Lest I forget, I want to tell you about a typical day these days with Ana.
Now before I get too into this description, I have to tell you that I’m not the world’s most laid back person. I get agitated, irritated, and frustrated as much as the next person. But I’m fairly calm and even-tempered when I get that way. I know that I most certainly have it in me to scream, rant, pout, and manipulate to get my way in the world but have concluded that doing so is likely counterproductive in the long run and have vowed, as a result, that I will NEVER act like a… well, like a four year old drama queen.
Which brings me to Ana.
This typical day was today, and it’s nothing new. I still remember newborn Ana, red-faced and furious night after night because we were just not getting what she wanted us to get. Diaper change? NO! Bottle? NO! Rocking? NO! Just leaving her alone? NO, NO, NO! It got easier for a while, until about eighteen months when she learned to throw tantrums. I remember holding her little arms down to her sides while she thrashed and screamed, fighting to get out of my lap until she was so exhausted that we could calmly explain to her why she wasn’t getting whatever it was that she had already forgotten that she wanted. Whew!
And while things improved and the tantrums are gone, the drama… oh, the drama is still alive.
Typical day. Emma and I picked Ana up from preschool, and once we got home, I checked her parent/student activity binder and saw that today, she had practiced drawing circles. Her assignment for the night was to draw circles for every member of our family and decorate them. Easy enough, right? I had Ana sit down to do this, handed her a pencil, and she drew what I thought was a decent circle for her age. She gasped, then started SHOUTING, “Erase! Erase!” I erased it. She tried again, then quickly got angry and told me, “No, Mommy, I don’t WANT to draw a circle!” I explained that she needed to try, that it didn’t need to be perfect, and she began to cry. Through tears, she tried again, then began yelling, “It’s not PERFECT!!!” (Em, meanwhile, had picked up a pencil and was drawing at least sixteen lopsided and crooked circles on her own sheet of paper, singing, “Circle, circle, circle!” and laughing merrily as she did so. Could they be anymore different?!)
Nearly twenty sheets of paper and five tissues later, Ana had drawn her four circles. At two different points in this process (which included her clutching her hair and moaning, for real!), I told her, “Ana, we just have to pray.” I don’t say this because I’m intentionally trying to teach her how to pray in all circumstances. I say this every day (multiple times a day!) because her drama compels me to beg the Lord to do something supernatural in her hectic heart because I’m fresh out of ideas. I just feel so helpless when she goes off the deep end, despite my best efforts to calm her down. And as I’m praying with her and she’s sniffling and shaking, I’m counting on the Spirit to pray in ways I don’t even know to pray.
But I’m encouraged nonetheless. Today was fairly rotten (this was not the only hysteria we prayed our way through in the past twenty-four hours), and I am totally exhausted. Ana and I tucked Emma in, then moved to her room to tuck her in, where I sat on her bed and told her I would pray for her, like I do every night. She told me she’d like to pray, and I told her to go for it. She prayed that God would help her to be calm and to have fun at school and to sleep well and to have sweet dreams and to be kind to Mommy and to share toys with Emma. I prayed for her and told her, “I love you.” She told me, a self-satisfied smile on her face, “Oh, I know that. I love you, too.” Whew. That’s good to hear, because I thought after a day like today, she was convinced that the entire world was against her!
I remember, on nights like tonight, that every part of who we are can be redeemed and used by God. Drama queen tendencies at four certainly indicate some passion and zeal, and I pray, every time that our little missy is having a meltdown over circles or something equally illogical, that this will surely translate to great passion and zeal for Christ. Her tendency to be OCD about things (like circles!!!) will surely show itself in thorough and consistent devotion to spiritual disciplines one day. And her stubborn ability to block out everything when she’s on a rampage will surely mean that she’ll be single-minded in her focus on serving the Lord.
God is far from done with any of us here in the Faulk house, and perhaps His greatest work in all this drama is not the drama queen herself but a clueless me who has to daily ask for guidance when it comes to navigating a minefield of preschool emotions. Praise God that He’s not done with me… and that He will lead me safely through the preteen years. (Oh, mercy…)
All that said, I wouldn’t change her at all. I love her just the way she is, hysterical explosions and all. Just trying to figure out who she needs me to be and how I can trust Him more on days like today…
3 thoughts on “Days Like Today…”
Thank you for this post. I think that you are a huge role model. I only hope that when I become a parent (hopefully one day soon…I pray) that I can be half as good as a mother as you are. I hope that I can learn to pray and count on God as whole heartedly as you, sometimes I feel like I don't listen clearly enough to what God has planned. Thank you Thank you Thank you
Oh WOW! Thank you SO much for this post. I NEEDED this badly. My almost 3 year old daughter is a major drama queen and it breaks my heart to see her day after day screaming, pouting, moping, hiding, and crying over the tiniest things. Just the other day she pitched a gigantic tantrum simply because 3 cheerios fell out of her cereal bowl. Every vision I have of her and I are shattered by her emphatic “no” or “shut up” and subsequent screams and crying and flopping on the floor. I bought a piano, hoping to fill my home with music. She bangs on the keyboard and tells me, “No piano, Mommy!” I try to read to her and she runs out of the room, hands over her ears, telling me to “shut up.” She's better now, but she used to flop, not caring where she landed. She's banged her head pretty hard a few times. One time, she flopped so hard suddenly when I was holding her hand and I thought her wrist broke! She's even mastered the back of the hand against the forehead and “fainting” backwards. She doesn't really faint, she just flops.
I, too, am at a loss with how to mother such a child. A part of me wants to be really strict and force her out of it. Another part of me wants to be sympathetic. Another, apathetic. Only the Lord knows her thoroughly. I really like your idea of praying with her. I usually pray FOR her, but not WITH her. Thank you for that.
As the mother of an almost 9 yr old drama queen, let me encourage you. At 4, my daughter would have ripped up page after page of circles in that same situation, while her (at the time) 3 yr old sister would have been much like Emma….drawing over and over, not perfect, but content with doing her best. (And, I'm home schooling this kid. Some days I wonder what I was thinking!) Keep encouraging Ivy to do her best, but remind her that no one is perfect but Jesus. As she grows up, remind her that she has to control her emotions (4 is young to understand that, but as she gets older, she can understand it better) and tell her stories about things that you had to learn and practice, times you failed. Having as her role model, these wonderful adults who (in her mind) are great at everything, is hard for a perfectionist. I have reminded my daughter of these things frequently, and I am beginning to hear her repeat them to her younger siblings. Also, my oldest, who, like I said, will be 9 next week, is finally catching on! Even a week ago, she was reprimanded for goofing off during math, and in her frustration with herself, she ripped her math paper. Yesterday, she asked permission to do a painting project, which needed one paint color and a sheet of paper. I gave her permission to go outside and do it, but she took all 10 paint canisters, and by the time I was done cleaning up the kitchen, my son was a “monster” with painted hands and splatters of paint everywhere, the patio and house had been painted, and my youngest daughter had paint splatters as well. I sent the oldest to her room b/c I was too angry to talk to her calmly, and I prayed while I cleaned up the mess outside. In the meantime, I found the original project that had been set in the sun to dry. I prayed before taking it in b/c it was too cool for her to rip up. I carried it to her room and calmly and honestly said, “I'm still really frustrated with how this afternoon turned out and the choices you made, but this turned out great!” She smiled, agreed with me, and told me how she did it. I walked away praising God for her control of her emotions. It takes a LOT of prayer and consistency on our part as the mom, but there is hope for drama queens!