Let’s talk for a moment about temperament. About the vast differences in temperament between my husband and me. About how he has a graciously loooooooong fuse with a quick, loud explosion on the end. And about how I am a short fuse with many small, rapid fire explosions along the path — like firecrackers.
And now let’s consider Ivalee. And how VERY MUCH like her mother she is.
One thing I’ve had to work on in my adult life is how I handle stress. How I respond to certain ‘triggers’ is only perfected with practice and learned self-control. And, at two years old, I’m already having to work on coaching her through those things. I know it’s only just beginning, but I guess I’m just surprised that it’s started so soon.
Last night, Ivalee was playing with her kitchen set in her room. She was “cooking coffee for Mommy” and became aggravated when she couldn’t get the pot lid to sit on top of the pot just so. (Yes, we cook coffee in a pot on the stovetop around here. Not true, but in Pretend Land anything goes.) She brought the pot to me and said, “It not fits, Mommy.” So I set it on there and showed her that it fits just fine. She seemed satisfied and took it back to her kitchen.
A few minutes later, I heard her getting frustrated again, so I started back to her room to help her out. By the time I got to her room, she was in full-on melt-down mode, slamming the lid into the pot repeatedly and yelling, “It not fits!! I gotta cook something! I gotta cook something!”
Oh. My. Goodness. I had to laugh. How many times have I reacted in very similar fits and just because one element was beyond my control, the whole thing was wrong? Somewhere, something or someone is conspiring against me. EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG! WHY CAN’T THE POT LID JUST FIT!?!?
I tried to help her redirect her attention somewhere else – it was clear that kitchen playing was just too much for her at that moment. She was having none of it. She wouldn’t be distracted or placated. She needed to be forcibly removed from the situation for a “calm down” period.
I put her on the couch for two minutes. And that was just the ticket. At 1 minute, 45 seconds, she finally stopped crying and started breathing normally. So when the timer went off and I went to get her from the couch, she said, “I don’t wanna cook something.”
Perspective. What a great gift that a couple minutes of separation can give you.
When Kyle came home last night I told him, “Man, I pity you in about 10 years. There will be TWO OF US in this house — two who are big enough to give you nightmares.”