Yesterday was a really rough day and not just because of the craziness in the morning. I wrote about what happened to several trauma mom groups on FB, in addition to blogging it here. Even after two years of near daily blogging, I still forget sometimes that putting it all out there means people are going to have an opinion - and that I might not like it!
While I know everyone's questions, insight and opinions came from a place of concern for both me and Princess some of it was difficult to hear. We parent differently than even most people parenting traumatized kiddos. Reading how others would handle it had me feeling like I've been doing it all wrong. But by the time I fell asleep I'd come full circle.
I know exactly where yesterday's behavior came from (extreme fear and panic) and why it escalated to such a crazy place (because I've given in and let her stay home when she tantrummed so many times in the past - I wasn't caving and she upped the ante.)
She knows what she did was wrong. She knows it had real consequences on our family. I was too upset to work, which means I lost a day of earning. She saw evidence of my stress eating, something she knows I"m working to overcome. She spent the day filled with guilt and shame. She went to school without being able to reconnect with me or have help regulating and processing what happened. Those are all pretty big consequences of her actions to me.
I gave her the letter I posted yesterday when we got home. I find a letter is often easier because her shame makes hearing and talking about things really hard. She didn't get much reading done when she burst into tears and ripped it up. That was okay. I had another copy printed in advance and ready to go. (Yeah, I know my child!)
She got a few big, fat markers and completely crossed out all mentions of her poor choices. She carefully poked holes so she could actually remove some of the words. That was okay with me. It proved she was reading it!
Then she wrote out the answers to the questions I posed (thanks for those, RJ!)
1. What did you do? Got mad and let it get the best of me.
2. What are you going to do about it? Do five repairs of your choice, make a plan to use my tools better, work to make it right, get through it together.
3. We don't want this to happen again. What should we do to make sure it doesn't? Remind me to use my tools before I get so mad, get new medicine for my stress.
4. If this DOES happen again, what should we do? Keep working on tools and get through it together.
It was good enough for me for right then. We'll keep talking about it and processing it here and there for a while.
The shame and fear lingered, though. She asked to watch TV. I told her I needed to think about it. Hubster noticed she was watching TV a few minutes later - without us giving her the okay. We told her to shut it off. She ignored us.
I needed a break. I told her things were going to change and that I was leaving.
She jumped at me, grabbed on and started screaming at me to just go then, all the while holding on to me tightly. Hubster got her off, but as soon as he let go, she lunged at me again, nearly knocking me down. Hubster held her until she stopped grabbing at me and then she ran outside.
She walked up and down the road for a long while. (And ate a rotted grapefruit she found on teh side of the road.) Then she sat up camp on the driveway, saying that's where she was going to live.
We left her alone for a long time, which was way hard for me. Then I went out and sat with her. She said that she got so scared when I said things were going to change and that I was leaving because together it sounded to her like I meant forever. We chatted for a while and then she said she was ready to go inside.
Before we came inside, I told her that we took the cable box from her room and that I knew she'd need to have a tantrum about it, so to go ahead and make it a big one. She obliged. She ran inside and thrashed around her bed screaming and crying.
When she was done, she made her bed again and moved on. I congratulated her for her good listening on throwing a tantrum just like I asked and complimented her on a job well done.
She heated up our leftover dinner and did her homework while she ate. She didn't have time to work on laundry with me because she practically fell asleep at the dinner table at 6:30. She knows folding laundry is still on the agenda for today.
She woke up without problem this morning. I told her that I'm still really tired and sore. (My soreness is from tension and not her hits.) I suggested a shoulder massage from her might be nice this evening. I explained to her what it means to feel hungover and that's how I feel.
I made it clear that I expect her to apologize to BFF's mom for lying. She was really having a hard time with that and asked if she cold apologize for the "confusion" instead. I agreed. We all know she lied. The exact wording doesn't matter. Hopefully she took care of that on the way to school, though I know it will be super hard for her.
I appreciate all of the support and comments more than you know. Yesterday was a low day for me. I questioned myself a lot. However, at the end of the day I realized I know consequences in the traditional sense are disastrous for my child. I'm comfortable with the way I handled the situation. It's not all resolved and won't be for a while. Hubster will also be chatting with her about it. There is still lots of work to be done on getting her to use her tools. But we're moving forward.
I'm not going to change my gentle approach. I'm not going to change parenting to her emotional age. However, I do baby her and parent her at a young age even when she's not stuck in a toddler place emotionally. I have a lot of grief that I didn't get to parent her when she was small and that she missed out on that, so I have a tendency to smother her with attention and affection that a mother would bestow on a much younger child. I'm going to make a real attempt to let her be 12 when she's regulated.
I'm also going to work hard to follow through with her requiring to do whatever it is she was supposed to do before a tantrum. I've given up on getting her to school many times because I can't physically make a screaming, thrashing child get in the car and go to school. BFF's mom picking her up takes a lot of steam out of that. She doesn't want other people to see her like that, so she knows if they show up, she has to get in the car and go. I refused to call them off yesterday, which (in her mind) forced her to work harder to get her way. Hopefully, she sees that she still wound up at school, just like I said despite all of that. I know it's going to be important for me to continue standing my ground, despite her meltdowns.
Hitting isn't okay. We all agree on that. However, I'm more concerned about the locking herself in the bathroom with two phones and calling BFF's house to say she was sick and didn't need a ride to school. Hitting is reactionary. It's flight or fight instinct. Gathering up phones, locking herself in the bathroom and making those calls took thought - not logical thought, but still conscious thought. I'm still pondering that part of it.
So, yeah. That's how things are looking in our world.