Are there times when I look at Charlotte and think, "man, I really wish I could see the girls running around together at this same age", or "geez, I wonder if Ruthie and Imogene would be as spirited/independent/caring/etc..."? You bet there are. Everyday we are so thankful for our time with Charlotte and Oliver, and everyday we are in turn reminded of the times we won't get to enjoy with Ruthie and Imogene. Given that, in all likelihood, Oliver and the girls would have been no more than a year apart, I think it will be all too easy over the course of our lives to think, we could have been doing this same thing next year for them (kindergarten, high school graduation, heading to college, birthdays, etc...).
What I struggle with lately is that as much as I want to be with my kids pretty much every second, my patience feels like it is being tested often. Do I think it is any coincidence that both of the kids are acting out more since this happened? Absolutely not. I have never been able to understand adults who act like their kids are not affected by their actions and moods; or when they act like their kids don't know that something is going on when clearly there is turmoil. Our kids are no different, and they have certainly been needing a bit more from Mom and Dad.
I have been desperately trying not to feel guilty when I get frustrated too easily, or when a time out is given (although deserved), or when, despite our best efforts, we need a moment away. Ever since leaving the kiddos with my family so that we could go deliver the girls Oliver has been clingy to say the least. The minute I leave the room he screams shrilly and continues to do so until I come back. I know part of that is his age, he is right at the age when separation anxiety begins, but I also know part of it is because he has always been around me and wasn't for two days and that scared him.
Charlotte has been testing limits. She had started getting a bit testier before this all shook out, but certainly upped the ante over the last couple of weeks. She is being sassy, talking back, and throwing fits. In between that she is insanely sweet and caring. She loves 'nuggling Mommy and knows exactly what to do or say to lift mine and Jim's spirits. Even so, her tough moments have been pretty tough for her and pretty uncharacteristic.
On Tuesday of this week Charlotte spent most of the day doing a craft off and on. She loves arts and crafts so this is not unusual. It was the first time I let her use scissors on her own for her craft...I am sure you can see where this is heading. She was cutting out pictures from magazines and gluing them on paper. She was having a blast.
It was about time for Jim to come home and time to pick up. I was on the phone with a friend of mine and distracted. Charlotte immediately threw a fit about picking up, which she does every time. She got her standard warning, and was asked to head to time out until she was ready to pick up. A few couple minutes of wailing later she told me she was ready to head in and pick up. I was still on the phone so distractedly I told her to go ahead and head in her play room and begin picking up.
I looked in her playroom a minute later and she was gluing stuff again. I told her that was enough and it was time to pick up, no more chances, and again went back to my conversation. She came out not 30 seconds later to ask me something and I looked down and noticed a chunk of hair on her dress. Oh dear. Sill on the phone I exclaim "what did you do?!?". She said "I told you my hair needed trimmed because it was too long!". I turn around look in the playroom, leap up to go look at the pile of hair on the floor. Oh my gosh. I let me friend go and started panicking.
I am not proud of every decision I made after finding that pile of hair. I made a big scene about throwing her kid scissors away and we went into the bathroom to take out the braid in the front of her hair and comb it out so I couldn't see the large clipped off section staring me in the face. I was doing pretty good at not yelling or freaking out too bad until we went back into her playroom to pick up and she still threw a fit about helping. Then I lost my cool, which was literally the second Jim came through the door. He had no idea what he was walking into. A couple minutes later I sent her up to her room so that before I acted any more irrationally (seriously it's just hair) I had the chance to calm down.
When I went up to her room she was in her bed. I asked her what she was thinking about while she was up there and her little chin just started quivering trying to hold in her cry. I knew that feeling, I had had it a lot lately. I scooped her up and we sat cuddling there for a few minutes. We talked about the big choice she had to make now, to cut her hair or to try to hide it. She still wants to trim it some. I am good with that, in fact it will look much better. In all fairness to her, she has been asking to get her hair trimmed for awhile now. Who knew she would take it so seriously? We cuddled some more and talked about the choice she had made. Jim came up and together we decided on some consequences; cleaning her playroom really good and no tv shows for 2 days (missing Clifford is pretty rough stuff for her).
The thing that bothers me most about this whole story is me. I was distracted, as I have been off and on lately. I wasn't paying enough attention to her and I was getting slightly emotional on the phone off and on talking with my friend, and she really doesn't like it when I cry or get too emotional lately. I am not claiming that talking with one of my greatest friends was a bad choice, but not recognizing that Charlotte was demanding my attention was wrong.
It never even dawned on me that morning when we opened the scissors for her for the first time that she would ever cut her hair. Anybody that knows Charlotte knows that she is wise beyond her years. She is not an impulsive kid and she rarely acts in the same childish ways that other kids do. Not because we have conditioned her not to, there are times when Jim and I really wish she would let loose and be a bit more free and kid like. The thing is, that's just not Charlotte. At jubilation at church every week she rarely plays with the other kids, instead she connects with the teenage helpers. During dance class she follows instructions to a T and gets annoyed when the other kids act frivolous and run like crazy instead of following the directions. Her vocabulary is huge and she expresses herself in ways that always impress people who don't know her. It's just her.
So, the thing is, I know that this cutting hair thing was all me. I know that she would not have done this if our house wouldn't have been so full of emotion lately. I know that if I would have just gotten off the phone she never would have sought out my attention in that way. I know that it is my fault. I can try to convince myself otherwise, but I know that if this event would have played itself out a little more than two weeks ago she would not have made the same choice.
Sometimes you need a wake up call, I guess this was mine. The past two days with her have been much better, I am sure because I have been much better. Now if we can just convince Oliver that I am going to come back every time I leave the room we would be on a roll. Here's to hanging in there I guess.