I’m beside myself… My 11 year-old daughter recently decided she wants to live with her dad, citing that she’s not happy living with me. Unsurprisingly, this has elicited within me feelings of failure as a mother… I’ve loved her and always provided for her as best I could as a single mother (with a hell of a mother wound myself) since the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I’ve sacrificed, fought back tears from her dagger-like words and given SO MUCH of myself that some days I don’t know who I am anymore.
I’ve been in therapy for a year working on my past traumas, as has she. I have offered myself as a safe space to her and have used every parenting tactic known to the human race… I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless, hopeless and want to crawl in a hole and bury myself. She has told me she wants me all to herself, doesn’t want to share me with her sister or anyone else. She’s also been mean, verbally abusive and morbid as long as I can remember. Her dad can’t believe the behaviors I’ve described to him, as she’s never that way around him.
I feel like giving up, folding my cards and letting them fall as they may. My health, both physically and mentally, has deteriorated tremendously over the last several years and I simply don’t have the energy to keep fighting.
Ideas for Handling challenging kid behavior when you are stressed
Being isolated at home with young children isn’t easy. The increased stress from being cooped up, together (all the time!), against the backdrop of scary news and a terrifying economic climate can make emotions run high for all family memb
ers. Though some kids may jump for joy at school being cancelled, others may have a harder time and the changes in their routine may amplify challenging behaviors. Kids feel this stress too, though they may show it in different ways than adults do.
Some kids can talk with us about their feelings, but when they’re overwhelmed or don’t have the vocabulary to have a conversation about feelings, they may communicate their stress in other ways; they may show changes in behavior, changes in sleeping and eating habits, tantrums, trouble with impulse control, and whining or being clingy can be signs that your child is feeling stressed.
Much like the oxygen mask metaphor, if you are trying to help a little person with their big feelings, it helps to keep yourself calm. Use self care tools to take care of your own needs so you can be there for your child.To help your child when they are feeling stressed, be patient with them and try to view their behavior as communication rather than “being bad” or “annoying.” Make time to connect with them, play a game, do an art project, cook something, or let them choose an activity. Doing an activity together can help kids feel secure and valued. Listen to their frustrations, their fear, their anger. If they don’t have the vocabulary for their feelings yet, help them learn the words for what they are feeling.
Some kids thrive on structured routines, other kids prefer things to be more free-flow. Whatever your child prefers, your schedule does not need to be color coded and it doesn’t need to be perfect. Try to find something that works for your family and do your best. When I say do your best, I do not mean your “Type A” style best, I mean do the best you can without sacrificing your peace and while trying to balance the often conflicting needs of family members. This is messy and loud and chaotic in the best of times; In times of crisis, being gentle with yourself is part of doing your best. So be gentle with yourself and be gentle with your children and when you fuck up (because we ALL do) be gentle with yourself again.
Introduce your child to healthy ways to cope with stress. For young children, playing is a great way to counteract stress. Getting outside and doing active play can help everyone to feel more optimistic. If you must remain indoors, try heavy work activities like bear crawls, jumping, or running laps around the house. Play eye spy looking through a window. Art and sensory activities, such as modeling clay or foam soap can be calming for some kids. Distance learning resources can stimulate your child’s mind and avoid boredom, but don’t underestimate your child’s need for down time too. Kids don’t learn well when they are stressed. Some kids may seek quiet time away from parents and siblings to recharge. You are bound to need some quiet time too. Its really hard to be calm and collected with a stressed child when you don’t have any time away. If your child doesn’t nap, try setting up an activity that they might enjoy playing alone, such as play dough near you in the kitchen, reading a book, or listening to a children’s story podcast.
Talk with your child in an age-appropriate way about why their routine is changing and what types of things they can expect for the near future. Let them know they can ask questions and listen to their concerns and feelings about it. When you are parenting during a crisis, there are bound to be some bumps in the road. Reach out to your support network if you need help or a listening ear. Connecting with people facing with similar challenges can make you feel less alone and help you get through it.
Handling big tantrums:
Keep them safe. If they are in a space where they might hurt themselves or others, either move them to a safe place or remove any objects or people that might get hurt.
