Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Christmas Ruined My Kid

Does anyone remember being two years old? Doesn't it seem like being two is a crucial year in development? And how did age 2 become known and criticized as the "terrible two's?"

Well let me just tell you about my two year old. Elaina has been going through what you might call a "rough patch" as of late. On January 2, just two short weeks ago, she turned 2 1/2. Up until this point, and before Christmas, she had been just about as good as gold. Yeah, there have been times that she's needed some stern reminders of how things are done properly, remembering who is in charge and what good behavior is all about. So what I'm saying is that yes we really did hit the jackpot in adopting and we have been unbelievably blessed with such an awesome daughter. Okay, I said it. It's true.
For this awesome daughter that we have waited our lifetime for, we pretty much want to give her the world. Our happiness is a direct result of seeing Elaina (and now Lincoln too) happy and fulfilled. Most often, we choose to indulge her with little things and try to make each and every day special. Let me be the first one to tell you that we don't want to raise a spoiled brat and we're not living beyond our means to give her a pony if she would ask on a whim. I'm talking about a little girl's request to read this book instead of that book. And sitting in Daddy's seat at breakfast time if Daddy isn't there. Occasionally, asking for a snack before dinner. Regular kid-requests right? Easy. Would you really want to say no to this?

So there we were. Everyone happy. Indulging, smiling, appreciating and easy. And then Christmas came. Let's take a look at how we really spent our Christmas.

4 straight days of opening presents, eating cookies and candy everywhere we go, new toys and noises everywhere she looked, staying up hours after our usual bedtime, different cousins to play with each and every day and hoards of doting grandparents and adults accommodating her every whim. For 4 days straight.

Ah yes, Elaina was living the good life. Weren't we all? And then, we came home. Christmas was over, no more presents, back to our same old routine. Just then, something must have clicked on in Elaina's brain telling her that her same 'ol, same 'ol wasn't nearly as much fun as Christmastime. Within a week after Christmas, we began to see more of a temper from our otherwise calm little angel. Oh, and then we had some dispute of who made the rules around our house. With more frequency after that, there was the meltdown saga of my child acting like she had lost her ever-loving mind when she was told "no." Oh dear God! How did this all happen? One word: Christmas.

That's all I've got. It had to have been the spoils of Christmas ruining my child before my very eyes. And all the while, I was absorbed in the whole "magic of Christmas" facade. Hmmph! The magic was that my darling girl was turning into a spoiled brat.

Right away, you have to know how much that pains me to think of Elaina as a brat, but seriously, the behavior that has been rearing it's ugly head over the past (almost) three weeks, has been hard to deal with. Before Christmas we enjoyed giving and accommodating because she was so appreciative and she could accept a compromise. After Christmas, every toy throughout our house was labeled "mines." As if her greed wasn't bad enough, she was using an incorrect plural. Not the time or place for a grammar lesson. Hello! Not letting her get her way was met with a complete and utter meltdown, tantrum, fit-fest.

The worst part is that Eric isn't always around in the evening and most nightly meltdowns were directed solely at mean, old, Mommy here. Immediately, she would go into her "I want Daddy!I want Daddy!I want Daddy!" mode. The nights that Eric was around to witness Dr. Jeckyl's child, he provided great reinforcement and we presented together as a team. That was so important and once Elaina became sane again, we would make up and move on. The biggest problem is that when I get home from work, I already have a limited number of hours with her and Lincoln in the evening and a portion of them are reserved for making dinner, bathing some children every other night, reading books and going about our standard bedtime routine. Throw in a temper- tantrum-meltdown and my whole night instantly sucked.

Now, have you noticed that the majority of my story is in past tense? Well, thankfully we seem to be over the mood swings and bringing our little diva back down to earth. It's true that last week, Elaina got a no-diaper-spanking on her bottom (to which Grandma H. was very concerned and HELLO, you gave me spankings too!) and today we dealt with a 2 minute time out today for not accepting that the snack she was requesting (30 minutes before dinner) and throwing her snack trap-approved- snack across the floor was not going to be tolerated. Basically, Elaina is having to re-learn that she doesn't always get her way and that sometimes she will be told no and that the world doesn't always revolve around her. It's been a challenging and difficult road for all of us and I'm thankful that we seem to be heading in the right direction at this point.

Grueling, I tell you. Whoever said this parenting business would be easy?

Yeah, nobody. That's who.

1 Welcome Comments:

Kelsey said...

Ah, I know that cycle well. Seems we are always transitioning in and out of those phases. Just when I'm thinking, "Wow, Harper has been pretty good lately," she does a 180 and we'll have a phase of tantrums and general disagreeableness. I hope it is helpful to know you aren't the only one experiencing that -- I know it helps me!