Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Contagious

Is there a disease going on at elementary school that I missed the memo on?

It's as if being disrespectful is a disease. As if they go to school, see what the other kids are doing (and who knows where it started) and then decide to try those attitudes on for size. At home.

You know how you take your kid to school healthy and you see That Kid being dropped off who's sniffling and coughing and you have a bad feeling? Then later, when your child comes down with the sniffles, fever and wracking cough you're certain it was the fault of That Kid? Yet you'll never really know, because often the contagious ones aren't displaying symptoms that you can see. I'm starting to wonder if behavioral issues work the same way or if it really is That Kid who is often defiant and disrespectful to the teacher, their parents and/or other children that has infected the group around them.

My child, my eldest, my beloved daughter who is approaching seven, is driving me completely up a wall. I know I'm not alone, but the feeling of solidarity is not enough to get me through day after endless day of feeling broken, beaten and battered.

I swear, I sent a happy, outgoing, well-mannered child off to kindergarten and got back a shy, rude, miserable beast in return. What is happening in school?! What is happening to my kid?! What are the other kids like if everyone keeps insisting that my daughter is oh-so-much better behaved?! If this is well behaved in comparison, I shudder to think what the home life of the other kids must be like!

If I was a drinker, I'd be drinking heavily at this point.

I've talked quietly, I've yelled, I've given the single swat (Not the same as a spanking, I assure you.) on the bum, I've threatened to swat, I've ceded control over to her father, I've taken stuff away: playdates, movies, computer time, toys, you name it.

I am out of punishments. I am out of patience. I have no empathy left. All I have left are lectures. Constant, constant lectures.

I keep being told it's because of the twins, because she gets less attention at home, because she's "only six!", because she's almost seven, because she's so smart, because she's so emotional. Because! Because! Because!

None. Of. That. Helps.

This morning she turned her back on me and wiggled her ass at me because I asked her to brush her teeth. Yesterday, I asked her to go find her father for me and she asked me if she was "my slave or something?!", so I took away computer access for two days. Then, after screeching about losing privileges and finally doing as she was asked, when she returned, she was repeating "I hate Mommy!" over and over and over again. So I sent her to her room before the smackin' hand could come out and play. And the lying! I can't trust her anymore!

If this is "normal" I'm HATING IT and I want it to STOP.

Gods help me if the twins go through the same thing at 7. I'll run away from home.

Why can't she have picked up on the behavior of the well-mannered, confident, out-going seven year old?

Eric insists that this is a phase and that she'll grow out of it and that I'm just looking for the latest magical technique that will fix everything. He's right. I am looking for that magical technique that will fix everything and the answer can't be either as simple as Ignore her or Spend More Time with Her because I'm not going to last that long. I can't ignore or let her get away with being disrespectful and I don't want to spend time with someone so awful she sucks all of the remaining energy out of me. I don't have a lot of energy left.

Something's gotta give.

I'm afraid it may be my mind.

8 comments:

Jennifer H said...

I just edited my post to link to yours. Help is on the way. And maybe vodka.

Some of the greatest hits at my house include: You can't make me. I don't have to listen to you. I'm NOT going to my room. (And, of course, I hate you, Mommy!)

I'm exhausted (and like you, feel broken, beaten and battered) at the end of a day, and there are more and more these days. It's great that we can say how hard this is. I don't think it's always been the case. Now help me spell out SOS with some sticks in the sand.

Wait, you already did. :-)

Nicole said...

So this is what I have to look forward to!? Eeeeesh!!

I wonder if it's a little girl thing. I read/heard that boys use their bodies to feel powerful and girls use their words. My oldest is a year behind yours and the little girls in his class can be *nasty.* The boys are still straight shooters for the most part. Since I *don't* have a girl I personally find it amusing to watch the girls bossing everyone around and being sassy. Of course the trade-off is a life filled with fart jokes ;)

Scylla said...

Yeesh.

I don't have a magic thingy to make it all better, but you might try one more thing.

1. Go robot mom. Disengage emotionally as best as possible.
2. Respond clinically, i.e. "I am sorry you feel that you hate me Caitlin. That hurts my feelings a lot. I hope you know I will always love you, no matter what."
OR
"This behavior is disrespectful/unacceptable Caitlin, As a consequence you will be losing your Computer/Books/Playdates for two days. I hope you know I love you."
OR
"I am sorry you feel like my slave, I certainly appreciate all the help you can give me with the twins. Being a mommy is hard, and you make it easier when you hand me the wipes or go get your dad for me. I don't appreciate the way you talked to me just now, if you do so again, I am going to take away your Computer/Dolls/ETC. I hope you know I love you."

