Monday, December 1, 2008

Blog Support

Tonight, after Jupiter went to bed, I checked out some of the other blogs. Blogs from parents with kids who struggle to accept being loved. Jupiter has made progress from where we were a year ago, in a big way, and I'm proud of her for that. But can I do better? Oh yeah. There's a lot of room for growth. So tonight I was browsing the blogs looking to see what the other Moms do. I got to the second blog, and was just reading an entry about reacting when your child says "I hate you!!" Then I hear a panicky "MOM!!!"

Jupiter is not in her room. Since she's been (supposedly) going to sleep, her music is turned up to about 90 decibels, and it takes a minute or so before I find her in the bathroom, frustrated with trying to wipe herself and furious with me for not knowing she needed help before she even called me. So it takes a few minutes to settle her down. While I'm hugging her and telling her she's ok, she says she hates me. She hates me all the time. She doesn't like me. So I let her say it. I put on my anti-mean armor and just let her get her mad feelings out. I tell her it's okay to use her words to get the mads out. Eventually she gets satisfactorily wiped, washed, and dressed again. And I take her to the rocking chair. She says we only do the bad chair when she's been bad. I tell her that we don't rock in the chair because she's bad. We rock in the chair because I think she needs a little extra love.

Jupiter does NOT want a little extra love. She wants to be alone and listen to her music. But I hold her in the chair anyway, so she hates me some more. She wants a younger Mom, a cooler Mom, a stylish Mom, not an old weirdo Mom. I let her say it and just hold her some more. I feel a little better when she tells me that she hates Big Dog (her really big golden retreiver stuffed animal) too. Then she starts to talk to me about school. That Mary and J are always mean to her and she doesn't like to play with them. That Mary messed up her hair one day (she puts her hands in my hair and messes it all up to demonstrate.) and how she didn't like that.

When she seems done with the mads, I talk about last night. Remember last night, when the first snowfall started and even though it was dark outside and time for bed, we put on our coats and boots and hats and mittens and went outside and ran around the driveway and threw snowballs at each other. And then we made snow angels right next to each other in the driveway. And I tell her that I will always remember that night with her, because it was so much fun doing that together. Well, I won't remember it, she responds. Belligerently. I tell her that then I would remind her.

She asks for a drink of water, so we get one. I turn the hall light off, but she wants it on. She doesn't want to go to sleep in my arms, so I offer the compromise of laying in her bed with her. She accepts this. After she's under the blankets, she removes her blanket sleeper and sleeps in her "nighttime underwear." (she's too big for pull ups). The blanket sleeper makes me too hot with the blanket. And it's too tight. I start to rub her back and she asks me to scratch the itchy spots. She gives me directions and I follow them until she is satisfied. Finally she says "Good night, Mom." Good night, I answer. Have good dreams, I say. Have good dreams, she answers. I love you, I say. I love you, she answers.

My favorite BCLC advice was this "What can I do, at this moment, to strengthen my relationship with my child?" Sometimes the answer is more obvious than at other times. Oftentimes, it means parenting in a way that seems strange to those who don't live with kids like Jupiter. Do the parents at church understand why I don't pry Jupiter's hands off mine in the Sunday School room and disappear out the door? Nope. Sometimes the Mom she needs me to be looks strange to others. And sometimes, I don't do it right, and in retrospect a better way will seem more than obvious. And the next day, we do our bonding dance some more.

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