My Daughter Is Melodramatic … I Have No Idea Where She Gets It

When you read parenting books and talk to parents with older children, you learn about the sleep deprivation of the newborn phase, the frustration of the terrible twos (which lasts well into the threes for some us ), and the patience necessary to endure potty training.

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Image via Carol Byron Photography

However, no one told me that at five, my daughter would provide such a frightening prequel to the teenage years. Drama abounds in her life, particularly in response to any kind of discipline.

I’ll give you an example: Not too long ago, we went out to dinner with another family from school. We had some gifts left over from the holidays to exchange with them, so when we walked in, we picked a section of the restaurant that was relatively empty. When the kids were done eating, they were able to move around without disturbing other diners. 

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For some reason, all of the their pent-up energy was being taken out on an odd tree near our table. Once one child touched it, an ongoing cycle began with the three of them taking turns tugging and pulling and kicking. It took some effort to break the spell of destruction and convince the kids to just leave the poor tree alone.

Having forgotten the tree, the kids moved on to presents and dessert. I considered the outing to be successful, and I was elated to have provided a fun night out when we’ve so often been captive at home in the cold. As we walked out into the parking lot, the kids all giggled and squealed, hugging their “goodnights” and pretending to hide from the adults before we finally herded them to our cars. 

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My daughter, Abby, was not even in her seat when she crumpled to the floor, wailing in distress. At first she was crying so hard that I couldn’t understand her words.

Slowly, I pieced it together: I’d had the audacity to “yell at her” while she was trying to have fun with her friends. My responses started calm, quietly letting her know that I did raise my voice because she hadn’t been able to hear me. I asked her if she had ignored our requests to leave the tree alone.

“Yes,” she acknowledged before her wails reached a high scream.

My frustration grew as her meltdown escalated. Back and forth we went about countless things: not listening and the consequences thereof; no one had gotten in trouble, and we’d had a fun night out; the distinction between good choices versus poor choices; and the reason why this was coming up at the end of the night when we were all having such a good time.

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Finally, my patience was sapped. I could see my arms waving in the air as I yelled, “Fine! We won’t go do anything fun anymore. Ever. We will just stay home all the time.

Perhaps I do know where my daughter gets her theatrical flair.

That’s the other thing that books and other parents can’t prepare you for: Dealing with the things we teach our kids every day. Yes, we show them how to zip zippers, when to wear a hat, and how to share. But they’re also absorbing all of the other qualities we embody, from talking with our hands, to coping with frustration by yelling.

For that reason, I’m thankful for this first glimpse at that teenage chapter. It means I still have an opportunity to do better and provide better coping skills for my daughter while the lessons are smaller and less complicated than they will be in her teenage years.

But I may need someone to remind me of that when they see me stranded in yet another restaurant parking lot.

Which of your qualities do you see mirrored in your kids?

What do you think?

My Daughter Is Melodramatic … I Have No Idea Where She Gets It

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. A working, single mom of two kids ages six and five, she is notorious for doing things the hard way. In addition to writing for EverydayFamily, she survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter. ... More

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6 comments

  1. jesster131 says:

    My son has a drama streak to him. He runs to his room slams the door & cries. But the storms blow over quick so far. Right now the best tactic has been to ignore the outbursts & wait till he has calmed down. Then we try to talk. He is still young but we’ll see as he gets older.

  2. Samantha says:

    I’m going through some big attitude changes with my 3 year old and trying every trick in the book. They don’t always work but I’m hoping consistency and determination will pay off as she gets older especially since I have another girl on the way.

  3. LIZ says:

    i think you should educated the kid since they are in your belly, but sometimes in this world is difficult when they see other kids

  4. Cait says:

    Another mother and I were just talking about this.

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