These next pictures are just what the under-patient Mama needed. I love my Caroline. She is smart and funny and caring. She is a great big sister and lover of all babies. And lately, she is number one at testing my patience. It could be a mix of the extra long spring break we just endured together. It could be those “terrible threes” that I was told we would see since her terrible twos were (relatively) easy. Whatever it is, she has my number and she’s real fond of calling!
These days, nothing frustrates me more than hearing her scream and watching her throw herself on the ground in a tantrum. The list of antecedents (you know, I am a special ed teacher!) is outstanding but wanting to be carried, not wanting to clean up or fetch her belongings seem to reoccurring themes. If I was at school, I would say she is having trouble with transitions. But I am not. We are at home, or daycare, or the grocery store….doesn’t matter where, but the outcome is almost always one of two things: I stand my ground or I give in.
Neither one makes me feel great because they come with a string attached: me feeling like I should have handled it better, differently, anything. I know in the long run, all is will be fine. Heck, all is typically fine within minutes of the meltdown, which also annoys me! So yesterday, when we were at a birthday party (Happy Birthday, Megan & Trent), these pictures brought it all to the surface how much my little baby is growing up. It made me realize that even at the not so ripe age of three and a half, she is on a path of discovering who she is and what she can do.
The party had a lady offering face painting. When we arrived, I asked Caroline if she wanted her face painted. She firmly shook her head side to side, indicating a clear no. As more friends arrived and had their own faces painted, asked her again. Again, it was a no and I left it at that. She had never had her face painted and I figure today would not be the first time.
The party went on and Caroline played and ate and played some more. She had a minor meltdown over essentially nothing. And I gave in because I didn’t want a scene and really, it wasn’t a big deal. As the party wound down, I took her to get a drink from a cooler, which was right near where the face painter had set up shop. Caroline stopped and stared at a teenager getting her face painted in a way that only a young child can stare (body completely still, mouth open and eyes transfixed). I was about to scoot her to the backyard where sack races where taking place. I thought she would have a great time since she loves to race and is becoming quiet athletic. But she was staring so intently at the face painting that I thought I would ask her again, even though I assumed the answer would be no.
This time, she surprised me with a barely audible yes. She left my side and transformed herself into a girl that knew exactly what she wanted! She sat right up in the chair like she never had a shy moment in her life. The face painter asked her what design. A kitty. What color? Pink, please. She was praised by the face painter for her manners and Caroline beamed. The results of her first face painting experience are in the pictures. She is proud of herself. What she taught me from this experience is patience: these meltdowns and tantrums are just a phase. Just like Caroline didn’t rush in to get her face painted, I don’t need to rush in when she’s pitching a fit. I just need to remember to take that second (or third or fourth) deep breath!