Lessons on motherhood, everyday!

The sound that was generated from falling off the damn ride was so loud … it’s still ringing in my ears. Yes I took the training wheels off and I’m not so sure that was a good idea. A little premature. You can’t blame me, I was beginning to feel good about positive change, a life settling down, a child showing signs of joy, beginning to share and almost enjoy her new life it seemed. But we fell off the damn ride, oh yeah!! And it wasn’t OK. It opened a whole other side of the child. A whole other side of me for that matter. It’s as though she’d just built her trust and gotten comfortable and was pushed off her ride just when she wasn’t looking. I think I can safely say I am sure .. very very sure .. that she’s lost trust, she’s lost faith and has developed fears that not just scare her but annoy her. All of that in just one week. No I’m not developing a plot line for any drama or book. I’m just wondering why I bother updating this blog about myself these days. Maybe I should just keep this about India, the US and the differences. Keep it simple, silly and move right along, maybe something like this or this. This roller coaster ride is beginning to annoy me. Even more so because I’ve actually recorded it right here. While that was one of the original intentions (among a few others for this blog) I’m beginning to wonder if I can make it down to a year or more when I can look back at all this and if I can ever just laugh or be proud of myself or feel anything positive about having gone through all this and come out the other end doing OK.

So it all started with the mention of the words NEW SCHOOL the day I wrote the post about the training wheels coming off. It was intentional. My talk with her. I thought I’d given her more than 2 months away from all that school trauma she’d been through and wanted her to look at this differently. Little A can sometimes move on very successfully from difficult memories. Apparently this was not one of those times. But she didn’t react negatively. She said she was all set to do this “LAAAATER (saying it with that little drawwwll) not now, just like my older sisters”. I was more than happy with that response. Day 2 after this conversation, she had a random ‘sharing’ fight with her friend when I intervened. The ‘MINE’ ‘MINE’ pulling got a little aggressive and I jumped in to calm her down. She started screaming. Like out of control. I calmly lifted her up and took her to her room to help her calm down. She was shaking in anger and refused to calm down. I had to shake her a wee bit harder than I’d liked. Now in all fairness it wasn’t to punish her but to bring her to her senses. She seemed like she’d lost it. It actually worked. She stopped screaming and calmed down, we talked and she walked out the door fine. Of course, two mins later she was at that stupid f* ball again, grabbing it from her friend. That was that .. I showed her friend back to her house next door and refused to let little A play with her. This made her mad. Even more mad. I didn’t know this child was capable of more anger. She was screaming and shouting uncontrollably. She threw the ball at the nanny and hit her hand. That was that. I sent the nanny away too. This made her even more furious. I don’t know what else to say other than I was PMS-ing. And honestly, I had no idea she was capable of more anger. I’d had a long tiring week and many other such excuses. I’m allowed the occasional madness aren’t I?!?! I can’t imagine how else stay at home moms handle this 24/7 without a few slips .. here and there! She eventually calmed down 30 mins later. And then at nap time .. I promptly handed her over to daddy A and begged for 10 mins at the gym .. a quick run to calm my head, I pleaded with him. Well that wasn’t a good idea either .. she interpreted this as me leaving too, just like her friend and her nanny. THAT WAS THAT!!! When I arrived 20 mins later from the gym, daddy A looked like he’d been run over by a truck. Her eyes were blood red, her face was deep pink. (Yes I could tell the difference in color!!) I knew she’d been screaming and crying. She started again the minute she saw me. No amount of isolating her, talking to her, distracting her worked. She screamed for 3 hours straight and fell asleep on my lap at 5 pm! I don’t throw around the word scream lightly. Trust me. Scream = scream bloody murder. 3 hours. We were having friends over for dinner and had baked up a storm in the kitchen that morning. Daddy A and I had cooked together just like the olden days. He made his wonderful casserole which was better than any other he’d made before, and I, a lovely summer salad wrap with that awesome goat cheese I’d discovered at the store down the road. All that seemed like a few weeks in the past as I was sitting with her in that room, almost deaf at this point! I had no idea how I was going to get through this day. But we did. There were a few more fights with the new friend, a little girl that had come with her parents that night but everyone understood and we let little A get her way. She’d woken up from her sleep in a good mood and everything was a little better after that. Clearly her delayed nap further threw her in what seemed like an endless screaming cycle till she actually fell back exhausted.

