Six-Year-Old Cursing

Have I mentioned to you how much we love camp?

RR has been learning lots at camp. She is learning things mostly from the 8 and under set which gives a certain sort of spin that makes you wonder what’s going on in their little minds. Certainly they are importing parents, brothers, aunts, neighbors, sisters, friends thoughts and beliefs but in a distilled way that makes you wonder what was actually said on the other end of the line.

The first time she came home chattering about her newfound religious beliefs, Debra and I gave each other the side eye. What on earth was going on at definitely-not-church-affiliated camp? It was disconcerting to be participating in a sort of theological game of telephone where some child’s parents said one thing, that child told my child, and I was hearing some rendition that had been hybridized by two people who can’t tie their own shoes. We let it lie. On the whole, it’s harmless. In fact, it’s helpful. Better to start out knowing that everyone has beliefs and opinions and not everyone has to have the same ones.

On the other hand, the swearing I could do without. Surely RR’s school has prevented a fair amount of conversationally-transmitted blight and I have no doubt that the new school has just as low of a tolerance. But camp found us at dinner the other night and between bites she asked, “Mama, what’s the f-word?”

I don’t know how Debra’s mother handled this priceless piece of childhood, but mine was more than happy to tell me what words meant just so long as I a) didn’t use them and b) didn’t ask about the wrong ones. I’m in the words have power camp and if you really know what a curse word means, a female dog for instance, the power to hurt gets sidelined a bit. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt at all, but we have A LOT of words, and there’s no need to rely on a few ridiculous ones when you really want to let loose.

So I told her and she nodded. And I mentioned that it was fine to say it in her bedroom or to herself but that she couldn’t use it in public. Fortunately, she didn’t ask me what sex was because that’s a conversation not covered in What Makes A Baby and that’s as far as we’ve gotten. Then we moved on to the a-word and the b-word. We all had a good chuckle at the s-word since we covered that one extensively the time the bed broke. After that though, she asked what the c-word was and there’s something deeply wrong about saying the word cunt at the dinner table. That was about the time that Debra mentioned that under no circumstances was RR to be the one enlightening her friends. Tell them to go ask their mothers, she said.

The rest of the dinner was spent with RR muttering fuckfuckfuck quietly in between bits of broccoli.

We were not nearly as composed when she was talking to a toy in the backseat and she said shut up. We were on her so fast I think I saw her head spin. Not in our house, not in our car, not in a box, not with a fox. No ma’am. She said it one more time under her breath and I thought Debra would pull the car over and take her out by an ear. Thanks camp, for everything.

 

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Meltdown in 3…2…1…

For an entire week RR’s behavior has been spinning into chaos. She’s screaming at things that haven’t bothered her before (bugs), she’s screaming even when we tell her to stop (at the dog), she’s ignoring us when we ask her to do something (help, walk, shoes, stop screaming already for pete’s sake), she’s throwing an almost tantrum at bedtime when we stop reading (and physically grabbing at the book), she’s kicking and pouting and generally being an asshole.

As she says about anyone else behaving this way, she’s “mist-understood”.

Whereas on Friday I was wondering what got into her and how illegal it is to lock her out, I think the reasons are starting to surface. She went to visit her new camp yesterday, the first time she won’t be staying at her regular school for camp. On Tuesday, she is headed to her new school for a day-long visit, part of what they do with all incoming students. On Friday, her school holds an international luncheon which is a big event for the kids. They rehearse songs in many languages and have a family feast afterward. It’s the traditional indicator that school is almost over and it’s downhill from here.

Whether it’s  a symptom or is part of the cause, she had several accidents last week. On the bright side, I’ve noticed she’s actually dancing around and crossing her legs when she has to go. She’s never shown any signs like this before so I’m hoping we’re turning a corner. It’s stressful for me knowing that she’s going into a new environment with this issue and I worry that she won’t fit in or will be asked to leave. I know that’s unlikely (at least at the new school) but it’s keeping me up at night. Still, we remain neutral when an accident happens, ask her to change, and let her take responsibility for clean-up. It’s just the norm.

