My Kid’s Bad Behavior Made Me a Better Parent

By April 23, 2015 Family and Friends, Le Guppy, Motherhood
Little girl laughing and playing at the beach

For a while, Harper’s been struggling with what we refer to as random bouts of bad behavior. On the whole she’s always been pretty level-headed. In fact she never threw a single temper tantrum until she was well past the 4 year mark. Mostly it made being a mom pretty easy. Sure there were sleepless nights and that time when she puked up hotdog all over me. And once she took off in a full sprint at Disneyland. She is kind, energetic, and empathetic. She is curious and interested.  She is very spirited, very opinionated. She gets that from her mama but she was early to talk and her vocabulary is fairly extensive. She is able to tell us how she feels and what she needs.

But for a while, she didn’t. She was suddenly none of those things. She was difficult, disruptive, and dare I say a little mean. She didn’t care how anyone around her felt. And the littlest request of correction was sending her into what can only be called a fit of rage. No person or item was safe or spared. I’m embarrassed to say it would usually end in yelling, on her part and mine. And tears, for both of us. It was exhausting. I felt like a bad mom, and she felt like a bad kid.

The problem was me. Yeah, I’m admitting it. Publically and hesitantly. There are a lot of parental checkpoints I pass through with proficiency. Every night I check her teeth for stray sugarbugs. I dutifully hold her in my lap as she weeps through vaccinations. She eats her vegetables and likes them. I avoid red dye and processed foods. I make her play outside and limit how much time she spends in front of the TV. Check, check, check. I hug her and kiss her and tell her I love her every single day. Flying colors. What was missing was my time. Undivided time.

I cannot even begin to fathom the amount of times I’ve answered her requests with “Not right now.” or “I’m too busy.” I am busy. I’m a writer and I run my own fledgling photography business . Even so that’s not a good excuse when your child is so desperate for 100% of your attention that they will get it by any means necessary. It wasn’t until I heard her talking to her imaginary friend Lucy on her imaginary cellphone that I put the jigsaw pieces together. I was tapping away on the computer on the living room but I could hear the sounds of Harper playing in her room. Legos forming castles and space ships. Tiny pots and pans clanking together and then clear as the bell “I can’t play with you right now. Don’t you see how busy I am with these emails?” punctuated with an annoyed huff. She nailed it. I could hear every perfect intonation as though it was straight from my own mouth.

The next time she threw a temper tantrum. I hugged her. I didn’t yell and I didn’t exile her to the designated time out spot on top of the washer. She was angry and she struggled and then her ever lengthening arms wrapped around my neck in reciprocation. A tiny little olive branch in the middle of an overwhelming storm. When she calmed down we talked. We talked about being angry and being sad. We talked about what reactions are acceptable and which ones aren’t. Later that day as I attempted to coax her into nap, a battle in and of itself, she curled into me, cheeks still tear damp and whispered “I’m sorry, Mama.” so softly and sweetly that I had to strain to hear it, even in the dark quiet of my bedroom.

Four is hard. Her body is growing. She is getting taller and smarter. Her life and schedule are more complicated. Her brain is expanding and her reality is forming. And it wasn’t about me. I was so angry that she wasn’t listening, that I forgot to listen. I had expected grown up behavior from my four year old and when I didn’t get it, I assumed she was doing it to punish me for my shortcomings as a parent. She wasn’t, she was just asking for what she needed in a fail proof way, by acting crazy.

I’ve adjusted my work schedule so when she’s home I wait until she’s drooling into her Scooby Doo pillow pet to settle in with projects that require large chunks of time. Outside of a few emails, clients have to wait their turn. We are working on communicating but even when upset, her outbursts are tiny sparks in comparison to the infernos they were just a few weeks ago. She can still be a real peach and I think that’s part of the age.  Like I said four is hard but it won’t always be like this. In fact in a few months she will be in kindergarten 5 days a week and I will miss these meandering days full of playdoh and laundry basketball and chasing down the ice cream truck before her dad gets home from work. For now, I am embracing 1000 daily questions and pleading eyes begging me for one more round of lava boat. I’m listening this time. Pinky promise, sealed with a kiss.