This entire week has been filled with repeat incidents. Suddenly she won’t share anymore. Suddenly she despises our nanny. Suddenly daddy A cannot be a part of any negative incidents. He cannot participate in calming her or providing any support. Suddenly she’s reminded that she had the hives and it was because of the ants in the garden. Suddenly she won’t step on grass again because of what those ants did to her. Suddenly she’s reminded by the mosquito spray the watchman uses in the park everyday when the children play .. and won’t step into the apartment’s park anymore. And then she finally says it .. at last … suddenly she looks at me and says “Please don’t take me to school. Please. I will be good.” I nearly died hearing those words. I don’t know what has caused this sudden madness. Kind of chicken and egg really. Did our horrible Sunday send her over the edge?! Or did the growing fears and that school talk in particular result in the horrible Sunday which started this all?!?! I’m not sure. All I know is that my little girl screams uncontrollably, then hears herself scream and then screams more because she feels awful about what she just did and even more awful that the people around her watched her scream. The patterns are clear – she screams when asked to share or when a kid wants what she has or when she wants what the other kid has, she screams when she has to leave a friend or a cousin or someone who she visits or someone who visits her, and lastly, she screams at our nanny. 3 things that have repeated day after day, night after night for 6 days straight.

I’ve played this out every which way and the end doesn’t seem to have even a remote chance of being good. What if she does this at school? Teachers interfere, she screams even more in embarrassment, they get frustrated, we get called.

E N D L E S S C Y C L E S!!! How else can something like this end?!? How is she going to make it in school starting a week from now?! I ask myself over and over again. I’ve talked to several friends and looked up online and everyone suggests just leaving her to settle in and just be! This too shall pass they say. It’s normal some others say. Some others ask me to get help. I’m just prodding along thinking, strategizing, taking deep deep breaths.

I’ve gone back over these incidents, their triggers, the people and the environment over and over and over again. Daddy A and I clearly did quite a few things wrong. We were mortified by all the random screaming. We left her in the room screaming many times instead of staying in there with her. She felt abandoned. We sent her friends away and punished her by isolating her, she now thinks people just walk away. She’s utterly completely disappointed with Pretty P, the nanny. It’s soooooo clear. She’s lost every bit of trust in her because she walked out on her that Sunday afternoon. She won’t hear of it when I try to get them to play or do something fun. She’s lost trust in Daddy A – funnily enough he was the last man standing that horrible Sunday but he goes to office .. so that rules him out too. She’s lost trust in her friends and cousins, she’s sure they’re going to take away everything and not give her anything. She’s lost trust in all of us that we can safely take her to the park or the garden or anywhere else without her being bitten or developing rashes or other health problems. She lost trust when we pinned her down and force fed those meds when she was sick the previous week. I guess there wasn’t one thing that triggered this all off. It was a whole host of incidents. Well what can we do?!?

I remember now, how she was the first few weeks we’d moved to this new house in Bangalore. Clinging on to grandma, refusing to even look at Daddy A and I. I remember thinking she needed to build back trust in the two of us. And we did get her there. I mean she’s not miss mommy clingy suddenly because she’s scared of grandma or everything around her. She really misses me when I go away for a little bit, she really wants me to play with her … she really wants my company. Trust me that took 3 months to build up after how distraught she was that we’d randomly brought her to a new world. More than 3 months later, and that too after taking the training wheels off .. this! We’re back to square 1. So I’m calling grandma again. Shamelessly. My ego is hurt I must admit. I was feeling a tad bit happy about being self sufficient again. And maybe that’s also what’s bothering me. Maybe I’m trying too hard to do this all by myself. What choice do I have though I ask everyone who tells me otherwise?! Begging my mom to show up at every difficulty hardly makes any sense. That’s not how I raised the girl, that until a few months ago, was an angel. But then I’m promptly reminded by family and friends that the village, the support and the training wheels were just the reason I moved to India. Not because I needed them but because I wanted them. Having raised little A in a fully self sufficient, completely self contained life in the US, though completely satisfying and content, for some reason left me wanting the full jing bang social and support system that I’d grown up with. But I should have moved back to Chennai if all that was priority over the startup. The startup took Bangalore. We just went along. Grandma visits once a month for a week or so. And I guess this month will be no different. I’m hoping she works her magic again. I hope I’m patient with all the comments and ideas that will be thrown at me, some of which I’ll disagree with loudly. I’ll be making a lot of sacrifices to the routine, the discipline and other things I brought about these past few weeks … but anything to help fix this trust issue. Besides the house is so much more alive with her mad mad conversations and giggling sessions with little A. And my mom really is amazing. Wonder woman. A natural. I can tell I’m not. Far from it really. And there are just a few things that keep me from running away screaming ‘Oh my god I suck at this motherhood thing’. And I live for those moments, really!

