Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote of the day - You don't care

I'd warned Brielle that the bath would be over if she fought with Ashlyn one more time.

They fought.

I hated to do it. But I hate breaking promises even more. So I did.

I grabbed the soap, and washed her hastily. She wriggled and cried. Eager to get her out, I slapped shampoo on her hair and scrubbed it over her scalp and wet locks. It dripped into her eyes. She shook her head and screamed. And screamed.

This is what she screamed:

"You don't care about me! You don't care about me! You don't care about me!"

Except that, knowing how slow I am to get things (she has heard Mommy try to communicate with me), she helpfully repeated this something like a dozen times--for a total of three dozen.

There are two possible responses to this.

The one I normally advocate is an acknowledgment of the speaker's feelings, respecting the fact that her words reflect reality as she perceives it. One might paraphrase the child's feelings in order to validate her viewpoint and confirm that one has heard and understood her. Diplomacy.

Then there's the response I chose: "That is a lie, Brielle. And it is a mean lie. I care about you too much to let you fight your sister. I told you what would happen if you fought with Ashlyn again, and I care about you too much to tell you I'm going to do something and then not do it."

I don't know if I responded well or not. The words she spoke seemed so opposed to all that I'm about that I didn't have what it took to just leave it alone. Maybe my defensiveness made it all about me, which demonstrated her point.

But what haunts me more is the source of such talk. Really, where does she come up with this? Is she repeating what she's heard others say? If so, where has she heard this stuff? Movies? School? It's certainly not a game we play here at home.

And how much does she mean it? Is she really feeling uncared-for in this moment? Or is she already advanced enough in the way of the Guilt Jedi to be laying this on with strategic intent?

Is this just the primal cry of every heart when we've fought in the tub, the soap's in our eyes, and judgment has been passed against us? On even the best days, is it the cry of our worst fear?


Ginger said...

Oh my! You got me with those last few lines.

MoziEsmé said...

I have to admit to saying the same thing some days - I think we all want to cry it out sometimes...