Every one here has read reams about my kids, the good and the bad. Yesterday I mentally declared a state of emergency, and started a course correction. So far it has worked.
What am I doing? I'm starting to take away treats and videos for entirely unrelated infractions-- the stuff that has made life in the last few months incredibly stressful like name-calling, little ornery punches("addicental" of course! uh huh.....right), screaming.
It has worked like a charm. Today dd2 started screaming at dd1 for ending a game. I told her "OK, now it's time to stop yelling at your sister." "BUT I NEED TO TELL HER...." "You can tell her but you can't yell." "BUT YOU QUIT THE GAME BEFORE...." "If you yell again, I'm taking away one of your treats tomorrow." ".........."
Oh, brother. I have tried so many different ways besides this tactic. I have talked and listened. I have yelled myself when I've lost all patience (nice going, mama.) I have waited, foolishly perhaps, while doing all this, thinking that some week it will magically all be easier to get an understanding with these girls. Nothing.
The last year has been particularly stressful for all of us. Now, a new house with a new yard and the dead of winter has exacerbated the problems I have tried to address continually, and the atmosphere has become toxic. I have been extremely unhappy about all this, even though I am alternately thrilled about this coming spring and have generally enjoyed our USing life otherwise.
But still, the issues-- orneriness, competitiveness, selfishness, the grinding meanness of the older to the younger, everything I have ever complained about here and things I haven't--- all this continued and became worse and (something I realized not too long ago) have become ingrained HABIT with the two of them.
I am tired. I was hoping dd1's empathy was developing more (something she has shown a shortage of since.... forever, really). I was hoping dd2 would HEAR ME so I could converse with her and not be such a heavy (she has always been difficult to talk with regarding these things).
So, I am using a tactic that I was trying to avoid. I am no stranger to removing things like videos IF the behavior was connected to the videos (like screaming because dd1 did not like dd2's video) but I have intensely disliked the idea of connecting unrelated things. And I didn't like that tactic in general because if misbehavior kept going... what then? But I have used it judiciously when the "punishment" was connected to the "crime". Not this. Not ever.
I kept thinking "one of these days something will click" and we have had many signs of improvements. DD1's skills at conversing with me about these things has really blossomed. An that is how I found that much of her actions were from habit. Sure, she's still pissed and we also need to deal with that. But I thought this new development would help the situation resolve, but...not. One step forward.... three steps back.
This was starting to make me love the idea of school. Our school district sucks. I would never seriously consider school. But, oh.... school sounds pretty nice about now. I didn't tell dd1 that exactly, but I did say when I had her alone in the car that this constant fighting and meanness has made homeschooling unhappy for me, and I wasn't sure how we could continue if we didn't resolve this. All I do know is that other families have given up on homeschooling for much, much less conflict than this.
To her credit, dd1 is really trying. She understands to some degree. But simply has not enough control over her actions when she is grumpy.... and she's grumpy a lot. She's a moody and temperamental kid.
I am so not proud of all this. I consider it a failure on my part to effectively get a handle on this situation in a manner I consider to be more respectful. I have played a huge part in creating some of the problems by my own yelling when all patience is lost--something I have improved for a long while but too little too late. I am not a failure but in this I have failed myself.
I'm not sure I even want to hear any response that begins "You did the right thing" because I think I'd cringe. This is not the right thing, but I do understand I absolutely could not continue on, either. This is a desperate thing. I won't regret it, but I am sorry that I can no longer wait for another option. I simply ran out of any faith that they were going to "outgrow" this organically with my sage and supremely patient guidance. (Thllllbbbbt!!!)
I am hopeful that I can make this "course correction" and move on to creating a happier, more peaceful household. In an unintended way, they HEAR me now, though not for the reasons I wanted. And they are obliged to SEE their actions mindfully, albeit after the fact. Putting mindfulness into their actions, in some way or another, I know is the key to ending the worst of this.
I am hoping this doesn't cascade and force me into this type of thing with everything. I have a promise from dh not to push cleaning up on them. Let us, please, work on getting along, especially when we are angry and grumpy.
I have some crazy vision that after this we will listen and respect each other better and that we might actually get closer to my ideal vision of family connection, respect and empathy. I am wise enough to see that the real work will come in healing their feelings of injustice and favoritism. I have some ideas for that. Working on it already.
Ugh. I don't know. Thanks for reading. Thanks to all of you for keeping up on our drama.