A History of Insane Melodrama

First, I wish to impress upon you that the terrible story I’m about to relay was, as with many similar mistakes, an act of passion, desperation and stupidity.  I’d also like to convey that while I seek no sympathy or forgiveness, I have a strange compulsion to confess these mistakes as if releasing them from my head eases my burden though clearly I’m not the victim here.  Thirdly, I wish to impress upon you just how difficult it has been to cope with Z during her extended phase of regularly smashing her older sister in the face.  Z is very big for her age.  D is small for her age.  When Z hits, D goes down.  We’re trying everything we can to curb this behavior, but nothing seems to work.  It doesn’t always happen out of anger.  Sometimes it happens just because.  Because reliably D shrieks, collapses and convulses on the floor with tears and primordial noises, which Z finds fascinating if not darkly alluring.  But she’s no doubt old enough to know better.

There were two balloons.  As we piled out of the car Z, for no reason, reeled back and cracked D in the face with a hard plastic baby doll.  Being sucker-cracked in the head could drive anyone to screaming tears.  Shocked, D wailed and writhed loud enough to frighten the crows away.  With eyes Mommy-Dearest wide, inches from Z’s face, I begged, “Why?  Why?  Why?  Wedonothitinthisfamily–”  I came dangerously close to asking if she’d like to know exactly what it feels like to be bashed in the head with hard plastic.  But I got a hold of myself.  Took deep breaths.  Looked up at the sky.  Fretted that my inner rage might cause the babies to evacuate my uterus.  More deep breaths.  I searched my mind’s rolodex for something, anything, that mattered to Z (my almost three-year-old).  Then I got an idea (a wonderfully, horribly, awful idea).  Sadly, I said, “I am sorry you hurt your sister.  See her crying.  This balloon is crying too.  She cannot stay with a child who hits.  This balloon is frightened and now she must fly free.”  I released the purple balloon, calling to it as it climbed higher and higher, “I’m sorry Z hit her sister.  I’m sorry you cannot stay.  I’m sorry you’re so sad.”  Perplexed, Z waved goodbye.

Z:  She comes back?

Me:  No, she won’t come back.  Not until you learn to be gentle with your sister.  Poor D.  Poor balloon.

Z:  (Shouting to the sky)  I’m sorry!  (To me)  She comes back now?

Me:  Not today.  I’m very sorry you hurt your sister.

Z:  (Panicking)  She too high.  She going to pop!  I get her back!  She popping up there!

Me:  She won’t pop.  She’s just going away.

Z:  Too high!  My balloon!  My balloon!  Come back!  She scared!  I can’t see her!  D, you see her?  Where she going!?  No pop up there!  (Sobbing)  My balloon… my balloon… my balloon…

Drinking in the very last glimpses of her tiny balloon hundreds of feet in the air, I managed to coax her into the house whereupon D collapsed on the stairs in a heap of tears.

D:  I just can’t… help it… It’s all too sad… and the balloon… she’s gone!  She’s GONE!

Z:  (Breaking down) I want my balloon… where she go, my balloon…. my balloon…  daddy find my balloon… no hit… I sorry… my balloon…

On the couch D melted into me, crying, while Z rocked in my arms, crying.

Me: (Whispering)  It’s only a balloon, D.  It doesn’t have feelings.  It’s just a story.

D:  (Struggling)  But it’s a… very sad story and… it… just makes… me… cryyyyy!!!!!  (Hysteria)

This story ends an hour later with the three of us in my bed, one on each arm, amid sleepy sobs and sighs.  When it was all over they were both asleep with puddles of drool beneath their quivering bottom lips.  Ashamed, I wondered how in the world I could have ever spun such an insane web.  Surely, they’ll need therapy for this one.

My father and I were on the sidewalk out front.  I was five and deriving an alarming amount of pleasure from stepping on ants.  We’d probably just come from the ice cream shop,  playground or toy store.  He probably told me to stop.  But I could only laugh wickedly as I squashed my next helpless victim.

Dad:  Why are you killing them?  They’re crying.

Me:  Ants don’t talk!  (Stomp, squash, stomp, squash)

Dad:  They speak ant language and that little ant’s mother is going to be worried when he doesn’t come home for dinner.  She’ll be wondering where he is and she’ll wait and wait and wait for him to come home.

I imagined an ant mother, blue checkered apron fastened around her waist, calling from the front steps, “Jimmy!  Jimmy!”  Day would turn to night and I’d be tucked in bed, but she would still be out there, waiting.  She’d probably be out there forever.  But he’d never, ever, ever come.  And she would cry and cry.  Because I killed her son.

