Friday, December 16, 2005

Free Advice (From You) Friday

Did you realize all the other, probably cooler bloggers have special "days"? They have things like Self Portrait Tuesday and Self Indulgent Wednesday and one woman has Chuck Friday which is really just pictures of her dog. I've been tossing it around, wondering if I should get some "days" of my own and if so which ones I'd like. I've got a couple of ideas such as... Ask A Question Monday. Provocative Poll Tuesday. Bitch & Whine Wednesday. Thankful Thursday. Free Advice Friday. The one I'm really leaning towards right now is Advice Friday, though. Because it's Friday. And I need advice. Really I just thought up all of those other days so I could hit you with my problem.

Here we go. Ready? It's a parenting thing, so there really aren't any right or wrong answers because kids are total wingnuts and besides, it'll take years to know how they turn out. Most likely by then I'll be living someplace fabulous and will have forgotten all about who it was that suggested that thing that I did that ultimately drove my daughter to the pole.

The problem: My hysterical daughter is ruining our household. That's it in a nutshell. Well, she's not ruining the entire household all the time, just when she's hysterical, which is a couple times a week. She will Fah-reeeak out over something like, oh, let's say homework frustration. Her trigger level is very, very low, and then she gets LOUD.

Compounding the problem is that the other 4 members of our household are fairly rational, quiet, peace-loving people/dog. Also, we don't have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. Our older child has taken after what we'll call The Swedish Side of the family. She's blond and more of a brooder. She has her moments, to be sure, but she's usually very calm, logical and given about 10 minutes will explain what's going on, why she's upset, get over it and move on. (And she's the teenager!) She's an easy kid and we've been totally spoiled by her mellow ways and we know it. She is a failure in only one respect, which is that she completely did not prepare us for dealing with The Little Spanish girl.

Li'l Chica is a passionate hot tamale who will start yelling and screaming and emoting like All. Get. Out. when she's angry or frustrated, which is the same thing in her case. The rest of us find this behavior highly irritating, annoying and upsetting. Once Chica really gets going, everyone gets involved, including the dog who will stand alongside the carnage that is a Chica meltdown and wring her paws, look worried and sometimes pee on the floor which definitely does not help matters in the slightest.

Last night we suffered a Homework Meltdown and Chica got rip-roaring loud and hysterical, just a yellin' and a screamin' until everyone else came running. We got frothed up until we were all yelling at each other about Why Chica Is Yelling. That's when she slipped out, went to her room, and did not do her homework (I believe she finished it later). We all stayed and got royally pissed-off at each other for various reasons which may or may not have anything at all to do with homework in the first place but mostly not. This is what she does. She creates an hysterical diversion so she can slip out!

My thought is that we all need to Simmer Down Now and not react to her in the first place. This is difficult to do, yes, and if we knew how to do that, I guess we would already be doing it. But for now, Chica is winning! She is making us all loco. Okay, not really crazy, but definitely quite uncomfortable, especially the dog. (I'm assuming the dog is the most upset because she's the only one peeing. So far.) One of us, who shall remain nameless, says we should "make her stop yelling" and another of us says that would be like trying to "make her stop breathing" because it's just something that she does. Oh, gosh. I just don't know. What do you think? WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Wow. That got long, huh? I promise in the future to have Advice Friday be more concise and tightly edited. On the other hand, I feel a medium-amount better just having written it all out... You internets are lovely! You haven't even said a word and already I feel better! But, yeah, any suggestions would be most gratefully appreciated.

Madre de la Chica

Confidential to Maxx*: Happy Birthday! Happy Nano!

* name changed to protect the innocent.


Angie...the cousin said...

This is FANTASTIC!!! As some of you may already know, we ALSO have a "L'il Chica" who is disrupting OUR household...only she is 2, not 10. (God, help us.)My little Spanish girl is related to the aforementioned Spanish I can relate. I am SO looking forward to everyone's advice, as I do not have my own blog for soliciting advice. Thanks in advance!

angie...the cousin said...

I might also add, that like Lisa's situation, my two older children in NO WAY RESEMBLE "L'il Chica" in their personalities, temper, etc... It's fair to say we were blindsided with this one. But enough about me...HELP US!!

Anonymous said...

Well, my first response to Angie is what's OK at two (and even sort of funny) is in no way funny or OK at ten anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm......... I've been thinking about how to respond, which "HAT" to wear I'll just try each one on and you can pick and choose.

"fellow Mom of a pre-adolescent, somewhat dramatic daughter" HAT - I totally can relate to the crazy-making that one still-rather-small being can inflict on an entire household. In an "I want to strangle her" moment, I try and switch the focus back to me.... hot shower, yummy snack, glass of wine, call to a friend, zone out to the computer, TV, video game (yes, video game) and just try not think about anything.

"adolescent therapist" HAT - DO NOT ENGAGE with her when she is out of control and/or hysterical. I know this is incredibally difficult but it is really the trick to your own sanity and the clear message that her behavior will not over-run the entire family. Make it very clear to her that she can express herself and all her many big and powerful feelings how she must (as long as it's safe), but this must be done in the privacy of her room in order for the rest of the family to not have to hear it (yeah, right). Stay as calm, neutral and even as you possibly can-it helps to speak real softly so she has to be quiet to hear you. Let her believe that you really don't care how long she carries on (that is in her hands) but the rest of the family needs some quiet. The trick is to not seem to have any emotion or reaction to her behavior yourself. Just be the calm, steady, unmoving (but not critical) presence in the midst of her storm. If she won't move, have everyone else go to a different room, close the door and just DON'T DEAL WITH HER until she is quiet and rational.

"parent of a younger neighborhood kid who has recently been the recipient of La Chica's wrath" HAT - tell her to "pick on someone your own size and leave ...... alone".

"friend" HAT - there's always a cold Mike's and an understanding ear just a hop, step and a jump away. :)

Anonymous said...

Oye vey---you have my sympathy and understanding. Thankfully I live with the person who wears the "adolescent therapist" HAT who offered the advice above, or else I think the hat I'd be wearing would have a "mad" label on it (get it: "mad hatter"). And just think, we both have daughters who will be entering those wonderful blissful years of puberty around the same time. Yippee for us---see, I'm trying to keep a positive attitude. But in the meantime, remember that if you chose to share a cold Mike's and an understanding ear with the adolescent therapist who is just a hop, step and a jump away, the "K-man" can also knock on our door to talk and share a couple of cold ones with me. And we can discuss how many cases of Bell's we'll need to purchase to last through the puberty years.