Parenting failures

E is still ill. She’s much better than she was, to be honest, but she’s clearly not quite back to normal. The good news is that in the week and a bit that it took to get a doctor’s appointment the urinary infection I thought she had has gone. The bad news is that it was replaced by a MONSTER cold and she is now having to drink vile yellow penicillin three times a day to clear it.

She was quite the model patient at the doctor’s – I’d no sooner told him that she was exhausted and off colour all the time than she rested her head on her hands on his desk and tried to go to sleep.

Sadly her model behaviour doesn’t translate elsewhere. The upshot of her being sleep deprived and not quite normal is that she behaves badly. We’ve noticed in the past that she behaves worse when she’s tired, and so being a bit off colour and tired is pretty wearing on us all. S took the day off work on Thursday to look after her but had to go in today to make up for it so I’ve had two days of her screaming no, hitting me, pulling my hair and generally playing up. The rest of the time she seemed well enough to go to nursery.

Actually that isn’t quite true. She’s had to be well enough because as I mentioned in my last blog post, I didn’t think I could request parental leave quite so soon in my new job. There was a moment on Tuesday when I was getting her ready for nursery that I thought I should really just stay at home and give her plenty of rest but I’m not sure it would have made much difference. It was either just my imagination or it was me projecting the kind of mother I’d like to be onto a scenario. The truth is, I’m hopeless at dealing with this. I’ve never had much patience for ill people and I have no patience when I have to endure hitting and yelling, food tipped on the floor, tantrums, pens flung around the room and all sorts.

Punishing E by putting her in the corner and telling her off hasn’t had much effect. She knows to say sorry and promptly does the whole thing again. I have been trying to deal with her bad behaviour by trying to remember that she’s tired and not well but I can’t excuse some of it so we both end up cross. And after a while I just launch into meltdown as bad as any toddler’s.

The thing of it is, if I go to her in the night I can see how her whole body tenses as she coughs and coughs. It’s a really horrible cough and it must be dreadful for her. And then I see how her body tenses in the same way as she’s screaming no at me and hitting. Of course, she doesn’t hurt me but after a while seeing her like that just upsets me and I can’t handle it any more. So we both end up crying and hugging each other for reassurance. It isn’t pretty.

There’s also a point where you wonder if perhaps she’s not too ill any more and this is just the toddler tantrums we hear about but have so far mainly missed. I really hope it isn’t. I’m feeling emotionally fragile this evening and I really don’t think I can cope with this if much longer if it continues.

The other thing is that there have been some really lovely moments with her today. Over breakfast she started to dance at the music we were playing (Fourth movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony followed by Bruce Springsteen’s Downbound Train). We had fun running down the tram bridge slope, lots of cuddles and book reading. And then she flips a switch and starts yelling no and tensing up again.

In short, I am feeling something of a parental failure this evening. I have been unable to offer my child the comfort she has needed because I’ve been trying to stop her from hitting me and the main way I have stopped her is by eventually bursting into tears and saying “stop hitting me!” like some kind of child myself.

S arrived home with a bunch of tulips, a bottle of wine and some ice cream. On his day with her I brought him back a massive cupcake. Rewarding ourselves for getting through the day is somehow even worse.

Apologies. This is the second self pitying blog post in as many weeks. I think (I hope) it will all be much better tomorrow. Despite having thought that for over a week now. I think it really will.

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