Last night she burst into tears at bedtime and wept about how she will miss her current teachers. My heart breaks for her (and for Debra and me too – this isn’t easy!). I think it’s a testament to our parenting that she was looking for solutions even as she cried, wondering if we might invite her teachers over for dinner.

I don’t know how to make this easier. We are giving her time to warm up to new situations before they happen since we’ve long since learned that she needs that attention to transitions. She’s visiting the new places she will be and she’s doing it with optimistic anticipation, if not outright enthusiasm. We let her take the lead and try not to push when it comes to meeting new people. Yesterday at camp, she tried things she hadn’t mastered before, like a short rock wall and a seated scooter. She also sunk down to draw with chalk at the first opportunity, relief practically oozing out of her. I don’t know what the new school will hold tomorrow since we won’t be by her side. That’s a good thing. At least until she comes home transformed into a terror.

I hadn’t even noticed how overwhelming it all must be. And now I feel bad for wanting to lock her out. A little. Let’s hope this isn’t a pattern until school starts in September and that there’s at least a little reprieve after camp gets into full swing.

RR Camp.JPG

 

 

 

 

Hold on…Just a Second

My daughter may have nothing genetically in common with me (although she could pass), but she certainly aquired several traits that support the nurture part of raising a child. Given that I’m Just That Sort Of Person, I’m probably missing the adorable bits of me that she reflects (you could argue that there aren’t any). Two things:

Getting up to pee isn’t something she is willing to do. In fact, I suspect she doesn’t even get that her bladder is paging her repeatedly. As we’ve discussed my peeing habits in depth before, I won’t exhaust you with more detail however it’s fair to say that I will avoid going as long as possible so that I can keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t even know it’s happening until my internal organs are all “GET UP TO PEE DAMMIT WE’RE CROWDED IN HERE.” I once read something, somewhere, about this being a typical kid thing. Just interrupt them, it said, remind your child that it’s time to use the bathroom. You know what? If you came into my office and suggested I take a break, I would look at you as if you were crazy with my dagger eyes of sharp pointiness before I realized you were absolutely right and shouldn’t I be gracious after all? Right. My kid has nailed the first part. Not so much the second.

Also, she torments her poor little fingers. Never a thumb or finger sucker, I can’t figure out why and when she started biting at her cuticles and ending up with red, raggedy fingertips. They look painful and she complains of bits of skin she’s nagged at. Who does this? Me. And I really, really wish I didn’t. I’m so much better than I was when I was a child. In fact, sometimes weeks go by before I’m worrying away at some piece of rough skin or nail. It’s stress, it’s boredom, it’s a relentless wish to have perfectly smooth fingers which is rendered impossible by the very habit. Yes, I know it’s disgusting, bad for us, and related to all sorts of disordered thinking. It’s come up in therapy. Don’t forget I’m six shades of crazy. Debra and I remind her not to pick at her fingers, well, chew really, and she’ll stop for a moment. We moisturize, we trim hangnails before she can get to them, we try to make her fingers lovely. We have yet to break her habit (or mine).

I hope she is picking up something else of mine, though I’m hard-pressed to tell you what that might be. She loves flowers. Does that count? Poor thing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think my body is going to go on strike if I don’t just go already.

Things I Didn’t Expect To Say

Whose pee is that?

And honestly not know.

Because there are multiple culprits.

And I’ve said it more than once today.

urine

 

 

 

 

Where’d She Go? (Five Dollar Complaint #5)

I have so many questions.

Why would you leave a heap of wet towels on someone else’s bed?

Why are there Doritos on the floor?

Why did you lose track of my daughter?

