Are you wondering how my little beastie is doing?
She's feeling better.
In fact this morning, after making a fort in our bed with the clothes that I, ahem, leave piled up at the foot of our bed, Echo got up on her own, picked out an outfit for me and laid it on the bed, got dressed, fed all of the animals, and then made us both toast. I ate that kinda cold, poorly buttered toast in my "stylish" outfit of fleece pants and a sexy-mama sweater-shirt with shoulder cut outs. Her aim was cozy and special and she definitely hit the target. In fact I was feeling so cozy and peaceful that I forgot all about the dark days we have just emerged from.
During those days Echo would have argued irrationally and eloquently with me, explaining with fiery urgency why today was NOT a day in which it made sense for me to snuggle with papa before getting up. Then she would have shrieked at me as I made my way to the bathroom, sure that I was going to snatch away her right to pee on the toilet first. She'd do the same with the stairs. Then she'd spot something her sister was doing and launch into a full-blown red-in-the-face tirade about whatever it was that Xi was doing. She'd flail on the floor and demand my presence and argue, argue, argue about the injustice of it all.
So what's the difference?
- Time passing.
Basically in that order.
NOTHING: Sometimes kids are just fucking crazy. Then time passes and they are different. So I was waiting for this. Hoping that the transition was coming. Trying not to count the days. Going into emergency mode - scheduling as little as possible, making sure food levels remained high, maintaining an early bedtime, ensuring that my physical body and interest were available for crafting, hugging, and talking, and avoiding getting myself involved in challenging things like trouble-shooting a new idea in Adobe Illustrator.
TIME PASSING: See above. Also, with time comes perspective. The first time Echo flung her body at Xi for using the stools Echo wasn't using but was going to use I was absolutely blindsided. I spent a lot of time explaining how her view of things was baldly incorrect and therefore she shouldn't be upset. Stupid me! But like I said I wasn't prepared. After the tenth time, when Echo perceived an injustice no one else could see I didn't linger over the discussion as long.
EMPATHY - Of course. Because even folks, or especially, folks that are not feeling quite right, that are super upset (even irrationally) need empathy. And I'm not saying this was easy to give. I am cerebral before emotional so it's tough for me to become empathetic when I see there is no cause for the set of emotions I am supposed to empathize with.
When Echo warned Xi that she was using the fort and Xi veered away from the staked claim to find a seat on the pink chair instead and Echo still got upset about Xi using something that she was "just about to use", I've got to admit that I didn't have easy access to empathy. My mind wasn't ready with "Oh honey. You're so mad. You were using the pink chair huh? Shoot. Are you so mad that Xi is in your way?" because my mind was too busy playing "WTF?" on repeat. And I really can't leave my mind behind as much as I want to sometimes. If I could have crawled into the fort with just my heart to soothe my girl I would have.
So I plowed through the irrational "facts". I rationally explained while she irrationally explained. And that got us no where, for sure, but all the while I was holding her and giving her my full face and care. Eventually we broke through to the other side, into the grassy plain where Echo finally slackened and said: "I just don't feel right! And I just really want the pink chair. And I'm just really mad." PRAISE THE HEAVENS - that is a state of being for which I can have mountains of empathy.
HOMEOPATHY - Get some.
No really, empathy and time passing and a simplified life is all great but it is SO MUCH EASIER and effective when the set of feelings are true. When things are just insane, when one of our children is acting loony, when empathy helps but doesn't prevent the exact same scenario from popping up again, Nathan and I know that there must be something more going on. We do our best to treat the girls with homeopathy because when they are in imbalance the things they are feeling, at least some of them, are due to the imbalance more than any particular set of circumstances. A child suffering imbalance isn't as receptive to good parenting.
For instance, when Xi is "off" she cries easily. And when I say easily I mean that she cries even before there is something to be upset about, even before she asks for help with a possibly, slightly, troubling situation. Like if I ask her to move her homework off the counter she'll start crying because the buckle on the backpack is hard to un-click. I can give her empathy for those feelings, and I do, but I also go straight for the cabinet and give her her homeopathic remedy. After the remedy is in place she is still Xi, but she is a Xi that is dealing with "true" emotions, not emotions derived from imbalance.
Xi is consistent in what remedy she needs. She has benefited from the same remedy (in different potencies) for six years or more. With Echo we use a couple different ones depending on what's going on with her. This is why it's great to have a homeopath because they keep it all straight in their database and also because they can see your child more objectively. I am partially masked by fatigue and love so it takes me a few days to clearly see any usable symptoms.
But it was the pink chair/fort incident that finally illustrated some useful (in terms of selecting the proper remedy) symptoms. I explained to Echo that I wasn't going to make Xi get off the chair, that we don't do that in our house... When something is available for play anyone can play with it.... etc.
Echo: Yeah well she's NOT playing with it! She's just sitting there!
Me: She's pretending it's a house. She's sitting in the house.
Echo: Well it's NOT a house! It's just a chair! So if it's not a house then she's not playing with it! SO THERE! You have to get her off of it and give it back to me!
Me: She is playing with it honey. I'm not taking it away from her.
Echo: Well what she's NOT doing is giving it to me! And that's not fair!
An eloquent, irrational lawyer.
That's when it struck me, the pattern of all these outbursts. After Echo had settled I hopped up and went to the computer. When we don't want the expense of calling our homeopath we use a site called abchomeopathy.com. I entered these terms in the search box:
perceived injustice, irrational, antagonistic,
After answering several questions and winding my way through the database I landed on one of Echo's tried and true remedies. A quick trip to our cabinet and within an hour Echo was smoothed out.
Yes, she still gets mad at Xi. Yes, she still prefers to be the first one to pee in the morning. But the veneer of imbalance has been removed. Now I am just dealing with my daughter, not my daughter in imbalance. And that is about a bajillion times easier.
So there it is. A little more peace, a little less crazy.
ps. Our course in parenting with empathy starts tomorrow! Join in!