Children are like pineapple. You know, prickly on the outside but sweet on the inside? Oh wait, given recent events at my house, that doesn’t seem likely.
When I wrote about the tantrums I’ve been dealing with lately, you all were so encouraging. Thank you for the wisdom and the prayers and the empathy you shared. It eased my mind and my heart.
The day I published that post was actually a lot better than the previous weeks had been. I even joked on Twitter that perhaps Annalyn was reading my blog! And after a pediatrician (not our regular doctor, but the one we happened to see last week when we went in for an earache) went from zero to “you should see a child psychologist, stat” in about 30 seconds, my gut reaction told me that perhaps I needed some time to regroup and pray just as much as I need tips, tools and tests for every behavioral issue a child could possibly have.
I talked with Annalyn, we prayed about her choices, and we both worked really hard all week. And whaddya know, but she didn’t throw a single tantrum all week.
We started the day with a tantrum. Then she refused to take a decent nap and proved her point with a second tantrum that my friend Erin got to witness as she was taking some head shots for me. And then, after going on and on for more than TWO months about wanting to have a beach party at our house and after planning for weeks to host her friends and decorate the house and have oh-so-much fun, my darling child threw the biggest whopper of a melt-your-face, surely-she’s-possessed, whose-child-is-this-anyway screaming fit WHILE WE HAD FRIENDS AT OUR HOUSE.
Thankfully, the friends we’d invited for dinner (aka, a beach party that wasn’t, since it was way too hot to hang out in the backyard and Tantrum #2 meant we didn’t pull out the party decorations after all) are old friends. They are good friends. And – possibly most important here – they are friends with little kids of their own.
Still, it was mortifying. Mark and I both kind of lost our minds, yet when my sweet friend quietly said, “If you need us to leave . . .” I gnashed my teeth and said, “NO! Please! Stayyyyyyy.” I’m not sure I sounded like a lunatic for the rest of the night. My friends would never say so. But it’s quite possible I did.
As we sat around the table, listening to my child scream things like, “Bad Mommy!” and “I do not want to sit on this bed!” we talked about how challenging (to put it so very nicely) kids can be and how frustrated (to put it nicely) we can get. Even then, I recognized that Mark and I were not handling the situation well, and I said, “There’s probably a better way to handle a tantrum like this. But I just don’t know it.”
And then I could only laugh. I had just said nearly the same thing about cutting up a pineapple! After buying – and cutting up – a pineapple for the very first time last week, I said to Smitty, my mom and my friends before The Tantrum Incident, “There might be an easier way to cut up a pineapple. But I don’t know it.”
Of course, Smitty was kind enough to help me realize that the proper cutting of a pineapple involves coring it. And, oh yeah that’s right, I did not do that with the pineapple I included in my Fourth of July fruit plate. (“Oh well,” I told her. “I didn’t know most of those people anyway.” But seriously. How embarrassing that I took a plate of fruit that included pineapple core to a party!?!)
So, there you have it. Cutting up a pineapple is hard and awkward and messy and seemingly impossible to do well. It seems that, according to the Internet, there is actually a proper method that works better than my attempt. But I’m telling you: I tried that method on Pineapple #2 over the weekend, and it did not work out.
Sound familiar? I’d say that raising kids (or dealing with strong-willed ones, at least!) is hard and awkward and messy and seemingly impossible to do well, too. Supposedly there are methods that work. But as of right now, they are not working on my pineapple. I mean, my kiddo.
Have I mentioned that I don’t even like pineapple? I don’t mean this metaphorically! I really don’t like to eat pineapple. But I’ve heard that fresh pineapple is way better than the canned stuff I’ve encountered in the past. And I have to admit that after I hacked and chopped and cut and sliced that second pineapple, the little bit of fruit that was left was sweet and tasty. Almost like it was a completely different fruit.
I guess that’s a little bit like kids, too.
Sunday was better than Saturday in our house, although the hand-off at church hasn’t gone well in weeks and this week was no exception. But at one point, she started to argue and freak out about something and I reminded her that she needed to make good choices, and she said, “Okay, Mommy.”
Just like that. “Okay, Mommy.” She made a good choice, followed directions and use her sweet voice that I’ve missed so much lately. You know, like she was another child altogether.
Tomorrow Annalyn gets to wear her polka dot dress all day. She usually wears it to church. (Every week. She alternates between her fancy twirly polka-dotted Christmas dress and her fancy twirly polka-dotted Easter 2011 dress. Every. Single. Week.) But after Saturday night’s performance, I told her she’d have to earn the privilege to wear it on Monday instead.
We’re also going to choose a Bible verse to help her remember to continue making good choices, and I’m pulling out my daily prayer calendar for parents again. And we might even buy another pineapple when we go to the grocery store.
Finish this sentence: Children are like __________________. (Come on! It’ll be fun!)