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Go Ahead and Complain

Posted by Patience on August 21, 2008 at 7:00 AM in Patience
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I'm not a complainer but please don't tell my husband because he might laugh and slightly disagree. Okay, so I occasionally unload on him as he is my safest person on the planet but I'd like to believe I'm not a whiner in the grand scheme.

This makes it hard when my kids, well, are kids. I have this unspoken expectation for them to be the same or I would prefer they be more agreeable.
When my daughter Lucy turned two I noticed a new response when I told her "No" for anything. She dissolved into all out total drama. Crying was the usual but then she added wailing, throwing her body on the bed sobbing, and she had an extremely high need to tell someone else about my transgressions.

"Papa, mama just doesn't understand, she doesn't understand."

This tiny girl with big brown eyes would tell anyone who would listen what happened, her brothers, her dad, aunts, cousins and friends. She just needed to tell someone and then it was fine. I have to be honest, in the beginning I felt mildly persecuted. I know it's silly to have such a reaction from a two year old's tantrum but maybe it was my inner child wishing I could do the same.

After getting over the complete injustice of my toddler's behavior, I kind of surrendered to it. I still said no but completely gave her space to complain (without my inner seething) to anyone about me.
Just the other day I refused to let her have a popsicle for breakfast. What a tragedy, I know. She ran sobbing to my husband who hugged her, validated her disappointment and closed the conversation with a few gentle words to back me up.
The drama was over very quickly and the surprise of all surprises, she made a speedy return with a hug for ME.

"I feel better mama." Lucy said.
"I'm glad Luce." I returned.

It isn't just Lucy. Jack slumps his body and mopes around when I have to tell him for the 57,000th time that it is not a video game day. Josiah gives us flashes of pre-adolescence when he turns into a moody Max every third week.
Instead of wishing for attitude changes and doing one too many happiness checks in my mind, I am joining my family members in being both human and an individual. I'm going on a hunch there is space and enough love for it all.
So if you are like me, go ahead and complain to and with your kids, everyone will feel better.


Jen Lemen writes...

okay, i want to complain that i need to see lucy asap! send that little drama queen right on over, sister!

Marmie writes...

Lucy is definitely my favorite drama queen!

kelly writes...

As one of four sisters
I love hearing tales of sisters and dear nieces and nephews. It'll be great to follow yours!

Christa writes...

I love this comment: "Instead of wishing for attitude changes and doing one too many happiness checks in my mind, I am joining my family members in being both human and an individual." - what a gift you give your children and such a simple reminder for us all - just be and celebrate who we are! I'm loving this blog!

Sarah writes...

I can't believe you wouldn't give her a popsicle for breakfast. I'm going to turn you into Social Services! :p

amy writes...

i like what you say here about kids getting to complain, to say what they feel...that is so important, to allow them to feel validated, even if it's something we grown-ups view as "silly" (i.e. popsicle for breakfast).

Jess writes...

Yes! It's ok not to like things, and to let people know! That's one of the things I hold true in our home, with the expectation that people be respectful with *how* they express their feelings.

I'm a bit like Lucy with my own need to be heard when I'm feeling like things are unfair. A friend who is a therapist calls this the need for "compassionate witness." What a wonderful phrase. I treasure my own compassionate witnesses and try to be one for my boys, too.

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