But there are those times. Like the incident tonight at 9 pm while we were desperately trying to whisk her away from her cousins so we could head back home in time for bed. The all too familiar screams started again. This time I sent everyone back into the house .. sat with her outside and explained to her that her cousins had slept. But she didn’t have to leave right away. She could leave when she wanted, whenever she was ready. She said OK. It was the first word I’d gotten out of her since she started screaming. She walked close to me and lay over me, her head hanging off my shoulder, pondering. 5 mins later, she said in the feeblest voice … ‘I’m ready mommy”. She was ready. I carried her and walked to the car and then she asked me to sing for her. I sang until we got home. I wasn’t lucky enough to put her to sleep but as we got close to home, she looked up at me and apologized. She said she didn’t like to scream. She knew it made me unhappy and it made her unhappy too. She’s said this before. I’m not hoping this means it’s all OK now. But maybe things will be better again soon. Maybe we just have a small dip in the trust quotient here. Maybe everything about this kid right now is about trust. Maybe this will all have to run it’s course but maybe I can get a few hours of sleep tonight without feeling as horrible as I did the last 5 nights.

15 responses to “Lessons on motherhood, everyday!

  1. About the sharing bit, here’s what worked for us – it should be ok for little A to not want to share a favorite, usually new, toy. Talk to her about what she is willing to share with others & put the favorites away before she has a friend over. It will give her some control back.

    • Yep just started doing that Sarala. The new thing is to do this in other kids’ homes .. that’s this week’s issue!! I am beginning to wonder how much of this is a power struggle for her. Makes me shudder .. given she’s barely 3.

  2. *HUGS*
    You know, you should really not stop writing this stuff here. It is a vent for you but also a reflecting mirror for many others who might be going through similar things. I believe it will help everybody, these posts of yours and the comments on them.
    I am not attempting to suggest anything. Neither am I qualified, nor experienced. And I know you’re not looking for advices and suggestions. You just wanted to get it all out.
    I guess I can make observations and comment based on what I’ve read.
    I’m really glad you analyze her and the situations so much and have so many afterthoughts, as a result of which you learn. I must appreciate that as not many parents think much about their screaming, difficult children. It also means that you understand her really well.
    Now the school issue has grown so big in her mind that just the mere mention of it, sends her into hysteria. Why not try and get a confidante (teacher/ayah) from the school to visit her casually and befriend her so she has someone familiar when she’s there? Did you have a talk with her when she’s in happy mood? About why school, how important it is and that you and daddy A all have been through it. Tell her happy, naughty tales about your own school days. Need is to psychologically make her comfortable with the idea of school.
    Also, she has to realize that screaming will not help anybody. I’m sure she knows it, but she just can’t control it when it happens. Is the behavior seriously troubling or is she just a screaming, throwing-arms-n-legs kid? If you feel like it, you can get help and counseling about how to handle such behavior.
    Bringing in grandma for help is definitely a good idea. But what happens when she goes back? What if the child thinks that grandma abandoned her too? Can she understand if you talk to her and make her feel and realize that you all really love her and are there for her no matter what, that you have her best interests in mind and you want to really help her? You are, but it is important that she realizes it. Only then fear will leave her.
    I didn’t intend to pry but these are few things going through my mind when I read this. And just like everything else, this too shall pass. Have faith. πŸ™‚

    • πŸ™‚ Hugs are exactly what I need now Wanderer! Very thoughtful of you. Seeking comfort seems to be the only thing I can do now. I’ve thought and done everything I think I can! I’m just going to ignore and wait.

      I love the idea of working with the school teacher or someone from there to get her more comfortable. The first PTA before the school opening is approaching, maybe that’s just what I’ll do. I love the idea of stories of school pranks and stuff as well. Good ones!! As for grandma, I really think she’s like little A’s magician. At least till now. So bringing her in will hopefully help not hurt. At this point, just about anything could hurt or help, that’s how random all of this seems. We’ve gone from clear patterns earlier this week to random triggers, defiance, screams by the end .. doesn’t seem to be a pattern to this madness that goes on during the day. I’m just trying not to do anything stupid and keep it all normal, holding it together and cherishing the rest of the happy moments in the day. School starts in a week so we’ll see if that’s what this was all about or if something else is going on.

