Saturday was supposed to be an amazing day. A Spanish singer was giving a concert at the Children’s Museum where we are members. We bough tickets earlier in the week and I was counting down the days; this man’s CDs were on repeat for pretty much my entire maternity leave and many of our days together since then.
Saturday morning Isa was in a great mood. She was excited to go to the Discovery Museum and I couldn’t wait for her to see who would be singing; she knows most of the his songs by heart. We got there early and almost no one was around. We hit up the tot room with Isa and for about fifteen minutes it was great. Then, without warning, she decided she wanted to be naked. The meltdown that ensued ended up lasting the better part of a half an hour. It paused a few times and gave me hope that we could still make the concert but eventually it was clear that we had to leave.
During this 30 minute meltdown Isa hit me more times than I could ever guess. At one point I was sitting on a bench while she writhed on the floor and she kept yelling at me to sit on the floor, so she could kick me as hard as she could. She scratched my face, tore at my clothes and pulled my hair. She abused me in ways I’ve never been physically abused.
Walking her out to the car–as she writhed and screamed on my husband’s shoulder–I felt more broken than I have in a long, long time. My fabulous Saturday had been utterly ruined. We spent $30 in gas, bridge tolls and tickets for ten minutes of happiness and thirty minutes of personal abuse and public embarrassment. I was so ashamed as we passed at the people hurrying to make the beginning of the concert; kids asked their parents what was wrong with my daughter as they hushed them past hastily. The entire thirty minute drive home I didn’t utter a word. I just let the tears fall silently.
I thought a lot of things Saturday afternoon. I wondered what the point was if the few scarse days I looked forward to could be ruined by the one person I was supposed to be enjoying them with. I pondered the probability of my daughter suffering from actual emotional issues that cause her to react that way without (from my opinion) any significant provocation. I questioned my own culpability, both in my reaction to my daughter’s tantrum and as the woman who contributed half of her DNA to my poor, unwitting child (I am always terrified that I will have passed on my depression/anxiety/ADD/Bi Polar issues onto my daughter). I doubted I could keep this up; the hitting and kicking and deliberate hurting me is starting to make my soul whither. I don’t have much more left.
Yesterday I did something else too–I bought Raising Your Spirited Child for Kindle and immediately started reading it. I have considered buying it many times but I was never sure it was the book for me; I’m still not sure my daughter is what the author considers “spirited.” But with the hitting becoming as frequent and forceful as it is, I need to do something. My catch phrase, “I will not let you hit me,” is obviously not working, I need some other strategies to deal with my daughter’s anger and her propensity for expressing it aggressively.
Reading the book has been a positive experience, mostly because it gives me perspective. While I haven’t determined if my child is spirited, I am sure she is not as spirited as the children discussed in the book. Honestly, reading about what these parents face, I am so thankful that I’m not dealing with what so many of the parents in the book are dealing with (and I’m terrified that if I am blessed with another child, he or she will face those challenges and I will be unable to cope).
I hope the book gives me some good strategies for dealing with my daughter’s anger, her pickiness (she’s basically stopped eating since she was sick) and her struggles with transitions. If I can’t find the answers in this book, I’m not sure where I will.
I was thinking of the timing of writing and publishing my list and this little incident. Is it a coincidence that right when I was writing about my perceived shortcoming as a mother I lived through my most challenging day? I don’t know. Yesterday just hit really close to home. And it again makes me wonder if I should even have another kid, when I can’t seem to handle the one I have already.
Do you have any tried and true strategies for dealing with a pretty serious hitting situation? What has been your most epic (mom) fail to date?