If you are able to detach and respond clinically, you may shock her into better behavior, simply because she will not have the satisfaction of seeing you respond emotionally to any of her behaviors.

Maybe you and I should start a support group, so we can yell somewhere.

Missy said...

Have you tried talking with her about she is feeling these days? (I know that it totally my therapist self coming out) The last "phase" we went through in total desperation I finally one night before bed sat with #2 and point blank asked her if she was upset about anything, or had anything she needed to tell me about, because her attitude and behavior were attrocious and I explained that sometimes kids make poor behavior choices because they have things they are worried about, and I wondered if that was true for her. Turns out she did have some stuff that she needed to confess, we problem solved and there was improvement. I dunno if it will help out your kiddo, but hey it might be worth a shot. I should note that I saved this question and conversation for a time when things were calm (relatively speaking) and I was not actively angry. I dunno if it will work for your kid, but I try to pass on things that have worked for me when the occasion arises.

We all want the magic wand that makes everything better, if I find it, make it whatever I will be the first to share it's magic.

I have to agree with Scylla too about the robot thing. Kids continue behaviors that they know get strong reactions be it positive or negative. That robot thing is hard though, and I think probably even more so for you in your current sleep deprived situation. Sleep deprivation does wicked evil things to our patience and emotions, which I am sure you are all to aware of.

My other suggestion? Join me in my quest to find an island that is a place where little girls live and they can all be mean and nasty to each other out of the presence of adults, and they stay there until they are ready to be reasonable humans.

I still have the for sale cheap sign complete with the hobo stick I can send over too.

Yikes this was long!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Yes. Even if it is just a phase, the anger it is making you feel at how you are treated can adversely affect the relationship. I found that laying down some hard and fast behavioral rules (totally non-negotiable unless someone is, say, choking or bleeding to death) helps me feel more in control and less angry. Just a few to make sure that respect, courtesy, helpfulness need to be maintained.

I love Dr. Ray Guarendi (google him) - he's adopted 10 kids, most of whom have all sorts of official reasons to be acting badly. But they don't. John Rosemond is great, too.

It is horrible how they pick up that behavior; and the behaviors you are describing really aren't acceptable, even if they aren't as bad as other kids. Dr. Ray calls that excuse the "at least he isn't on drugs" syndrome. In his words, "You know, folks, that's really lowering the bar."

My teen daughter was horrific last year. Her behavior has vastly improved since I discovered Dr. Ray. I can't change her emotions, but I can change the way she acts. And sometimes, if the kid acts respectful, they start feeling a tad more respectful.

Good luck!

Cousin Janet from NY said...

I LOVE Missy's idea of the island where we can send all the little bitches (Oh I mean girls) to be mean & obnoxious to each other. I think an island big enough for all of them is not available on this planet. My daughter Jade started being incredibly bitchy right around 7 & hasn't improved yet. She just graduated college. Dig in your toes, Tracy. It will be going on for quite a while. Good luck with that. Love to all Janet

kristi said...

WOWZA, she is starting early. I have a 12 year old and oh my God...the hormones will take over. I want to beat her almost 4 times a week.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I'm soaking up all that you're saying.

Actually, I had a long talk with her on whatever day I wrote this. Monday? After school, with Eric in tow. I talked about how she was hurting my feelings and she got kind of teary eyed and hugged me.

The next day she was a lot better. This morning? A PITA getting ready for school. This afternoon? She wrote Eric and I a note telling us she was sorry for being mean to us.

It's a rollercoaster around here.

As I told my MIL, my ability to disengage and not react is entirely linked to the amount of sleep I'm getting. On bad days, of little sleep, she gets Psycho Mom. On good days, I can be Good But Firm Mom.

I'm trying to get more sleep.

As a matter of fact, I'm goin' to bed right NOW! Ciao!

Nicole, it is somewhat of a girl thing, unless you have a very talkative/emotional kind of boy. Add to that the sudden loss of her Only Child status and it's a mess! BTW, I can't post comments on your blog since it only allows WP people!

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