Posted in Parenting

Ups & Downs

Ups and Downs

Charles is a very sweet little boy.  He is just full of love.  He runs on hugs, kisses and cuddles; these are what fuel his days.  However, like most (if not all) 4 year-olds, he lacks the abilities to express exactly how he feels and the strategies to deal with his emotions when they bubble up.

Charles is also very intense and his emotions are always very close to the surface.  He’s not happy, he’s elated.  He’s not hurt, he’s near-death.  He’s not sad, he’s heartbroken.  He’s not irritated or angry, he’s (and please forgive the language) fucking pissed.

A couple of days ago, for instance, he completely lost it when I told asked him to get ready for bed.  Because of the busy weekend, Charles missed out on naps and ended up going to bed later than usual, so I decided to have him go to bed a little earlier than usual.  He was more than annoyed.  He decided to show his displeasure by shutting the washroom door on his little sister’s fingers because she happened to look at him while he was pouting.  Then, when I asked him to apologize, he completely lost it.  He started screaming at me, kicking, hitting me and throwing things at me.  I told him that I was going to let him calm down.  He stayed in his room a good five minutes, letting loose primal scream after primal scream.  After that, we were able to talk.

This time of the year is always very difficult.  Income-tax season is difficult on everyone around here, but it is especially difficult for Charles.  Every year, the weeks following the end of the month of April are difficult.  Charles struggles with the the fact the he missed his dad during his 60 hour weeks.  He struggles with the joy that he felt when his dad takes the first week of May off to spend with his siblings and himself and with the sadness brought about by his return to work afterwards.

I feel poorly equipped to handle his outbursts.  We are always able to have a good talk afterwards.  He is always able to tell me how he could have worked out his anger or frustration differently.  I always repeat to him that I love him no matter what.  That I love him as much when he is kind and happy than I do when he is angry, yelling and throwing things at me.  I know better than to try to talk to him when he’s out of control, but I lack the tools to help him manage his emotions in the short lapse of time that occurs between frustration and utter meltdown.

How do you go about helping your little ones manage overwhelming emotions?

Posted in Blogging

Good Bye Abby

When I was a child, we had a dog.  I remember going with my dad to get the puppy that we’d be bringing home.  It was a German Shepard Lab probably mixed in with a few other dogs.  Not that it matters: it was a dog!  It was cold, probably winter; my dad had his leather jacket on.  I remember him putting the tiny dog inside his coat to keep him warm and I remember that the puppy had actually peed on him while in his jacket.  I don’t know how much of this flash of memory is accurate.  I was young: 4 or 5 years old because we were living in the townhouse at the time.  But that is how I remember it.

A few years later, we had to get rid of the dog.  I’m hazy on the details, but from what I’ve gathered he was crazy.  From puppy, he had grown into a rather large and strong dog that had been untrained.  He’d eaten through walls and broken down fences by that time and one day, I came home to no dog.  My dad explained that he’d had to bring him back.

From that day on, each time I asked for a pet my father’s answer would invariably be the same: “No.  No dog, no cat, no bird, no hamster, no lizard…no pets”.  I remember always feeling as though my dad was being unfair.  I mean, didn’t he understand that I wanted a pet even if only to replace the fact that the dog wasn’t there anymore.  Didn’t he?

Of course he did.  He understood even more than I did at that time how hard it was to not have the dog anymore.  He was the one who had picked him out of the litter as a puppy after all.  And he was also the one who’d had to get rid of him.  And he was hurting badly.  Or, I suspect.  On Saturday, I understood this.  It took me 18 years, but I now understand why he was so adamant about not having any pets in the house.

You see, on Saturday, a volunteer from the wonderful shelter we had started the adoption process for Abby came to our house to take her and place her in another family.  After having her in our house for nearly a month, we realized as a couple that it wasn’t the right time for us to have a dog.  It’s not because she was aggressive or dangerous (she definitely was not).  It’s not because she is not fully house trained and had a few accidents inside the house.  It’s not because of needing to get up at 4:30 am to bring her outside so that she could relieve her bladder.  It’s not because of the fact that her curiosity knew no bounds and that we were regularly having to distract her away from an unauthorized activity (like trying to get to the food sitting on the kitchen counter).  It’s mostly because my partner and weren’t on the same page with regards to the lengths we’d go through to ensure her well-being.  This was made especially clear after I came back from the vet with a 500$ hole in our bank account.  We decided that for the sake of our relationship, it was better that she be placed in a family in which every member was ready to have a dog.

Sad doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt when Lindsay from Nali Animal Orphanage came to get her.  I was not even able to see her off.  I couldn’t bring myself to watch the car pull away.  It’s crazy how quickly I became attached to the happy-go-lucky puppy in just under a month.  But in that instant, I understood why my dad seemed to have such a hard shell with regards to pets after having to let our dog go so many years ago.

I don’t blame my partner for the fact that Abby is no longer with us.  Nor do I resent him.  This experience was a positive one and we all (Charles included) grew from it.  My partner now knows what it’s like to have a dog (he never had any pets growing up) and he knows that he wants a dog in the future.  And I am willing to wait for him to be completely ready to have one.  Now that he knows what it’s like, I know the next time will work out.  I just have to wait for him to be ready.  My son learned to not be afraid of dogs.  Now, when I go to my parents’ house, I can set him down on the floor and he’ll play with their dog nearby.  Whereas my son used to cling to me for dear life when he saw a dog, he had come a long way and now will reach out to try to pet the dog if it is calm.

Good bye Abby.  May you find an awesome permanent family to take care of you.  I will miss you, you Silly Goose.