Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

(Un)Holy Hormones!

I am fairly certain that I am not the only parent out there that has has the privilege of watching a female child come in to their own.  I am sure the male counterparts experience some of the same change as they grow, I can only truthfully attest to the female side, for which I have 2.  One in full swing and one coming up the shoot.

Last week, Lil, my youngest, was dreadfully ill with the common petri dish mix that a classroom of 7 and 8 year olds can conjure up.  She, being the kind and sharing soul that she is, donated her illness to me, her nurturing, accommodating, and doting mother.  Needless to say, I was in bed as early as 630 a few days that week.  Watching our tightly organized world fall to mush around us, visible by the pile of dishes in the sink, unmatched socks, laundry heaps, and no clean towels, my 11 year old, did what any 11 year old would do, right?!  She unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, she started a load of towels, and folded and sorted a load of clothes.  She even snuggled in bed with me and her still fevered sister. 

I did not know she did this until a few hours later when the washer buzzed.  I was stunned.  Not in the fact that she knew how, both of my kids know how to do the above, but the fact she had the selflessness, and the visibility to see something lacking and just do something about it.  She was not looking for payment, or bribery.  She simply saw a need and filled it.  This is the maturity, the potential maturity of a child.  This is where the responsibility, the trust, the adult capabilities, we as parents see in our children stem from.  This is part of the reason we can be SO baffled when they do something stupid or cry like a baby only a few short hours later.

(When I refer to a child's actions as stupid, please note that from the parental perspective, the actions are rather dumb and dumbfounding, but to that child, they lack the foresight to understand the consequences possible in the same light as the adult does, as it is possible they have lived through it.)
Come Saturday, still being most impressed with her for her intuitive need filling, I told her we would go out looking for a duvet cover for her comforter.  She has asked for one for probably 3 or 4 months, and we hadn't really taken the time to look. I told her and her sister to get dressed and we would go looking.  She was so excited, she jumped up and down, she said she thought I forgot, and ran to get ready.  About 7 min later I can hear her screaming at her sister, crying to near bawling, and slamming things around. (behaviors that send me in to a flaming hot tizzy)
As I come flying to the bedroom they share, her and I collide.  She death gripped me, snot and tears running down her face.  Lil, was laying in a mangled protection of blankets on her bed. 
"I hit her mom.  I couldn't take it any more.  She is being a brat, she is wearing my socks!  They are my socks.  She always does this.  Sometimes she wears my panties!!!!! I hate it.  She has her own stuff.!!!!!"
"So let me understand, you hit you sister because she is wearing your socks.  You are freaking out over a pair of socks, for which you both have hundreds of, and they cost 1.99 or less."
"Yes!  But you don't understand.  It is MY stuff!!! not HERS!!!!"
" No, I fully understand that.  I will talk to her about that on the side.  My larger concern is the way you handled both your emotion and your anger."
" I know.  I am sorry.  I can feel it coming, but I don't know how to stop it."

Later that same day, after we had shopped for a few hours, and although we did not get the duvet cover, the girls did get a few nice things.  Each got a small lotion/body spray thing they wanted at Bath and Body works, a fresh hot churro at the local produce market, their own soda's at the gas station, crystallized ginger candy from the spice shop we like, and a mix of some of their favorite things from the local Italian deli for dinner that night.  Both children were so happy and thankful and excited.........until.....
As I was making dinner, and working on my thesis, there was another banterfest between the two of them which resulted in my yelling at both of them.  Needless to say when dinner was plated and the call for eating occurred, only one child came to the table.  The other went to the bathroom and slammed the door. (yet another irritating behavior.).  I waited approximately 2-3 minutes, excused myself from the table, went to the bathroom, knocked on the door and let myself in.  I calmly explained to her how rude her behavior was.  I let her talk and get it all out, including the tears, and told her she was expected to adjust herself and be at the table in 2 min or less.
At the table, after about a minute or so she was laughing so hard, and joking around as though nothing had happened.
...And the cycle continues. 
A tip for Parents:
Read the books and apply common sense. It takes both.  Being involved in the scholarly threshold I know and have read the theories on childhood development, parenting tactics seeing the evidence to back their statistical relevance and benefits, and the self help parenting books.  These are GREAT tools to understand the ages to expect "changes" to occur, the types of behaviors during these phases to expect, and whether or not your child falls in to the progressing normally range, and if not what kind of issues they may need help sought for. The problem, they do not account for the very hormonal human element of each of the individual child(ren).  You as the parent, know your child.  Have faith in that.  When they go from saint to excorcist and you all are around for the ride, take a deep breath.  Encourage them to stop, feel (internal physiology), and remove themselves until they have become communicable.  Even if that means they go to the bathroom, cry their eyes out and come back in a few minutes.  Let them get it out, but that there is a time and a place.  Tell them regardless of how mad or sad they are, taking it out verbally, mental, or physically on another is uncalled for and then need to learn their self- tools to fix it.
You can do it.  I can do it.  Our parents and their parents did it.  It does get better, and then worse, and then better again. 
And until next time,
"God, please keep your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth. Amen." 


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