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One Repeat One, Vol. 5 : Harp Wants You to Hear

By March 28, 2015 Harper's 1st..., Le Guppy, Music, On Repeat One
Librarianwm

The best thing my mother every gave me, other than my take no bull attitude, is the ability to connect the the words and sounds that make up the  music we chose to swim in. To see it as a living breathing creature. Guy grew up with a smattering of Christian rock that he doesn’t remember and Amy Grant which he does. Not a whole lot more. His connection with music didn’t start until high school. In fact it might be fair to say it didn’t start until me…but I wanted Harper to start life with a love of riffs and chords and melodies. She came into this world with a love for The Beatles so bright and obvious it surprised even me; that desire to commune with the spirits that live inside the songs we listen to has only grown.

I’m proud to say she has better taste in music than most adults. You’ll have to forgive her obsession with Let it Go. She’s only four. I put those two most uhhh skippable songs at the beginning so if you can’t even one more time pass right on by those and enjoy Harper’s first playlist.

1: Let It Go {Idina Menzel} 2: The Fox {Ylvis} 3:Geronimo {Sheppard} 4: Hooked on a Feeling {Blue Swede} 5: Spiderwebs {No Doubt} 6: Let’s Dance {David Bowie} 6: Raspberry Beret {Prince & The Revolution} 7:You Make My Dreams {Hall & Oates} 8: Thrift Shop {Macklemore and Ryan Lewis} 9: Ice Ice Baby {Vanilla Ice} 10: Superstition {Stevie Wonder} 11: 1901 {Phoenix} 12: Best Friend {Foster the People} 13: You Get What You Give {New Radicals}

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I’m Sorry I Forgot to Write : “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” -Ray Bradbury

By March 25, 2015 Just Me
JM10wm

I left this poor little rowboat of a blog out in the vast ocean of the internet to fend for itself. Life has been overwhelming. Two trips to Japan, a kindergarten registration, a snow storm that “trapped” me in Tennessee cabin with 30 other professional photographers, laundry, yard work, and an anxiety attack inducing trip to the dentist where they told me I had $2000 worth of cavities. That’s what the last few months have looked like. They have been wonderful and exhausting and so so overwhelming.

Somehow those things that bring the most solace are the first to go when everything is hectic. Writing is a sturdy locked door behind which I can fall apart without the grace the world expects. Usually I do it in private on the backs of receipts or on the corners of snotty napkins but sometimes those unkempt thoughts end up in a somewhat coherent piece that ends up here. The truth is that I haven’t been writing at all. Not privately or publicly. I’ve let the daily practice slide and managed to excuse myself from all the things that tether me to the ground.

And I didn’t even realize I had done it. In fact, it was my pesky little brother that reminded me of a folder full of unfinished thoughts on my desktop beseeching completion. Leave it to little brothers to remind you of everything you never did. I’m trying to be better and remind myself that the unfolded laundry can wait and the box of Annie’s organic mac and cheese won’t suffer from a night on the counter instead of in the pantry.

There is something so wearing about all those day by day responsibilities that we get caught in them. We forget that living is not just a beating heart. It is the awareness that the thump against the breastbone is not eternal and that each beat is a split-second offering from the universe.  Life is more than a knee jerk reflex. Living is being and doing and doing with purpose. For me that means writing and hiding behind my camera and playing with Playdoh ; barbeque with good friends and good beer and exploring. I’ve been doing a lot of exploring and not enough time with the people who love me. And spending almost no time thinking about what this vast world world means as I traverse though it. And I’m sorry I forgot to write, more for me than for anyone else. I’m trying, I really am.

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What a Pagan Would Like You to Know About Her Beliefs: “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature” – Frank Lloyd Wright

By December 11, 2014 Guest Posts and Interviews, I Would Like You To Know
What I Would LIke You to Know

This is the fourth in a series of guest posts in a series called “I Would Like You To Know”. In an attempt to create a space for people of all backgrounds, races, religions, creeds, ethnicites, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socio-economic statuses I am seeking guest blog posts. If you would like to share your unique background, I would love to hear and share your story. Email me at Rachel[@]deletingtheadjectives.com with your name, a link to your blog, and a brief synopsis of your story with the title “As a _________ I would like you to know” in the subject box. You fill in the blank and the subsequently the gaps in our collective knowledge.

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As a Pagan I would like you to know what we believe.

