Does this look familiar to you? This face (and the crossed arms, as well) is presented to me dozens of times daily. My adorable angels, ages 6 and 3, have become very expressive these days.
My 3 year old is the biggest offender of the crossed arms-angry face lately. My little “sweet squishy baby” as I call her…she is mad a lot lately! I refuse to make absolute statements about her personality, such as “stubborn” or “defiant”. I won’t confess that over her (as the Bible teaches), because I don’t believe that is her nature. She is sweet, and her whole little life she has demonstrated a very sensitive heart. She was the one who cried if she was mildly corrected about something trivial, and who threw herself into your arms for a cuddle if she did something wrong. And now, it’s as if she woke up one day this summer and decided she has a lot of angst about a lot of things! But I just want to know why she feels so comfortable giving me this ugly attitude, crossed arms and a direct “NO!”? She makes this “Hmph!” sound like she’s just absolutely not going to give in, nor is she going to respond to me.
|Are You Fighting or Singing ‘Frozen’? (NickMom.com)|
More often lately, the girls’ anger is directed at each other, rather than to me. They literally have pouting, anger-face stare-downs, as if to see who can be more mad and thereby “win” the debate (whatever critical issue it was to begin with, I’ll never quite understand). Just as we were celebrating that they have reached the age where they can play pretend and enjoy one another’s company for up to 2 hours at a time, we also reached this other dreaded “milestone”. They fight. We will work through it, just as everyone has to at some point. What I want to know is, when is it my turn to immaturely cross my arms, look at my girls and simply say (with angst) “No, I don’t want to!” Seriously, is it my turn yet?
I must confess, I’ve been known to have a grown-up temper tantrum in front of my children. Not daily, but it has happened more than I care to admit. You know the moment – you’re juggling twelve things and no one is obeying and you’re running late and now the kids are bickering…and you snap.
“Why is it so hard to just get one thing done?! Why can’t anyone just put things away where they belong so we can find them when we need them?! Girls, I work very hard all day for you, and if you can’t have a happy attitude and talk nicely to me, then we’ll just stay home! I’m trying to get your snacks ready and get myself ready and take you somewhere fun, but no one will let me do that! Just let me get myself ready so we can GO! You girls boss me around and it needs to stop! Just obey, get your shoes on, and we’ll go in a minute! Just stop it! Enough!”
Wow, I am embarrassed just writing that. That would be an example of Mommy having a grown-up temper tantrum. Proper response would have been to ignore their bickering and not give it any attention. Proper response would have been to calmly explain that they are about to lose a privilege, and I’m so sad about it. Proper response would have been to calmly tell them that Mommy needs a time out. Mommy is feeling angry and needs 5 minutes by herself in her room, and then we will go on our outing.
It’s just not always that easy to do that right thing. I suppose the same is true for my sweet girls. They need grace, just like I do. My precious 3 year old is testing her attitudes with me, sticking up for herself with big sister and trying to adjust to a napless schedule. I can’t let her get away with that behavior, because it is NOT okay. But I can try to remember that she is just three…and dealing with “big” 3 year old cares and concerns. She wants to be heard, and she wants her way sometimes. She has to learn to communicate properly and to be respectful…definitely…but until then, I will try to remember that I, too, choose the wrong attitude sometimes. I do it a lot, actually.
Cheers to you, fellow parents. I’ve been there.