eliza, vol 10.

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Eliza, Eliza. This girl has brought so many new and unexpected challenges into our lives lately. She tests me every single day, bursting with an amount of energy that can seem both obnoxious and absolutely endearing. She has so much love to give, and gives it freely. She is smart and creative, and endlessly curious. Not a day goes by that I am dumbfounded by a particular question or observation, and proud of every detail she hungrily digests.

But, with all that thirst for life comes a barrel of emotions that we are all struggling to manage. She has developed a fierce and worrisome jealous streak, to the point that we can hardly all be in the same room together. If any attention is being paid to the baby, she lashes out- either by hitting or hurting the baby, or hitting or hurting Sam and I. Or, simply by doing something ridiculous and obnoxious until we snap. She needs constant one-on-one time, and we just can't give it to her every minute of the day.

On top of that, she has rediscovered the toddler tantrum- which, manifested in a four-year-old, is particularly frustrating. It drives me crazy. And, it's really difficult for me to calm down and breathe enough to look through the screaming and crying and see the root of the problem. The easiest way to calm her down can sometimes just be a hug. But, it's hard to get her to that point.

I recognize that Eliza is a strong-willed and independent child. I also recognize that we are incredibly similar in both of these characteristics. So, I need help. We clash so hard. Sometimes I see myself reacting in ways that are absolutely no better than Eliza, or I see Eliza mimicking reactions I know she has seen from me. And, it's not ok. 

I reached out on Instagram and got so many recommendations for resources and tips. I haven't been able to dive in yet, as we have been on vacation for a couple of weeks. But, I am so grateful and look forward to the help! Here is a list of reading material that I compiled, if anyone is interested:

-Calm Down Time
-Raising an Emotional and Intelligent Child- John Gottman
-The Whole Brain Child
-The Power of Positive Parenting- Glenn Latham
-Your Defiant Child- Russell Barkley
-Parenting a House United- Nicholeen Peck
-Unconditional Parenting- Alfie Kohn
-The 5 Love Languages of Children
-The Strong Willed Child- John Dobson
-Raising Your Spirited Child- Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
-Positive Discipline for Preschoolers
-Parenting with Love and Logic
-How to Talk so Kids Will Listen

Like I said, I haven't personally read any of these yet. But, it looks like a great list! Thanks again for all of you who sent me recommendations.

I did receive one piece of advice from a friend while chatting at the park, that has really stuck with me lately. Children, especially Eliza, need some amount of control over their lives. I should know. I need to control every single aspect of my life, to the point that it can be debilitating in some ways. Eliza has an extremely difficult time when she is asked to give up control over something, whether it's a change in activity, a decision about what to eat or wear, or being told that she cannot have something that she wants. My friend's advice was to give Eliza control, in small doses. If it's time to get ready for bed, offer her a choice of activity, "You need to get your pjs on, brush your teeth, and read a book. Which would you like to do first?" Basically, she needs to feel as if she has some control over her life, and giving it in small doses gives me the power to control it. Simple, but effective. 

After thinking about this advice for a time, I had this major realization. I go through parenting under the impression that I am losing control to my children and that they disrupt my routine. But, Eliza must feel the exact same way. Eliza, even as a four-year-old, has developed her own routine in her little head and her parents are constantly taking that control and disrupting that routine. I am disrupting her routine. That would be so difficult for such a young mind to understand. And, I feel like I get why she is so frustrated lately. I just need to figure out how to make it better. I know the first step is to make more special alone time with her- I just have to make it happen.

But, let's move on. I love this child so much. She is such a beautifully interesting little human lately. Let's celebrate that:

"I love you" - Eliza is really good at communicating her love. It makes me so happy to hear her quiet statement of, "Mama, I love you," as we are wandering the grocery store. This statement is proclaimed when she is joyously happy, mildly content, and gleefully giddy. It's also her way of saying, "Thank you" when she gets something she wants. I hope she never stops saying it.

Jobs- Eliza is very interested in jobs lately. She is fascinated by Sam's job, and loves to visit him at work- especially because she usually gets snacks, iPad time at his desk, and a quick trip to Chinatown. But, one of my favorite moments is when she's splashing around in the tub when Sam gets home from work, and the first thing she asks him is, "What did you design at work today? Can I see what you designed today?" She also loves to refer to school as her job. And, she proudly tells people that my job is to dance- which makes me beam.

