The barn owner tells the instructor to bring a horse over and I tell Mare to get her boots off and pass them to Sister. Mare instantly complies, but the boots are tight she’s having trouble getting them off, and Ren’s waiting for her ride and … here it comes. The Meltdown.
She’s high strung. She’s dramatic. I indulged her too much as a toddler and now she has no coping skills. She’s never going to be able to manage a corporation or a surgical team or an embassy and people won’t like her and she’ll be That Girl and it’s all my fault...
“Mare, why are you freaking out???” I finally say. She stops mid-wail and looks at me with a deep exasperated sigh. She puts both hands on my shoulders and says,
“Momma. It’s what I do. I’m a person who freaks out.”
I stare stupidly.
She’s not me.
You freaking dumbass. She. Is not. YOU.
“Oh, okay,” I say.
She nods and goes back to hauling on the boots and wailing. She gets them both off, we ram them on her sister, and Doodley skips happily over to the horse and scampers up.
I loved that. "It's what I do. I'm a person who freaks out." I think it's very easy to forget about this with our kids. When your young child is throwing tantrums or doing things that you just don't want them to do, you are supposed to Do Something to make sure that they don't engage in these maladaptive behaviors for the rest of their lives. Like Da Momma said, you don't want your kid to be That Kid just because you fucked up and dealt with tantrums wrong or something.
And yeah, children shouldn't get their own way constantly and they shouldn't throw tantrums to get what they want and blah blah blah. (I know I keep mentioning tantrums a lot - Bee is the queen of tantrums, so it's nearly always on my mind.) It's great to lay down the law and help your child be a functional member of society. But at the same time, you have to step back from your child and accept the person s/he is. You can't always try to mold them into better people if you want them to love themselves for who they are and not resent you for constantly trying to change them.
So I'm logging this here so I can remember this for Bee. Had I not read it, I don't know if I'd otherwise be that level-headed during that kind of interaction. I don't know if I'd just be able to say "Oh, okay," and let her do her thing her way, even though it would be the right thing to do. I often feel like the blogosphere helps me to be a better parent. Thanks, Internet. :)