on acting up

This year has certainly been long and draining. It has also been wonderful and exciting. But I think this year has definitely taken its toll on my eldest, Morgan-Lee.

I don’t know if it’s had anything to do with her turning 6 in October, but seriously, since her birthday, the negative shift in her behaviour, has become worrying, alarming even. She all of a sudden is pushing boundaries, and I mean big time. Her latest thing, is to just run up to strangers in the shops, and at school and give them a big hug and say hello. It completely freaks me out! I know why she’s doing it; she’s craving attention, as her baby brother and sister are constantly attracting attention from strangers, but the difference, is that I’m not seeking out the attention for the twins; it just happens.

Both my mom and I have spoken to her about it; she has to stop it, and as much as we haven’t had a bad situation arise out of it (yet) it’s not on. Not only is she getting into other peoples’ spaces, all it takes is for me to lose concentration for a split second, and she could be gone. Also, I don’t want her hugging strange people! In all honestly, I absolutely hate it when strangers stop me and oooh and aaah over the twins. Ok, I don’t mind that so much; it’s the touching that gets to me. Touching their feet, or their hands, or the worst, their faces. I don’t know where peoples’ hands have been; the twins were in hospital last week and Alex is still being monitored, and has to go for blood tests next week, and then in another 2 weeks after that! But I digress…

Last week Monday, as I was rushing the twins off to hospital, I was frantically trying to arrange for someone to fetch Morgan-Lee from school. The husband was stuck at work, my step-dad was out as well, and so I asked my brother. He fetched her for me, and took her back to his place, as he needed to finish up some stuff. He phoned me that night, and asked if I’d spoken to Morgan-Lee. I said no; I was waiting for the husband and her to arrive at the hospital. He then told me that she had done something to his and his girlfriend’s 3 kittens; they were lethargic, and the one was barely responsive. They thought that she might have sprayed air freshener into their faces! Air freshener! When the husband and Morgan-Lee got to the hospital, I left him with the babies, and went outside with her (kids under 12 aren’t allowed in the ward) and confronted her about what on earth had happened. Oh she knew that she had done wrong, and admitted to locking one of the cats in a cage, and then spraying all 3 of them in the face with air freshener. Guys it was so bad, that the one little cat almost died; they had to rush him off to get antibiotics, as he was bleeding from the nose! I felt flipping awful, and I was just in utter shock that she would do something like that. We are an animal loving family; crikey our dogs have full reign of our home, from sleeping inside at night, to sleeping on the couches, our beds, and pretty much the run of the house. We have rabbits hopping around outside, koi fish, marine fish, hedgehogs and even a rescued Indian Mynah bird! We love animals, and Morgan-Lee has always been surrounded by animals. I just couldn’t believe that she was capable of something like that, but as she was the only one at my brother’s house, and the fact that she admitted doing what she did, just flabbergasted me.

Then last night… I had just finished putting the twins down, and as I walked back into the lounge, I caught her taking her chair, and stomping it down on my 11 year old Fox Terrier. I stopped dead; I couldn’t believe what I had just seen! She froze as well; she knew what she had done was wrong! So then why did she do it! The child isn’t stupid; she clearly knows right from wrong, and I do understand that children push boundaries as that is how they learn, but hurting animals? Deliberately hurting animals? I lost it. I did. What really upset me, is not so much the fact that she intentionally wanted to hurt my dog; what upset me was that she knew it was wrong. She knew! I marched her into the bathroom, and where her father normally smacks her on her bum through her clothes, I pulled her pants down, and smacked her bare bum. 2 sharp smacks, all the while listening to her apologise profusely; “I’m sorry mommy! I won’t hurt Sprocket again!”

It broke my heart to smack her, and I have only ever twice smacked her on her bare bum (last night included) but as I was sitting in the lounge trying to calm down from what had just happened, instant regret and guilt washed over me. I don’t want to smack my child; I don’t want to punish her. I don’t want to hurt her. I just don’t want her going out and DELIBERATELY hurting animals! For goodness sake; I rescued a baby bird 2 Friday’s ago that fell out of the nest, whereas the people around me wanted to wring its neck! It was still so young, that we’ve been spoon feeding it etc. That’s how much we love animals! And I just don’t understand that out of every way a child can misbehave and act out, she has chosen to do so by hurting animals.

Her ears lately are just there for decoration; she is continually running off in shops, and is in her own world when walking in a parking lot. I love her so much that my heart hurts, and I am so scared of what the world will do to her, if she doesn’t wake up! Yes, she’s *only* 6, but if I don’t crack down with the discipline now, when she’s *only* 14, what then?

She came through to the lounge about 45mins after she had fallen asleep last night, and came and cuddled with me on the couch. I held and rocked her, and I apologised for smacking her. She looked me in the eyes and said, “it’s ok mommy”. No, no it isn’t ok, and I told her that. I told her that she is a wonderful little girl, but that I’m so disappointed in her behaviour. I’m not disappointed in her, only in her behaviour. I told her that I hate smacking her, that I don’t want to smack her, but that she really needs to work on her behaviour. She held me tight, and whispered in my ear… “I love you mommy. Forever.”

My heart.

I just need to find a solution to her acting up and attention seeking, as unfortunately, the majority of the attention that she’s getting is negative, and that is not right.

But the other culprit of this situation? Me, her mother. I cannot blame her entirely for her behaviour. This year has drained me, physically, emotionally and mentally. The majority of my time is always on the twins, and I can understand her acting out, to a point. To have had me completely to herself, for almost 5.5 years, to now have to share me with 2 other children, that’s got to have done a number on her psyche. And the even crazier thing? She is so gentle, and patient, and loving with her brother and sister. You’d think I’d find her pinching them, pushing them over, bullying them, but no. She happily shares her toys, gets down on the floor with them, and entertains them when I’m in the shower.

So where have I gone wrong? Where have I, as a parent, failed my eldest daughter? I am so grateful for the 3 weeks of leave that I’ve taken just before Christmas, because even though we won’t be going out much, it will give me the opportunity to have some one-on-one time with her, focus on her, give her the attention that she is so obviously craving.

I feel like the world’s biggest failure as a mother typing this post, because as much as she is at an age where she is accountable for her actions, I am too. And I’ve let her down.

I only hope that it’s not too late for me to get her back on the right path.

G

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