I should preface this with a disclaimer – this is my personal path, and not all Pagans will believe as I do, but I will be trying to generalise here for the sake of ease of understanding. Trust me – I’m not out to offend anyone.

I’m Pagan and, thankfully, unlike many of my Pagan friends and acquaintances, I am yet to experience any negativity geared directly towards me based on my chosen religious path.

We’re kind of misunderstood, but we also kind of like it that way. We are often seen as uneducated hippies who run around with no clothes on. Some of us are a bit like that, but the majority of us are educated and, in fact, well-versed in our own beliefs because many of us, myself included, have come to Paganism on our own and therefore had to do our own research, rather than being fed information from a lecturn.

Paganism (or technically NeoPaganism) is an umbrella term for a group of various religious and spiritual paths including (but certainly not limited to) Wicca, Druidism, Asatru and Reconstructionism. I’m not going to get too in-depth with any one religion because, frankly, a decent-sized book could be written about the varying paths of Wicca alone, but I will give a quick rundown of how I came to Paganism and what I believe.

I was brought up in a rather secular household. I was christened Anglican, but my family didn’t really do anything religious, just celebrated Easter and Christmas mostly. I never felt like anything was lacking in my spirituality, but I definitely didn’t feel connected to Christianity (and to be honest, sitting in a church during Easter and Christmas services at school made me feel terribly claustrophobic).

I was probably around 10 or 11 years old when I first saw the film, “The Craft”, with my sister (this seems like such a cliche story, but trust me it gets deeper). If you’ve seen the film, you can imagine my pre-teen excitement – “Oh my god, I want to change my hair colour like that!” “WOW I want to make someone’s hair fall out!”. At around the same time, I was just starting to succumb to a new fad called ‘The Internet’, so of course I used this to my advantage – I found website upon website full of do-it-yourself magic and spells, which were all just what I wanted.

On my travels, I found a website called ‘Witchvox’, or The Witches’ Voice. It was enormously different to everything else I’d looked at. I read a few articles. And I found that what I was reading really resonated with me. Almost everything they were talking about made complete sense to me. Over the next 2-3 years, I read more and more – websites and books alike – and it felt like coming home. I actually had a name for the beliefs I held within my heart.

I started off identifying as Wiccan but as time has moved on and I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered more about other religions under the Pagan umbrella, and less of the specifically Wiccan beliefs and ideals have rung true, so at the moment I joke and call myself “Eclectic Pagan with Wiccan and Druidic Tendancies”.

So what *do* Pagans believe? It depends who you ask, really, but I’ve found there are four general components that tie Pagans together:
1. We all see sacredness within cycles. So the cycles of life and death, the cycle of the seasons, the moon cycles, etc.
2. The body is sacred. Not that we necessarily all worship the body, but the body is treated as natural – in Christianity, the body can be treated as sinful; in Buddhism, the body is a ‘trap for the mind’ which ought to be transcended. Paganism doesn’t have a low regard for the body – it is more than a vessel.
3. A belief in a Goddess, or more than one deity. Some Pagans don’t believe in deity at all, which is also absolutely fine of course, but most of the Pagans I know believe in duality of deity – a God and a Goddess. A kind of “it takes two to tango” belief.
4. A reverence of nature. Again, not all Pagans worship or see nature as holding huge significance in their lives, but most of the Pagans I associate with do, so that’s something I’ve noted as a general Pagan belief.

I think also that there is a strong sense of community in Paganism – and regardless of what path you’re on, you’ll always feel you have somewhere you belong. There are local groups or groups online that support and strengthen our community as a whole, and this can only be beneficial because being in a community with many different people and their paths can only continue to open our minds to new information and ideas, which in turn further our learning and growth as human beings. Community is pivotal and, I think, crucial. You can read as many books as you like, but there’s nothing quite like standing in Circle with 100+ other people – the energy is palpable. Finding my community helped me grow immensely, as well as find me some great new friends on the way.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Paganism; it really is a whole world – an entity! – of its own. If you’re interested in finding out more, I certainly welcome questions, as I’m sure I’ve probably left more asked than answered in this short piece.

Namaste, Goddess Bless, Merry Part and Blessed Be!

Terri is a 26 year old wife and mother of two living in Tasmania, Australia. She blogs at various locations around the internet, but the two main spots are at TheGeekWitch.com and MamaBytes.com.au. Email her at [email protected]

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