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6 responses to “A History of Insane Melodrama

  1. I can’t comment on parenting, since I have no experience beyond my own twisted childhood (hence for opting out on kids).
    But I can comment on your writing–which is breathtakingly wonderful, touching, gripping…You sure can write Shan.

    If it helps, I don’t think z will need therapy from the balloon drama.

  2. First let me say that I am in total agreement with Susan on the writing. It was touching, gripping, and it should really be published somewhere. How can one page manage to touch upon the complexity of parenting with such precision?! Bravo! A perfect Banana Fish blog…you ARE questioning the answers.

    Second….if you ever again even remotely rate your parenting skills along the same lines as any one of the 15 BRAZIL children I will pop you in the head with a plastic baby doll:) You are a great mother. Be assured you are far more tramatized by this experience then my godchild is, and that my darling, is exactly WHY you are a great mom.

  3. Fantastic writer Shannie, that is why I am so compelled to tune in! It is how i have gotten to know you best, via your writing. Since we never seem to have time to chat, always in a rush here there and everywhere. A kid always tugging at our knee caps in need of something.

    Parenting is freaken complex, my degree in behavior management was thrown out the damn door when I had kids. You find yourself puting out fires all the time and most days you haven’t the foggiest idea of what to do. Do not dwell on it, they will be over it by the next day. Just form a united front with TC and you will weather the tough stuff fine.
    I hate balloons I wish i could just leave one store without my kids screaming and demanding for one, only to lose it in the parking lot and cry all the way home.

    You are a wonderful mother, keep trudging on the tread mill and you will raise those kids right! I know the how the constant fighting and bickering drives you to the nut house, but focus on the big stuff. Z is going to learn via the hard knocks unfortunately that she can not hit, push etc her sister D. D will speak up and push back. I have seen her in action. She just needs the proper motivation. Plus as hard as it is to watch, they are learning so much about life. How to treat and respect others, yes and how to assert themselves. I have seen my Molly hit her sister and vise versa just for a reaction. It did not take long before Sam had the upper hand, she is clearly the tougher of the two. Parenting is the toughest damn job i have ever had! No amount of education ever prepared me for the stress and good stuff that came with it. Hang in there little buddy…

  4. Great writing! I think you just taught Z “consequences of her actions” . This is good parenting. Yes, it was traumatic for her, but she made the connection between hitting D and losing her balloon. I love that you set it free instead of just taking it from her.

    Don’t worry, from what I’ve seen, you have yet to do anything to send them both to therapy. There’s plenty of time for that later, trust me.

    See, the good parenting part comes when you stopped yourself from saying “do you want to know how it feels to be smashed in the face with hard plastic?” You thought it, but didn’t say it!!

    D is going to have enough one day, and she will turn the tables. She will get pissed one day and let Z have it. I know this is not good, but siblings have a way of setting things straight amungst themselves sometimes.

    I am still trying to picture your dad telling you about the mother ant. I bet to this day, you think twice before squishing an ant without good reason.
    This is good parenting as well.

    jb

  5. As my daughter stands here and yells “cookies” at me at 8 am, I will not try to give you any advice that might elevate me to no future therapy parent.
    I will tell you about A from 2-4. He would hit, out of anger, to get my attention, just for fun… really I could never figure out a pattern, and trust me I tried. I started out with the, just be consistant and firm. Time out for you… Then talking and talking and talking. We would leave playdates and he would look at me bewildered, not sure what just happened, so I would talk to him about it, but still the confused look. Like you said, he knew better, but he still did it. So I did what any good mother does, I started reseachering. I would read in the car, on the pot, in bed. I tried and tried again to find the one thing I could do to stop this horrible child. Then one day he just stopped. Much to my horror, it seemed that it had very little to do with my “parenting” He just changed…
    Then I met this friend, you know her, mother of our favorite girl in glasses.. She would just redirect, stay calm, not talk to much. Mostly try to get him to top oters shen they hurt him. Giving him the words to say, “that hurts..” But really, just not make a huge deal out of it.
    I have often thought what came first, the chicken or the egg. How much of this behavior did I create by all my “trying” to FIX it. Looking back, I think plenty. Now I have twins, which is interesting because the playing field is level. I try to react less, redirect more, forsee trouble spots.
    This too will change, that is my new mantra…..
    And, a little therapy is good for everyone.

  6. It’s a good thing I don’t have a blog to recount how I handle similar incidents in my life…CPS would be at my door.

    More importantly, it’s a good thing you DO, as it would be a crime to have nowhere to share such beautifully crafted vignettes!

    P.S. I agree with Lori about the balloons- if I wasn’t so dependent on Trader Joe’s I would consider avoiding it due to the balloon factor (“she hit me with the balloon” “she popped mine” “I wanted green”…)

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