I attribute the recent uptick in Sophie’s irritability to a variety of factors. Not sure how many of them are legitimate and reasonable, and how many are simply rationalizations I’m pulling out of my head to explain this phenomenon.
(1) She’s adjusting to my regular presence around the house and testing my patience and fortitude.
(2) Her sister is driving her crazy and Sophie is unable (or unwilling) to confine her wrath to Chloe.
(3) Not possible for her to start having hormonal reactions at this young age, is it?
(4) She’s simply being a pain in the ass because that’s what 7-year olds do best.
(5) She’s experiencing emotions that she’s never had to deal with before. Like wanting things to be perfect when they can’t always be perfect.
Yesterday was the perfect example of #5. Sophie had ice skating lessons. New session, harder level. Frankly, she probably never should have advanced to the next stage because she can’t really glide on one foot for more than a second, but they put promoted her and now we’re dealing with the consequences. Needless to say, she was miserable because she couldn’t do the move.
She got off the ice and announced, “I want to quit. I don’t like it and I want to quit.” I explained that she needs to practice the move so that it’s easier for her. I even tried empathy – hugging her and telling her I understood how frustrating it must be for her and that I’d be upset, too. That went over like a lead balloon. The child psychologist was who came up with that nonsense probably hates kids.
Sophie then got nasty. Particularly after I told her that she wasn’t allowed to quit and that she had to finish the session. She started to throw things. She growled at me (well, she looked like she was going to growl at me) and she gave me the silent treatment (a tactic she’s using with ever-greater confidence and success).
When we arrived home, she continued to throw shit as soon as she walked in the door. By that point, I’d had enough. I sent her to her room and told her to stay there until she was ready to apologize. After two minutes, I brought her the day’s homework – because I didn’t want her having any fun up there.
And although the empathy crap didn’t work, my stern response sure did. After 20 minutes or so, she came downstairs and silently showed me her completed math homework. No apology yet. I sent her back to her room to finish her spelling homework. She came back downstairs after another 15 minutes to show me her spelling. No apology yet. I sent her back to her room to brood some more. And finally, after a few more minutes, little Sophie came downstairs with a note that said, “I’m sorry.” That stubborn devil still wasn’t talking, but at least she was contrite.
After another hour or so, Sophie had returned to her normal loving and cuddly self. She even agreed to go to the public skate session with me tomorrow so she could practice. I have no idea what runs through that little brain of hers, but take note, Sophie. You’ve met your match.