Saturday, January 30, 2016

When Parenting Doesn't Come as Naturally as you Thought it Would

I love this quote by Adele:

Adam and I felt overwhelmed and a bit lost. We were trying to raise a respectful, polite toddler, and were constantly being hit in the face with arguments, defiance, and turmoil. And for me, it was made even more apparent when my parents, Weeze and Dad were there to witness the interactions.

So yes, I asked my parents for their advice. I imagine it must have been difficult for them as well, to watch a three year old arguing and defying her parents. They told me that they just never tolerated any back talk from my brother and me. Weeze said when kids disrespected adults, "it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up." By the time I was a toddler I listened to what they said, no questions asked. 

I was sometimes smacked on the butt, and always sent up to my room. It was understood that I was not to come downstairs until I was calm and ready to apologize for my behavior. The onus was put on me. I'm sure there were times when I probably wasn't sorry, but it got pretty boring alone in my room. So, I did as I was told, and said that I was sorry.

This type of discipline made sense to me. It was what I knew. But what do you do when your child refused to stay in her room? What if she came flying out, flailing and screaming? Do you hold the door shut with all of your might, while she's pulling at it, so she can't get out? We tried that. Do you take toys away? Tried it. Do you smack her butt more than once? We tried that. 

And here comes that **cringe** again. 

(Unfortunately, you will see this reactionary word come into play more often, as my journals progress. Because dealing with a toddler is one thing. You are bigger, and you still have the ability to carry her to where she needs to be. Dealing with an older, mouthy child, who you are no longer able to pick up and shove into her car seat, that is a whole other world of frustration and complication.)

My solution was to write two signs, for my benefit only, and put them on the refrigerator. 

One said: Say no to "I don't want to"
The other said: Say No to "No!".

I really wasn't sure why I needed to do this, and why these things didn't come naturally to me, but they obviously didn't. My neck hairs just didn't stand up.

Jordan's pediatrician told me this, about raising kids: "The harder you try, the harder they close." 


He was actually referring to eating and potty training, but there is so much more to this quote, isn't there? I know that I mentioned it before, but you really can't force another human being to do anything, if they blatantly refuse. 

And this becomes more frightening, and possibly more detrimental, as kids get older. Not staying in a bedroom seems like child's play as compared to some of the real-life teen issues that may be looming: cutting, drugs and alcohol, getting out of bed for school, attempting suicide, taking medication, having sex, doing homework, driving safely... We may tell them our expectations, but whether they listen or not, is really up to them. 

Sorry for the long length, and for ending with this uncomfortable dose of (hopefully not your) reality.  

Thank you,

Us Too

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kids Are Supposed to Misbehave at Home. Wait. What?

I never really understood or agreed with this quote. I have had many experienced parents tell me this, but I guess I just didn't buy into it. Kids are supposed to misbehave at home? Why is that? I sure didn't get away with that when I was young. 

To me this is a sign of disrespect towards the two people who care about, and love you the most. If parents teach, want, and expect their kids to behave and act in a respectful manner, then they should be able to achieve this outside, and inside, of their homes. 

I may not have understood this quote, but I was certainly living it. Jordan was always getting the best reports from her nursery school teachers and the teachers at the Little Gym. She was a great listener, always helped to clean up the toys, she followed directions and she was a rule follower. Umm... there was something wrong with this picture.

Of course I was relieved that she didn't act out and throw tantrums while in school, but to me that meant that she had control over the behavior. If she can control herself at school, then she should be able to control herself at home. Right?? All I knew was the repetitive disruption and agitation to our lives was getting old. Honestly (and maybe naively), I just wished that it would stop.

Let's face it, I was the adult here. The way I saw it, I needed to do something to try to improve our situation. So I did what any mature adult would do: I called my Mommy and Daddy and asked them for advice...

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mental Health First Aid. How Cool is That?