      Thanks again for caring to suggest some well thought out ideas here.

      • This did sound serious enough to warrant a thought out comment. Else I don’t comment much. Things will definitely settle down. I’m sure you and daddy A will figure things out. We are with you πŸ™‚

      • Well you know what?!?! Having just stepped out of the bedroom a while back I have to tell you .. she went nuts with the mommy daddy school stories. She made me repeat them 40 times and fell asleep to that story today. This idea was just brilliant! Have no clue why I didn’t think of it before. I always told her stories of her cousins but never of the two of us. She picked her backpack and insisted on leaving to school at 9 pm!! Ahem! Oh well. A thousand brownie points to you Wanderer for making that happen tonight. And many thanks!

  3. Now this made me smile. Made my day actually.
    She’s a little child after all, who gets excited at old stories of mom and dad. We all have enjoyed such stories during childhood, some true and some made-up. I’m glad it worked. I hope the excitement stays well after she starts school. You’ve got one more trick in your book now. Good night.

  4. I know the feeling, yesterday was the first day we entertained few our friends at our place since my pre-pregnancy days. My almost 2 yr old was super happy with 2 others to kids play with and at same time was terrible host to them. Pushing, pulling, snatching, non sharing all with tons of screaming. She also has this weird way of being extremely hurt and becoming very recluse ( its heart breaking to watch her few minutes like that, clearly very angry with me but does not want to show emotions in front of everyone). After the guests left, it was all night bloody murder screams…and nothing has changed in our lives,no big move like yours nor new school( day care in my kiddo’s case). Also with new found vocabulary she even says No going to day care and when i refuse it another fit of tantrums..i get the helpless feeling.
    I wish i had some words of solace for you but only can repeat famous words” They out grow this so quickly” for once i want this is fast forward pace. Hang in there and do let us if anything helps, best wishes to the A family.

    • Hey there!! Would it be inappropriate to say phew I’m not alone and that makes me feel better!!? Thanks for taking the time to tell me this. It’s funny though I must say this: ever since I wrote this post I have been suddenly noticing several kids around me doing the same. I’m just surprised none of that registered until now. I guess this is the only thing on my mind now so I’m noticing it everywhere or imagining it – whichever one of the two is true!! Oh well. Comforting to know this is not necessarily me doing something wrong or the move!

      • Hello Crunch, there are a lot of us in the same boat, you are really not alone. (Yay ! that mean, neither am I!!!). We were (and at times still are) completely taken aback by the depth of emotion our children display.I’m still learning how to deal with it, without losing the plot myself ! Only after my husband pointed out that the rest of the kids had their share of tantrums too, I started to relax a bit.
        And I agree with Sarala, telling children its OK not to share everything is a good idea , it works with my children -they feel better. But err… I still havent found a way to tell the other child “This is X’s favourite toy, would you like another one?” without sounding mean/like a cow! So I tell the kids to take turns. But I do have strict rules regarding pulling and pushing and I apply same rules to all kids in the house, mine or otherwise.

      • πŸ™‚ It’s soooooo nice to know that we’re not alone. And it’s kind of crazy because it’s not like there isn’t an entire world of literature online about this. While all of that helps with devising new strategies, it doesn’t necessarily make you feel any less pain. There’s nothing like personal notes, friends, both online and offline to help comfort you. I’m so glad you stopped by to let me know. Since I’ve written this post, I’ve been having people ping me, call me to comfort me with similar stories. Many are actually surprised at how much this bothers my husband and I. I guess you can say we haven’t spent enough time around children and seen this kind of craziness around. And with little A being such a hyper ball of positive energy these past almost 3 years .. this all seems weird. Nothing seemed weird and odd with having a baby for the first time, but this .. this thing totally caught us off guard.

  5. Btw, the screaming and other new anger filled behavior was not one day business.. Been happening for past 2 months…

    • Well I hope things settle down for you soon too!! Maybe we’ll happily be discussing other things a year or so from now πŸ™‚ here’s to that!!

  6. It used to bother us too, especially because we thought our children were content -not lacking for attention, love or stimulation. Now it doesnt worry me that much as I know that there will be a time when the child grows up and will be able to explain what is bothering her.Once my older one could express her feelings properly, we are able to understand what brought it on.Also we can reason with her so she, at least, calms down.The younger one is a little younger than baby A ,speaks a lot of words, but not proper sentences -so finds it hard to express the cause for distress/anger. But we’ll get there, someday too (hopefully!).

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