Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Olive,
I've felt a little overcome lately with how illequipped I feel for proper, grown up parenting problems. When you have a baby, yes it's all consuming, and relentless, and bloody exhausting, and you tear your hair out (well, that which hasn't already fallen out post birth), desperately trying a million different techniques to get them to sleep ... but, really, it's pretty simplistic; if you feed the baby, love the baby, and keep the baby close, the baby will most likely thrive. When I had you, I didn't really give a great deal of thought to how to parent you beyond being a baby - certainly not much to how we'd successfully navigate through periods of problem behaviour. Which, admittedly, was rather short sighted of me.
Just four years on from the baby phase, things are feeling quite a bit more complicated. Here we are, trying to help a sensitive little person navigate the complexities of being four, without really knowing what it is we should be doing. And suddenly, what it is we should be doing, feels so very profound. There have been times lately when I feel terrified, because if I get it wrong, I actually have the potential to fuck up someone's life! (And if it feels this serious at four, goodness help us at fourteen.)
Faced with some pretty intense emotional and behavioural challenges from you in the past month, Shane and I have come up with a bit of a plan. We've formed a united and consistent front to set some boundaries for you. We're (somehow! and unbelievably!) remaining calm and firm in the face of your sometimes ridiculously outrageous overreactions. We're trying to make sure you feel understood, and listened to. We're talking a lot, and ultimately trying to arm you with alternative behaviour options for dealing with situations you find stressful, so you can learn to self-regulate. And, in just a couple of weeks, it's made a very noticeable difference to your behaviour. We're having a meeting with your preschool teacher next week, and we're reading a couple of parenting books. 
I think we're going to make it.

- Tearing blindly through a maze ... feels rather like parenting sometimes!
- After many recommendations for both, I finally ordered these books. I'm only half-way into raising your spirited child, but so much is resonating!
(Interesting extra reading on cultivating emotional intelligence - part one, part two, part three.)


Unknown said...

Yes, yes and yes! Including the slamming doors and being told we are not loved by her anymore... I'm currently 6 months pregnant and our girl (just turned 3) is a little hot mess of emotions...never knowing when she is going to completely lose the plot or amaze you with sweetness. She has become, at age 3, a velcro baby. We are doing lots of cuddles, talks, special time and firm boundaries but still it is taking its toll on all of us. I'm with you sister xx

ButterandBuntings said...

This is really helpful to read. My little one is 18 months and already is starting to be more of a person than a baby, and with that is coming hitting, tantrums, thrashing, throwing. I dont know where ive gone wrong, and I do fear the fact that one wrong move could stuff him up, but its really good to read im not the only one. Thanks Taz

Rin said...

Nothing like a bit of reflection on your own childhood and fucked upedness to put a chill in the ole parent.

My dad always said "you gotta have someone to blame at the psychiatrists office."


::The Beetle Shack:: said...

Oh Kell, I actually feel teary reading this. Parenting is HARD. Fucking hard. Impossible even.

Mostly I feel teary because at the end of your post I see two books that have SAVED ME time and time again.

Take solace in their words. So much wisdom is within.

YAY for you being a bloody excellent parent.

x em

::The Beetle Shack:: said...

p.s my Olive has just started saying 'I HATTTTEEE YOU, MUM'.

I thought I had at least another 9 years before that shit began.

Rachael @Mogantosh said...

Hang in there Kerll! I dug this out; I wrote it when Ivy was three:

But still apllies to four: nuts, nuts, nuts! Honestly, both of mine started to settle significantly at five. Now it's all comedic memories of that time, but when you're living it (and pregnant!) it's not so funny.

Another thought I had is that when the baby comes, Olive might really step up to that - mine did. That sense of 'our baby'; the little one that belongs to all three of the big people in the family, is very profound and lovely for older siblings.


Alex Sunday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Sunday said...

yes, this post resonates with me and some things coco and i are working through. she's just over 3 now and SO emotional. "mum, i neeeeed you!" in tears as often as screaming at me. but, as rachael@mogantosh mentions, the moments when she's sweet to little frankie make me feel like we'll get there (though i'm already alarmed at the violence frankie is capable of at 15 months - i'm foreseeing some real cat fights with these two!). and a p.s. for taz @ butter&buntings - i'm sure you haven't done anything wrong - babies/kids are just feisty passionate little people! and for that we should be thankful (most of the time). :) xo said...

It's really hard,so hard,such a lovely honest post. I think you nailed though when you said if you just love them and keep them close they will thrive right?

Unknown said...

Being a mother of a spirited child, or a child with bone in her nose (a saying in norway, which just sounds completely stupid in english, haha)is hard! Well, I guess being a parent in general is difficult.

My sweet girl is almost 13 now. And she's always been a handful. The first 5 years of her life, I constantly walked around feeling like a bad mother. Feeling like I didn't do the right things, not having enough patience, getting angry at her and so on!

But then I realised me feeling bad didn't help her, or me! So I started a new path as a mother. She was MY child, and I knew best what was good for her. I needed to be confident. And things have been so much better after I stopped feeling guilty all the time.

the SAGA by Steinsdotter.


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