We like to leave notes for each other in our house. Little love notes left on a pillow, or taped to the bathroom mirror, or posted on the computer screen. I think I started it with notes in Squirrel's lunch box when she went to school. Then I added notes to Munchkin's lunch this year too. And then (miracle!) Munchkin learned to write and started leaving notes around the house for everyone! Simple little things:
I love you.
Your my best mom.
I love my sister.
And my favorite: No dads work on Saturdays.
Then, not to be undone, Squirrel started leaving her own notes for everyone. And now, well, it's common place for us to leave each other little notes in places where we know they will surprise the other person and make them smile.
Except there's not as many smiles lately, because Squirrel has taken to leaving notes of a different kind. Most of them are taped to her bedroom door, which is usually closed these days. The words vary slightly, but the sentiment remains the same. Tonight's note said, "Don't come in unless you knock first! Just don't hurt your fist." Then that was crossed out--now it just says, "KEEP OUT!!!" scribbled in marker, with a big angry face drawn next to it.
This kind of sums up my dear child's attitude lately. She's cranky, irritable, snotty, argumentative, rude, antagonizing, and emotional. She doesn't do anything I ask her to do, and I don't know if she's ignoring me, not really hearing me, or just not processing what I ask. But if I repeat myself, she snaps at me and gets upset at me for nagging her. It's not like I'm asking her to do anything major...I just want to know if she's had lunch yet!
She keeps picking on her brother--she tells him he's wrong all the time (which she KNOWS will make him upset). She won't let him in her room, which has never been an issue before. She's bullying him when they play together. She keeps hitting and pushing and pinching him. I know all siblings fight, but this is getting ridiculous--the intensity and the frequency of her mistreatment of him is escalating big time.
She walks around on edge. She's angry all the time--except when she's sad. She looks ready to either throw a tantrum or burst into tears all the time. She's huffing and stomping her feet and screaming and slamming doors. She's talking back to everyone--even people she'd never dream of being disrespectful to before. She even tried to hit me today. She hasn't done that since she was a toddler.
Is it just summer break wearing on her? Are we too relaxed? Not enough of a routine for her? Too much down-time? Too much electronic-haze--you know, that funk brought about by too much time in cyber-world, and not enough interaction with real breathing people?
Is it something more? Is it a mental issue? Should I be calling her psychiatrist? Are her meds not working? Is it because she's not seeing her counselor anymore? Is she more depressed than I realize or is this just normal pre-adolescent angst? And is she old enough to blame this on hormones anyway???
Am I being too lenient with her? Am I letting her get away with too much? Excusing her behavior as part of the ADHD or the SPD when I should be nipping it in the bud? Giving her too much slack and too many chances to fix it?
I don't know what to do. I don't want to make excuses for inappropriate behaviors, but I also don't want to ignore red flags and warning signs. I don't always know when to view something through my special needs lens, or my mommy lens, or some other lens. I can't always trust my instincts, because I don't understand everything going on with my daughter, and I don't want to demand more of her than she can give. But I also don't want to be a doormat, or allow her to treat anyone else like one. I seem to be yelling at her a lot, which makes me feel all kinds of bad and guilty. I feel guilty even putting this in writing--like I'm painting her in a bad light, or exposing our secrets to the world. But I set out in writing this blog to be honest about the struggles we face, and to reach out to others both to give and to receive help. And I kind of need some help with this one.
You know, I kind of want to write her a note right now. One like this:
You are driving me absolutely bonkers lately! Oh, and Munchkin too. Can we please get this straightened out soon so all the bickering and screaming and crying can just stop already?
Your exhausted, frustrated, confused Mommy
Yeah, I won't though. I don't think that will help matters any. Instead I'm going to write her a note telling her how much I love her. (Because I really, really do.) Maybe it'll help make tomorrow a better day than today was.