Friday, May 25, 2012

So much screaming; make it stop

Some days I look into the future and picture myself sending Rachel to kindergarten. It's just around the corner for us, tomorrow being her last day of preschool, and we're moving to North Carolina so it will be full day kindergarten. Rachel will likely be taking the bus to school, which means she'll be gone from around 8:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, as far as I can figure.

Yesterday that was making me sad—having my baby leave me all day long. What will I do without her? She's been my little sidekick for going on five years. We've spent one night away from each other (and that was the night I had Miriam and was held in the hospital overnight (against my will)).

Today the thought thrills me. What could be better than getting her out of the house all day long?

Absolutely nothing.

After school she had a fit because she found a dinky plastic ring that had been on one of her birthday cupcakes from two years ago had been broken. She knew it was Miriam who requested to use it but she had no proof that Miriam broke it—it was merely found broken under one of the couch cushions that the girls had spread out (together) on the living room floor to use as a makeshift trampoline.

She brought it to me and asked me to fix it. I told her I could not—she hadn't brought me all the pieces and it was a junky plastic ring to begin with. There was no way to fix it so we'd just have to throw it out.

Rachel was upset about this but didn't seem to take the news too hard...

Until we heard Miriam screaming.

Apparently Rachel decided to take her anger out on Miriam.

"What did you do?" we asked Rachel since Miriam was sobbing too hard to speak.

"I pushed her over. But it was her own fault!"

"It was Miriam's fault you pushed her?"

"Yes! She broke my ring!"

She was sent to her room for a timeout because she a) had pushed her sister and b) could not stop screaming. She was screaming about rings and injustice and so forth when all of a sudden she switched gears.

"I want Pink Pie right now!" she screamed. "I'm not joking and I'm not threating! Giver her to me or I'll scream for forever! I want Pinkie Pie right now! I won't calm down until I have Pinkie Pie so you'd better just give her to me!"

Andrew told her to knock off the noise and she could go get Pinkie Pie herself, but not beforehand. He also reminded her that threatening or "threating" her parents is strictly against the rules. She just continued screaming. And so, an hour (or longer) later Rachel finally calmed down enough to emerge from her room, retrieve Pinkie Pie, and have lunch.

After lunch I took a nap while Andrew made sure Rachel did the dishes and didn't sneak down to the television. He woke me up before he left for work. He's mostly working from home laying out books and designing websites but he's also the TA for an EMPA class up in Salt Lake. It's a five-hour class, one evening a week. Brutal.

We read some stories while Miriam and I were waking up and then we started making dinner. We made homemade broccoli soup (using this recipe for inspiration; we added cheese and ham) and grilled cheese sandwiches and the girls wanted to help with everything but couldn't stop fighting over everything. Eventually I asked Rachel to go outside in the backyard and run around for a few minutes to get her beans out since, from my vantage point, she seemed to be a little more of a problem than Miriam.

So Rachel went outside and Miriam went downstairs and I continued preparing dinner in peace. For a few minutes. Until I decided to check on Miss Rachel.

I opened the back door and called her name but got no response. I walked around to check each side of the backyard. There was no child in the backyard.

I went back inside and called her name but got no response. I checked the bathroom and the bedrooms and the living room. There was no child upstairs.

I opened the front door and called her name but got no response. I walked around the yard calling her name, checking under the deck and by the wall between our driveway and the neighbour's. There was no child in our yard.

Feeling a bit panicky I called her name again.

This time she she ran up the street.

I told her that the same rules for hiking apply to home life. If you're going somewhere tell someone, otherwise people worry and they won't know where to look for you if anything happens. And you're likely to get in heaps of trouble.

"I'm sorry I left the backyard," she said, "But I was so angry!"

That about sums up her day. She was so angry today. About everything.

She kept picking on her sister and making her cry.

She resisted doing everything and anything I asked her to do.

She was just a regular glutton for punishment.

After dinner I took the children to the playground so that we'd survive until bedtime. Before we left the playground we made a pact—we'd walk home without a fit, we'd get in our jammies without a fit, we'd clean up our bedroom without a fit and then we'd read the last chapter of Little House in the Big Woods.

Throw a fit and story time would simply disappear because I'm magical like that and can make things disappear.

Also, we'd already read stories earlier in the day so I didn't feel remotely guilty about not reading to my children before bed.

Walking home went fine. The girls dawdled but we got there.

Putting on pyjamas was tricky. The girls fought a bit but nothing too awful.

Cleaning up our bedroom was a joke. Rachel kept bossing Miriam and making her cry and saying that she wasn't going to work if Miriam wasn't and Miriam kept doing things wrong and she told Miriam to put x, y, or z away but she wouldn't. I told her to simmer down, stop bossing her sister, and focus on what she could do to make the situation better.

Then I did that thing you do to help your kids focus on cleaning up. You know...

"I need you to pick up all the dirty clothes and put them in the basket. You left your dirty clothes on your bed, see? And I see a pair of socks by the bookshelf. Good. Now we need to put all the books back on the bookshelf."

We kept this up for a while, though Rachel was still obviously angry. Finally she whirled around at me and yelled right in my face, "You're the one being bossy! Why don't you stop?"

Impossible, child. I can't stop because what I'm doing is called mothering not bossing. I get to do it because I'm the mother. And you get to do what I say because you're the child. That's how life works.

"This room is clean enough," I said, grabbing up a pile of dress-ups to deposit in the office and kicking a few remaining stuffed animals into the corner. "It's time for bed now and I don't think we'll be able to have story time after I've been spoken to so rudely."

Rachel went off like a bomb with a short fuse.

I prepared her toothbrush.

She screamed at me.

I carried her to the bathroom and asked her to brush her teeth.

