gnashing of teeth

On my mind this naptime:

1) Every once in a while it seems we creep back into a pattern of Amy weeping and gnashing her teeth snapping and screaming at us when she doesn’t get her way. What a hard stage for her — how frustrating it must be to want so many things just so and to get very few of them just so. How difficult to accept unpleasant realities.

I think back about all the good ideas and suggestions — need to work again at making sure everything is put away before dinnertime so bedtime is less of a hassle. Need to keep working at using the “baskets” idea to choose which issues are good for problem-solving communication, which to let go, and which to stand our ground about. Keep an eye on our expectations. Think about the long-term — what is most likely to help instill or develop the value, principle, idea, skill, etc. Think about the short-term — what’s most likely to foster calm and acceptable results when we’re all tired and short on time.

I also need wisdom and discernment on how to distinguish between the quest for power (even if she doesn’t think of it as power over us in particular, power includes the desire to have things her own way — we all want to have things our own way, and sometimes we pursue our own way with energy and commitment despite obstacles, and other times we let go in the face of obstacles, and sometimes we think about whether our own way is really the best thing at the moment…) and the quest for comfort and connection.

When Amy’s screaming and snapping, she generally doesn’t want, or can’t accept, comfort and connection unless it comes in the particular form she’s demanding. If the answer to that demand is “no,” it seems we have to wait for the storm to calm before we can help her.

It seems the problem-solving communication opportunities are more rare than they should be — it’s either cheeriness or screaming. Need to look at what’s going on there — where I might be asserting power more often than I need to, or whatever else might be contributing.

By the way, I wish she would get out of the habit of wiping her fingers on her clothes and use a napkin. She’s not even aware that she’s doing it. I also wish she would distinguish between “take your time and observe all around and talk about all of it” times and “do the one required thing and do it quickly” times. AND I wish she would panic less easily and about fewer things, and show a little more willing perseverance.

2. What exactly is the difference between the evil and the righteous?

In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the weedy tares are planted by an enemy — analogies only go so far, but what is Jesus getting at here? Surely God creates all people, so in what sense does the enemy plant any people?

Or again, the sheep and the goats. No one is exempt either from reward or from punishment, because everyone has done at least one good thing and one bad thing and so meets both conditions. But the consequences — reward or punishment — are not given out together, but divide the sheep and goats entirely.

I still find the Calvinist idea of election not based on merit more sensible than the Arminian idea of prevenient grace — either way, God could easily enough make sure that everyone is saved, so why doesn’t he do so.

It is sometimes tempting, reading / hearing some of these parables and other passages, to think the evil and the righteous are actually different kinds of people, impermeable groups that cannot be left or joined. And yes, it matters; it affects, for example, how you think of people who have committed heinous crimes, and whether or not you can lump yourself in the same class as those people. If evil and righteous are permeable groups, then there’s nothing but grace that keeps me from committing the same heinous crimes, and there’s grace freely offered to the criminals. If they’re not permeable groups, then maybe those criminals really are evil monsters, entirely different from me, and it’s pointless to talk to them or offer them the Gospel.

By the way, it’s interesting that Amy is often choosing to listen to our current Bible CD, often from beginning to end, when we’re in the car. It’s one voice, not dramatized (she didn’t like the demons’ voices and some of the others in the dramatized versions we’ve listened to before), and covers the first half of Matthew, in the NRSV I believe.

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6 thoughts on “gnashing of teeth

  1. I wrote a post about identifying different tantrums and knowing when they’re about power and when they’re about neediness. It’s the sort of information I could have done with in the early days. I could help. Perhaps.

  2. It’s partly that post I had in mind. This poor child seems to have such a strong drive for control, power, whatever it is. “You HAVE to…” “You NEED to” “I NEED you to” “I’ll NEVER” “I’m NOT going to” and so on.

    I am thinking about the fact that arguing begets arguing, and that it takes two to argue. And that when the issue that’s being argued has been argued before, there’s really no need for me to argue it again — except in cases where the relevant principle or lesson needs to be repeated for the sake of learning. It can be hard to know what a young child knows and understands in such situations — and of course there’s also the issue of to what extent they can access that knowledge and understanding in the heat of the moment. But what I’m getting at is that there are probably plenty of times where the best thing with these power things is to walk away from the argument, going straight to concrete consequence if appropriate.

    I wish a) she understood that screaming at me does NOT make me more interested in playing with her (or whatever the issue is) and b) I were less influenced by her nastiness.

    Her arguing seems so automatic, so thoughtless — it can also be hard to know when it’s a matter of “allow her to show her distress” vs. “enforce appropriate expression of distress” vs. whatever else. I’ve told her enough times, it seems, about more appropriate expressions — she rarely uses any — it’s often either screaming nastiness or abrupt change to cheerful compliance, as if she doesn’t really understand the middle ground or how to find it.

    I’m a little better at identifying sleep and blood sugar tantrums… challenge issues seem to happen a lot, too, as she lacks perseverance and has a seeming learned helplessness issue. It’s a vicious cycle, as seeming to give up so easily and finally is irritating, but showing irritation makes her less likely to keep trying.

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