A new kind of beach post

One of the things I really appreciated about our time at the beach was how different it was from real life. 
One aspect of that was how my kids for the most part were in heaven and therefore very easy to be with. This does not happen on an every day basis at the moment. In fact, I find myself really struggling with both of the kids right now, for different/individual reasons. Somewhere along the lines of "Oh dear, you really have to continue to parent every single day? Even as your kids morph and change? AND YOU'RE ABOUT TO START OVER AGAIN, YOU CRAZY LADY?"
You know, normal stuff.

Anyway, I have about 30 more pictures I want to share, but this week I'm presenting them in a juxtaposed-with-our-current-issues kind of way. Just to remember and appreciate the contrast, because it's so real to me right now.

For instance, this is a post about how crazy Annie is driving me at the moment.

Super crazy.
 
The girl is SO EMOTIONAL. Her default response to life is STILL crying first, reasoning later. Wasn't she supposed to grow out of this? I mean, the crying was okay when she was 1, 2, and maybe even 3. But the girl is 4 now, and I feel frustrated that I haven't been able to teach her an alternate coping method. Not that I haven't tried!
We aren't able to solve a problem until we know what the problem is, right? We've been trying to explain how when all she does is cry, we have no idea how to help her. If she wants help, she needs to TALK. COMMUNICATE. Then we can begin to solve the problem. This week we're trying out the phrase, "Stay calm and talk it out." Saying it over and over. Also, counting to three when she starts crying is a successful stifling method. She calms down pretty quickly and we can getting to the talking stage quicker than before. But seriously, have you ever seen a parent have to use counting to stop CRYING? As if crying is terrible behavior? Maybe, if we consider it a form of tantrum. Still, it feels a little weird. Other parents console their children when they are upset. I count to three.
Annie is a deep thinker, and very wise. Because of this, I believe she has real anxiety about things other kids don't think to worry about all at once. She scraped her knee last week. She felt pain and cried, then CONTINUED crying as she thought about (and yelled about) having to wear a bandaid, then having to get that bandaid taken off someday, then having to expose the healing sore to the elements once the bandaid is off. And she doesn't forget either. Every time she looks at the bandaid, she remembers the pain and the worry and the fear. And she cries. And I count.
She also defaults to baby mode in her speech. One-word answers: "NO!" "Bahbah!" "Breakfast!" Or two-and-three-word phrases: "Me want dinner!" "I hungry." In a pouty, baby way.
 It's maddening, because she is perfectly capable of saying the right thing once prompted with, "Annie, talk like a big girl." ("Please can I have something to eat, mom?") So how to skip over the default baby deena and/or create a new default? We've tried ignoring her. The volume increases and then the tears come (then the counting).

She also shuts down whenever someone else has an idea she doesn't like. She is not programmed to simply say, "No thanks" and move on. Instead, she HAS to be upset. She cries or screams, "I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT!" Or if she has an idea, and someone else says, "No, let's do this instead" she also implodes. More crying, more counting.

So like I said, this week our new motto is "Stay calm and talk it out." 
Sometimes, it works. Hopefully the ratio of success can keep increasing as we stay consistent. 
(She loved boogie boarding in the little lake outlet, our favorite place to spend beach time. Brandon pulled her over and over again. He's a good and patient popsy. He has to count too sometimes.)

We are supposed to head to Clemson in the near future to look for housing. You would think I could leave my-aged-kids for 4 days without batting an eye. Instead, I fret about just how awful this little one might be while we're gone.
 People tell me to put on my happy face, she'll be fine. 
There's my happy face. Do you think it will work?

I don't think I wrote this to get advice. Instead, I simply want to remember that even though every day is still a struggle with her, she is worth the work. She is a delightful companion when she's happy, flashing that dimple and melting your heart. Her noses crinkles up when she's happy with herself. She comes about it all so honestly. And she's patient with me when my own patience runs out and I make a mistake. Annie, you're worth, you hear it? Now STAY CALM AND TALK IT OUT!

Comments

megfutbol said…
I know you won't believe me because Brendan was always so quiet for you, but he's driving me nuts in exactly the same way. It was cathartic to read your post, because I'm currently feeling like a crappy mom because I've about had it. In his defense he had a whopper of a cold for one week, than a stomach virus the next week, and now is having the hardest time getting back into the flow. Lots of tears, lots of demands. It's driving me nuts! I know he needs some extra cuddles, but I even threatened to throw out his chocolate Easter bunny if he didn't stop crying yesterday....after a looooonng afternoon of fussing. I actually think that the Easter candy (even sugar-free)has really wrecked havoc on his physical/emotional health. I guess he just can't process sugar in any form, but I get so tired of denying him ANY treats! Sigh. Well, enjoy your time at Clemson. I'm sure that Annie will be fine, and it sounds like you could use the break!!!
Nick said…
Sounds like she has the crying and anxiety mechanism/gene on the Stone side of the family! Except I'm the one who has to tell myself to count to three now :). Look on the bright side, at least we know how us criers turned out!
Tina said…
Good news and bad news:

Good- Kids always act better for others than they do for you, so no worries about leaving her for four days.

Bad- If you're hoping she grows out of it, you can probably count on another two years at least. M cries from the moment she wakes up to the minute she steps on the bus, EVERY MORNING. That's some stamina, 30 solid minutes of crying. Maybe we should try the counting method.

Having a crier is fun...and boring.
Jenny said…
Sorry, but I don't know that two years will cure it! Just wait until those pre-teen hormones start kicking in...crying, slamming doors, mood swings, oh the joys! It sounds like you're doing a great job of helping her calm herself, though. That's an important skill to learn.