Hindsight Parenting: Whining Monster vs. Angry Monster
“Let it Go” Let Me Let it Go!
I had a day last week. BOY OH BOY did I have a day! You know…one of THOSE days, where nothing goes right, nothing makes your child happy, and he or she whines and whines AND whines…and WHINES! When I was in my twenties and had THESE kinds of days with the boys, I would explode, implode…lose—my—mind! Yelling, stomping, snarling, slamming. I did it all.
But now I have Hindsight and I know that what I do is what my children, in the end, will do as well. I also know that a mother who loses it in an unpredictable way will not be a human being that her children will trust and therefore they won’t come to her with problems that might in fact make her blow a gasket. These are truths that I know.
The problem on THAT day last week is that as hard as I tried to remind myself of the things that I knew about anger and raising children, my body, my mind, my SOUL just wouldn’t respond appropriately. So as the day progressed and the whining got louder, more frequent and MUCHO irritating, the more I felt unable to keep the angry monster from jumping out of my throat. Even the heaviest iron boots wouldn’t keep him down.
Believe me, I tried. I did everything that Dr. Speed Dial and my constant companion, Hindsight, have taught me about being a mother who wasn’t a raving maniac. I reasoned. I hugged. I ignored. I distracted. I played and played and played and played. And still…and still…she whined. She whiiiiiiiiiiiiined…
I am not sure about you, but when I begin to lose my cool I feel it ALL over. It starts as a cherry-sized pit in my stomach but as the day wears on and the irritators continue, the pit grows branches with brambles that stretch to my limbs where even my skin feels like it’s on fire. The joints in my fingers and toes ache and my shoulders throb from being up in my ears all day. On THIS particular day, I had reached that physical limit and carried it around with me for hours before I…well… before I let it go!
It happened like this, after a morning of playing “princess” 20 times; each in which I was yelled at for “doing it wrong,” after a day of feeding the dog both her breakfast and lunch but still insisting that she was “huuuuuuuuuuuuungrrrreeeeeeee,” (Do you want strawberries? No! Do you want crackers? NO! Do you want cheese doodles? NO! Do you want cheese? NO!) After stubbing her toe on the dining room table and crying to the point of throwing up, after taking all of her RECENTLY FOLDED laundry off of her shelves and putting it into a pile in the middle of her bedroom floor, after the massive foot kicking, screaming tantrum she had when told she had to put the clothes back, I thought it would be a good time to head to the mall’s bouncy palace to get a little energy out so that she’d take a GOOD LONG NAP.
So that’s what we did, and for a while she bounced and slid and flopped and ran and climbed to her hearts content. Then, THEN she wanted to ride the quarter rides…you know the ones! They come in the form of a corvette or helicopter or a manic ice cream truck. You put 75 cents in and they rock back and forth for a while. Well, I hadn’t come prepared for those. I had a measly two dollars left on my person and I wasn’t spending it on those. After all, the admission to those bouncy palaces is hard on the wallet enough already without adding the high cost of poor excuses for amusement rides.
So I said, “No.” Heaven forbid, I said it, and down on the floor she went. Body splayed like a four-pointed star, screaming, “I AM going on those rides and I am going NOW!” People stared. Kids snickered. One elderly woman whispered “Awwwwww.” But me? I started to bubble and percolate. That angry monster was BEGGING me to open my mouth and let him jump out, but I gritted my teeth to keep him down. I picked my child up with the strength of a grizzly bear and marched out of the bouncy palace. Once out into the mall corridor, she began screaming, “I don’t LIKE you! I wish DADDY was here! He’d let me ride those rides! I DON’T like you! I DON’T like you! You’re MEEEEEEEEAN!!”
At this point the angry monster had grown and inhabited my hands and mind and stomach and lungs. But Hindsight was nudging me hard reminding me that moms who do NOT want to be raving lunatics do NOT under any circumstance lose it, blow a gasket, or stamp, scream, snarl or slam!
So I said in my quietest voice, “You can continue to scream all you want. But we are leaving, Ila.” At this point I took my child’s hand to lead her to the door and…wait for it…she BIT me. Yup. She. Bit. Me. On my middle finger (I know….quite appropro.). But it was the limit reacher.
I scooped her up and moved like a bull seeing red to my car in the parking lot. My body was pumping with the breath of the angry monster but Hindsight kept trying to remind me to keep calm. It was a battle of wills and Hindsight COULD have won it. Could have…if it weren’t for what happened when I turned the car on.
As the engine turned over, Ila’s princess CD began to play “Let it Go” the very catchy, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-mind feature song from the movie, Frozen. I am a music girl, and I instantly realized that perhaps singing might calm me down…but unfortunately it didn’t happen that way. As I began to sing, that dear daughter of mine screamed, “YOU CAN’T SING THIS! I’M GOING TO SING IT! SO JUST. BE. QUIET!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Be quiet??? Be quiet????? Oh OH! I had been being quiet and let me tell you something….it wasn’t WORKING! And that’s when it happened. I lost my cool. The angry monster leapt happily from the inner bowels of his residence and out. my. mouth.
“I’ll SING if I want to!!” It snarled. Ila began to scream in protest, but that didn’t phase the angry monster. He kept snarling, “In fact, I am going to sing SO LOUD that I won’t be able to hear you scream!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The angry monster punched the ‘repeat’ button on the console and the song began again. “LET IT GOOOOOOO! LET IT GOOOOOO! Can’t hold it back anymore!!!!” The monster sang…ummm…ok….the monster shouted at the top of his lungs. “Let it GOOOOOOOO! Turn away and SLAM the DOOR!!!”
On and on he shrieked the words as the song turned up to full volume rock and vibrated the body of the car. The angry monster sang and sang and sang and sang and true to his word it was as loud as he could get. AS LOUD AS HE COULD SHOUT!
As the car pulled into the driveway, I turned off the car and the sudden silence surrounded us. I searched, but it seemed that the angry monster had been exhausted by his Broadway type rant. Hindsight, taking out his earplugs, nudged me to do SOMETHING to reassure my daughter that the crazy, singing demon had indeed gone. I turned to look over my shoulder and there she was…staring right at me..with a look of amusement on her face.
“Do you feel better mommy?”
I smiled. She smiled.
When I took her out of the car seat, she grabbed me around my neck and squeezed.
“Mommy, you really ‘let it go.’
“Yes, Ila! I REALLY ‘let it go!’
And leaving both the whining monster and angry monster sleeping in the car, we walked into the house together…a four-year-old and her imperfect mom humming together the tune of a song that saved them both.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.