is all too close to my heart and this blog is one area that helps me to smile and say life is not that bad.

I do think that honesty allows for great discussions and creates a place where we (parents) do not feel alone in the madness.
thank you so much for that. I will work harder to touch on the real and raw!

elizabeth said...

have you read 'the minds of boys' yet? I haven't finished it, ,but there's a chapter about boys communicating physically and sometimes aggressively to show their love, enjoyment, friendship...

Cali said...

i don't know that you SHOULD touch more on the raw. sometimes i suspect i spend more time there than is best for me... that perhaps i should do more of what you do and bring into clear focus the lovely moments. i do appreciate them fully when they're happening, but i don't tend to talk about them much on the blog. seems i need a space to work out the other stuff so it doesn't fester under the surface. then i can let it go. that's the idea anyway...! no, keep up the lovely blogging you're doing. we need that in the world. xo