Why is it that our children can inspire such murderous feelings in us? I consider myself a laid-back enough person, certainly a pacifist, who is all about reasoning with a child rather than spanking him (although I cannot claim that our house is a smack-free zone). Yet after ninety minutes of trying to get my daughter to take the nap that she clearly needed, I was having to remind myself that it would be a very bad idea to throw her across the room. In fact, at that point, I left her screaming hysterically, went downstairs and turned the baby monitor off in an attempt to get my own stress levels down.
It's pretty depressing re-reading that in cold, hard text. Of course, there's some context here... my own energy/concentration levels dip significantly around 2pm, but luckily, the children both go down for a nap shortly after 1pm, so I get some unwinding time to brace myself for the crash (and if I'm lucky, both kids will sleep through it). Unsurprisingly, I've rather come to depend on that, so it was totally demoralising to be wrestling with my daughter, knowing I was losing my 'break,' especially when all my usual tricks failed totally.
Still, there was one part of me that was rational, knowing she couldn't help it, something was clearly up and she was suffering just as much as I was... and there was another part of me that had gone into full-on angry mob mode.
The children at school never got under my skin as much. I'm not saying I never lost my temper in the classroom, but it was a much rarer occurrence, and I certainly never felt such violent impulses as I have since becoming a parent. A closer comparison might be how easily my brother can get under my skin. We would fight like cat and dog as children, physically as well as verbally (he tended to go easy on me, but I gave him no such respect, I am ashamed to say). We were also very close and were constantly creating games to play together... but we struggled to tolerate the most minor of trespasses.
At least I can comfort myself that this is a perfectly natural feeling... I remember reading an article about it years before I became a parent. And thankfully, the vast majority of us are capable of resisting the urges, thanks to our equally natural dread of our children sustaining serious injury.
The upshot of today was that I gave up on the nap, brought my daughter downstairs, and cuddled with both children on the sofa in front of Thomas the Tank Engine. Though they lost interest, and we turned the television off, I refused to budge from the sofa. Partly (to be strictly honest) because I was sulking, partly because I had a splitting headache at that point, and partly because I knew my patience was not going to be up to doing anything else. If I played with them, I'd get snappy quickly. If I tried to do something constructive, I'd have the children tailing after me sooner rather than later and getting in my way... and I'd get snappy.
So I sulked on the sofa, picked up my daughter for cuddles when she needed it, and otherwise let both children pootle about the room as they liked, making a mess and getting into things they probably shouldn't. And I very much appreciated the fact that they're old enough that they can play with each other now.
I called my husband, who very sweetly got home early enough to help with the kids while I made dinner. I made one further attempt at getting my daughter down for a nap, but she went straight back into hysterics. She ended up going to bed a little early, with absolutely no struggle. I devoutly hope that she at least sleeps in tomorrow morning.
PS This is the second post in a row where I've described an event that's involved my daughter screaming hysterically. I would just like to note therefore, that she's a bit of a drama queen, and that I tend to be less driven to post about her giggling hysterically, which she also did a lot of today.