Beara is intense. Sure, she’s creative, and funny, and loving, but sweet Mary on a pogo stick, sometimes I just really want her to leave me the heck alone.
There are two ways that one could further describe my girl at 5 3/4 years old:
1) She’s a diva/dramaqueen/overly sensitive/has ADHD.
2) She’s naturally empathic/easily overstimulated/has OE (overexcitability) issues.
I have been known to think both, based not on how she is behaving, but on how I am feeling at that moment; on what filters I am looking and thinking through at that moment.
The big issue here? Beara and I are very, very similar. Some of her issues are ones that I’ve learned to deal with, work with, mitigate and/or modulate. Some are ones that are still active parts of who I am, for better or worse.
When she is wired to the gills from being overstimulated, it easily overstimulates me, and on we go. (Can you say Mutually Assured Destruction?) When I am having a bad day, first she feels my pain, then I feel her pain, and I then feel worse.* When I’m focused on getting her to focus on something, be it getting dressed for an outing, or her reading, she’s invariably focused on something completely different, like writing a play that she’s going to want to perform for me later in the day when I’m all involved in what I’m doing. We try to tear ourselves and each other away so we can inhabit a shared world.
Sometimes she does things that make me want to cringe, because I see her behaving in ways that have given me grief in the past, albeit mostly when I was older than she is now. She’s a people-pleaser to the extent that she restrains her aspirations and ideals based on the people around her, but in private she dreams BIG, maybe too big. She exaggerates, but fortunately not to the point of lying, at least yet. She grandstands, but fortunately not to the point of being a brat, at least yet. She is fearless in ways that are likely to get her mocked piteously in the wrong crowd. She feels everything SO deeply, and tells people that she loves them thirty seconds after she meets them, and while I love all of these things about her, while I stand back and watch with fierce pride at times, I also fear for my sweet girl. Anyone that open to the world is going to get seriously sucker punched by it at some point, and I do what I can to ensure that there is someone there to help her back up when that happens.
Sometimes, unfortunately, I’m the one doing the sucker punching. When she’s been bombarding me with her emotions all day long, and I’m just bone-freaking-tired, I, being human, tend to blow. I yell at her to leave me alone, to get out of my room (as I’ve invariably retreated to my bed by this point), and to just STOP. She finally leaves, in tears, and comes back for reassurance (i.e. another bombing run) within 30-180 seconds, usually just when my heart rate is starting to trend back to normal. If our day is going really badly, rinse and repeat.
I am far from proud of this, folks, but there you have it. Parents are imperfect, have limits, and I don’t get enough time to myself. Yada yada. Add to this that Beara and I know how to push each other’s buttons like the programmers of them that we each are, and, yeah, the end of the day frequently shows me at my worst.
Being a mindful person though, as well as, duh, the ADULT here, I’m trying to change this horrendously destructive pattern of yelling and tears and yet more yelling. The completely awesome Christine Fonseca (who blogs at An Intense Life, along with some other awesome folks doing the best they can) first helped me get a handle on what these changes might look like, and will keep getting credit until I stop picking up her book Emotional Intensity as a talisman everytime I’m at my wits end with my wonderful girl.
Best thing I’ve found so far, other than just some serious cognitive restructuring from the above description #1 to description #2 (which is pretty darned useful all on its own) is some good old fashioned Time-Ins. When I feel Beara starting to feel hurt, or get out of control, I go in for some special cuddle time. This is certainly harder if I haven’t managed to step out of the equation before I’m feeling defensive from being bombarded (by any of them), since the last thing I really want to do that that point is move into weapons range, but it IS something that she responds well to, so I do my very best to don my armor and head in anyway. That’s my job, and it is certainly an easier one the earlier I show up to do it.
Today hasn’t gone great with all of my kids, but Beara and I are doing well. We started our day with some cuddleschooling on the couch, and then she was solicitous of my feeling cruddy with a headcold, so we had yet more cuddles. Giving her more connected time grounds her, and when Beara is more grounded, so am I. Nice how that cycle works both ways!
She JUST came over to the bed (my having asked her sibs to get off not thirty seconds ago, since I am tired and sore from being their incidental wrestling mat), asking “is there some way that I can cuddle you?”
I think I’m going to log off and go do that now. Making that time is SO worth it!*Fortunately she is also a born healer, so we are putting together a set of behaviors that let her try to help me with my pain (stupid fibromyalgia) in ways that actually help me with my pain. It is worth the time, because she really can’t resist trying to make me feel better, and we both get frustrated when her efforts backfire.