Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins, The Preschool Mommy | Posted on 22-05-2012
We’re getting ready to leave the house. I finally have both girls dressed, fed and motivated to head out the front door. Z is in her car-seat, crying (which she’ll do until the car starts moving) and I am struggling to carry it with one hand while my other arm is weighted down with an over-stuffed diaper bag, a few random snack containers, a water canteen and jackets for all of us. The only things standing between me and the open road (most likely leading to Target) are turning the lights and TV off before locking the front door behind us. With both hands, arms and shoulders full, I quickly pass through the house and with my only free finger, turn off the TV.
Like a flip of the switch, DJ’s temper is detonated. She explodes. I am totally caught off guard. Did our dog steal her sandwich – the one she’d never eat anyway? Did our cat pee on her Princess rain boots – the staple of her wardrobe? Did her imaginary friend pull her uncombed hair? I whip my kid-accessory-adorned body around only to see DJ charging at me with a red face and angry tears. She is screaming (and I mean, SCREAMING), “I do it! I do it! I do it!”
“YOU DO WHAT? Stop freaking out! YOU DO WHAT?!” I shout back. “I turn off the TV!” she demands. “DJ, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you wanted to turn it off. It’s already off now, and we’re late, so LET’S GO!” I feel like I’m being fairly reasonable, but she breaks into a head banging, fist throwing, hair pulling tantrum.
I retaliate with a time-out.
Z is wailing. Her car-seat now sits in the middle of the living room floor – where I dropped it to free a hand so I could
drag lead DJ to her bedroom. The diaper bag is still dangling from my shoulder and I am fumbling to swing it out of the way so I can set DJ’s timer for 3 minutes (her standard time-out duration).
Now we’re really late, and I’m really mad. And DJ is really mad. And Z is really mad.
The three minutes tick by excruciatingly slowly. I enter the dungeon when the timer dings, and ask a very unreasonable toddler if she knows why she got a timeout. She responds with something about me being mean. I take a deep breath and excuse myself to finally remove Z from her car-seat. On my way back into DJ’s room, with a very distraught (and now hungry) newborn, I decide to change my approach.
Breathe in. Breathe out. “DJ, do you need a hug?” “Yeah, I need a cuddle.” So, I lay down next to DJ in her bed and I plug Z onto my breast while DJ and I reconnect. The next 15 minutes proceed with a conversation about how DJ wanted to turn off the TV, but that freaking out was not an acceptable response, followed by confirmation of my love for her and how we’ll do things differently next time. And, before I know it – she is putting clips in my hair and calling me Ariel. Z finishes eating – and now, it’s lunch time and we’ve run out of time to go wherever it was that we were going.
Repeat all of the above, except add my husband and take a few things out of my hands and off my shoulders. Everything is the same, even up to the “I do it! I do it! I do it!” part. DJ is screaming and my husband whips his body around to see an unraveling toddler.
He immediately drops to his hands and knees and charges toward DJ making doggy sounds, pretending he’s going to lick her. She quickly goes from crying to laughing hysterically. He picks her up, tickles her belly and carries her out the front door upside down.
The two giggle all the way to the car, and the game continues till we arrive at our destination.
A total non-event.
Once again, my husband, The Master of Diversion, is able to distract DJ and redirect her attention. He’s a total genius at this, and, get this – it comes so naturally to him. Every single time he pulls this off successfully, I think “Darnit! There he goes again. Handling things better than I can.”
Why can’t I seem to remember this tactic? I’d like to blame it on the fact that I’m too tired to be creative, too exhausted to think spontaneously – but, the truth is, my husband and I have different personalities. He’s a total joker (which can be utterly frustrating at times), and he’s someone who wants to deal with conflict in the moment. I, on the other hand, am the more serious and contemplative one. I’m also the one who typically flees from conflict. He doesn’t need to think about it – it’s just who he is to shout “I see kitties!” just as DJ starts kicking the back side of the passenger seat in an attempt to express her disdain about who-knows-what. Within seconds, her tantrum subsides as she’s distracted and lured into thinking about something else. Works like a gem every time.
I guess that what makes me and the hubs such a great pair. And, what reminds me that I have so much to learn about this thing called Motherhood. There are so many things about being a mom that come so naturally to me, and still others that are such foreign concepts – but totally necessary for reaching my kid in the way that speaks to her. It really does take a village, or at least a really funny daddy.