Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When life explodes

Before you get too excited....this has absolutely nothing to do with the recent presidential election. I figure you've probably had enough of that to last you another four years. This is instead a little tale of parenthood and what I like to think of as a little piece of parental bliss. (That's a lie, but it makes it sound better.) 

You're probably familiar with the phrase "big things come in small packages." Most people tend to think of things like a diamond ring in a little velvet box when they hear that phrase. That's not what I had in mind though. I was thinking more along the lines of a "silent but deadly" fart. It's so small and quiet, but nearly kills you when the horrendous aroma hits you. 

If you've been paying attention, you know that I have two daughters - ages seven and five. I have even mentioned how my seven year old daughter (Ziva) has been having a bit of a rough year. It started out with her missing one of her closest friends who moved away at the end of summer. It has since escalated to what can best be explained (at this point) as anxiety attacks. I say this because we have not yet received a professional diagnosis, but that is around the corner. 

This relatively sudden burst of attitude came flying at us in the blink of an eye. Ziva has always been a strong-willed girl, but this is way above and beyond that. She is now having meltdowns on an increasingly frequent basis that makes the phrase "temper tantrum" sound like child's play. 

As if this wasn't fun enough in itself, my five year old (Siri) is now learning her older sister's tricks. It's great that she loves her older sister and wants to learn from her, but it's not so great that this meltdown mania appears to come quite naturally to her. Of all the things she chooses to learn, why does she have to excel at this? 

We had parent-teacher conferences tonight with both of our girls' teachers. As usual, we got glowing reports about how they don't have any attitude issues at school. Don't get me wrong. They have things to work on just like the next kid. An out of control attitude at school just isn't one of them. In fact, when we talked about these explosive meltdowns with their teachers, they look at us like we're nuts....or at least not talking about the same children. 

Within 20 minutes of getting home from the parent-teacher conferences, Siri went into full meltdown. I'm pretty sure this was the worst I've ever seen out of her. It was so bad that Ziva was in tears seeing and hearing the meltdown. At first I thought it was because it was scaring her seeing her younger sister blowing up like this, but the first words out of her mouth were, "What have I done to my sister?" 

She didn't mean this like she had made her mad. She was connecting the dots to the fact that her little sister was copying her own meltdown routine. She felt she was personally responsible for her sister's actions. I used this as a little learning opportunity and started asking her a few questions about it. 

With very minimal prompting, Ziva was able to identify that Siri was extremely tired and just saying no to everything my wife or I would say to her or ask her to do. She further deduced that Siri has noticed how much attention Ziva had been getting from mom and dad during her own meltdowns...and she wanted some of that attention. 

I'm proud of her for figuring this out and she says she'll remember it when she feels herself starting to get out of control in the future. I'm not going to hold my breath on that, but I think it's a step in the right direction. I know it won't eliminate her future meltdowns, but I am hoping this lesson will at least serve as a point of reference next time Ziva is in meltdown mode. It would be great to have a little piece of good come out of an otherwise rough evening. Time will tell. Until next time....