Thursday, August 31, 2006

Meanest Mom Ever

I'm not the only member of my family feeling the stress of all these upcoming changes.  My 9 year old, S, has recently regressed to the age of about four.  She has always been a timid, clingy child (Why yes, I do have some control issue that possibly have seen expression in my parenting.  Why do you ask?), but this past year had made some great progress in her independence and risk-taking.  She even stayed home by herself once while I ran my girlfriend to work. 
But for the past three weeks she's been acting like those things never happened.  S refuses to enter a room by herself, for example, and goes (literally) into hysterics if she sees a spider.  She won't brush her teeth alone and sleeps with the light on.  The only way she can go to the bathroom or go to bed by herself is by bringing a book to read, or listening to her &#@!% Harry Potter tapes so constantly that I can hear Jim Dale's cheerful british accent through my dreams.  It's as if being alone with her thoughts is too disturbing for her.  And that is disturbing to me.
Of course, S doesn't have all the coping mechanisms that adults do for those situations.  My thoughts are sometimes so troublesome that I'll drink a beer, or watch TV, or read a book, or ride my bike, or call a friend.  As a child she has little autonomy to do some of those things, and I try to take that into account.
However, my approach to this behavior is still pretty strict: I will not sit in the bathroom with her while she poops.  I will not stand there while she brushes her teeth.  If she wants a drink of water, she can perfectly well go into the kitchen to get it, because I'm sitting in the next room.  Sometimes it makes me feel mean.
S tells me so, too.  A lot.
Hopefully, though, having the meanest mom ever will help her grow up into a (reasonably) healthy adult who doesn't require more than a few years of therapy.  That's the plan, anyway.

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