When Thea was tired...

Thea is usually a pretty happy kid…unless she is tired.  When she gets tired, she gets stubborn.  This stubbornness usually involves public humiliation for me.  This summer, we went to the zoo.  It was a warm day, so I rented a stroller, bringing water and snacks so that I could make sure that our day was fun and not overtaxing her body.  At the end of the day, we returned the stroller to the zoo area.  I suspected that Thea was getting tired and beginning to get to her “unreasonable” stage.  I knew this was the case when, turning around, I found her behind me arms crossed and glaring.  “It’s time to walk like a big girl,” I told her.  She continued to glare.  Our friends had already reached the zoo exit by that time and were probably wondering where we were.  I took a few deep breaths, hoping they weren’t in a hurry to leave.

the "unreasonable stage"

“Our friends are waiting,” I reminded her.  “Carry me!!!” She demanded reaching up and pressing her full weight against me.  “It’s Thea’s job to walk like a big girl,” I responded.  She refused so I walked a bit farther down the path.  Standing firmly in the middle of the walking path, she glared at me with eyebrows furrowed, arms crossed, and an angry scowl on her face.  I edged a little bit closer to the exit.  A well-intentioned mom stopped- probably to help the poor, lost child.  “She’s mine,” I said, signaling at the woman.  “Please excuse our stand-off.”  She laughed, wished me luck, and walked on.  I took a few more steps toward the exit, turning myself sideways so that I could see her but also trying to look like I wasn’t watching her.  We paused like this for a few heart beats. 
Suddenly, her anger seemed to fade.  Her arms flopped to her sides, the scowl melted, and she ran over to me, grabbed my hand, and trotted quickly toward the exit.  I praised her for walking, and she chatted to me excitedly about the animals we had seen, the stand-off instantly forgotten.  As soon as we got into the car, she fell asleep.  I knew when she woke up, she’d be happy and cooperative again.  I knew that our stand-off was more due to her energy level than anything else. 
Tango2 seems to make everything about the difficult job of raising a child more difficult- even discipline.  I’m constantly questioning myself.  When should I push her to behave herself?  When should I give in because I know that she is just tired?  I want to be understanding of her limits, but I want her to behave herself even when it’s hard.  I know that she will do better in school and in life, if she has self-control.  I want her to go through the mental exercise of keeping her behavior in check, even when she doesn’t feel like it.  Sometimes, my patience and persistence seem to pay off like that day at the zoo.  The amount of time we spent in conflict seemed long at the time, but really it was over quickly. 
I also know that there are times, when she is just too tired.  There were days before she started the mito cocktail, which improved her energy levels tremendously, where she was so grumpy, tired and angry that no attempt to help her stop reacting to how her body was feeling seemed to have any effect.  I honestly felt like I was trying my hardest and her behavior and moods were awful.  She would not return to normal until I could get her to take a nap and eat something no matter what I did.  I still tried, exhausted, near tears at times, and I wanted to think that it was paying off, but I just wasn’t sure. 

Life improves after a good meal!

One of the T2 moms and I were chatting on the phone the other day.  She was frustrated with her child’s behavior.  We talked about how we try to avoid over tiring our children while still experiencing life and having adventures.  Then we talked about the guilty thoughts.  Both of us are educators- why can’t we handle our children’s behavior sometimes?  I felt such compassion for her and, as I felt it for her, I thought about giving myself that same kind of grace.  Our kids need a little more time, a little more patience, and a little more rest than many kids.  I thought of the parents with children with disabilities even more challenging than Thea’s case and the extra patience and care required just to cope with the simple activities of daily life.  I think that if our kids need a little extra, maybe we can give ourselves that same treatment- little extra patience, a little self- kindness, lots of fruit and vegetables, and maybe some time to rest as well.   


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