And When She's Bad...

...she's HORRID.

So, I've been going through this existential crisis lately, which is why I haven't posted as frequently as I normally do. I just... don't know what I'm doing with my LIFE or if anything I'm doing is making a difference to anyone. I don't seem to be able to write--which NEVER happens to me. I'm just sort of sitting over here, existing. I wrote an excruciatingly long blog post about it but can't seem to find an ending for it. (Oh, the irony.)

And naturally, just about the time that I'm feeling entirely superfluous to everyone, one of my kids shows me just exactly how true that is.

There is an eight-year-old in my house who stayed up WAY TOO LATE on her first night of Spring Break and was a holy terror all day today. This on top of a week of trying, testing, terrible behavior after her teacher told me that she is more interested in her social life than in learning and that it's having a bad effect on the classroom.

Usually, when one of my kids goes through a patch of acting out, it is followed by some sort of developmental milestone. The last time I can remember this happening, Jane transitioned from a happy-to-be-read-to kid into a voracious reader on her own.

We are happy about the transition.

But the three weeks leading up to it were AWFUL. She may (or may not) have BITTEN a neighbor kid. (We never really got the full story on that so I don't actually know what happened, and her big sister tends to exaggerate when it comes to getting Jane into trouble.)

This time, though, I find myself locked in battle with her over the silliest things.

Take this little exchange, for example.

Jane: Mom, how do you spell "during?"

Mom: D-U-R...

Jane, shaking her head vehemently: No, DURING. Like, 'DURING the movie..."

Mom: I know. I'm telling you. D-U-R

Jane: No! NO! DURING!

Mom: I know it sounds like it starts with a J but you're going to have to trust me on this. It's a D. D-U-R...

Jane, crying real tears of rage and frustration: No! No! That's not how my teacher spells it!

Mom: Jane! Stop screaming at me! You asked me how to spell it and I am telling you. JUST LISTEN FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!

Jane: No, no, no! DURING! "During the play..."

Mom: JANE, STOP SCREAMING. STOP CRYING. (My finest moment--not.) When you get to school, I want you to ask your teacher how to spell "during." And then I want you to come home and apologize to me for being such a complete and utter PILL.

I take Jane to school and come home to lie down because battling with her has given me such a headache.

And that's just one of thirty conversations like that we have every day. It's EXHAUSTING. I try punishment. I try rewards and positive reinforcement. I try less screen time and more exercise. (This one is probably the key. We've been stuck in the house forever, it seems. If spring doesn't get here soon, we're ALL going to melt down.) But Jane just has to work through whatever this is on her own--clearly, even if I knew how to help her, she wouldn't accept help from me. Or anyone else. So, she stomps around, poisoning our home life and blaming everything on everyone else. And screaming. Did I mention the screaming?


What the heck am I going to do when she's a teenager?

Click to embiggen and read. And stop that laughing right now.

PS: For the record, we don't spank our children. A little biting, maybe... (KIDDING. Just KIDDING. Don't be sending me your hate mail or I'm going to get Jane to record a "howler" and send it to you.)


Anonymous said…
Ahhh, so true, so true.

It's so nice to know I'm not the only one who looses it when trying to reason with my children.

At least you're trying! You get lots of points for that. (I hope.)
Yup, you could be in big trouble 5 years from now. But you'll muddle through, just like the rest of us.

On the other hand, maybe she is getting it all out of her system now. I keep telling myself (hopefully) that we've already paid our dues with Rachel during her toilet-stuffing, stuffed-animal-decapitating phase when she was 4. Because a teenage version of that? Would be frightening.

Oh, and if there is anything I've learned in almost 2 decades of being a mother, don't ever try to reason with your children. It's just a big waste of time.
Carrie said…
THANK YOU. We're going through a rough time lately with one of ours (including much attitude) and it's so nice to see that we're not the only ones. And that I'm not the only mom with fine parenting moments as well. :-)
Karen said…

Can't help it, laughing SO hard at the wanted poster and the apology. I feel your pain at the rest, but seriously? That girl is going places.
kim said…
Oooh, sorry that you're going through such a rough patch there. But that kid is going to be brilliant, I tell ya. I cracked up when I read her wanted poster. Hilarious!
smalltownme said…
You're not alone. I work as an aide in 2 second grade classes and the kids this year are horribly argumentative. And the teachers and I wonder, are they like that at home? Their poor parents!
Susan said…
Welcome to the world of 4 seasons. I know from almost 30 years in the classroom that this is the insanity season. Winter has gone on way too long and kids have been cooped up way too long and everyone's patience is short. Hang in there. Soon it will be nice out and these horrid days will be but a dream. Well, until the end of next winter anyway.

