I was talking to a friend recently about parenting (I sometimes wonder if that's all I ever do!). I like to pick up tips and see how other people do it. Personally I feel like I've lost the parenting plot a lot of time and I realise that I'm feeling way too serious about it all and not really enjoying the time I have with my children.
In my defence my time with my children generally involves Katie calling Pip a "butt-hole" or shouting at him to get away from her (unless she wants to play with him of course). More recently she's discovered the word "bitch" so that's a new level of name calling currently in use. We've already been and done the "F" word last year. Mostly she's bored of that one now which is a relief. I do know that Katie doesn't use these words at school - she has at least that much sense - but Pip doesn't have that filter yet as he's only 4. I'm dreading the day when I'm pulled aside to be told he's taught some poor unsuspecting child some colourful new words. I either spend my days telling them not to call each other names or telling them to stop harassing the poor kittens or not to throw things at each other. I'm sure I'm exaggerating. There are some musical interludes of whale song and playful dolphins but my stress levels suggest they aren't as plentiful as I would like.
My friend is able to parent her child with logic, reason, some wonderful reverse psychology and lots of humour. I don't even know where my humour has gone to hide at the moment. Being "playful" about my parenting when I'm being thumped or screamed at or totally being ignored when I'm asking either of the children to do anything quickly becomes a state of mind that I am unable to access. How can you be playful when you've asked someone to put their shoes on 20 times or have argued that "yes you do need a coat because it's almost winter/it's raining/it's chilly" I'm fed up with asking Katie to clean her teeth and then having to police it because she'll just use mouthwash (in fairness I used to pretend to clean my teeth when I was younger too). How can you be playful when you've called your child 10 times and they are pointedly ignoring you for whatever reason they have in that moment? Why do we feel this need to defy our parents requests at every turn? For me that's the issue in our house. It's the defying at every turn. I don't think my children do anything they are asked to do the first, second third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh etc time - unless it involves sweets.
As a parent I often feel totally deskilled. It's all very hit and miss. Some days I do well and some days I don't. As much as anything that it linked to the mood Katie happens to be in that day. After a recent CAMHS assessment we have been offered a parenting course for ADHD. I'll go on it with an open mind; try not to feel too judged, and see what they say. I do wonder if I inflame things too much by not distracting or de-esculating Katie. Half the time I'm too exhausted to even see it coming if I'm honest let alone finding a playful way of handling things. My head already hurts from over thinking just about everything as it is. I'm trying to ignore the little stuff (there is a massive volume of little stuff though, it's hard to ignore it). I'm trying to give lots of positive praise where I can. I don't want my children to feel that they can't breathe without getting into trouble but equally I'd like them to just put their friggin coats and shoes on when asked and maybe if we weren't so caught up in the small stuff we could cope with the bigger stuff a bit better. I'm haven't even started on the stress I feel every time I go to use something that has been stolen. I now lock stuff away in a cupboard so keep some things away from Katie.
For the most part Pip is easier to parent than Katie. His capacity to rationalise, reflect and understand is greater than Katie's. Katie is stuck in oppositional mode most of the time. She wants to just do the opposite of everything she's asked to do. Pip is often concerned about whether he is behaving well (except when he's arguing about his coat or throwing things at me because he doesn't want to go to bed). Katie is not like my friend's son who will learn from a negative experience - Katie would just go right out there and do it again - the joys of FASD. Neither child seems to get that the outcome is always the same no matter how much they argue. Shoes and coats are always worn; teeth are always cleaned eventually after being threatened with no sweets for a year! We do get there but it's at the cost of my own mental health. I feel so stressed by the time the school run is over. Is that just me having unrealistic expectations and taking it all a little bit too personally? How do I find a playful approach to these issues? If I could find it for these things maybe I could find it for other things.
Answers on a postcard (or the comments section below) would be welcomed please.....