“If you are not going to eat your food, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO EAT CANDY!”
That was me at 6:15 a.m. as our littlest was emptying her lunch box from the day before, having already picked out the allotted two pieces of Halloween candy for the current day’s lunch and DUMPING almost all of the previous day’s meal into the trash.
You might think this post is going to be about my love-hate relationship with candy, but you would not be correct (although we probably should address that at some point.) This post is about the crying that followed the scene I just set for you, and my total failure to deal with it.
You might think that it was the same child I just mentioned, shamed and saddened about wasting food, that burst into tears. But you would be wrong again. It was our older daughter, the one who EATS her food, but who is right on the precipice of the pre-teen hormone cliff, who began shrieking and wailing about friends and candy and how everyone else has nice parents.
My initial reaction was something along the lines of “Really?!? I wasn’t even talking to you!” Great parenting, I know. Surprisingly, this did not end the crying. It continued and degraded to gurgly wheezing that was half due to the crying and half for dramatic effect.
Then breakfast became even more of a Norman Rockwell scene, when my husband asked “You’re not actually crying about about CANDY are you?!?” and our oldest flug her arms in the air and ran to her room to cry openly about her lot in life.
Meanwhile the little food-dumper, who had started the whole thing in the first place, sat quietly eating her English muffin and wondering what was wrong with the rest of us.
What IS wrong with the rest of us? Why am I terrible at diffusing situations? Why do the most insignificant things set off a 9 year-old-girl? Why can I never see these things coming?
I know that you are not supposed to tell children to quit crying. I get that I should be validating feelings and asking them to use their words. I even get the whatever we all think sparked the emotions is probably not the real problem in the first place, and that I should be gently rooting out the real cause.
But, I JUST CAN’T.
The crying! The drama! The shoe throwing!
I was so good at babies. Give me a crying baby and I will figure out the problem in 30 seconds flat. There were not many baby problems that I couldn’t solve with a boob, a nap or a car ride. But give me a crying tween-ager and I usually come up short.
Last week some drama surfaced when my daughter said something to a neighborhood friend who said something in response. Feelings were hurt. I attempted to pull my daughter into what should have been a friendly, 30 second conversation to resolve the entire issue. My daughter burst into tears and ran away. About 7 times.
When I finally got so frustrated that I said “You are talking with us. You have no other option,” my sweet angel started flinging her shoes across the room. This child has quite literally never thrown anything in her life. I was dumbfounded.
The internet was the opposite of helpful: “It is important to help tweens identify their feelings.” Really?!? “I can see that you are angry because you are flinging shoes across the room.” We ALL know she’s angry. “Point out to your daughter that the things she views as tragic are often not noticeable to others.” Again, not helpful. Know what happens when I point out that she is in fact the cause of all the drama? More drama.
I have no answers.
This is not one of those posts wherein through writing I suddenly come to a deep realization and then share it with you. My realization is that I am completely in over my head. I have no survival skills for the coming tween-drama-pocalypse.
I remember being a tween. I remember sobbing dramatically, locked in the bathroom, for hours. I think my mom’s strategy was just to leave me there until I calmed down.
Sounds like a good strategy to me. If you need me, I’ll be hiding in the bathroom.