My little digits have been itching to tap away at the qwerty keyboard recently but every time I sit down to blog, I back away from my laptop, too afraid to say what I really want to.
I don’t know. Emma’s escapades when she was little were cute. Well, to me anyway. The funny little things she did or said, reporting to anyone who cared that she had taken her first step or said her first word. How much I adored this tiny soul that had stolen my heart, and the little makeup I had.
At the moment, though, I battle to find too much endearing about my five (soon to be six) year old. And I’m sure she feels the same way about me. The holidays are long, the days are long, my temper short. Not a good combination.
On Saturday, after numerous warnings, Emma got a time out. And as I was closing the door she yelled “you don’t even like me!” To which I replied, “I love you and I really don’t like doing this!” “The whole day you’ve told me ugly!” I slowly closed the door and slumped down on the other side.
How did we get here? Was it my smart little girl manipulating the situation or does she really think that? The latter would be devastating. The former, I’m not sure how I feel about it just yet.
At times she wants cuddles and to be my baby girl. And then, suddenly, she ways nothing to do with me. I’m persona non grata. I’m a mother without a cause. She hasn’t said it, but I’m guessing she doesn’t particularly like me either. I shout too much, I yell and scream. My impatience shows like the nose on my face.
It’s a vicious circle. To get attention she hurts Ben, not badly, but enough for him to come crying to me. Emma in turn, gets moaned at, feels unliked, and in retaliation, she does something ‘naughty’ again. To get moaned at again. To retaliate again. To get moaned at again.
How does one manage situations with a strong willed child? I don’t want to ‘tame’ her or break her spirit but I also don’t want to be a walk over. I don’t want Emma to get away with things because I’ve given up, too tired for another battle of wills. Which battles do I take on, which do I let go?
Christmas morning saw me wanting to throttle my child (figuratively speaking of course). Emma had opened one of her gifts and instead of gushing with excitement and gratitude, she said “but I didn’t want this!” A child who knows what she wants or a spoilt kid?
It didn’t help that I was exhausted from playing Santa the night before. Staying up late to wrap last minute presents, eating Santa’s biscuits and devouring the reindeer food, to make it all look authentic.
Later that day we went to friends for Christmas cocktails and before Emma greeted anyone, including her godmother, she wanted to know who all the presents on the table belonged to, and which were hers. I wanted to die with embarrassment but dear friends reminded me she’s little, and that’s what little people do.
That night, lying in bed, recalling the events of the day and how I had gotten angry with Emma for not loving all her gifts, I remembered one particular christmas I had asked Santa for a watch. Tradition in our house was that my brothers and I placed our pillow cases on the couches and chairs in the lounge, which Santa filled with presents. I raced through mine, hoping, praying for my watch. With each and every gift ripped open, my disappointment grew. By the time I was at the end of my pile and still without the only present I really wanted, I rushed through to my parents’ room.
Angry and sad and in tears I cried. There was no watch. I hated Santa. I hated christmas. I hated all my presents. I hated life. My mom, still half asleep, asked if I had looked everywhere, including the Christmas tree. Running back to the lounge, there it was. A rectangular shaped box, flat and long. Exactly what a wrapped watch would look like. Suddenly all was right with the world. I was smiling. Did my mom and dad lie there, wondering whether I was a child who knew what I wanted or a spoilt kid? Were they disappointed with my bratty behaviour? Did they despair at the horrible daughter I had become?
I’m terrified to say that there are times I really don’t like my little girl. I hate admitting that there are moments when she’s not my favourite person in the world. There are instances I’m scared of what I might say or do.
Aren’t we supposed to be in a constant honeymoon phase with our kids or is it ok for those rose-tinted glasses to come off and for us to see things in the (real) light of day?
Please, please tell me I’m not alone in my despair.