Dashed Hopes and Rage-Shredded Eggs

Oh my Jesus.

You guys?

I can’t let my kids spend a night with a Grandma ever again. I mean, I’m going to have to but the children I leave off and the children I pick up are like if Cindy Brady became Regan MacNeil over the course of sixteen hours.

There is incontinence. There is physical aggression.

There is a 65 percent increase in the random stupid bullshit they do just to be assholes.

Like picking the opposite of literally anything the other twin picks for absolutely no other reason but to piss the other twin right the fuck off.

The amount of douchebaggery that goes on in my house, for literally days, after these two have had a night of unadulterated liberation?

Not even worth it.

And kind of makes me afraid that this is my future considering the amount of consequences and consistent parenting they come home to.

Honestly, though? If that is my future?

You know this shit is coming out my mouth too, if my kids try pulling any kind of bullshit like this on me:

Nope. Better pray I don’t get out of this tub, y’all.

And I do not believe in starting any sentence with the words “if those were my kids,” but I’m telling y’all right now, I’d be going full The Ring on those two if they were my kids.

Harper? Juno? I love you girls to the end of this Earth and back but if you try to kill me, fail, drag me back inside the house, and then stab me some more and watch me fish out in the bathtub?

Nope.

Game over.

I will spend the first thirty years of my afterlife developing a relationship with God and renouncing agnosticism just so I can find a way to defy physics and haunt the everloving shit out of your asses in prison?

Do you hear me, children?

Now.

June had a birthday party today, which I asked my mom to take her to so that I could spend some time with Harper working on what appears to be a steadily straining relationship.

I think there’s a number of things potentially going on with Harper that I’m not ready to publicly speculate on right now, until I get off-the-record input from past providers/current confidants whose personal opinions I trust, but I also recognize that because Harper is so much like I was as a child, she has the ability to trigger me in ways that June couldn’t begin to dream of.

Because I worry about her for reasons, and in ways, that I do not worry about June.

And the fact of it is that it’s mostly normal for twins with two active and involved parents to compete vicously for attention and “dominant twin” status. So twins with one parent, who is spread dangerously thin to begin with?

I’m out before the game even starts. Parenting is simply another form of interpersonal interaction. An extended one. Parenting twins is a social endurance sport. Which means it is a sport at which I am competing with a marked disadvantage.

Because you can have all the credit hours and degrees and experience helping other people parent that you please.

But until you’ve stared into a pair of cold, black, defiant eyes that you created inside your own body as the child in whose head they reside sees your deployment of the “stop-it-now-or-we-will-leave-this-restaurant” missile by executing a flawless fall-to-the-floor-in-the-middle-of-the-dining-room-and-announce-loudly-to-the-entire-Saturday-lunch-crowd-that-your-“vagina-hurts”-maneuver, you are in no way qualified to attempt to empathize with the level of rage under which I am required to perform on a daily basis.

So yes. I do lose my patience with her. For a lot of reasons, but never, ever, without putting up one hell of a fight to maintain patience, decorum, and resolve.

Still, I worry that because I have been down a road I can see her logically choosing, given the right set of variables and not enough effort on my part to prevent it, my rapport with her at critical moments of opportunity to intervene will fall short of what’s needed to effectively parent her in another direction.

I need to keep us headed in the right direction, and it feels like trying to steer 20 percherons in the right direction using 20 individual sets of reins as they pull 20 different wagons.

There are just so many ways for us to get dangerously off course.

I take every opportunity I get to invest in one-on-one rapport maintenance time.

So today, after we dropped June at my mom’s, I took Harper to Applebee’s (she was overstimulated the minute we sat down and had a meltdown over the crossword puzzle on her placemat within the first seven minutes), then to the art gallery for a painting demonstration and to look at the new exhibition, then for a walk downtown, then to the library to take in the young children’s art show that was installed last week, and then to the children’s department where I read to her, read to her some more, built a cube fence for imaginary horses, returned to our car, went to the carwash, and came home.

I planned for this to be a really good, engaged, pleasant afternoon for the two of us to share.

And she just shit all over it.

Which is entirely her right. But I’m just saying…I was forced to behold how frustrating I must be to my therapist.

I really kind of feel bad for the poor bastard.

She’s so protective of her emotions. Even when I openly and directly invite her to constructively criticize my parenting, assure her up front that hostility will not be penalized in any way, ask her to offer me feedback on what I am modeling for her versus what I think I am modeling for her, and encourage her to freely express her moment-to-moment emotions by offering her a menu of descriptors and allowing her the freedom to identify any with which currently she’s relating.

In particular, I saw her look at me with a snarling face that dripped legit venom from her eyes, and answer the question “are you angry right now,” with the words, “I am not angry I am happy.”

I just do not know how to parent this.

Even with twice my current stamina, and another adult I could use to tap out from time to time, I would not know how to parent this.

Joel repeatedly offers me direct feedback, when he’s trying to demonstrate validation, that my face clearly conveys anger. Especially when he’s trying to be validating, actually.

And, just like Harper, I deny it. Both consciously and preconsciously, I actively deny and reject both the validation and the feedback.

Because it’s not anger. Not entirely. Anger is far too simple a label. It is any number of things, in any number of combinations, based on a flashbulb measurement of variables including quantity and direction of component parts in response to both recent and longitudinal prior experiential context.

Mostly, it is fear-based confusion, and no small measure of skepticism in the implication that something as simple as a compliment could be, in any way, non-transactional.

And the more depth a compliment implies, the worse it is.

When there is anger it is almost always of the genus frustration, and in response to my inability to socially and emotionally multitask.

Everything everyone says I process through a validity filter on a number of levels, and the data isn’t immediate.

I get frustrated when I’m not being given (or perceive that I am not being given) enough time to play the game, or when I’m expected to process these things are the same average speed of average people, because the stakes in responding inaccurately are so high.

Sensitivity to negative emotions like embarrassment keep me ever-cautious of my words in person. It’s why writing is the only way for me to communicate honestly, and fully. And it’s because I lack impulse control, which for most people takes the form in this context of what’s colloquially known as a verbal filter, that a high number of shaming experiences have happened, which has had the cumulative effect of really amplifying and reinforcing that sensitivity. Which has led to a vicious, not to mention a deeply entrenched, at this point, cycle of unhelpful negative predictions and self-fulfilled prophesies, to have emerged and reoccurred.

Anyhow, the point is that parenting a kid who goes entirely nonverbal and protects her emotional reality so fiercely is fiercely frustrating. About as frustrating as I’d imagine trying to help me must be.

So how do I have the understanding of the experience without the ability to help someone else who’s experiencing it? Furthermore, how do I identity what’s got Harper being so protective and hostile, and help her fix it? At least I can point to a history of very specific relational trauma by which to understand the genesis of these issues for me. If Harper doesn’t have that, then does it mean that (a) there is a set of traumatic relational issues I don’t know about for her and, if so, (b) am I it?

Ugh. So much to think about

Including the drive to Harrisburg on Monday. At least I’ll be able to catch up on my backlog of Hidden Brain on the way.

I’ve got about five to burn through.

Oh. And finally, here’s this. This haopened tonight.

So now you know. You can shred hard cooked eggs in a parm mill.

#expandinghorizons

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