Let them have their feelings however loud, angry, sad, or scared they may be
While they are having their feelings, check in with your own. Use your coping skills to give yourself some brain space and stay calm during your child’s meltdown. Are you breathing? Check your mind hobgoblins. Use a mantra or repeat a calming phrase if you need to. “This is hard, but it will be ok” and “they are having a hard time, not giving me a hard time” work well for me. Give yourself some mental breathing room, even if you don’t have physical breathing room. Listen to music or a podcast on earbuds, imagine that old “Calgon take me away…” commercial. Make a cup of tea. Don’t go down with the ship.
If you find yourself at a breaking point, remove yourself from the situation. Lock yourself in the bathroom, step outside or call someone to confide in. Don’t beat yourself up for reaching your breaking point- everyone gets there from time to time. Pat yourself on the back for stepping out when you need to.
When you are both calm, come back and work on solving whatever problem arose with your child. Its ok to leave the “lesson” if you aren’t in a good enough headspace to deal with it calmly right away. You can always talk about it later, if you feel you need to. Or not if you feel you don’t.
Adjust your expectations. Survival mode is not the time to be Super Mom. Grazing on goldfish crackers and a bit of extra screen time never killed anyone.
Meet kiddos needs to help prevent problems
Connection (family & social)
when you are in good headspace, take a few moments to do an activity together with your child. You do not have to give your child constant attention. Finding a balance between encouraging independent play and “together time” is key.
Please share this around – we are none of us alone; we are all connected. You never know who’s lives you’ll change with your words.
Last week (or was it 2 weeks ago – I’m not being coy – I honestly don’t remember) my dad called me, which is about as rare as me saying “I heart mayo” because I loathe mayo with the energy of a thousand suns. It’s not that we’re “not okay” or something, we just don’t have much to say to each other – he’s in California, I’m not. But, being alive in the Great Pandemic means you’re generally reaching out to people who you don’t normally talk to.
I’d expected him to say that either he or my mom had gotten The ‘VID because they’re old and they have multiple comorbidities.
I didn’t expect the words that spilled out of his mouth next: “we think Ben either has The Flu or CoVID-19.” I got the details, sparse as they were from them and tried, again, to reach my kid, but because he is a teenager, his phone is often off, which actually makes zero sense now that I’m typing it out, but that’s just the way it is.
That made his phone being off all the more concerning. But, I’m a good (wo)man in a storm and I’m all about fact-gathering rather than fear mongering or falling prostrate at someone’s… feet? Prostate? I’m not sure where I was going with that.
He’s in the same state, but not the same county, so I called that county’s health department and after I got through about 46 minute message telling me all the shit I already knew about The ‘VID (and pathogens in general), I was asked to leave a message. My guess is that that recorded seminar makes most people hang up, but I was in the car and had literally nothing else whatsoever to do.
I left my message and expected a return call about… let’s say NEVER? I figured they’d be hammered by everyone in the county to dispel some of the more outlandish things that Trump has said, so imagine my surprise when I got a callback.
Without having spoken with The Kid, I couldn’t really speak to what the symptoms he was facing were. His fever. His cough. But I did explain that he was safe and self-quarantined, and being a hermit and a teenager, had no thermometer OR desire to leave his hidey-hole. She sounded relieved.
When she was asked when he should get tested (this was when we all believed that we’d be able to get tested), she informed me – not unkindly – that “they’re not doing tests for “normal” people.”
Which is, I guess how another – WAY WAY WAY QUEEN OF BLOGS – blogger got herself tested twice (because two is better than one!!) and every asymptomatic celebrity who wants one can be tested in multiples. Me? I’m an OG blogger who’s been radio silent for years now – and my spawn aren’t special enough for a test.
But whatever. Only mildly bitter.
The other nurse confirmed what I’d thought: stay in quarantine for 3 days after the fever broke (he doesn’t have a thermometer, I was thinking, but okay). Don’t go out until the cough is gone. All the other infection control protocols were in place, so yay. Oh, and the county hadn’t had a SINGLE confirmed case yet.
