Friday, July 10, 2009

Some Days I Struggle

Merriam-Webster online provides two definitions of the word obstinate:

1 : perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion <obstinate resistance to change>

: not easily subdued, remedied, or removed <obstinate fever>

I have an OBSTINATE little girl.

you may be thinking to yourself, "Not the sweetie-honey-cutie-honey-sweetie!" (That is her Daddy's favorite nickname for her--it's a Cutie Sandwich you see, with honey spread on both sides and sandwiched in between some sweeties. Yes, they are obnoxiously lovey with each other. :o) )

And I am here to tell you YES. Yes, the sweetie-honey-cutie-honey-sweetie. Oh hell yes.

Even many of you who know Miss Morgan in Real Life may not have seen this side of her very often, if at all. She's generally quite easy-going, about 99% of the time. But wow. That other 1% of the time--she is IMMOVABLE. Obstinate. And it's been very hard for me to keep my patience with her lately.

So this morning, I asked myself this question: What do I know about this child? And came up with the following:

  • She is focused, especially inwardly;
  • is very smart;
  • loves to help out;
  • wants to be left alone when she is thinking something over;
  • wants to be left alone when she is sad or angry;
  • has a good sense of humor;
  • is easily overwhelmed by too much information;
  • it's very difficult to break her outside of herself sometimes to get her full attention;
  • yet pays attention when I least expect it;
  • and she communicates a fair amount, but I suspect there is much more going on in her head than she chooses to let on.

Then I tried to find a tool in my Parenting Toolbox that would help me communicate and solve problems more effectively with her.

She doesn't care for role playing, because I think it's too private or intense for her. She doesn't like to discuss problems or solutions for more than a few minutes. She seems to want to get any discussions over with as quickly as possible so she can return to her own thoughts and pursuits. Distraction or changing the subject is out, because she is way too persistent for that.

I think what I need to work on is boiling down MY words (oh so hard to do!) to just the bare essentials. I need to ask her for her ideas, and I need to use more "playful parenting" to take advantage of her sense of humor (now where did I put that book?). And what I mostly need to remember is that she actually can't hear me sometimes and that the best way to get her attention is to touch her and get in her field of vision, and then just wait.

And when she's done being obstinate, she goes right back into Cutie Sandwich mode. I need to remember that, too! :o)

This post has been brought to you by one very frustrating week.


Rosalie said...

From what my husband tells me, I think I may be a bit like Morgan myself. I tend to be in my own head almost to a frustrating point for others and tend to turn every conversation back to whatever is taking up my brain space as soon as possible. It's not an adorable habit, I admit.

If Morgan is willing to talk, (and you haven't already tried this) maybe try making her the leader of the conversation when possible--or at least make her feel like that's the case. We the inwardly absorbed tend to listen most to conversations we are more active in. ;) These are hard things to admit...

Rational Jenn said...

Rosalie--that's a really great suggestion! Thank you. With Ryan, he and I obsessively talk talk talk about everything and have developed a pretty effective way to communicate.

With M, I think sometimes I talk AT her, and if I maybe step back and give her a chance to say what she is thinking/needing FIRST, then we might reach a satisfactory solution sooner. Yes, I'm going to try this!

My husband is just the same way. When he was small, his grandmother thought he had a hearing problem. His mom whispered "Brendan, do you want a cookie?" and he popped right up and got a cookie. No hearing problem! But he is also very inwardly focused and I know I talk too much to him, too.

I just love having so much information and I communicate LOTS of information, but I know that Morgan and Brendan don't have a need for such volumes and don't really care! (Another side benefit to blogging as a hobby for me!)

I'll let you know how it works!

Diana Hsieh said...

My husband Paul is exactly like Morgan with respect to the strange combination of perfect easygoing-ness until reaching the immovable wall of obstinacy. Oddly, he's pretty much equally obstinate about (1) refusing to eat green peppers, (2) not wanting children, and (3) parting his hair in the middle like a dork. I'm baffled -- and amused -- by the equivalence of these three points for him. (Regarding #3, I'm very glad that his hair never manages to stay in place!)

Rosalie said...

Thanks for your response and good luck, Jenn! Let me know if it helps or not.

David Buchner said...

Holy cats, that's a pretty precise description of my Clara (5). Easy-going, amenable, intelligent, funny, and then -- WHACK! Brick wall.

Thing is, it seems she on to me and my clever tactics. Ask her what's on her mind; prompt her to spill with one of her horrific word avalanches of explanation -- nuh-uh. Not when she's in that mood. Stony silence, or "I just need to do my own thing." (I swear I didn't give her that phrase)

David Buchner said...

(Diana: green peppers are just gross)

Rosalie said...

Funny you should bring up the stony silence issue, David. I've been thinking about Jenn's post and this conversation the last couple of days, and I was remembering that I just to just sit and look at my parents and (seemingly)not respond at all when I got really upset or emotionally overwhelmed as a child. I don't know if this is Clara or Morgan or not, but I know for me it was that my head was "very loud" at those times. That's the only way I can describe it. I got emotionally overwhelmed as a kid it sometimes just felt too loud and that made it hard for me to respond out loud. That said, I was often having a pretty full conversation in my head, including thinking about and responding to my parents' questions. They just couldn't tell. I'd say Clara's phrase was dead on for me. Until the internal workings settle down a bit, communicating out loud was actually really, really difficult. Again, this may not be at all what your child does, though. Sorry if I'm just muddying the waters more.

Marnee said...

This reminds me of when I was little. I was so inwardly focused that when I would walk out to a parking lot with my mother I would invariably follow her straight to the driver's side door without realizing it. It drove my mother nuts and she would have to yell at me, No Marnee wrong side! It was a shock to me every time it happened. I still catch myself doing the same thing to this day. Heh.

Tenure said...

Morgan sounds very similar to me. :)

Rational Jenn said...

This is interesting--so many people out there like M! And Brendan.

He is just the same, so I can relate, Diana. He is stubborn with equal tenacity about completing household projects to professional-level perfection (he is very good at this, when he has the time) and refusing to take care of grass clippings left on the sidewalk after mowing (his theory--the wind will blow them away). After nearly 14 years of marriage, he is still something of an enigma to me. :o)

Rosalie, your description of your head being "loud" was interesting. I asked my husband if that could describe him--he could relate a bit, because he always has songs in his head (he is very musical). From Morgan's behavior, it seems as if she truly can't hear me. I've had more success this week in communicating with her by taking the time to make good and sure I have her attention before I say what I need to say.

David--Morgan gives me the silence, too. It's very odd for me (yet a nice change of pace from the Talking Machine--my older son).

Marnee--you cracked me up. Morgan does this ALL THE TIME. She has no clue where she ought to be walking, ever. If I need to get by her quickly and ask her to please move, she inevitably gets her body MORE in my way! She can never figure out which side of the car to get in (to be fair, we do change it on her about once every 6 months). She's really klutzy lately, too--although that would be something she gets from me.

Tenure--do/did you do this too, with the car door?

And yes, Brendan does this, too--although the thing that amuses me most is how he has to try the car/house door, discover it is locked, and then and only then, think to get the keys out of his pocket. It's very endearing and he rarely disappoints....

Hmmm....wonder when Brendan is going to chime in on this thread! :o) I'm not picking on you, honest!