Sunday, November 12, 2006

distance = denial

Okay, the last blog entry was written at work Friday morning, which is the time of the week in which I have attained the most space between Nora and myself and I guess that space was making me feel all hopeful and sanguine about things, e.g., the future, my ability to parent this kid, life in general. I can spell denial; I just don’t always know when I’m hip deep in it. So now, it’s 2:30 pm on Sunday afternoon, which is approaching the nadir, no not the zenith, I mean low point (I did the Sunday crossword this morning, can you tell) of our time spent in each other’s presence each week (except for holidays which just about do me in regardless if Nora is in the mix) and I’m no longer hopeful. She was out of control at the after-care field trip to the natural history museum on Friday afternoon. She had a bad behavior write up and from Ellie’s report of her “shenanigans,” the after-care instructors missed seeing the worst of it.
I don’t know where her train went off the tracks on Friday, but she never got it back on. I couldn’t let her behavior go unpunished (I won’t itemize, but she blew it in so many different ways during that field trip that she must have set a school record). So I let the other girls have Friday movie night and I kept Nora with me, upstairs, working on the alphabet or watching me do dishes or something else boring and then I put her to bed early. Saturday started okay, but her train left the tracks in the afternoon when she let fly on Mimi and Candyland hit the floor after hitting Mimi first because Nora wasn’t winning. When I went to the play room to see what was happening, she threw the game board again and yelled at me to “LEAVE ME ‘LONE.” I know this sounds routine for a lot of other parents, but playing fair and square and no back talking are hallmarks of the Hanson household and it stuns me that I have a child that does not respect either concept. She threw a tantrum when I expressed my disapproval of not playing fair and square and I hadn’t even mentioned the yelling at mom crapola. But, we recovered, had Ellie’s friend over for play date, but something else made her snap and at 7:00 pm last night, she threw a small chair at the wall in the play room because she wasn’t getting her way and I removed her and put her to bed early, again, and boy did she wail, and boy, I didn’t care and I know I would have held Mimi or YuYu if they were crying that hard and I didn’t even want to go near Nora.
Earlier today she was sharing a banana with YuYu and they were getting to the end. Nora had taken more bites than YuYu and YuYu asked for the last bite. Nora pushed that last big honking piece of banana into her mouth and giggled maniacally when YuYu looked disappointed. And boy, I sure hate to see that kind of lack of empathy and perverse enjoyment of someone else’s pain in any child of mine, and I didn’t want to be near her and the maniacal giggling bought her another time out. The stupid thing is that I know she has no inkling what she had done wrong and all she knows is that she’s being punished and can’t connect the punishment with the crime. She is napping right now because she lost control again when she didn’t want to play SPY like the other three and started pouting, then tattling, then yelling, then crying, then I suggested that she was too tired to play fair and square and it was time for nap and then she treated us all to another entertaining tantrum and boy did she wail, and boy, I didn’t care, and she finally fell asleep and I’ll pay for it later when she can’t sleep at bedtime.
It is one thing to know and understand that she is a three year old in a big strapping five-year-old body, but it is a wholly different thing to respond in a loving and patient manner when the five-year-old tantrums like a toddler that you don’t like very much. This is hard, she is hard, and she makes life harder than it needs to be. Just like a yoyo, ain’t I?


Anonymous said...


I am sorry things are yo-yo-ing around your house. Sigh.

I have no witty remarks tonite. Just comisseration and compassion.

(from Iowa)

Anonymous said...


I wish I had some word to leave you as you seem so tired and frustrated with Nora. Your probably tired of the clich├ęs and know-it-alls out here who read your blog. SO I hope this helps a little.

For 9 years, we had a quiet home - we are readers and don't like TV - in other word we are the most boring people in the world. Ian was our one-and-only. Today, life started with a scream, and ended with LiLi biting Ian - which was a first – followed by him biting her back. I sent them to their rooms twice during the day, oh and in mass this morning, Ian grabbed the program from her just to hear her scream right before the priest began the reading of the gospel. That is like the quietest moment in the service. Boy I wanted to pop him right there - and I don't hit my children - but that didn't stop me from wanting to.

I have a very different life from you, but there is something special about you that makes you write this; that caused you to open your life to Nora. I believe that you want to love her, but the frustration of parenting and dealing with here is getting in the way. I know that malicious giggle because when LiLi gets in trouble, Ian loves it and his jealousy overtakes him and it make me despise him.

Here's my advice for what it is worth. Don't feel like your have to make this happen and beat your self up. Have you ever taken Nora and her wild spirit to an open field and let her run and scream her brains out? I don't know her history in China, but I can tell you the spit-fire LiLi is when she flairs - and she is just 22 months! Then I tell my self - bio-family, then two orphanages, then foster care - US - 16 months. But that is also a crutch and I am quickly overcoming it. LiLi is a toddler and a spoil one at that! What I sense from the blog is that Nora is a survivor, and until her need to survive is broke and she’s going to continue to be a wild loose cannon, out of control. I wish I knew what to tell you to do – but – I hated walking the lower elementary school hall where I used to teach and I thought K-2nd grade teacher who don’t quit after a year or two got automatic sainthood. There is a book – called Making Children Mind Without Loosing Your – which I have used with Ian.

OMG – I am so sorry this got so long - but I really do admire you for your honesty. You are very brave. Good luck this week.


Amy said...

Hi Marji -

Just me with my stories. And I'm far, far from knowing much of anything at all that you would likely find useful. :)

My mother tells me that I had the most evil little laugh as a kid. When she could hear that laugh along with my sisters whining or yelling about something, I got in big trouble. Apparently I grew out of it. (And I like to think I became a good person... even though I had some mischievous beginnings... and my sisters had their moments, too. Like when I interrupted my youngest sister drawing on the bedsheets, and I said, "Oh, you're gonna get in BIG trouble!" And she said, "No I'm not. You are." Me: "What? Why?" And she replied with an evil grin, "I'm little, and I don't know any better." Me: "MOMMMM!!")

I do wonder whether Nora is just a very persistent scientist. You know, increasing her sample size? Let's test Mom one more time and see if she really gives up on me this time. What a pain in the patootie to feel like you have to outlast her all the time.

Sometimes love is just getting through the yucky stuff without giving up. And we believe in you and Nora. And hey - at least Fridays come once a week... so maybe you can enjoy the delusion once in a while. :)

Melissa said...

Nora = Charlotte

Eerily similar children--right down to that laugh when someone else gets hurt or upset.