Adam and I recently attended a workshop called Youth Mental Health First Aid. It was sponsored by our high school, and put out there for our educators, and also for our parents. The class filled up within a few hours and there is an extensive waiting list, so they may schedule another one. Out of the thirty people who attended, only two were teachers from our school district. The rest were parents, all of whom have a child struggling in some way.

I find this to be very telling of what is happening in our society, to our kids. The vision of this program is to create "an empowered community providing support to one another in times of mental health problems and mental health crises." 


We are only halfway through the class, but so far it was very informative. Scary, but informative. Because the statistics that are provided, such as the percentage of youth age 13 to 19 with mental or addictive disorders in a given year, are somewhat alarming:

  1. - Anxiety disorders       31.9%
  2. - Behavior disorders     19.1%
  3. - Mood disorders          14.3%
  4. - Substance disorders    11.4%

So the overall prevalence of kids struggling adds up to 22.2%. That's around one out of every four children. Picture all the kids who you know. And these statistics are assumed to be lower than the actual numbers, because there are so many who do not seek out help due to lack of knowledge, resources, or because of the stigma associated with this topic.

That is exactly why this course is taught. The training has been found to "improve knowledge, reduce stigmatizing attitudes, and increase first aid actions towards people with mental health problems and challenges."

Double yay!

The way I see it, the more that people are made aware, the more our society as a whole, will benefit. Because statistically, every one of us will have contact with someone who is struggling. And these are the kids who, one day, will be taking care of Us.

Thank you,

Us Too

BTW, we have 28.2 inches of snow here in Malvern, PA. Happy winter!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Quick Clarification

After writing a post I usually read it over and make any small corrections, that otherwise might drive me crazy. I also find myself going over the content, trying to remember each situation and how it played out. After writing Never a Dull Moment, something has been on my mind.

Because I am getting the content of the entries from my old journals, some details may have inevitably been left out. Like for instance, exactly what happened after Jordan informed us that she didn't want us to eat her smiley face cupcakes.

I can't be 100% sure, but my instincts tell me (because I know myself pretty well) that after she said this, that she may not have eaten one, but the rest of us most likely did. There were three other toddlers waiting for a cupcake, so I doubt that we banned them from eating one.

There. Now that I fessed up, I think I feel better. I didn't write about a huge tantrum being thrown on this specific night, so I assume that the birthday celebration went on pretty much, without a hitch.

Thank you for putting up with this short rant.

Us Too

Monday, January 18, 2016

Never a Dull Moment. Still?

Two days after Jordan's birthday, I was much calmer. Keep in mind that at this time, I was pregnant with Kevin and my hormones were obviously all over the place. Jordan's pre-school party was fun, and nothing happened that was out of the ordinary.

Funny how I judged our lives in this manner; if things went smoothly or within the "norm", I was pleasantly surprised. 

Jordan and I made smiley face cupcakes because her cousins were coming over for her birthday. Once they were over, she decided that she didn't want anyone to eat the cup cakes that night. Okay...  So we didn't sing Happy Birthday to her, and we didn't eat our adorable smiley face cup cakes. Not surprisingly while in bed that night, she cried saying that she wanted to eat a cupcake.  Um... that would be a "No". 

Usually I would have been angry and felt manipulated by something like this. We made cupcakes. your cousins are here for your birthday, and we can't eat them? But this time my reaction was simple and calm. All I wrote about her in my journal was: "What a trip". Proof that my hormones were all over the place.

Fast forward to a few days ago. Jordan had her 18th birthday party. Without going into too much detail, less than two hours before the party, we weren't sure if it was gong to happen. "Um, so should your Dad and I pick up the cake?"  
An hour before the party, I finally got a text saying that we can get the cake. I was invited up to her room after someone very important to her did the best he could to make things right again. Phew. 

And everyone had a great time at the party.

Never a dull moment with this child.

Thank you,

Us Too

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Flip of a Switch


Adam felt badly, and I... got furious. He coddled her, and I was not able to. Her statement that she "didn't want it to be her birthday", is very telling of clinical anxiety. It was a huge sign just screaming out at us. It kind of stabs at me, fifteen years later. She felt that her third birthday party was going to be too much for her to handle. And I didn't get that. 