Tap Shoes- I gave Eliza a pair of tap shoes for her birthday. They were actually an old pair that a parent of one of my students gave me when Eliza was a baby. She has been coveting the big girls' tap shoes for years. And, at 7am on birthday morning, it sure felt like a huge mistake. But, it is pretty cute to see her doing a jog to "Black Jack David" in our living room with that huge smile, and her little bob whipping around her face.

"It's not fun!"- When Eliza doesn't want to do something, she yells and screams and cries. And through that mess of emotions you hear, "This is not fun! This is boring! I will never, ever, ever clean my room! This is not happening!" Those are some of my favorites. It's hard not to laugh, because if she catches you laughing she totally loses it. 

"You are not getting a Mother's Day present!" - Speaking of cleaning her room, Eliza is learning to dish out some threats of her own. I try not to threat, but it's such an easy default to fall back on. It never works, really. But, leading up to her birthday, Eliza got so terrible and nasty. Like, out of control. So, of course, I threatened that she wouldn't get any birthday presents. So one day, while she was supposed to be cleaning her room, she yells out "You are NOT getting a Mother's Day present! NEVER, EVER AGAIN!" Ha!

Budding Scientist- Eliza loves nature. She has been going to a little, local nature school that my friend teaches once a week. And, she loves Teacher Sara. So much so that she has decided that she wants to be a science teacher when she grows up. She loves to dissect flowers from the garden, collect nature treasures, and play with bugs she finds on walks. For her birthday, she got a little microscope and a box to organize her treasures. She loves it all so much. She immediately organized them by type: brown rocks, colorful rocks, seashells, flowers and plants, "sea creatures that used to be alive," shiny things, and "glassable" objects. I love this side of her because it came so naturally, and wasn't necessarily something I pushed on her. Let's be honest, by kids will all be forced to love fairytales and dance. But, this little girl who likes to see how bugs move, find the seeds inside the ovary of a flower, and learn the mechanics of a catapult- that wasn't from me. 

Budding Engineer- She also got her first real Lego sets for her birthday. I was so impressed with how much time she will spend playing with those, even following the detailed instructions with quiet patience. She is endlessly interested in how things work. When we drive anywhere, much of the time is spent with her asking one question after another about how things work, what things are made of, how something got to be, where something came from. I love it when I can tell her little wheels are turning and she spouts out a bit of her own understanding in such a beautiful and matter of fact way. For example, we had a recent discussion about how it may be easier for her to get her ice cream in a cup instead of cone- mostly because I didn't want to pay the extra, and every cone she has ever had has been a huge mess. So, after thinking for a bit, she said, "Well, they should just make a cone that has bigger sides and not a point at the bottom." And I said, "You mean a cone shaped like a cup?" "Yeah!" I know the idea seems small, but it seemed so big and mighty coming from such a small girl.

Patterns- Eliza loves to color "patt-awins." It's interesting because up until very recently, Eliza has not been interested in coloring books. As a toddler, she would get frustrated with them knowing that she couldn't stay inside the lines. She would always ask me to color them, and preferred a blank sketch book. Now, she LOVES to color. I even got her one of those grown up coloring books with the super detailed drawings, and she will sit there for an hour coloring with her big box of pencils. She loves the detailed pages because they usually have stripes or swirls where she can create patterns of alternating color schemes. "Blue, Green, Pink, Purple... Now, we have to do Blue again, Mama."

Games- She loves to play games lately. We don't have a lot of room for board games or things, but she has a couple that she is always pulling out and wanting me to to teach her. We also have several games we play while eating dinner, or meandering on walks. The "Favorite Game" involves me asking her questions about what her favorite things are, and she answers them. I have recorded it a couple of times, and need to do more, because I love hearing her favorites change over time. Lately she made up a "Rhyme Game" in which one of us says a word, and the other one has to say a word that rhymes. I was pretty impressed by that one. And, when we are together as a family, she likes to play "Highs and Lows" in which we each say what our highest and lowest point of the day was. We always have to go in a certain order so that Eliza goes last. I love this one because it actually really helps her to process her day. We talked about something difficult that may have happened, and how we can "try harder tomorrow." She loves this game.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog!! I just finished "Christlike Parenting" by Glenn Latham and I absolutely loved it. Your little girl sounds a lot like my little guy-a total spitfire. The book has been super helpful so far :)