Even the sweetest kid can be a Snarkity McSnarkle Pants sometimes. It’s just expected. We may roll our eyes and move on or try to correct the attitude. Sometimes we just lock ourselves in the bathroom with some lemon bars and a good book while they snark themselves into exhaustion.
For the past several months Laylee has been experiencing a lot of angst. To an extent I think it’s normal. Like Magoo’s recent too cute PMSing over every little thing, I think it’s mostly just a stage. But then there’s this little part of me that wonders if I’m raising a cranky little pessimist. I’ve tried all kinds of “techniques” to help get over the problem and honestly there’s been a lot of improvement.
I’ve tried being more attentive to her before she gets bent out of shape and we’ve helped her overcome most of her perfectionist tendencies. Beneath her sweetness, there’s still this smoldering frustration and worry that she carries around to an extent that I don’t think is healthy for a 4-year-old. She should be happy and fairly care free and not so quick to anger.
So on Sunday I was fasting, as members of my church are wont to do on the first Sunday of the month. We go without food and pay special attention to our prayers and devotion to exhibit our faithfulness to God and our willingness to put physical things aside and let the spiritual take center stage. Honestly I frequently have a super hard time putting the physical completely aside when my stomach is yelling in my face, but I understand the reasoning behind the practice and I’ve had a few wonderful experiences.
Anyway, I decided to dedicate my fast to asking my Heavenly Father for help with Laylee and her sadness/frustration/angst/snappishness. As I was kneeling down to pray, the words were not fully out of my mouth when my prayer was interrupted by the clear thought, “You need to be more positive.”
“Okay,” said I, “Thank you for that. Now about Laylee. Please help me to figure– ”
The thought came again only stronger, “You need to be more positive and watch the kind of things you talk about in front of her. On the phone. To your friends and Dan. Your negativity and pessimism are getting to her. If you change this, she will be changed.”
I was sort of taken aback. My fast had just begun and I hadn’t even completed my prayer and I was already getting an answer to my question though not the answer I wanted to hear. I think of myself as a fairly positive person but when I really thought about it, I could remember way too many conversations where I was critical, overly dramatic in a negative way or “humorously” sarcastic. Kids don’t get sarcasm. They hear mommy being mean to someone and they just feel the negative vibe.
So I talked to Dan and “we’re” working on it although honestly he doesn’t have much to work on. It’s hard to stop because it’s such a habit when I’m chatting on the phone to just be flippant or gloom and doomy. I’m actually annoyed by myself.
The key for me really is to try to think positive thoughts and try to speak in a more positive way even when I don’t think the kids are listening. It’s not like I have a switch I can flip on and off. It’s something I need to work on consistently.
So yesterday was the third day of this new plan and it shows just how much work I have to do. I’d been pretty positive all day, trying to get the kids excited about the world around them, a regular Pollyanna run amok, but with more personality. As we were driving to the grocery store, we were exclaiming over the beauty of the clouds and the sky and OH MY! Isn’t that the neatest thing? I really started getting into the spirit, caught up in their enthusiasm for the beautiful sunset. I felt for a moment that no one could be as lucky as I, two beautiful children, a great marriage, a lusciously cloudy Seattle sunset and a trip to the grocery store. What could be better?
Fast forward an hour as the kids had lost their minds and I wasn’t far behind. We made it out of the store alive only to have all kinds of rioting break out upon entrance to the van. They’d been picking at each other all through our shopping, as if to say, “ARE YOU INSANE TO TACKLE GROCERY SHOPPING AT LOSING OUR MINDS O’CLOCK IN THE EVENING??!!”
When they got into the van, their quarelling became unmanageable and so I turned the stereo up to eleven to block out the noise and proceeded to drive home. When Laylee confronted me about hurting her ears and giving her a possible “ear affection,” I told her that next time she could plug them but that since I was driving I couldn’t plug mine to block out their fighting and loud music was the next best thing. I guess if she really doesn’t like the music then next time I can just yell repeatedly “SERENITY NOW!!” at the top of my lungs.
“Oh,” she said. “Hmph.”
Oh hmph indeed. We glared each other down and I vowed to be more positive today. And I was. We’ll see about tomorrow. Baby steps.