Equal parts cute and fierce.
The only downside to having a series of good days is that it really makes the bad days sting. We've had a long string of good days, weeks even, but yesterday was one of those stingers. From the moment he woke up to the time he went to bed (30 minutes earlier than usual, for the good of the household) Z was testing boundaries, pushing buttons, pulling out all his old behaviors, and just generally acting disagreeable.
So how did I handle it (besides sitting on the kitchen floor crying for half of nap time, obviously)? I faked it. I have learned the hard way that showing Z how much his behavior upsets me is playing right into his hand. Reacting to his attempts to manipulate and control situations only fuels the fire. The only effective technique I've found for neutralizing these situations is to plaster a smile on my face, pretend I don't notice he's playing a game, and go on with the task at hand. It makes him furious at first of course, but eventually he gives up because its no fun to play manipulation games by yourself.
When Z behaves this way my visceral gut reaction is anger. I get mad. I don't want to smile, I don't want to keep my voice light and sweet, I don't want to be patient and calm. A child older than Z would probably pick up the falsely saccharine tone to my voice and know I was faking, but its the best I can do and thank God it works for now.
Faking my way through the day yesterday may have been necessary, but it still felt awful. I hate feeling anger toward my child. I hate keeping my feelings bottled up. It is exhausting to keep it together when someone is testing your limits all day long. But a good cry, a hot bath and a margarita (OK fine, two margaritas) later, I felt much better and I was able to step back from the trials of the day and be thankful. Thankful for the many good days that came before this ugly one. Thankful for a growing confidence in God's provision as we parent our kids. Thankful for a God who is never faking it, but somehow always genuinely loving and gentle toward us no matter what we throw at him. I'm praying for that kind of love to work its way so deeply into my being that I can't help but give it to others, especially my children. Until then I'll keep faking it till I make it.