In the 26th of our series, our mom of three kids--Emily, Grant, and Lynn--prepares for Halloween. It's an event that, and she’s not sure why, triggers difficult behaviour from Lynn. As Lynn’s behaviour escalates, Mom makes a discovery that results in Lynn learning a hard Halloween lesson.
I feel like the meanest mom in the world. Why does being a “good” mom have to feel so bad sometimes?
The kids have been excited about Halloween all week and, for the most part, they have controlled the hyperism. Is that a word? Even Grant, who is usually triggered by any event involving sugar, has been under control.
But it’s been a weird few weeks with Lynn, and maybe it’s because of Halloween. I’m a firm believer that when anniversaries of emotional events in a person’s life come around, they create havoc for the individual and those around them. I don’t know of any specific thing that has happened to Lynn around this time of year, but her recent behaviour and emotional state is similar to what happens at other times when I know for sure it’s the anniversary of something.
So, for the past few weeks things have been escalating with her. It’s not as if one day she’s fine and then the next day she isn’t. It’s a gradual process of regression. For example, she starts speaking baby talk, which I absolutely can’t stand. It drives me insane. So I just keep repeating, “Talk in your big girl voice.”
Then Lynn starts to argue with everything, and I do mean everything, her siblings say. Grant may be talking about how much he likes peanut butter and strawberry jam, and Lynn will say that raspberry is better and the argument is on. Then she slowly escalates the arguments until someone ends up in tears--and it’s not usually her! She’ll stomp out of the room, slam her bedroom door (or try to, except I got smart and took off the door knob so it doesn’t close all the way and doesn’t make any noise). The next step usually involves physical injury to her brother or sister that leaves a welt or bruise. And, of course, there is the food issue.
The other morning when I woke her up for school there was red dye all around her mouth and on her pillow. I asked her what it was and, of course, she had no idea what I was talking about. I smelled the pillow (always a risky move) and it was a strawberry scent. I still couldn’t figure it out. It took me awhile to locate the evidence but, sure enough, she’d hidden a package of strawberry flavored Crystal Lite that she had eaten. When I asked her about it, she denied any knowledge and actually said, “Grant did it.” Now that I’ve learned to walk away and shut my mouth, I did just that.
After she had left for school, I did a thorough search of her usual hiding spots. As I thought we had moved on from the food issues, I hadn’t had to do this for quite awhile. I guess I was wrong, because I found 37, yes, 37 candy wrappers hidden in her closet and pushed down the heat vent. There were also cheese strings from her left over lunches, as well as some other unidentifiable food remnants. I can’t figure out where she got all the candy from, but it must have been from some of her sister’s candy stash and from her friends at school. (You’d think she would be smart enough to throw out her left over lunch food at school instead of bringing it home to hide…. I’m sure there’s a reason for that).
So, I called up our pediatrician and, fortunately, she was able to speak with me. That was yesterday, which brings me back to my point about feeling like the worst mom in the world.
After all the trick and treating was done, and Lynn had looked through all her candy, I took the pediatrician’s advice. I removed all but her five bags of chips and gave her $20. I explained that her doctor wanted it this way (always blame the doctor) because Lynn had been eating too much candy and taking food that wasn’t hers, and we wanted her to be healthy. She could use the money to buy a toy or something other than food.
Well, the tears started and she got so mad. I explained that it’s my job to keep her healthy and this is what I need to do. I kept repeating, “I’m so sorry this has happened,” and hugged her. I didn’t want her to feel bad, just to understand that there are consequences for her behavior even when she’s feeling stressed, and we need to get back on track and learn to deal with her emotions better.
Even though I know that needed to happen for Lynn, I feel really lousy. I hope this week is better for both of us.