I ran into a friend in the supermarket yesterday and we got to talking about our darling daughters (both 7). It was a relief to hear that having a seven-going-on-seventeen year old storming round the house, eye-rolling, huffing and stropping is not unusual.
But oh my it’s tiring.
After our less-than-perfect dance lesson, when my daughter was rather intimidated by the older girls, I looked for a different class locally. Found one, arranged a taster lesson and told my daughter, expecting her to be as excited as she was before.
Me: “I found another dance class that runs at your school. Would you like to go for a class next week, just to see if you like it?”
Daughter: “No! No, I’m not going.”
Me: “It’s just a taster.”
Me: (after ten minutes of biting my tongue) “I’m sorry, but your attitude stinks. I arrange these classes for you because that’s what you want, and then you’re so rude to me. (Plus a bit more ranting I’m not prepared to confess to.)
Daughter: [Death stare]
This is just a snippet. She had a trip to Rockingham Castle yesterday. She wrote a shopping list of what she wanted for her lunch. I got all but one thing, which made me the wicked witch of the west. And when she woke me at 5.30am and asked if she could make her packed lunch – and I said no – I moved up to Pol Pot.
I know this is all normal. I know that. But I hate arguments. I don’t want to break her. I like that she has attitude, that she fights back. I like that she has stopped trying to please everyone all the time. But good lord it’s exhausting. And I do find it hard to rise above and remember I’m the parent. I can carry the anger around all day like my own private rain cloud.
Thankfully I read a great post last week that has helped. Unfortunately, despite searching for half an hour when I am meant to be making the kids’ breakfast, I can’t find it. But the gist was a mother who had fought with her son. When he’d stomped out the house she sat in his pit of a bedroom fuming. And then she started to clean his room. Because she realised that it wasn’t all about her: that her son had things that worried him – friends, school, studies. She could be angry or she could be a parent and treat him with love (I’m paraphrasing!) She could give him what he needed rather than what he deserved.
So yesterday I rearranged my daughter’s room so she could have a den under her bed. I painted an old wooden box purple so she could put her toys in it. The whole time I knew she’d probably see it and be angry, unhappy or just quietly disapproving.
Actually she loved it. And later, when I saw her sleeping peacefully in her den, I knew I’d done the right thing, however hard it was.
After bedtime, hubby said that he and our daughter had had a good chat. She’s frustrated at school with friendships and with managing envy of one particular friend that she doesn’t want to be jealous of. Big stuff when you’re forty never mind when you’re seven. In fact, being nearly-forty for me means no longer caring about all that ‘what the world things of me’ stuff. I have to try and remember that it was world-ending before.
It doesn’t make the eye-rolling and the sass and the nastiness any easier to handle, but it does give it context. I’m the safe place. She can be nasty to me and I will still love her, I will be her friend. I won’t always put up with her crap, but I will always always forgive, and hug, and try to rise above.
And then open the wine.