Saturday, August 11, 2007
Less than perfect moments
You probably figure from my depiction of my children that they are the most wonderful, loving, perfect little beings that bring nothing but endless joy to my life, can do no wrong and that I should be nominated for Parent of the Year. Sure, the way I go on and on about their milestones and the absolute bliss that fills my days 24/7. And that's certainly the case the majority of the time. Well, that gives you one side of the story.
I don't share their sibling squabbles, screaming matches, temper tantrums and the like here. Usually because I don't want to re-live them, wish to ignore them, perhaps pretend that they never happen; but more likely because I know they're really nothing beyond the run of the mill everyday scrapping that occurs between a brother and sister, a parent and child. Everyone feels like pulling out their hair in frustration from time to time; Giselle just takes things a bit literally as she yanks her brother's scalp, in an effort to share a "loving sibling experience".
The other day as we dropped by the house to check on the flooring, Liam took the opportunity to play with his buddies across the street. When it came time to go, he was so angry with us, he stomped into the van and started to cry, scream and wail with frustration. Now normally he would listen to reason as we acknowledged his disappointment that he couldn't play longer. We told him we had to make some final rounds to look at granite, that the faster we made these decisions the sooner we could get the kitchen done and be back at home so he could play with his pals as per usual. He wasn't buying any of it, just continued to lie there and cry. Giselle climbed up next to him to make sure he was OK, but he was in no mood to entertain any of her attempts to make him feel better.
At our wits' end, we just helped him get buckled into his seat as he kept up his tantrum - at this point it was a battle of wills. He probably knew he was beyond the point of no return, that his behaviour was quite childish, but he'd started down that route and had no option but to keep the crying going. And going. And going for what seemed like an eternity but more realistically the next 30 minutes. Giselle was quite cute as she tried to cheer him up with her "Gary the Snail" key chain riding on her toy dolphin. "Look Liam, look at Gary - oomph! Ha ha ha!" Despite her best efforts, he continued whining at the top of his lungs.
It was getting a bit ridiculous, I was getting very angry as it was distracting for the drive. Ian was busy trying to placate him by promising stuff just to calm him down. This is where our parenting philosophies differ a bit. I'm the bad guy. At the back of my head I'm thinking "This is silly, he's 7 years old, there's no way I would have gotten away with this type of behaviour at his age, he knows better...". I would have none of it. Short of threatening to toss him out at the next intersection, I let it be known that his collection of PS2 games were in imminent danger, and at the very least, any anticipated additions to said collection were also not forthcoming. And then we just ignored him. Things quieted a little because he just couldn't keep it up anymore.
When we got to the granite warehouse, he agreed to come in and sat at the reception area, where he calmed down, and became my little boy again.
I don't know if it's a chicken/egg thing, but during these rare tantrums, I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. All those parenting articles, with their sage advice -- those recommendations go out the window. I'm naturally a very impatient person. Not so tolerant on some levels. I almost have an "out-of-body" experience. I feel like a bystander, that it isn't my kid having the fit, that he should snap out of it. My perfect son doesn't act this way; I expect it from my 2 year old, but not my mature, even-tempered Liam. Perhaps it's because it is such a rare occurence, I'm not sure whether I deal with it the proper way, if there is a proper way. At some basic emotional level it's as if I pull away a little, then I feel this tremendous guilt that I even felt that disconnected from the whole experience to begin with.
At least we haven't yet had the pleasure of simultaneous tantrums from the both of them. Somewhat perfect kids; less than perfect mommy.