Thursday, August 23, 2007

Noise Levels

I have a screamer. If Thing 2 doesn’t get her way, she screams. I do not know how to deal with it and it’s starting to cause problems.
When she started, my response was “That’s an outside voice so you get to go outside.” I would pick her up and plop her outside the back door. She got a blanket to wrap up in (she started when it was cold) and her binky if she wanted it at the time, though sometimes it took me a minute to go find it…
It got to be kind of amusing. She’d just sit out there in the cold on a little kid lawn chair. She’d usually immediately stop crying and screaming the minute I put her out there, sometimes she’d holler but not usually for very long. I’d give her a couple of minutes I’d pop my head out the back door and ask if she was ready to come in. most of the time the initial response was to bellow at me. I’d do this a time or two. Eventually, I’d poke my head out and she’d be waiting for me, all smiles, and say “yes, mommy, I’m ready to come in now.”
So it seemed to work for a while.
Then it seemed I was hardly ever putting her out there anymore, and when she did scream and I’d turn to her and say outside she’d turn on her heel and sprint off in the other direction screaming “I don’t want to go out side!” If I did chase her down and catch her, she wouldn’t just sit and scream or sit quietly like before, she’d open the door and come in. So I started locking the door. She’d then throw herself at the door and scream “Let me IN!”
Okay, so that wasn’t working anymore. But I’ve kind of been left with no options. She can let herself out of whatever confinement I’ve given her. We haven’t tried to time her out with no real boundaries, the uncooperative chair or whatever, maybe that’s the next step… but it’s just such a punishing scream. She’ll either let loose with this oncoming train blast, or sometimes she’ll just start screaming and crying and she kind of gets hysterical and can’t seem to stop herself.
There was one night in the bathtub she slipped into that mode, for whatever reason she wasn’t getting what she wanted and started screaming and wouldn’t stop. I pulled her out of the bathtub and quickly dried her off (still screaming) and popped her outside the bathroom door. And locked it. She continued her hysterics, kicking the door and screaming. She’s screaming she’s naked and cold. I got her into her pajamas, and I get fuzzy on this point, but the screaming didn’t stop and she ended up outside the bathroom door again screaming. You can come in if you stop screaming. She didn’t. Then she starts screaming “I’m done!” I open the door and say “Well stop it, then!” and she pushes herself into the door and into the bathroom where she continues crying and screaming with me saying “Stop it.” Finally. I turned on the shower (separate shower and tub in our upstairs bath) and plopped her into a cold shower. She really started screaming for a minute, she was very upset that her pajamas were wet, but she did stop after a couple of seconds under the cold water. So I got her out and she whined that the ONLY pajamas she wanted to wear were the wet ones, no others would do.
So, short of plopping her in a cold shower, I don’t know what to do with her. And I’m kind of saving that for those “I’ve gone hysterical and I can’t stop” moments.
She started on it today. She was eating lunch with Thing 1 and my niece who we had over. I was in the other room going through some mail, and next thing I know Thing 2 is in the kitchen screaming. I come into the kitchen to see what’s going on and she runs out the other door. Thing 1 and Niece are sitting at the table looking stunned (Thing 2 has one hell of a scream.) Long story short when she did come back to the table I told her she needed to apologize to Thing 1 and Niece for screaming at them. “I wasn’t screaming at them.” You weren’t? who were you screaming at? “I was screaming at you.” Me? Why were you screaming at me? __Insert wild contrived fantasy here about I was at the bottom and she was at the top and on and on about something that sounded vaguely like something that had happened a couple of hours ago on the stairs. Whatever.

About once, maybe twice a week, she does this. Her temper has always been on the explosive side, and in less time than I could say “Thing 2…” she’s gone from calm to hysterically screaming.

Last Saturday as we were getting ready to go to breakfast and then the zoo it started up again. It’s kind of amusing to me to watch Jeff try to handle it. A long time ago he chastised me for raising my voice to her when she started getting hysterical. I agreed it was ineffective and worked around to find other ways to deal with her (I think that’s what started the thing about putting her in the back yard.) And last weekend I got to watch him get increasingly frustrated with her and start to raise his voice. And yup, it was just as ineffective when he did it as when I did it. A couple of weeks before this he’d watched me lock her in the back yard and seen how ineffective that’s gotten, and pointed that out to me, so we’ve stopped doing that and now we’re kind of left with no real response. He was trying to get her attention to even begin to make her stop… My response was to say Daddy and Thing 1 are going to breakfast and the zoo. When you stop, we’ll go too. Then I tried to get him to go.
He didn’t want to go. He got as far as the garage, then came back and tried to reason with her some more. He’s home for 22 hours and he doesn’t want to spend it with just Thing 1 and leave me and Thing 2 home screaming. So he comes back in and tries to reason with her.
I don’t remember how it finally ended… I thought I had been doing pretty well, she’d stopped screaming and moved to begging that she wanted to go when he came in, and she’d immediately escalated it up a notch and started screaming again.
It’s just hard to watch her not seeming to make the connection between her screaming and her getting into trouble. You scream and the world stops being nice for everyone. What about this don’t you get?
She did it to me again today. I bought them a computer game when Thing 2 was with me at Costco. It’s really for Thing 1, it’s a little advanced for Thing 2, but she sure as heck wants to do it. She griped at me while I was installing and registering it to hurry up and get out of the way. Then it stalled several times, and when I’d try and intervene she’d gripe at me to get out of the way and let her play. We did get it to move forward some, but it doesn’t seem to be working quite right, and she was having trouble with the mouse moving off the edge of the table. I’d try and show her she just needs to pick up the mouse and move it to the middle of the mouse moving space, and you’d have thought I spit on her or something, she was so angry at me for interfering.

My patience is just about at its end with her. I told her I wasn’t helping her anymore because I don’t like being screamed at. Her response? A very confident “you’ll forget.”

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