Sunday, May 15, 2011


Thank god, thank earth, and all that is; it is finally, finally, FINALLY spring. Horrible, that's what that was, the six weeks before. Maybe that's why everyone here hates the winter snow so much - they all know what's coming after.

I love the snow up here in the snowbelt. Though, to be fair, I have the ideal set up. I would probably not love it as much if I a) didn't have a garage and was forever brushing and scraping my car so I could b) go to work. That I am a stay-at-home-mom means when it's really painfully cold and deep, I just don't go out in it. It's one of the perks. Perhaps the perk, come to think of it. So I get to enjoy the snow when I want to. (In case anyone cares, I believe there are only two things you must do to enjoy the snow here. 1) get a really good coat (you'd never believe the number of fools walking around here in hoodies), and 2) go out in it. You don't even have to ski or anything; just layer up and go for a walk. The world coated in white is an amazing one.)

But now we're actually done with the snow. Done! I had truly begun to wonder if it was going to get warm again. I thought perhaps it would stay in the 40s all summer until the snow started up again in the fall. You should see the pink blooming trees in my yard.

So. Tuesday when I went to pick up Frances from school, she skipped to me singing, "playdate! playdate!" as she always does. Previously I'd made a policy not to give in to spur of the moment playdate requests, but I apparently forgot. She went home with her friend Maia, and Clark and I went home and ate lunch then took a snuggly nap on the couch.

When we got to Maia's house to pick her up, she and Maia were playing in the back of the backyard. They ignored me as long as they could, and before she'd even said hello to me I heard her say to Maia, "I don't like Clark." Frances was very difficult about leaving, as she often is, and when we got home she was as mean to Clark as I've seen her be. Wouldn't let him touch her things, grabbed things away from him, said how much she doesn't like him and how he's not good at playing, and then shoved him down. I didn't know what on earth was going on, and the end result of all of it was that I broke my no yelling streak. I was eight days in! Oh well.

After much crying and much lap sitting, she told me Maia said something really sharply to her at school and it made her cry, and then one of the boys was boasting about how great he was going to be, how he'd build skyscrapers and she wasn't going to do anything, he was so much better than her blah blah blah. That made her cry too. So she turned and did the same thing to her brother.

I don't know why I don't see this behavior when it's happening as a red flag that she is suffering in some way. If I could pause and address the suffering, rather than the behavior, everything would go a lot more smoothly.

Hopefully next time.

How confusing it must have been for her to have Maia be so mean but then want Frances to come to her house and play. And probably confusing for Maia too! To have these aggressive feelings toward someone you like... Emotions are a bizarre and unwieldy jungle to trek.

I hope I can help her, at least draw her a crude map of the paths I know to the other side.

I also think she was simply overstimulated, overexcited, exhausted. That's her temperament, her tendency, after all. It is spring - so suddenly - and she's probably playing harder (they play outside more than 2 hours at her school) Plus, it was on Tuesday, which is the first day of her school week, plus she stayed longer at Maia's than I would have liked. That's one lesson I had already learned (like the no-spur-of-the-moment-playdates lesson) but let slide: playdates should be two hours max. Any longer and she melts - usually moments after we pull away in the van.

My new rules, in order to avoid the above situation: no playdates on Tuesday, no playdates spur of the moment, no longer than 2 hours, and - the most important one - if she's acting uncharacteristically badly, then she is suffering because of something else. Gently, go gently. Try to wait. Listen.

1 comment:

andrea said...

So well written. I wish I could stop and figure out why my kids are being asses to one another too. I just have consequences.
Motherhood sure is complicated with fleeting moments of clarity and understanding. I guess some of us are better at it then others, especially patience-wise ;o).

I love how much you want to be better for them all the time, even when it seems impossible or crazy.