For those of us who don't have to raise her, Jane is a hoot!
Unknown said…
We should arrange a marriage between Jane and Elyas. They would produce children that would surely give us very satisfying revenge. And possibly take over the world. ;)
Mama Ava said…
We have finally gotten to the point where we just ask whichever child to leave the room and go away until they have calmed down. We talk about behavior that goes against family values, and coming unglued like that is simply not OK and I as the PARENT am choosing to separate the offender from the rest of the family. I don't even make the kid apologize. I simply say, "Your behavior is not acceptable at this point in time. Please leave and go to another room. When you are ready to move on or ask a question in a way that is in line with our family's values, please come back." PERIOD.
Depending on the situation, I sometimes approach the kid. Sometimes they pick up the question in an appropriate manner, sometimes they've moved on to something else. I just got so so so so so tired of being the BITCH in response to my kids' behavior. This method allows me to get out before I escalate things and sends the message that the kid is not going to be a part of the family routines every time they choose that sort of response. I have a girl 7 (going on 16) and a 10 yo with ADHD and it works with both of them most of the time and keeps me from engaging in arguing and pointless crap with them.
STQ said…
Oh my gosh that apology was funny! I agree - that girl is going places, man!! I love the suggestion of making them leave the room until they can ask a question in line with our family values. Awesome! I'm gonna use that on my little "Jane" who argues with me about ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. "What color is the sky, Mom?" "Blue." "NO IT'S NOT - I ASKED ABOUT THE SKY!!!!" are hard.
Marion Gropen said…
Oh, yes, I know your pain. My 3rd grade daughter has some of the same issues.

FWIW, I've learned that laying down the law doesn't really work with some kids. Some, you see, are what's known as Oppositional Defiant. That means that you can persuade, but you can't intimidate or use authority to command.

You can, however, use "forced choices." And you can help them to learn to see obedience as a choice that they CAN make.

I'm not saying that this describes your girl, but I will say that you as a mom have to tune in to what works and what doesn't **for your child**.

Don't beat up on yourself. This is the hardest challenge there is, and you're obviously doing a very good job of it under trying circumstances.

And, remember, perfection isn't required. Goodness knows, our parents weren't perfect, and we survived to become pretty good folks. Our kids will, too.

Now, if I could only internalize that lesson!
Tiny Tyrant said…
Hugs sweetie.

And send her to my house. I'll make her dig trenches with a spoon. ;-) Or move gravel one piece at a time.

Some days I am glad I'm hearing impaired. When any foster kid we get realizes that screaming doesn't work with me, it will stop.
The Dister said…

Ana sold her out!

I'm dyin'.

You my friend, are gonna have your hands full, I do believe.
Unknown said…
OMG that note made me laugh!! but yes, I worry about the teen years for kids who get frustrated like that. reminds me of me.
Mary Ellen said…
Are you SURE we're not allowed to laugh? Not even a chuckle?

These little phases are so charming, aren't they? Just keep repeating, 'this too shall pass'. It worked for me.
Michelle Paterson said…
Hugs my dear friend! Thanks for the giggle today! I just love those girls to pieces.

Spring will come and you will absolutely love it!
MadMad said…
DUDE! She is SO my son's future wife. I can't WAIT till they get married and torture the crap out of each other for the rest of their lives. And we will sit back, drink some wine, and knit stuff for their kids who will SO turn out to be just like them.

It's gonna be so much fun. Can't wait.
Susan said…
No guarantees - both my girls were similar at that age, one was a model teen, the other is driving me crazy. I agree that htere is no point in attempting reason. I agree that separation helps. so does setting limits and then keeping your word on consequences. Taking our girl's phone and then removing her door knob worked wonders. Now we are holding out on her drivier's training until goals are met.

For me the most important thing is to be calm, try not to take it personally and, most of all, do everything I can to preserve the relationship for the years ahead.

Plus you HAVE to laugh!! Jane is a hoot, even if she is a bit of a terror, too.
DK said…
Ah, little Hurricane...that kid just cracks me up.

And PS, I love that she's already got future husbands lined up in the comments! Although I suspect she'll do just fine on her own...
Miri said…
This is gonna be one heck of a developmental milestone. Trust me. I'm clearly in the position to judge since I live across the nation and have never met your beautiful girls, but they are too much your daughters for this not to turn out beautifully.

(Also, please no howlers. I have the feeling she could write an ear-splitting one!)
Kate said…
I am so sorry. It is so hard to be patient. I remember trying and trying and it didn't seem to help. Good luck and hang in there.
Unknown said…
So Barb, how's the foot? (and when can we expect an Edward or Thomas sighting?)
Sandra said…
OmG you're killing me over here. The DURING thing had me laughing out loud here at my desk.

I just found you thru Mad Mad and I already heart you. I have a 2nd grader too. And she's a girl. I also have a 6 year old kindergartener. Who is also a girl.

You're going to be seeing a lot more of me.

Sandra from California