Sunny after a day of hail & wind. Lexy is full of fury and yells You're not fair. She yells when I am near and she tumbles or knocks herself You hurt me. You meant to hurt me. You did. You're a meanie. She yells Go away from me and Don't talk and I said be quiet. When it gets too hard. When going to her and being loving or sympathetic or firm or being cross or being cajoling or bribing or threatening or making her laugh all don't work I go to the computer to distract myself because I have no idea what to do next. Because looking at Facebook or my email or the millions of other worlds I can peer into is possibly the best distraction from having no idea what to do. I don't deal with it. I don't know how. I ignore what is going on.
Sometimes, in more desperate moments, I google 5 year old tantrums or Kids won't eat dinner or How to make kids do what I want. I, of the anti-authoritarian ilk. I, who want to raise my children fierce and full of wilderness, gentle and gleeful. I want them to sometimes use cutlery properly and to brush their teeth so when they are older they have teeth and mostly to meekly do what I ask them when I ask them.
Even as I write I think of all the advice that I might be given from someone reading this and how bad it would make me feel. How defensive I would feel. The people who will say their five year old sleeps in their bed still and how secure she is and she never yells. The ones who say you just need to treat them with respect and they will treat you with respect. Or how they are capable of much more than you realise. Or how it shouldn't be that hard. That you need to show them who is the adult or that you need to treat them as an adult. That you need to train them to be disobedient so they don't ever unthinkingly obey another person. That they just reflect what is around them or that they need calm routines. Calm routines. That they need boundaries and they need freedom. That they need to eat unprocessed grains and nuts. Your daughter would not yell if she ate only unprocessed grains.
All the advice bangs in my head. And I agree with all of it. Every single piece of the advice I agree with wholeheartedly and I am terribly thankful. And I disagree with it all too. And all the agreement and disagreement and worry and speculation and annoyance and all the advice heaps on top of me. Suffocating. Layer upon layer upon layer of advice like dirty and clean clothes on a bedroom floor that is neither calm or indicative of routine but may in the corners of felt tip pen stained sticky pockets contain unprocessed grains. All of it implying, of course, I am doing it wrong, or neglecting something, or that there is, as I always suspected, some secret fundamental aspect of parenthood that I am forgetting.
A boy across the aisle in the train is watching a movie with subtitles. There is an animated ocean. There is something called Fish-Man Island. There is the sort of bared-teeth monster I drew at 10 - the height of my artistic powers - drawing teeth like a grid and curly hair. It has a blonde woman bound and writhing and it has muscles and monster arms that turn into tentacles. Someone is determined to kill someone else and Fish-Man Island will be destroyed. Is it a threat or a warning? All the goodies look like all the baddies.
Lexy of the tentacles - who last night yelled I hate that toothpaste. You got it on purpose.You're a big meany. I never said I like it. I never asked for it. You are lying. I am not brushing my teeth. I don't care if I get no stories. I don't care. You are a meany. She will yell Mumma! when she sees me home and wrap her arms around my neck and insist I lift her and carry her on meaningless journeys around the house and show me things one by one. Lexy will smile emphatically showing teeth that are probably already eroding to jagged brown triangles, great jubilant rows of them.
(C) Copyright 2012, Mrs Loolupants, All Rights Reserved.