Today was the day we celebrated Christmas with the kids.
We had low expectations. Or at least I did. My only hopes were that:
1. Nobody would have a meltdown.
2. We would talk about the birth of Jesus in a meaningful way at some point during the week.
3. Nobody would sulk.
We managed to accomplish #2 and #3. The meltdown(s) of course, starred Bee (6). They were small. But they reveal the emotional underbelly of a kid who has so many issues I don’t even know where to begin to help her sometimes. From the time she was born, according to my husband, she was born into a home of discord. Since her mother has become a lesbian and is now living with her girlfriend, and I’ve married her dad and I’m living with them . . . she has even more to negotiate. I feel for her.
She experiences so much shame when she is corrected. Even when she is lovingly corrected, like this:
Parent: Bee, honey, you know, you might want to try cutting your crepe with . . .
Bee: I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW . . .waaaaahhhhh. <sobs>
Or it could go like this:
Parent: Bee . . .
Bee: WHAT? WHAT? (in this tone of voice that is like she’s been accused of grand theft auto)
Parent: We asked you not to climb on the back of the couch, right?
Bee: <from the back of the couch> I DON’T CARE! I KNOW! LEAVE ME ALONE!
Parent: Seriously, ,you’re going to fall and crush the . . .
<the thing gets crushed>
Parent: Bee! Dang it!
Bee: WHAAAAAT??? Waaaaaahhhhhh. . ..
The other day I was with my friend who has a three year old daughter. She was more able to communicate her feelings and receive correction than Bee. It was sobering to see a three year old explain to her mother why she didn’t want to do something. She explained very carefully and slowly, like her mother was a recalcitrant, stupid employee. It was funny and inspiring at the same time.
Having a kid who is unable to control herself or her reactions is draining in the same way that having an asshole boss is draining. You know you aren’t going to influence the boss all that much in one or two conversations. You know the boss isn’t going anywere. You know that any change, if it comes, will be slow. You know that you are all in the same company and somehow have to find a way to work together. But you go home at the end of the day worn OUT.
I know that other parents have children with similar issues. I know this is not some special, unheard of disorder. But this is my shout out to all the parents and step-parents out there who feel slightly inadequate to the challenges laid before them.
Set low goals, people. And have a three year calendar on the wall.