I've been having near constant headaches for the past month (reason #1 for no recent blog posts) but they have let up a bit the last few days. Finally. Also, in the last few days my sanity has been less scarce. Interesting. Of course, it's much easier to be a sane parent when not in pain. No question there. But it seems to be more than just that.
I think it's the fighting.
The kids, of late, have been fighting. A lot. Mostly, Frances wants desperately to love Clark, wants to kiss him and hug him and help him, and when she does any of these things he grumps and physically pushes her away. She gets mad and calls him a name, and he hits her. It goes on like this over and over, and whatever we do just doesn't seem to work. I've dived back into my shelf of child rearing books for some help, and Mitch and I have been talking about different strategies. Interestingly, the thing that (momentarily) turned things around was random.
Frances fell down the stairs last week. Somersault kind of falling from the top, wooden stairs, terrible wails. She believed her leg was broken (which it isn't), and I'm sure it was terribly painful. The next day she had whiplash. I was in the garage getting something out of the car when it happened so I didn't hear the horrible sound of a body bumping down the stairs, but I could hear the wailing even before I got fully back inside. Clark was at the door with big eyes and said, "Mommy, Frances broke her leg!"
While Frances sat on my lap, then her dad's lap, then mine again (sometimes it would be best if a person could sit on two laps at once, that much comfort is needed), Clark stood around looking singularly uncomfortable. I asked him if he could bring a tissue for the tears and he quickly complied. He doesn't usually comply. In fact, he's incredibly difficult when asked to do just about anything. I'm hoping it's just a stage.
The next day, when he was still being kind and helpful to her, it occurred to me that this may be the first time in the last, oh, two years or so, that he's seen Frances distraught when he was not the cause. He's always the cause.
A couple of days after the fall I mentioned to Frances how well they'd been getting along and I asked her what seemed different to her, why she thought it was. She said it was because when Clark says, "No I don't want to play that," she is no longer saying, "Fine. Then I won't play with you."
"What do you say instead?" I asked.
"I ask him: what else do you want to play?" she said.
Well. That would make a difference.
"Why did you decide to stop responding that you won't play with him?" I asked.
"Because it's more fun to play with him than alone," she said.
She is six and is amazing to me. I didn't teach her that. I think I was an adult before I learned it was more fun when I didn't hang onto much of my irritation. Some people never learn it.
In any case, in the past 5 or 6 days we have gone WHOLE DAYS with no bickering. Really. I mean, Holy Moly. It's like living in a different country. Oh that I knew which path we took to get here, and that we could find it again in the future! Because I know well this too will not last.
Change is the only constant, change is the only constant. I repeat it like a mantra.