As in years old.
Mr B and I have been stuck in a rut of stubborn-meets-stubborn, rigid-meets-rigid, angry-meets-angry. He starts, I join him, only we're on the opposite sides of the line, horns locked. I find myself refusing to step across to his side of the line because he won't step across to my side.
Yeah, and just who is the grownup here?
I suspect that I have more trouble with seven than average (which is usually a lot of trouble) because it was the year that I shattered (assaulted by a distant relative, lost all sense of self and identity, became suicidal, dissociated so far that I didn't recognize my face in the mirror and had to struggle to remember how to function). Shattering on top of the brain transition of 7 was just ... well, I say catastrophic a lot, but that's what it was. I was losing internal function at the same time as I had internal function stripped away by outside events. Every normal 7-year-old thing became tainted with the damage - was my sudden inability to clean my room because I was folding my laundry and putting it away when I was cornered there? Or was it just because 7-year-olds suck at cleaning up after themselves? Both?
I didn't integrate that year very well into my psyche, so I end up being more of a 7-year-old in response to the 7-year-old-ness of Mr B. It was the same with Mr G, though I was less stressed that year so I managed to figure it out sooner and more calmly. Plus, Mr G was just plain more organized to start with, so he didn't fall as far out of whack. That was just his nature. Mr B's random-on-top-of-random is so organic I can't find the pattern unless I get down to the cellular level.
But it doesn't really matter. They're both strengths, really - Mr G's order, Mr B's flexibility. And strangely, when Mr B's flexibility goes haywire, he becomes less flexible, not excessively flexible. He becomes inflexible about being flexible - it becomes his whim as the wind blows him ABSOLUTE. If everyone doesn't follow in his drift and direction change, he cannot cope, and locks up.
Add in too much candy cane, and we're in trouble. Gut fermentation = no balancing brain chemistry = rage and rigidity and frustration.
So, having been reminded, last night was a bit better. I remembered that I am not 7, I am the grownup. I remembered our rules, and some of the methods I really do know how to use. So when he collapsed to his knees and wailed in extremis when I said that having broken the toy guns rule (no pointing or shooting at living creatures, even in play - we use military rules on that, if you point your weapon you're prepared to fire it, and while the risk of access to a gun is very low, it isn't zero in our family)... anyway, having broken the rule, the gun was to go into timeout. And he wailed, clutched the gun, fell to his knees, sobbed, begged, screamed, negotiated, begged, sobbed some more...
But instead of just getting up and taking the gun away and letting him writhe in misery on the floor while I repeated the rule and ignored the drama (which doesn't work for him, "ignore" is his worst punishment and the fastest way to make him mad)-(Yes, I know, not Safe/Respectful/Kind in the LEAST), I took a deep breath, offered my empathy (you were having fun and forgot the rule), reiterated the rule calmly (no clenched teeth while repeating it because I remembered that it wasn't personal and it wasn't intentional it was just brain re-wiring), explained simply the realities behind the rule (he responds to the explanations, if I keep it short and to the point), waited for him to catch up to the understanding, reiterated the rule again when he stared cycling back into the begging and sobbing, maintained eye contact and a sympathetic expression, repeated the empathy as his emotions surged again, watched as his body relaxed a bit and his brain took charge (instead of his emotions), talked with him about how to resolve it, negotiated an extension with open reluctance and reasons for my reluctance ('one more chance usually means you don't listen to the first time, and just expect to do it wrong once and then still have another chance'), listened to his expression of real understanding ('but I understand, now, please? can I just hold it? I promise I won't point it at anyone. Really.'), heard the shift underneath that indicated that it wasn't just more begging for a second chance to play however he felt like playing until he messed up again, it was asking to be trusted.
Asking for me to believe he was able.
Asking for me to see him as a good person who made a mistake, not someone who can't be given any leeway because it would always be unsafe to do so.
Asking for me to define him as a good person who is able to follow the rules, because otherwise he'd have to accept my definition of him as a bad person who isn't able to follow the rules.
Seeing through to that, how could I not answer it? I showed my reluctance because of what allowing it might teach, but was clear about that issue, and about making an exception because I could see he was serious, and was willing to trust him. Allowed, and then observed that he quickly put the gun aside on his own and chose other ways to play.
Phew. It took some real effort and focus.
But, I remembered my own rules, and applied them, and it worked. Funny that. They do seem to work when I remember to use them.
Oy. Isn't parenting fun?
Adding to my general fun (entire side note) is that I'm definitely heading into perimenopause. There's something of a trend toward women who have fraternal twins experiencing earlier onset of menopause than women who don't - basically multiple ovulation is a result of the earlier trend into menopause, kind of a side-effect. Fraternal twin girls are more likely to experience early menopause themselves, too. So it passes down, that twin tendency - not 'just a tendency to ovulate twice' but a tendency to do so for deeper reasons. So here I am.
And here go my hormones. Having had a double-dose of estrogen in pregnancy, I'm more at risk for some of the fun side issues in menopause - hot flashes tend to be more commonly found in women who have experienced high estrogen phases. Also, thickened endometrium is more common when estrogen is high, and endometrial cancer is more common (even if not all that common) in women who have had that super-estrogen dose. (likewise breast cancer forms that are estrogen triggered.)
So, I'm off in the next week or so to get a second ultrasound to see if I need to have an endometrial biopsy, hormone therapy, or if I'm just on the near end of the thickening process. First ultrasound pointed toward a trend toward thickening, but no notable abnormalities, so if anything is off, it's early.
Underlying that is the fact that for many women, perimenopause is a time of (surprise) high estrogen production. Popping out the last of those eggs, push push push the last chances to procreate. I'm currently showing ovulatory signs three times a cycle nearly every cycle. Whee. The surge-then-surge-then-surge means I'm getting so much estrogen running that I'm ... uh, cranky. Yeah, cranky, angry, snipey, sarcastic, rude, selfish, rigid, easily frustrated, and OH SO FUN.
A friend of mine said that no woman in menopause should be elected president because if you caught her on a surge day she'd order the military to just nuke everyone who bugged her. Her advice to husbands for this stage was to run electricity to the garage and set up a place to sleep out there, because just staying out of the way is the best defense.
Harder for kids to do that. Hard for them to not want sympathy, empathy, to be self-reliant emotionally. Kind of not their job. So, I may end up on hormone treatments (NOT estrogen replacement, thanks!) in part for their sake. I don't enjoy the constant frustration feeling. They sure don't like it much, either.
Ah, the joys of womanhood. I wouldn't trade genders, but this part isn't my favorite.