I wanted to yell “BECAUSE THERE ARE NO CELEBS AROUND THERE, ASSHOLE,” but it’s not her fault so I kept my grousing to myself. And, I guess, now to you.
Because I was unable to access The Kid for a couple of more days, my dad and I spoke daily – The Kid was on an upswing, then downswing, then up, then down. Finally, The Kid, Himself, called me. I told him what I’d learned from the health department (nothing I didn’t know EXCEPT that you have to have a platinum vagina to get tested). He said he’d called the hospital at one point a couple of days before, because he was coughing so hard he’d pass out.
The gist of it was “suck it up buttercup, you can’t come to the hospital with a cough,” which threw me through a loop.
I’ve been texting with The Kid and he’s still got the cough and is doing a sleep-eat-play (video games before he passes out again) – cycle, which I’d been doing the week before. Whelp, without the video games.
He has his piano keyboard so he’s keeping busy, but he’s now, like the rest of us, falling pretty depressed. Like him (and I’d be guessing a good number of you as well), I’ve been struggling to even get off the couch. Today marks my first day back on the computer doing something other than watching the dwindling amount of traffic on the road and all of the incantations of My 90 Day Fiance – FOR THE SECOND TIME – which is just absurd enough to keep me from becoming a total slug.
My kid sounds like he had CoVID-19 but was to normal, per the health department (who also stated that there were no confirmed cases in that county) he was too normal to be tested.
The hospital told him that if he had a cough – one of the dangerous-this-may-kill-you hallmarks of CoVID-19 – he couldn’t come into the hospital.
So my kid likely had CoVID-19, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know,
He’s depressed now, I’m depressed, hell, everyone I know is depressed.
But, I dragged my ass to the computer to give you a taste of what it’s like in my world.
Now we need to hear yours: we are none of us alone; we are all connected.
After the sex, I got a Urinary Tract Infection. I was uncomfortable, in pain, and I couldn’t sleep. It’s been two weeks, and I still haven’t slept much.
Now I get a call from the doctor’s office, and it turns out I have herpes.
I want to die.
Instead, I am sitting at work in tears.
He says he didn’t know he had it. We used a condom, but he performed oral sex on me. That’s the only way this could have happened.
I like him. At least, I think I do. He’s sweet and nice and he’s been treating me the way I wish my ex-husband had.
Do I still?
I don’t know. I feel like I can’t know.
Tears are rolling down my cheeks.
He’s out of the state for work for the next week. He sent me a text message a bit ago. I told him to fuck off. He called me. I told him the culture came back positive, but I couldn’t say what it was positive for out loud. I’m at work. I’m embarrassed.
6:15 AM – My boy wakes up. Deep inhale. What will the day be like today for him; for us?
8:00 AM – Exhale. The noise deadline our downstairs neighbor has imposed (“Can’t you find some way to keep him quiet?”) has passed. Now he can play in his room.
8:15 AM – Inhale. He is on the bus for school.
Most of this past month I have gotten multiple calls or emails during the morning hours- “He kicked a student,” “He climbed on the desk,” “Other parents are complaining,” “He hit a teacher,” “I’m trying to understand his disorder,” “We really love your son and want to help him, but we may need to discuss a more restrictive environment.”
If those calls do not come by 12:55, when he is in his afternoon small-group special ed. classroom, I can exhale.
4:30 PM – Inhale. Hoping for a smooth homework, dinner, and bath routine.
If all goes well and no one is screaming by 7:00 PM I’ll exhale.
7:30 PM – Inhale. Just a bit longer now – PJs, brush teeth, read story. Melatonin has made this routine so much easier at night, but does extend the stretch of time between wakeup and noise deadline in the morning.
8:30 PM – He sleeps. Deep exhale. He has probably been corrected many more times than he has been praised. He has told me detailed stories about school, Thomas the Train, the solar system, insects. He has gone to therapy yet has not been able to keep his body still for more than five minutes all day. He has called me “cute little Mommy,” but called a teacher’s aide “a moron.” He has gotten along better with his little sister and lost his first tooth. He has heard and spoken the words, “I love you.”