I asked myself how a three year old could not want it to be her birthday. A party, gifts, family, friends, fun. It didn't make sense to me. And I'm very uncomfortable being the center of attention, so you'd think that I would have had a better understanding.

My instinct was to punish her for her behavior, i.e. not going to bed. She was out of hand, right? Playing us, so that she didn't need to go to sleep. I wasn't sure what we should have done. What would have been the right thing to do? Here were a couple of our choices, at least the way I saw it:

-Let her throw a fit before bed, wait it out, potentially having her stay up for many more hours.
-Stay in her room with her. which potentially would also lead to having her stay up for many hours. 

Jordan would never have fallen asleep if we were in the room. I can honestly tell you that she never fell asleep anywhere. Not in a car, not at midnight on a plane ~~ this is beginning to sound like a Doctor Seuss book. Not at 2:00 am, after a crazy sleep-deprived weekend. Not ever. She did one of two things. She went to bed, or she was awake. 

Some of you may be wondering why we didn't just lie down with Jordan until she fell asleep, and try to comfort and sooth her. Perhaps we should have let her know how much we loved and supported her. Well, that is exactly what Adam was doing the night before her birthday. Are you beginning to see (and feel) our dilemma here? Each time he walked out of her room, no matter how calm she was, the tantrum continued right where it had left off. 

It felt endless, and thankless. It seemed as if she would take and take, and what were doing was never enough. So, yes I was frustrated, and I was angry.  

It's funny because most of the time she was so pleasant. She was inquisitive, thoughtful, playful. independent, serious, sweet... But when something didn't go her way, it was like a switch was flipped. My sweet baby girl was, during these times, blatantly suffering. Consequently, so were we.

At least I knew I had that. Even through the rough times, I always loved Jordan deeply.

Thank you,

Us Too

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Actions and Reflections

For the most part, Adam and I were on the same page about how to deal with all of this. But there were times when we were not. Sometimes I would get very angry at him for how he dealt with Jordan and her outbursts. He began to get into the habit of running into Jordan's room before bed, whenever she cried. And as you know by now, she cried quite often. 

On one particular night before her third birthday, he went into her room five times. Five times! She would stop crying when he spoke to her, but when he left, she started up again. I would cry too, if I knew that my dad would come running up to talk to me each time that I did. He finally decided to shut her door, which was the original plan. It was about time. So, what did she do? She got out of bed and opened her door back up. What??

I thought that she should have been yelled at for doing this, but Adam went back up to her room and talked to her, again.  What the hell was he saying to her? That's when Jordan told him: "I don't want it to be my birthday tomorrow."  

Of course, Adam felt badly after hearing her say that. But did I? Not exactly. My reaction was, and I quote: "What a ****ing headcase". 


Okay, so sharing this today makes me cringe a bit, now that we have a much better understanding of Jordan and her anxiety. But in my defense, she also told him that her ears hurt, that we didn't feed Fishy (and we did), that she wanted her baby doll... In my mind, she was playing him like a fool.  

Remember how I mentioned in my last blog that I was proud of myself for not getting angry when on Christmas Eve, our plans fell through? Don't worry, that is the honest truth. Today, I no longer feel the anger, the responsibility, or the worry. But it took me almost eighteen years to get to this point.  Eighteen years of trying to cope and understand why our lives seemed so full of turmoil, so often. 

I don't want to come across like some super woman, who knows exactly how to handle these types of difficult, seemingly personal, sometimes disappointing situations. Because it took me a long time, and a lot of work to get here, and at times I still struggle.

I will say that it was worth it. Being angry, resentful, or intimidated by your own child, is not okay. And not seeing eye-to-eye with your husband, well that sucks too.

In the next entry, (and probably many that follow) I would like to share with you how remembering some my actions towards Jordan, affects me today.

I figure the more I understand and come to terms with my past behaviors, good or bad, the more success I will have controlling my current emotions, and ultimately my life.

Thank you.

Us Too