I remember watching “Lamb Chop’s Play Along”with Shari Lewis as a kid; I think it was mainly when one of my little sisters had it on the TV. There was one song she would sing that I thought was hilarious at the time, because it was often how I felt about said sisters: “You, you’re driving me crazy…even though I’m crazy for you!” was the main chorus line.
Years later, this song takes on new meaning as it epitomizes how I sometimes feel as I navigate toddler hood with my little girl.
I am the mother of a 21 month old daughter, V. I love my daughter, more than my life. I can’t imagine what I wouldn’t do for her. I think she is the funniest, most adorable little person and I feel enormously proud of her smarts and her sweet, loving nature. But there are times, especially since she turned about 15-18 months old, that I feel worn out, impatient, and exasperated by my lovely gal’s totally normal, completely developmental, but utterly exhausting toddler antics. All you parents of toddlers know what I am talking about: the tantrums, the clingy days, the whiny moments when our eyes temporarily trick us into thinking our darling child has been replaced by a miniature gremlin in a cuter costume.
My most recent exhausted mommy moment was this past week, when I sat on my daughter’s bedroom floor holding her writhing in my lap (she would not be cuddled nor put down), as she screamed for about 20 minutes because she did not want to change her poopy Pull-Up. She wanted to go eat. I did not want to smell poo during our lunch, nor did I want her sensitive bummy to develop a rash. So, it had to happen. But V made sure it was on her own terms, as she proceeded to resist the change, and scream and kick and cry. And, I had the flu. The achy, can’t barely stand up, dizzy, feel like you’ve been beaten type of flu. She cried. I held her, arms limp at my sides or stroking her sweaty, matted hair. I sang her favorite song until she started yelling, “no, no” through the indistinct shrieks. Then I cried too. I waited, increasingly anxious for the sound of my husband’s car pulling into the garage, as he was coming home early to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Boy was he in for a treat. But the minutes ticked by and it became clear I had to face this little monster myself. So I wiped my face, nursed V until she was sufficiently calm, then finally settled her, still wriggling her poopy butt all over the changing mat, enough to complete her Pull-Up change.
This is an example of the behavior that has been blowing my mind over the past couple of months. So, I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of letting V know. Because last week, when she was starting an irritating whining routine as her lunch wasn’t coming fast enough for her liking, I made a goofy exasperated sound….”aaaaah!” She, turned from the table, giggled, and said “Craze, craze.” Yep, she was imitating me saying…”You’re driving me crazy!” I inquired if this was what she was saying to me; she laughed again, and indicated with a nod (like duh, mom!), yes, that was exactly what she meant.
Enter Massive Mommy Guilt. My child has come to expect that I’m going to tell her she is driving me crazy. Whoa.
While I want to make sure I have a handle on my emotions as I deal with my daughter’s discipline, and clearly, I need to perhaps re-think the frequency of my expressions of frustration, I wonder…is communicating frustration to your child a bad thing? If done in a non-intimidating way? When I say, “You’re Driving Me Crazy!”, it is generally in a sing-song kind of voice that my daughter seems to find amusing. Yet, she obviously is getting the point that some of her behavior might not be socially appealing or acceptable. Isn’t it my role to teach her that? Where is the boundary between getting a handle on your emotions while still letting enough of them filter in your tone of voice to drive home the point that certain behavior is frustrating and unacceptable?
I think the reaction of your kid plays a big part in determining this boundary. Some super-sensitive kids cringe at a hint of negative feedback, while others just roll with it. I absolutely don’t want my child to feel intimidated. I don’t think that is an issue for us, though. V is a pretty secure kid, and I try to be an in-control kind of mom. My own little gal is a loving, affectionate kiddo, but she is strong-willed and adept at ignoring that which she doesn’t want to listen to. So we use time-outs when needed, give positive feedback for good behavior, and sometimes, we even raise our voices a little to get her attention.
I know I can at times be impatient, hostile sounding, argumentative, and irritable with those I am close to. My hope was to keep these traits out of my verbal (we do not choose to use physical discipline with V) discipline with my daughter. I know sometimes I fail to contain these tendencies, and I have the guilt to prove it. But I do my best to keep my emotions in check while I am teaching my daughter what behavior is positive and what is unacceptable behavior in our household. What this one moment has illustrated for me is that I may not always be aware of all of the things I do or say that my daughter internalizes. I hope that throughout her life though, she’ll trust me enough, feel secure enough to laugh at me when I’m exasperated, and let me know that I’ve made my point. I’m sure someday, I’ll hear the same words lobbied back at me (because I’ve taught her to say them!) “You’re Driving Me CRAZY, Mom!”
Linking up with Shell at “Things I Can’t Say” for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesdays.