by guest blogger, Deanna Cogdon Miller
“I want what I want and I’m going to get what I want.” The words hit me like a ton of bricks as I looked across the counter at my five year old. With arms crossed and an angry look on her face she continued, “You know what else, I’m going to cry until you give it to me.”
And so began our first major power struggle.
The night had started off like any other. We had come home from work to lots of hugs and three happy kids. We had supper and then she asked if she could play some games on the Disney Jr website (a recent discovery of ours). We said she could for a few minutes before it was time to start getting ready for bed. When bath time came, I let her know it was time to shut down and as I somewhat expected, she ignored my first request. She then ignored my second request and so my third was followed by a ‘please turn it off or mommy is going to turn it off for you.’ Once again it was ignored and so I did what I think most parents would do – I shut it off.
The dramatic reaction that ensued could have won her an Oscar. You know how sometimes you can pick up other neighborhood baby monitor feeds through yours? I found myself thinking if anyone can hear this they are going to think I’m a horrible person as they listen to her screaming and crying and repeating phrases like ‘no mommy no’ and ‘please stop mommy I promise I’ll listen now’.
As my husband took the other two kids upstairs and I finished cleaning the kitchen, she sat herself on the stool across from me and made the statement I opened this post with. She sat there screaming and crying, refusing to move until I turned the computer back on. After about 20 minutes she picked up a pen and some paper and I thought we were going to have a breakthrough. She drew something and then slid it over to me – it was a picture of a sad face and a mad face, I asked her if this was how she was feeling and after she responded with a yes, I drew my own sad face and a happy face. I explained to her that I was sad about what was going on too and that I was looking forward to being happy together again. She calmed down for a minute and then in a quiet voice asked if she could play the games for a few more minutes before bedtime. I said no and the screaming began again. Ding! Round two.
By this time I needed to go upstairs and help get the other kids to bed. I told her I was heading up and that she could join us whenever she was ready. As I left the kitchen, she followed me and flopped on the floor at the base of the stairs screaming at me in a deep voice that sounded like something from a horror movie. I just kept walking. Ding! Round three.
She was not impressed that I calmly removed myself from the situation and true to her word, she cried through getting her pyjamas on, she cried through brushing her teeth and she cried big time when I explained that she had lost her stories for the night because this whole tantrum had taken all of her time. The whole ordeal lasted about ninety minutes before she eventually cried herself to sleep.
I have to admit that I hated that night. I hated seeing her so upset, I hated walking away from her when she was upset and I hated not having our usual stories and cuddles before bed. And as the inner me felt like it was crumbling, the outer me raised her arms in victory. Knockout. Match one goes to Mommy.
Deanna lives in Dartmouth with her husband and three children. When she’s not reading stories, dancing to ABBA or burping a baby, she works in communications for Bell Aliant.