February 2010: I need to remember to pick my battles, look for the good, be positive about little accomplishments, give loving disciplined, and put myself in her shoes… I wish she came with an instruction manual!!
“Bubbles!” Payton squeals when I pour soap into the bath water.
“No! No!” Paige screams when I put her in the tub. Payton hops in, plunks down and scoops the bubbles into her hands, clapping and giggling.
“I love your giggle, Payton!” I exclaim over Paige’s shrieking.
Paige shakes her head and scoots around the tub, away from the bubbles. She realizes she’s trapped and howls as I wipe the washcloth over her body, saving her hair for another day.
“No bubbles next time.” I hand her to Andrew.
“No bubbles!” he agrees.
The following night, we bathe Paige and Payton separately.
Payton looks at me with her almond-colored eyes. “When my bath?”
“When Paige is finished. Then you’ll get your bath with bubbles!”
A minute later she asks again.
“I just told you, Payton. When-” She cuts me off and races into her bedroom, coming back a minute later with Big Dog. Plopping on the floor with her legs in a V-shape, looking at Big Dog, she asks about the bath a third time.
I crouch in front of her, my jaw clenched. Putting Big Dog to the side, I turn her towards me and hold her arms gently. She turns her head to the side. “Payton, look at me,” I say firmly. She ignores me. I cup my hands around her face, shielding distractions, doing my best to maintain eye contact. “Your bath is after Paige’s. You need to wait.” I pause but she doesn’t acknowledge what I said. “Payton, please repeat what I just said.” I desperately need to know she understands, but she remains silent.
My blood simmers. Does she understand or is she being stubborn? Is she even listening? It seems like she is avoiding eye contact on purpose, looking everywhere but into my eyes. “Do you understand?” I’m unsuccessful keeping the sharpness out of my voice.
Payton whimpers and rubs her eyes, tears leaking from her fists. My irritation goes from simmering to boiling. She does this whenever she can’t be in control. Is it the result of being shifted between neglectful parents and overindulgent Carole? Did she do this to avoid unpleasantries or cope with them?
My Catholic guilt kicks in. Is this the wrong way to handle it? Did I just cause irreversible damage?
I give her Big Dog and pull her onto my lap. Boogie strolls into the living room and I point him out. “Look! There’s Boogie!”
Snap! Her tears and whining stop immediately.