Today went pretty well. My mom came for Christmas and immensely blessed the girls with a ton of gifts. She bought matching Christmas dresses for the girls, but unfortunately Chloe couldn’t stand the seam in it that ran across her belly. I put her in the dress about ten minutes before company arrived. Everyone got here and Chloe was getting antsy. Ava was napping but had woken up just in time for lunch. I made my usual cheddar tater tot casserole. I love that recipe because it’s so simple, but it goes a long way. Ava ate some, but again her teeth were bothering her so she was done fairly quickly. Mealtime is usually a trigger for Chloe. It’s always one issue or another, whether it be sensory related with clothes or the chair she sits in, being told to sit still when she’s wired to always move, not liking texture, or being defiant while pushing buttons and going out of her way to do what she knows she isn’t supposed to – or all of the above. When do you find out which days are better or worse with her behavior? May the odds be in your favor.
In the middle of lunch, Chloe kept getting distracted with Ava and neglecting her meal. I tell her she can play after she eats, but right now we eat. She says “okay”, right as she turns right back to play with Ava. I tell her if she doesn’t stop hitting Ava’s feet I will switch seats with her and she will sit next to Daddy. Naturally, because she was just challenged, she glares at me while grabbing Ava’s foot. So I calmly and collectively just told her, “Okay, you didn’t listen, honey, so you have to switch seats now.” She tries to hold herself together in front of everyone by burying her face into me and pushing me quite hard with her hands, arms, hips, and feet all while muttering that was HER seat and for me to MOVE. Cue escalation. She gets more upset by doing her version of “hitting” at this point in her tantrum – slaps my arm/leg, holds her hand there, and tries pulling me as hard as she can. I don’t budge. Now cue screaming. Oh, the screaming. How I wish I could just record it and put it out there for all the world to hear! I look at Cory (my husband) before I start to show her that she’s winning. He knows that look. He knows that Chloe is a lot like her mother when it comes to her temper, Chloe just hasn’t learned how to control it yet. He had to bring her to her room so she could chill out (scream repeatedly and still try to gain our attention, while everyone sat out here pretty uncomfortable). The rest of the day, her behavior wasn’t too bad. She just needed this out of her system.
When it comes to Chloe’s behavior, I had a huge serving of humble pie recently. I admitted to myself that I have been a contributing factor to some of Chloe’s behavior. I had started reading Parenting Your Powerful Child by Kevin Leman a while ago but kept forgetting to read more. The past couple of days I read more. I have spent just about three years researching behavior, sensory, and possible Autism spectrum blogs/articles/resources to try and figure out what’s going on with Chloe. We still are in limbo with trying to figure out what’s going on with her, but the only thing I know of that I can control – is my behavior and temper. Huge learning curve. When I read more of Kevin Leman’s book I had a revelation that was so simple, yet an impossible pill to swallow. I have been my own worst enemy this whole time. I have been a fairly large contributing factor to Chloe’s anger. Dr. Leman talks about if your child is a perfectionist, chances are there is at least one perfectionistic parent at home. That’s when it hit me. As dumbfounded and hurt that I was, now knowing that my Type A perfectionist self had been hurting our daughter, I didn’t let it get me down. I reflected upon it. I tuned in more to my reactions, such as instead of immediately yelling about spilled milk, I chose to reassure her it’s okay because accidents happen. I thought to myself – Grab that stupid paper towel, mom! Wipe it up. It takes a heck of lot less time to clean up spilled milk, than it does to repair a broken spirit – especially over something SO ridiculously small. As I watched the milk quickly disappear, I looked at my daughter’s face. Her angst quickly faded. She wasn’t on the defensive because my reaction wasn’t yelling as a first response. She then smiled and enthusiastically thanked me for helping her clean up the spill. Now, that took honestly about two MAYBE three minutes total.
I usually yell because she is very distracted all. the. time. Just like her mom. I talk to myself all day long because I’m constantly repeating myself when it comes to gaining Chloe’s attention. That shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter that I have to tell her X amount of times not every time to sit a certain way because she will fall on her face/back/head or spill her milk. What matters is that eventually, she will learn on her own and that I will teach her the best I know how. Did I pass every class or understand every topic in school that I was taught the first time? Absolutely not. In fact, school was not my thing. I have been trying to relate her learning process to her ADHD mother. We butt heads constantly but it’s because she’s my mini-me and we share a lot of flaws. It makes me realize that my teaching her is not supposed to have results every time. This whole job of being Chloe’s mother entails reflecting back upon the successes and failures as well as what we can do in the future to either learn from our mistakes and find a different method, or know what our achievements are and embrace them.