Monday, April 17, 2017

"You're a Mean Mommy!"

"You're terrible. You're awful!  You're a mean mommy!  I'm telling Daddy!"

These would be examples of what my 4 year old daughter has said to me lately. The last one elicited a phone call in the middle of the grocery store to my husband, her daddy, so she could tattle on me. She hid under the cart while I dialed because her bluff had been called. This was after I refused to buy her rain boots on a day when  I had treated her to the ballet and lunch. I was being berated by my 4 year old for being "terrible" for not buying her things which she didn't need.
Mommy and Scarlett at the ballet!

To be fair, we are not the kind of parents who buy her things just because she sees them and expresses an interest in something. We buy her what she needs and extravagances are saved for holidays and birthdays.  Even then we don't go all out. We've learned that very few toys make her happy and that she'd rather create or invent games of her own imagination. While a new toy might make her happy in the moment, the newness quickly wears off and just becomes clutter she doesn't want to clean up.

But, now I'm 7 months pregnant with her little sister. She's watched boxes of new baby items arrive at the house and she's helped me pick her out some new clothes. Jealousy is starting to rear it's ugly head and she doesn't understand why she can't get stuff like Vivienne. 

Even while she spews such terrible words at me, I've remained strong. I refuse to buy her what she wants because she has so much already.
Lunch with Mommy after the ballet

On this particular day, I had had enough. I was tired. I work full-time, come home to work more, cook, clean take care of the dog, the cat, the laundry and pack lunches. I could not stand being called "terrible" or "mean" one more time. Normally, I just tell her that her words hurt my feelings​ and I don't like it. But not this time. This time she needed to learn just how hurtful she was being.

So, to the bewilderment  of my family, I cut a heart out of a piece of construction paper and sat my daughter down at eye level and through tears I told her, "This is my heart.  When you said mean things to mommy this is what happens to my heart.". I ripped it in half. "Now it is not the same as it was before. How are you going to fix it?"

By the look on her face she was horrified that she had made me so upset. She quickly went to work taping up the heart and presented it to me.

"When you hurt someone and break their heart, you can never make it whole again.  The heart will never be the same. You can patch it up with words and good deeds, but the damage will always be there. Words can hurt and your words hurt me really bad."

At that she gave me the world's biggest hug and promised to be nice. I have no problem with my daughter expressing her feelings. In fact, I want her to tell me when she is hurt, angry, upset, happy. However, I refuse to let her think she can put down other people because she is going through a lot. There are other ways for her to let her fears and frustration out. Telling someone she loves that they are terrible and mean is not the way to do it.

By the next morning, I had her wrapped in a blanket snuggled in my arms in the rocking chair - her newest request in the last few weeks is to be rocked like a baby.

All is forgiven.