Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No Fine Girls Just Ugly Faces

Sweetie has a problem. In turn, Hubby and I have a problem.

Sweetie's attitude problem, that is.

Sweetie's attitude is like a whole separate creature. A creature that takes over she who is possessed and turns her into a drama queen extraordinaire. 

And with the attitude? The Face.

The Ugly Face. Bottom lip turned outward. Cruel eyebrows. Angry eyes.

Oh, how many times we and other family members have told Sweetie to stop with the Ugly Faces. 

And the arms. The crossed armed/tilted-hips thing. That's got to go as well. And she's been told as much. Several times.

If something is not going Sweetie's way - and let me tell you, things very rarely seem to be going her way, at least in her eyes - out comes The Face and The Arms and The Stance. 

And with all that, there is no doubt - Sweetie IS NOT AMUSED.

Luckily, I am beginning to see the bare minimum inching away from Evil Attitude/Body Altering Girl. She's beginning - ever so slowly - to voice her displeasure.

What? You think this would only add to the disturbing experience that is Disturbed Girl? Well, you'd be right if her vocalization presented itself in shrieks, whines or mumbles. (Oh, and don't let me fool ya - there certainly can be a fair amount of all of that). BUT, what I'm talking about is that Sweetie is actually starting to express her displeasure constructively.

I'm angry with you, Mama. (Daddy, cousins, friends, the cats, whomever....)

Yay! Words! I can work with words! 

Of course, like I said, Sweetie seems only to be ever. so. slowly. inching her way toward constructive vocalization. But she's doing it. She's trying. I can see it and I know she's working hard. And because of that, I am proud of her.

When Sweetie is out and about - say, at a large family gathering - and suddenly comes running to us with tears down her face and wails coming from her mouth, I always ask her straight off:

Are you hurt or are you mad?

If she's hurt - fine. She did something that caused her pain (albeit most likely not as much pain as her screams would imply...), she's most likely scared, and she needs comforting. I get the tears. Still - we can assess any damages quickly and assure her that all is well - no need for tears anymore. Go back and play.

But if she responds that she's mad, well then... Good for her that she's using her words. Let's talk about what happened and see if whatever injustices allegedly took place can be righted. Most often there is precious little evidence that something truly maddening has transpired (maddening to a 5 year old? Obviously. But actually deserving of angry feeling for the typical sane human being? Rarely). So we sit with her, calm her down, and give her some time to collect herself and decide whether she can go back to doing whatever she was doing or move on to another distraction.

So - 'yes" to the useful, constructive words. "No" to the body language. 

Your body's overt display of anger is not helping us get anywhere close to resolving the source of your unhappiness, Sweetie. Words do help.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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