No, actually, really. How exactly did my mother not notice that RR and her out-of-town-just-turned-seven-cousin-she-has-no-memory-of-ever-meeting-before walked through the woods, crossed a busy intersection, and traversed a street with no crosswalks? We could blame it on the cousin. We can blame it on RR, who, by the way, took responsibility anyway. But mostly, we have to look hard at the grown-up in the situation.

You guys, there is just so much. Do you know ridiculous it feels to find yourself wondering if your 5-yr-old daughter is always going to let strangers lead her away without question? How ridiculous it is to just assume she’s safe with whatever cousin or uncle or aunt we toss at her, especially when we barely know them? And how ridiculous, really, that there I was, picturing my pony-tailed teenager traipsing starry-eyed after some boy or girl with a to die for dimple and losing her over the edge of some lemming cliff.

It’s times like this I wonder if we should helicopter parent more.

Terrible…Fours?

In the middle of a tantrum (and believe me, it nearly was mine), I realized that RR is having some throwback terrible twos. I guess they are anyway. RR has always been something else, but two years ago, on the cusp of three, she was like this: full of cute babyisms and charm. But. BUT. She wasn’t potty training then.

You heard me. Potty training is going to kill me. The accidents. The whining. The shouting and stamping and growling. What?! you are surely gasping, STILL?! Yes, still. This is a child who spent so much time reading and adding and outsmarting us that she is just now getting around to the practical business of using. the. bathroom.

For what it’s worth, she mostly does (use the bathroom) and by mostly I mean about 50% of the time we pick her up and she’s “a little wet, mama, just a little” which can very between damp and GALLONS. She’s old enough to be completely through with us reminding her to hit the bathroom but she’s still that kid who gets so deeply into whatever she’s doing that she forgets she and her body are in this together.

Cue the tantrums.

I’m pretty sure this is what the terrible twos are made of. All of the frustration she feels piling up on her little soul. It’s worse on days she has an accident. It’s much worse on days when she’s so wet a teacher has noticed and sent her to change. While I think that she is surrounded by patience and practicality, all the empowerment in the world doesn’t change the fact that it must be beyond awful to be nearly five and trying to master this. And so she loses her mind.

We’re back to the urologist again next week. I don’t expect he can fix tantrums though, so I’ll just keep mine to myself

Routines

Oh have we played fast and loose with RR’s world. Several nights this week she has gone to be after 7pm.

I KNOW.

Oh. You were thinking about her 7pm bedtime. I saw that side-eye.

hippo side eye

My friends, we have put RR to bed at 7 from the start and she likes it. In fact, when we keep her up, she delivers a package of noyoujustdidn’t that would fell even the mightiest of parents. But for one reason or another we haven’t had her to bed before 8 and if you come to our house you can see the very foundations of our world crumbling before your eyes. It’s like the moment before the sinkhole. It’s not good.

Before you know it we are IN the sinkhole. And we’re making it worse by scrabbling around looking for ways to distract her from her sugar/excitement/chaotic high in ways that turn her into even more of a monster. They are well-intended gestures. Here, baby, watch a little TV while we get ready for work turns into PUT YOUR SHOES ON OR I WILL. Well, I don’t know what. I’ve never gotten to the point before where every other sentence is “So help me god if you don’t…”

When I do finish the sentence I follow through. This, of course, results in epic tantrums because for some reason she hasn’t yet caught on that if I say “Please listen or I will leave the room.” I actually will leave the room. I don’t fool around, you all. Suddenly I can see why people start to drown in a pool of time-outs. That route would be ineffective for RR who puts her own self in time out, cackling happily at the break from you, me, life, everything.

We’re trying to bring the bedtime routine back, but weekends of birthday parties and late nights and dinners drawn skeptically from the depths of the refrigerator have resulted in a the return of the wolverine*. I am not happy to see you again, no sir. Please tell me this is not what four is like**.

 

 

*Given the number of times I have compared RR to a wolverine, I’m considering a domain change. It’s a good thing countingwolverines.com is available.

**Unless you are Becky who makes no secret that four is what makes her child an only child.