Monday, February 09, 2009

How to make your mommy sad

Charlotte has been trying my patience. Tantrums and whines, fusses. Outright refusal to do even the simplest things. And then the tears.

Tonight started simple enough. She was still awake with the babysitter when I arrived home after my class at 8:30. I let her stay up for about 20 more minutes, watching the dungeons & dragons game of her daddy's that had been temporarily moved to our house for the night. I gave her ample warning on times, counting down 10 minutes. And then I took her upstairs.

We went first to her bathroom, where she refused to brush her teeth, choosing to spin in circles on her stepstool. Then she decided she had to go potty, and tried to refuse to wash her hands, after making a big show of sticking her hand between her legs while peeing (and frowning defiantly at me about it). No, hand washing is not optional in our house. Ever. Especially after going to great pains to dirty one's hand.

More refusals to brush her teeth lost her first books (from 4 books or chapters, down to 0), then snuggle time. Then she got picked up and hauled to her bed. She came running back to the bathroom insisting on brushing, and finally did. Then, crying heartbrokenly, she padded back to her room with her shoulders drooping sadly.

She's worse with me all of a sudden, probably in part because of my class, which is taking time away from her. Partly, I think, because she can see how sad I get when I don't get to read to her before bed. She is taking a privilege away from me, and she's well aware of it.

It sucks to tell a kid no. It sucks to refuse to read, or to snuggle. It sucks to see a bright, capable child make such a fuss and act out that way.

I wish I knew how to fix her behavior. But all I can think of is to do what I already am. Sticking to the rules ("no whining" "no tantrums" "wash your hands" "brush your teeth"). Applying a consistent routine every night. Not giving in once I've revoked a privilege. And hoping that she'll grow out of this stage soon.

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