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Language Log

Tuesday, Jun. 13, 2017 - 1:44 p.m.

Yesterday and today E fell asleep for nap before we could all get out of house for lunch/beach. Frankly I am delighted to have the alone time. Don't look so surprised!

Yesterday this happened: At beach, U went with J to boardwalk and won a stuffed fish. And another for Q. Meanwhile Q collected shells and did a lot of rolling around in soft sand. She was looking forward to showing shells to U. But then he shows her fish. An expression of delight, a moment of reflective silence, and then she declares she doesn't want it, doesn't like it, and she got all the shells and is not going to share them with him. Makes taunting noises. Goes and intentionally finds a crappy shell to give him so he's happy for a second and then realizes she's trying to be mean. And on and on. We ended up confiscating them because she wouldn't stop taunting him and telling him he couldn't play with them. I was holding him and explaining that this was her disappointment because she wished she could have done the game too, and maybe also because it was a surprise. That it was not his fault and had nothing to do with him. Meanwhile we tried to get her to express her disappointment some other way than being mean, but she just wouldn't stop. It makes us hate her sometimes. How did she get so mean? We have never been mean to her and she hasn't been around mean kids.

Then somehow we had a nice dinner.

Then today she snuck the iPad and J confiscated it and punished her by telling her she couldn't have it back until nighttime screen time.

I don't know how else to have handled it. I tend to express gratitude for her telling the truth, and ask her to give it to me and please go by the rules. And then I check on her and repeat if necessary. I guess he is hoping for compliance. I doubt it will happen. Punishment doesn't lead to compliance, it leads to sneakiness and anger. And the anger comes out all day long in other ways. So like right after that it was time for them to go to lunch, but she's dragging her feet and looking all over for the iPad. We thought (briefly) that she was looking for her box of toys to take, but no. So she finally goes out to car where ever-helpful Gammie had already brought her toys, and freaks out because she now wants to have carried the box herself. Demands we bring it back to house for her to carry. We don't, because it isn't reasonable and while we try to make reasonable accommodations, we don't enable. But then there we were with a lot of fussing and dramatic wailing about stuff, meanwhile everyone is hungry but she won't get in the car. Finally Grandpa says, "Look, it doesn't matter. Why are you crying about this. Just get in the car."

I left at that point because that was the On Switch for Mama Bear. I find it totally unacceptable for someone to tell her something doesn't matter. Obviously it matters to her.

There's this complicated zone where you want to a) respect what they're experiencing and not delegitimize it or make them feel unheard, but 2) teach them how to manage these feelings in a healthier way and 3) teach them to prioritize and distinguish among emotional emergencies. And yes, maybe even just stuff it sometimes because later the emotion will fade and the issue just won't matter as much anymore. I have no idea how to teach all that.

Eventually they left.

She is hard and sometimes we don't like her very much. Sometimes I hate what she is doing to her younger siblings.
She is overweight now and sometimes all this deferred anger about the other stuff turns into hatred of her shape, hatred for her eating habits. She will be standing there in public, crying uninhibited like a toddler, mouth smeared in chocolate, demanding another treat because the gigantic brownie she just had wasn't enough and all the bad thoughts are in my head. Every bad thing anyone has ever said about fat people. Gluttonous, lazy, mean, invidious, spoiled. That's all I see. But I don't say anything nor will I EVER. NEVER. Those are my demons and she will not carry them.

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