If there’s one thing that will inspire you to improve the way you handle stress – it’s the realization that your children will test your patience more if they sense that you are stressed. I’m not sure if all kids do this, because I don’t think LilZ did, but my two youngest children? Sometimes I feel like they are wanting to be sold to gypsies. Or auctioned off on eBay. Because they have learned to sense my anxiety and do everything they can to send me screaming down the streets, “Need help! Send beer! Or possibly narcotics!”
NikkiZ does this in her usual way of Deliberately Hovering Around The Line Of Rule-Breaking and Rule-Abiding To Test Where That Line Actually Is. For example – let’s say she’s wiggling around at the table and almost knocks her plate and/or cup over several times. You say, “Sit on your bottom while you eat dinner.” She will lean as faaaaar to the side as she can and still be sitting on her bottom but obviously still (knowingly) missing the point of the rule. So, you clarify, “Please sit still and on your bottom while you eat because we don’t want you spilling your food.” She then sits perfectly flat on her bottom and start lightly tapping your chair with her foot. She knows she’s not being still, but she’s also not moving around enough to spill her food so she’s testing to see which part of the rule was the important part. You give yourself a pat on the back for not making her eat her food outside in the rain.
AndyZ tests my patience by deciding he doesn’t need sleep. EVER. AT ALL. Two nights in a row now he has opted not to sleep. Until…of course…I have decided I can’t try to sleep anymore and I get up for the day. Then he’ll go to sleep (in his crib) for a few hours peacefully. He knows that I’m too awake to try to get any extra sleep and he also knows that I know that if I did try to go back to bed for a bit longer? He would then wake up. I’M NO DUMMY.
But…BUT…no matter how stressed I am – if I hide it from them? They’re perfect angels. If I go about my day without any of my token I’m Stressed behaviors? They’ll just go about their day without pushing my buttons. And they’ll sleep, and be as rule-abiding as they normally are. (Which, granted, in NikkiZ’s case is not that great.) So – I’m learning much better stress-coping techniques. It’s forcing me to master the art of the Deep Breath or the perfect timed Soak in the Tub. I process the stress and move it on before they sense it so that they can not use it to their advantage. I have officially gained the upper-hand in this relationship, DAMMIT. LOOK WHO IS BOSS NOW, Kiddos. HA!
(I am shaking my fist in the air and maniacally laughing, if you needed the full image.)
(Maybe I’m not coping so well after all?)