I want daddy!!!! She screamed for the thirtieth time as we drove along. Her breathing was short and shallow between each new wail and with each outburst my patience got a little thinner.
We had just spent the past hour and a half at the park. We were all hot, thirsty, and tired. C skipped her nap this afternoon, opting rather to read books in her room. We had left the house shortly before what should have been dinner time and they had Rita’s on an empty stomach and the sugar high had been long depleted.
It’s not that I’m making excuses for her behavior, except that I am. We expect our children to be on their best behavior, to never melt down, and to be logical and rational. And to their credit, they hit the mark quite a bit considering their ages. But there are times when the odds are stacked against them, and guess who stacked them… we did.
We set her up for failure. We set her up for this moment. And when I tell her to stop and she whines, I can’t, I for one believe her. We had disregarded the things her body needed to cope with her emotions.
When I am hungry, tired, and overheated I’m grumpy. Aren’t we all? And while we as adults have learned (at least to some extent) to contain the natural reactions to those stimuli, we can’t expect small children to do the same. Their reactions to things are naturally bigger, but add the additional stresses and things quickly get blown out of proportion.
As I drove along, I vacillated between breathing, praying, and sternly telling her to calm down- as her screaming sounded perilously close to nails on a chalkboard. Yet for ten minutes she screamed. But when she ceased to get a reaction out of me the screams slowly morphed into whimpers and then into sniffles. Five minutes from home and she started to speak softly to me.
And when I held her tonight in her bed, both of us squished in, a jumble of arms and legs, I stared in her eyes. They were red from the crying, but she smiled and snuggled closer. When you are done cuddling with Big E, will you come back and cuddle with me some more? I agreed, but she was fast asleep when I returned.