Holy cow!!!  It is unbelievable what happens to a 9 year old girl the day after a sleep over...  I picked Rowan up from her friend's house today and the first thing she tells me is, "We stayed up until 12:30!"  I am kind of a nazi when it comes to bed time, so she was feeling pretty smug when she shared this news.  It took everything in my not to say, "Oh great, you'll be a nightmare today..."  Instead, I said, "Wow!  You must have had lots of fun!"

After many thank yous and good-byes, I finally get the kids back into the van.  The sleep deprivation made a showing almost immediately...  "Mom, all I want to do today is lay on the couch and watch TV."  Ha!  I thought, yeah, right...  "Well, we have a few things that need to happen today before there is any TV time, but I definitely see resting in your future."

"WHAT?  Maaa-mmaaaa, I can't do anything but lay on the couch..."  And the first fall apart begins.

We are in the car.  This is my least favorite place to deal with any type of emotional turmoil because I am trying to drive.  I can't make real eye contact, I can't separate the kids, and I am real quick to get hooked into the drama.  Today, however, I made the decision to let Rowan wallow in her sleepy haze and not get dragged down.  "We are almost home, babe," was all I said.  Then I shut my mouth.

She managed to keep it together the rest of the drive.  We got home and the kids played together for a while, and I got some much needed housework done.  After a bit, Rowan came down in tears...  "Ian doesn't want to play what I want to play!  He never wants to play what I want to play!  I don't have anyone to play with!!  Waaaa...."  She was falling apart again.  I took a long look at her, keeping my face neutral.  I thought about how tired she must have felt.  I also thought about all the time she and Ian played exactly what she wanted to play.  I held open my arms, and she came over and let me hold her.  I didn't say anything, just held her.

She whimpered a bit more, then Ian came down.  It was true, he didn't want to play what she wanted to play, he wanted to play something else with her.  "Sounds like you both want to play with each other, but you want to play different things," I said, not solving, not fixing, just observing.

Then Rowan asked if she could have a neighborhood friend over, or if, please,  she could watch TV.  I braced myself as i said, "Love, there are some things you need to take care of before either of those things can happen."  I proceeded to let her know what chores need to be done, she proceeded to FREAK OUT.  Really, the stomping, the screaming, she pulled it all out.  And today, I stayed calm.  I let her have her emotions, I let her work through them, I let her be tired and bugged without trying to rescue her or lecturing her about her behavior.  Today, I didn't let how she was feeling influence how I was feeling.  It was so awesome!!!!

After a while, things got quiet upstairs and she came down to tell me she had cleaned her room.  I let her know that I wanted to clean the downstairs before we turned on the TV.  I told her that I thought an afternoon rainy day movie sounded great, and that it was important to me to finish my work.  Then she blew my mind -

"Well, do you want me to swiffer the floor?"  Uh - YES!  She was then the most amazing helper ever!  She asked if I would show her again how to clean the toilets - seriously!!!  She scrubbed all the toilets!!!!  She helped willingly and was cheerful and fun to be around.  I wonder how things would have turned out if I had gotten hooked by the meltdown (asI often do) and decided to meltdown too?  If I would have raised my voice when she was screaming about the injustice of having to put her things away and let her know "This s why I don't let you stay up so late!!!  SEE???  I TOLD YOU!!!"  It would have been a very different afternoon...

I love having the opportunity to remind myself that when I keep my emotions is check, things go so much smoother.  Kids need to freak out, they need to melt down, and they need to know that it is okay, and that they can live through it.  I think that Rowan felt respected by me today - my actions said, I love you no matter what, and I know that you are going to be okay.  I also showed her that I was strong enough to allow her to feel the way she felt without getting mad at her for it.  There is a sense of security that comes from knowing that your parent can handle themselves, no matter what the kids throw at us...

We lived through one more HUGE fall apart today at dinner, and again, I gave Rowan the space and time she needed.  It felt so good to not get hooked into her attempts at pulling me into her misery.  Yes, my heart hurt for how she was feeling, of course I wanted to make her feel better.  But I knew that there was nothing I could do to help except to be there, letting her know that I loved her and that she was welcome to go to bed early if she needed to...

There were many tears today.  Rowan let me know right before bed that she had actually woken up at 6 am.  5 1/2 hours of sleep for a kid that usually gets 10 1/2.  Whew!  I tucked her in with a smile and a kiss. Its funny that at the end of a day with so many meltdowns, I feel so great about my parenting.  I wonder what opportunities will come my way tomorrow???

Smiles ~ Casey





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