I made it through the weekend without fighting with my daughter, which means we’ve managed 3 whole days of not fighting after a business trip! I knew it would be challenging. Scott was at the monastery for a long-sought after and well-deserved retreat of silence. I had 5 Sleeping Beauty shows to get Ren-Ren through while also serving on the make-up committee. Stress was going to be high. And it was.
Here’s an example:
Context: Friday afternoon after school
She: I got my report card!
Me: Great! Let me see it! (I look at it, see she got 2 A+s, 1 A and 3 A-s) Wow! Good job!
She: What? That’s all you’re going to say? I got straight As and all you can say is good job?
Me: What do you want me to say?
She: You did great! You’re terrific! What an achievement!
Me: You did great! You’re terrific! What an achievement! (and I wasn’t even faking it, I tried to put genuine enthusiasm into every word) You’re awesome! There. Was that good enough?
She: (Grudgingly nods, then looks up with a glint her eyes) Yeah, but most parents whose child brings home a report card like that would get them a present!
She was not happy to hear my adamant no. Nor my eventual, “You’re trying to fight with me again, and if you continue, you’re going to have to go to your room.” But that type of constant negotiation is how I made it through the past days without fighting. It also helped that I spent a lot of time drawing evil diva eyes and beaver faces instead of being home to engage with my daughter.
But despite avoiding the typical after-travel brawl with my child, I still ended up losing it in a rant on Saturday night after making it through 3 Sleeping Beauty shows, getting 7 loads of laundry done in between shows, whipping up a healthy dinner of leftovers and Asian salad, watching “Megamind” with them, and even letting them watch the special features.
By the time we finished “Meet the characters of Megamind” I’d had it. I was done with kids. And when they took their own sweet time and whined about bringing their dishes upstairs, I started the Mom rant they’re all too familiar with, the Chinese mother’s “After all I’ve done for you and all the special features I’ve let you watch, you still can’t give me even a little bit of cooperation and obedience???”
The problem with ranting and raving like a lunatic is that it actually works—they actually start moving in a way they didn’t when I asked nicely. All 3 kids hopped up, grabbed dishes, cups, salad bowls and flatware. When we got upstairs and the dishwasher cycle had just finished and everything was still burning hot, I ordered them to put the dishes away anyway.
And they did. Without even complaining too much about their tender fingers. And then they loaded their dirty dishes in the dishwasher while I stood with my arms crossed glaring at them.
That’s the problem. Like my daughter, when there’s been the right stimuli, I’ve got to fight also. It's usually not anxiety that gets me going, instead it's exhaustion or chaos or feeling attacked. After all that laundry, Sleeping Beauty and "Megamind," their indolence felt like the confluence of all 3.
For how smart my kids are, for how many As they've managed to amass, they just haven’t figured that out yet, even when I tell them to their faces.
I think we're over the "fighting after travel" dilemma, so back to my giving up criticism/ranting/mean nasty voice Lenten fast.
Lord have mercy!