She’s ahead of a few grownups I know…
My daughter is in no short supply when it comes to the ability to overact. She comes by her Drama Queen nature honestly – as I know I still have my moments.
She has, for the past year, been known to look at us in tears whenever something has brought her to that point and say gaspingly “You broke… my heart… and you… threw it in… the trash!!” followed by a true wail of despair.
It’s hard not to hug someone and cuddle her when it’s so clearly obvious that her heart is actually breaking due to even minor disapproval.
Last night tho, someone took my sweet little angel and replaced her with a Demon-child. Demon-child didn’t want to behave. Demon-child wanted to ram into Mommy & Daddy as if training for a future WWF career. Demon-child was pushy, whiny, demanding, and surly. Demon-child was spoiling for a fight.
Unfortunately for Demon-child it was bed-time.
So there I was, trying to read a book to my Buttercup, not yet realizing that Demon-child was going to sabotage this any way possible – including screeching in my ear, trying to push me off the bed, and putting her hand in front of the words of the book. This is notably odd because there is nothing Buttercup loves more than reading. Given a chance, she’d have us read 10 books a night or more rather than the 3 or 4 stories she gets.
I finally sigh and say “honey, if you keep this up – no more reading. You will go straight to bed, lights out, no cuddles, no singing just darkness and sleep.”
Of course she kept it up.
One minute later finds me sitting in the rocking chair, lights out, white noise machine on, child shrieking as if she has been stabbed.
The litany “I. Want. To. Read. I. Want. To. Read. I. Want. To. Reeeeeead!” amidst sobbing.
A few minutes of this pass and I say “honey, I’m not going to stay and listen to this – I love you, good night” and kiss her and leave the room.
I’ll spare you the intervening escalations – but finally shrieking Demon-child informs me that she is in dire need of the potty, lest I find myself changing her sheets.
A few minutes later, I relent and take sobbing child into the rocking chair with me for cuddles and singing. She has worked herself into a complete and utter frenzy and it’s clear she truly can’t get out of it at this point. So we rock, and we sing, and we cuddle. And every 2 seconds she attempts to reverse the decision and get me to turn on the lights and read more.
Finally, somewhat calmer (and by somewhat I mean, only sobbing between sentences, not syllables) she says to me
“Mommy… why are you doing this to me?”
“Buttercup,” I say, “I’m not doing anything to you. You had choices. You were told you could be good and we’d read more, or you could be bad and we’d go straight to bed – and you chose to spit at Mommy and scream ‘no’ and ‘I hate you’ instead. It was your choice. You were in total control there.”
“But Mommy, I want to change my mind. I want to start over. I promise I’ll be good this time.”
“Sweetie, I’m so sorry. I wish we could. But you promised once already and broke that promise. I know it’s hard – but I can’t change this. Next time, I know you’ll make a better choice. Tomorrow we’ll read a lot, but tonight we must live with your choices and go to sleep.”
“But why do we have to live with our choices?”
“Oh honey – that’s one of the hardest lessons. That’s how life is. Sometimes, we know what will happen, and sometimes we don’t – but we always have to live with the results of our own choices. It’s just how things are.”
Full-blown sobbing resumes… and at the first gasp for breath comes out of my daughter’s mouth:
“Moooommmeeeeee!!! No!!!! I… broke… my… own… heart!!”
Seriously. My not-yet-5-year-old already has a sense of personal culpability? There is hope for the future.
Meanwhile, she eventually fell asleep calmed and comforted – and yes, we will read many books tonight. Demon-child seems to have returned to the nether realms.