She refused and when she screamed at me again I was ready with the bar of soap and gave her a little taste while her mouth was hanging open. She screamed more...but brushed her teeth.

Then she just kept screaming and screaming and screaming.

"If you don't read to me I'll break my wall! If you don't read to me I'll never go to sleep! I need story time! You read to me right now!"

As if screaming anything would convince me that I actually needed to read to her.

Grandma came to help. She picked up Miriam and took her away for a while. Then she took a turn holding Rachel's door closed while Rachel threatened to break it down.

"If you don't open this door I will break the window!" she yelled.

Grandma poked her head in the door and reminded Rachel that this was her house and she'd appreciate it if Rachel not try to break her walls or doors or windows.

"If you don't open this door I will hit you!" she yelled.

I went in to hold Rachel while Grandma took Miriam away. Rachel refused to be held and continued screaming. Eventually I took her outside where she screamed and yelled and stomped her feet on the cement (which I'm sure felt really good) and threatened to stay awake screaming all night long and said that if I would just agree to read her a story she'd stop screaming.

I reminded her that, as my child, she has no right to manipulate me like that.

She kept it up for a good long while. I got out the camera and filmed about five minutes of her tantrum, which she was upset about, but whatever...I need to show her herself later on in life. It ended up being pretty much the last five minutes of her tantrum that I filmed. She dissolved into pointless, confused tears toward the end and was able to lie down, with a cold cloth on her forehead, to go to sleep.

She wanted Miriam to be put to bed, too, but I told her that since she was still sobbing so loudly it simply wouldn't be fair to make Miriam be in the same room with her.

So instead I chose a few books out of the library bin to read with Miriam. We didn't make a big show of it but Rachel knew she was being left out and wailed about it for a while. By the time Miriam and I had finished reading Rachel was quiet so we ventured into the bedroom. Rachel was remorseful and sullen.

I rocked her and sang her a lullaby and tucked her back in with a hug and a kiss.

She apologized for her dreadful behavior and promised to try harder tomorrow.

We sang As a Child of God together and talked about the lyrics.

I came to earth with power to choose
Good choices bless me and my family, too.
As a child of God I receive special light.
The Holy Ghost helps me to know what is right.

I told her that she has the power to choose how she reacts to situations and she did not use that power very wisely today.

"I don't feel very good inside," she said. "I feel yucky."

"Ah, that's the special treat Satan gives us when we follow him. He's miserable and so the only way he knows how to make you feel when you follow him is...miserable. He can't make you feel happy. Only Heavenly Father can do that. I suppose in a way, letting you continue to feel miserable while you're trying to make things better is Heavenly Father helping you remember not to make the same mistake again."

"I don't want to feel miserable," she sniffed.

"Then tomorrow choose to follow Heavenly Father. Don't pick on your sister. Don't yell at your mother. Do what you can to invite goodness into our home and you'll feel happy."

Today was perfectly dreadful. I don't think I've ever looked forward to full-day kindergarten more in my life.

Yesterday I pictured myself crying at the busstop while waving goodbye to my sweet baby, wondering how I'd ever pull myself together enough to get through the day.

Today I picture myself behaving much like the genie on Disney's Aladdin right after breaking Aladdin out of the Cave of Wonders. He turns himself into a female tour guide, bidding tourists farewell, and is a little over-bubbly. That's how I'll be—a bright smile on my face, waving enthusiastically, "Goodbye, now. Goodbye. Goodbye, thank you. Goodbye."

On a completely unrelated note, Aladdin came out twenty years ago. Twenty! How did that happen?

On another somewhat unrelated note, I suddenly want comfort food to help me finish calming my nerves—I want to throw a "Huzzah, the children are in bed!" party but sugar is pretty much off limits. Stupid diabetes.


  1. I'm sorry you had such a miserable day. I can sympathize with all your feelings...your day was exactly like so many of mine. My oldest pulls stuff like that almost every day. That's why she's been in preschool since age 3. I felt like an awful parent when school started last fall and everyone I knew was so sad about their kids going back. Not me, I was sooooo glad to have that break.

    1. Rachel has also been in preschool since she was three. It was my mother-in-law's idea and I was a little apprehensive to enroll her at first but it was the best thing for Rachel, I think. And the best thing for our family.

      Best of luck with summer break this year, Heather! :D

  2. Your bad days = our funny reading pleasure! Can't wait for the book one day!

    1. You are welcome to come watch the video of her tantrum if you'd like. I think I'm going to keep it forever so that we can show reruns of it during FHE about how not to behave...we were already laughing about it last night. :)

  3. I am thinking that Miriam needs Rachel to have her own room...

  4. This entry is eerily familiar... let me think why.... oh! I remember. Because almost the exact same thing happened to me with Evelynn while Doug was out of town in Colorado with you're mom on that conference. Yep. It sucked. I finally had to take Evelynn and bodily put her into a cold shower just to get her to calm down enough for anything I said to her to get through. I mean she was throwing herself off the top bunk bed, repeatedly, in her anger, screaming over and over "YOU'RE NOT OBEYING ME!!!". I so feel your pain. Where do we get these sometimes psychotic daughters? Evelynn at least is 85% sweet, 12% exasperating, and 3% child possessed by devils. I'm glad Rachel came around that night though. Evelynn took about 3 days to finish coping with the situation. Not fighting or yelling or anything, just talking about it and stuff.

  5. Oh, I wish I had thought about filming it at the time! That would have been awesome, if nothing else for a teaching moment later.

  6. Glad I'm not the only one with a screaming child. I have to say though you handle it better than I do. I usually lose it too and then we are both angry. So hard to love the little ones when they scream non stop :) But later they are much sweeter. Hope all goes well with the move to North Carolina; I've heard it is a beautiful place.