Friday, May 20, 2011

Wires and Tantrums

Every six months or so, The Peanut goes through a major growth spurt. This isn't just one of those times when all her long pants are suddenly capri-length and it's time to go buy her a whole new wardrobe.   Her physical growth thus far has been slower than that.  It's the mental component that has been the killer.  Since these spurts usually occur near her half-birthday and actual birthday and her birthday is tomorrow, I should have seen the one this week coming.  Life has been so crazy these past few months, I missed the signs and didn't realize it was happening until we were in the middle of it.

This past week has resulted in more timeouts, more yelling and screaming (on both our parts, unfortunately), and more revoked privileges than the last several months combined.  On her best days, The Peanut has a mind of her own and is not afraid to voice her opinion.  Someday this will most likely serve her well.  On days when you're just trying to get her to eat her veggies or go to bed, though, this quality makes me a little nuts.  When in the throws of a growth spurt, combine this with a very short fuse, even shorter attention span, and no thought to consequences, and you've got a mouthy pint-sized time bomb.  A tantrum may only be seconds away and I guarantee it will be over something trivial.

On the flip side, as she comes out of this caveman haze, I am immediately noticing how much new stuff got wired in her head.  For example, yesterday, during school, instead of reading items on a worksheet out loud, she read them silently to herself and just filled in the answer.  Until I realized that's what she was doing, I thought we were still in short-attention mode from the spurt.  A few things she said yesterday, while not particularly special in themselves, were phrased differently than I'm used to hearing.  So this spurt will be like many of her previous ones -- big changes which will leave me simultaneously amazed and overwhelmed.  Perhaps more so this time around since I am starting to plan how school will look for us next year.  

Between now and the next growth spurt -- which by my reckoning is due late October/November -- I will be thinking about how we handle the complete 180 her personality does during the week or so this happens.  I do not like being <em>that</em> mom who screams at her kids and yet, I had more than a few moments this week when I became her.  School was a major source of frustration for both of us -- she didn't have the bandwidth to deal with it and I didn't have the patience for her goofing off or the tolerance for the temper when she didn't pick up a concept quite as easily as she sometimes does.  Transitions also posed major challenges.  The Peanut is normally like any typical five year old -- getting her out the door, bedtime, getting dressed, etc is like herding cats.  During a spurt, transitions are far more challenging, even with advanced warning, using timers, and many of those tricks the experts tell you to do.

I'm not sure what the answer is.  It's only 3 - 4 weeks out of the year, but they are hard weeks.  As I sit here and write this, all I feel is exhaustion.  While I'm understanding of the fact that she's not on her game and probably feels like she's in a fog while all of this goes on, her behavior is Not OK and I can only let so much of it slide.  Is the answer canceling school for the week and not going anywhere more than we need to?  I suppose ideally, that would solve many of the sources of friction we experienced this past week, but I don't think it's realistic.  I can certainly cut back on school and my expectation during that time, so long as I see the spurt coming.  In the meantime, I am happy that my little girl has been returned to me and I look forward to discovering her new talents and abilities with her.

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