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Friday, March 10, 2017

Talking about angry

I had a feeling yesterday afternoon would be a tough one.  Tony had a doctor's appointment after work, and so was going to be a few hours late coming home.  Janey doesn't care for that---not at all.  We've lately had some pretty good afternoons, but we do so by following a routine that is quite unchanging, right down to what I say when.  She gets off the bus, I tell her I missed her a million and was crying seven times for her.  I've said that every day for many years, and if I don't say it, she is not pleased.  Then she takes off her shoes and flings herself on her bed, and hugs Special Pillow for a bit, then asks for cheese.  I get it, cutting her slices.  She then asks for salami, and then does her own hunt to see what else there is.  I try to have a jar of salsa around, for a lower calorie treat.  She eats that, and then wants to snuggle again for a bit, then she asks for videos.  Sometimes she tells me which one she wants, something she wants me to browse.  Either way, we watch them until it's time for Daddy to get home, around 4:45.

A sign that would do no good
I told Janey early on that Daddy was going to be late.  She didn't react, but like clockwork, at 4:40 she started looking for him.  I reminded her he wasn't going to get home at his regular time.  Once it became apparent I was telling the truth, she started to scream.  And then screaming got loud, fast.  I ignored it as long as I could, but then, I asked her to stop.  She didn't, and I asked more firmly.  She didn't again, and I suggested she go in the "screaming room", a long ago strategy to try to contain her screaming to one room, the bathroom.  I went with her.

In the bathroom, after more screaming, I did what we so often do---thought up a song on the fly.  It was more of a chant, really.  It went "Janey is ANGRY because Daddy is LATE!"  I clapped on the "angry" and the "late".  Janey started repeating it near immediately, and we chanted it probably a hundred times.

How I must have sounded to Janey
Then she surprised me.  I did what I often do after she gets a sentence down.  I said the "Janey is angry because..." part and left the ending out, expecting her to say "Daddy is late".  Instead, she said "Mama said NO!"  She said the "no" in a (I hope) very overstatedly nasty voice, and while saying it, shook her finger in my face.

Well, I hope I don't sound like that when I say no, and I don't THINK I usually shake my finger in her face, but I can't say it's impossible....And I thought about it.  A little before Janey started screaming, I did say no to her.  She asked for more cheese.  We are trying to think about calories a bit more with her, and she'd already had a good deal to eat, so I said I didn't think we needed more cheese right then.  She didn't react much at the time, but I guess it stayed in her mind.  Or perhaps she was referring to when I told her not to scream, after she had started the screaming.  Either way, I made her angry and she let me know.

I've been working on getting Janey to verbalize her feelings, or on a more basic level, to recognize what she feels as angry or sad or hungry or happy or surprised, every chance I get.  I feel like the more she understands what her feeling are, the more she can tell us what she is feeling.  Yesterday felt like a bit of a breakthrough.  Maybe it wasn't the answer I wanted, but she told me that I made her angry. I am going to look at how I say "no".  There will still of course be times I have to say it, but I'll try to say it in a kinder and softer way.

After the screaming talk, the afternoon actually went well.  Janey calmed down a huge amount, and we watched videos and had a good time.  Just before Tony got home, one of her videos talked about having a cold and sneezing, and Janey started one of her favorite games lately, pretending to sneeze.  We do a lot of pretending like that---pretending to sleep, or cry, or get angry, or cough.  It seems like a way to work on feeling and symptoms and so on without actually having to get angry or sick.  I'm pleased that Janey seems to get the concept of pretending, at least in a basic way.  We pretended to sneeze back and forth for a good ten minutes, and then Daddy was home at last.  And I took full advantage and closed myself up and read for a long time.  Not a bad afternoon, overall.

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