Monday, May 20, 2013

the loud sound of emotion

I have a preschooler now. It really blows my mind to say that, but its true. Gwen is 3-years old, and is definitely full of "big kid" spunk, fieriness, and emotion; however, she is still learning how to control those rollercoaster emotions of hers, and learning the frustrations of not having complete control over her life and world. I find myself having to give myself more and more "time outs" to breathe and regroup so as to not lose my cool. I also find myself needing some new tools in my arsenal.

I think some days, like yesterday, have the odds stacked against us. She's been using her inhaler for a week now because of a bad cough/cold (we start stepping it down today, thank goodness); it was rainy and miserable outside, so we were stuck inside; we had a random interruption in the middle of the day and never refound our groove. By dinner we were all prickly. Cue the meltdown.

Once upon a time I could talk Gwen down from most disruptive behavior, but the days of her being comforted merely by the sound of my voice are over. She feels things so big, this child of mind, and while I try to talk quietly and gently to her, she can't even hear my desire to help her over the loud sound of her own emotions. There are some ways that people are all the same, and one of these ways is in our desire to be heard and understood. I find my quiet voice rising, far beyond where I wish it would rise to, as I struggle to just have her hear me; her voice rises because she just doesn't understand why we just can't make it all right, and if only she could express her wants/needs to us enough, then we would of course fix it all.

In these moments, I wish I could scoop her up in my arms and help her to understand both the depth of my love for her, and my motivation for not giving into an ungrantable request. At the same time, the last thing she desires is for me to hold her, and I have to fight to keep my words as simple as possible, because her brain is consumed with anger, sadness, confusion, and a new found need for control leaving no room to process long explanations.

As an adult I've long since mastered the impulse to scream my frustrations, and let the tears flow at any grievance, regardless of location or company; but that doesn't mean that I don't have and understand such impulses. My longing to help her learn more productive ways of expressing emotion are balanced with my desire to never make her feel that her emotions are wrong, or should not be expressed.

So what is a frustrated Mama to do?

Well, last night at bedtime Trav and I weathered the storm of anger (without backing down), and when allowed doled out the hugs needed to sooth her sadness. After Trav said his good nights, Gwen and I lay next to each other on the couch in her room, and told each other how much we love each other no matter what. Then I gave hugs and kisses, rubbed her back, and said our sweet dreams like we do every night. I went down stairs and relaxed, before heading to my own bedtime, where I took a deep breath, climbed into bed, and told myself, "I try again tomorrow."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Things I Said Yes To This Week

Do you ever find yourself automatically vetoing something the kids want to do, not because it really is a bad idea, but because it might inconvenience you? 

(raises hand)

I'm trying to make a conscious effort to not have a knee-jerk No! reaction when they want to go somewhere, or do something, or even buy something (within financial reason) that I might not be on board with 100%. 

Following are three simple "yes" examples from our week.

The Park
We live in a single-family home with a nice fenced-in back yard. It's certainly easy for me to just open the back door and send the kids outside! However, they also crave climbing time. And time with other kids. So at least once a week, we get in the car and drive to a playground with ladders and slides or swings; things we don't have at home. Often they pretend the entire structure is a pirate ship, or a restaurant, or a roller coaster. Whether there are tons of other kids around or just a few, they always have a blast. When I'm tempted to think I'd rather just stay in or I have other more "important" errands to run, I stop and remember that they need (and love) this park time, and the only way they get it is if I prioritize it.

The Mud
Sometimes you just have to not care about how much clean up is involved and let your kids indulge in their dirt-loving play. My kids love mud: stomping in it, moving it from bucket to bucket, squishing it with their fingers and toes. I've had to undress them at the back door, rinse out clothes prior to washing them, and give them a bath in the middle of the day a couple of times. Yes, I might be tempted to think of all the "work" it creates for me. But, kids are washable, and if clothes stain, it's not the end of the world. Plus, this little boy's cute face always makes it worth it. 

The Journal
Earlier this week we went shopping with the intention of getting, among other things, new journals for the girls (ages 7 and 5). Now, by "journals" I mean they would be equally excited about 94-cent spiral notebooks, but I told E and J they could pick out whatever ones they wanted, and that they would be their special writing books for second grade and kindergarten, respectively. J picked out a red Hello Kitty one. E chose a large, purple, leather-bound one. The thought entered my mind, that's a pretty expensive blank book for a seven-year-old to write stories and lists and doodle in. But, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that big of a deal, and I've personally left Target with impulse purchases for myself that cost way more. So we bought it. And she is in love with it. I don't know what she'll use it for, but it's not for me to decide. 

What are you saying Yes! to this week?

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hey Disney, What About the Rest of the Princesses?

Given the recent upheaval about Disney changing Brave's character, Merida, on their Disney Princess site, it begs the question why the other characters on their princess site are "updated" as well?  We just watched the original Disney Cinderella from 1950, and I did not even recognize their new version as Cinderella.  Fortunately, they have changed Merida back to her original image, however, the other characters remain a bedazzled, sexed up version of their predecessors. 

It's not like Disney princesses have traditionally been synonymous with feminism, but can't we at least leave out the extra make-up, sparkles and perfect hair?  Why have ANY of these characters been altered?  I understand that the sexier version of Merida goes against everything she represented in the movie and that's why people got upset, but why is nobody appalled at these other transformations?  What is this saying to our children?  I've already written at length about my feelings on sex being marketed to young girls (you can find that piece here), and this is no different. 

So I have to ask, "Hey Disney, what about the rest of the princesses?"  Shame on you Disney, for tweaking these beloved characters into what seems like their "Bratz" alter egos, just to make a buck.


Photo Credits:
Snow White (1937): Groucho Reviews
Cinderella (1950): Orangetagged.blogspot
Ariel (1989):
Belle (1991):
Pocahontas (1995):
Jasmine (1992):
All "updated" characters are from the Disney Princess site