kids

"People love labelling my twin daughters as 'naughty' and 'nice'. I hate it."

My kids have always been high spirited, lots of energy and sass. Isabelle was a very easy going baby who would wait for her more demanding sister to be attended to first. She would be patient, kind and loved being around people. Being twins people loved labelling the girls- Isabelle was the “good one”, the “little one”, the “friendly one”. I really hated the labels. It made me sick when people would say Grace was the “fat one” or the “unfriendly one”. I tied to stop people from doing this it was psychology damaging. Especially now with medical issues involved, the tables have turned and rolls reversed, does it make Isabelle the “sick one” the “naughty one”.

(To read more about Isabelle and her surgery, click here.)

The labelling of “naughty” causes me angst, (unless I am the one saying my kids are naughty). Many people are avoided because of this. However there’s people I don’t avoid, they make Isabelle relaxed, I’m relaxed which then allows everyone to breathe and be ourselves. It’s a sense that everyone picks up and runs with it. Isabelle is so well behaved around these people because there’s no stress and if she is not, then it doesn’t matter. This leads to the other kids being relaxed and the chain reaction begins.

She is accepted for her quirky behaviours and they take her as she is. Their kids now know not to take the quirks personally. Isabelle is literal, it is only black or white, no shades of grey. Last week Isabelle was dragging her feet and I said “come on, you need to pull your socks up” so she bent over and pulled her actual socks right up. Then she asked if I was happy. Yes, ecstatic you can pull your Yellow socks up to your knees.

The Motherish team confess when they felt like a terrible mother. Post continues after video…


Saturday at a friend’s house, someone sat in a seat that Isabelle sat in earlier which was “her seat”. To her literal brain it would forever be her chair… and she was livid. Thankfully all the other kids just let it roll and gave her the seat back. Her friend Billy was a little upset about how she spoke to him but I outlined that her choice of words were not the best and she did say sorry (once she was back in “her” spot and all was well). Billy was willing to cop one from Isabelle and dusts himself off to carry on because it’s bred into him and he’s educated. None of my friends would have noticed or knew how that situation could have escalated. Their kids were beautiful and accepting which showed.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, I have been in a group in nearly the exact situation- where people haven’t understood because we never educated them. We felt stressed, Isabelle feels the pressure and it turns bad. So this time Isabelle was saying it was “her seat” because she sat there earlier, then the other child reacted (like anyone would) and said no I’m here… then it was on! Isabelle tried to pull the child off, then pushing and shoving begun. The other child dobbed to their parents and me, but I could already hear Isabelle carrying on anyway. Then my police negotiation skills which I developed from having twins come in handy. JFK once said ‘let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear not to negotiate ’… but I was scared. JFK was right, it went bad. I was negotiating with right, wrong, black and white. But there’s no negotiating with terrorists. The situation turned into a hostage situation, of our prides, our parenting skills.

"The naughty one" - Isabelle.

Isabelle was being “naughty”, she should move. We need to discipline her but how can we to the expectations of the other good parents of the good kids? We now had an audience. Our options were- Naughty corner her: it’s too hard, you smack: it’s too psychologically damaging, you negotiate: it’s too soft. However, it depended on who you asked, everyone has an opinion. I decided I would remove her from the situation and take her to a quite spot to settle down, much to the disgust of the smackers I am sure.

We now have learnt that education is the key, we now hand out factsheets before we go anywhere- not really, that is literal thinking. In reality we tell a few people, who tell a few people. We have relied on the gossip system for the last 18 months. This failed dismally as we found our good friends didn’t gossip. We recently updated our system and added Facebook and blogs into the mix. We try to be open and allow people to ask questions, we answer and encourage more. We tell people the part of Isabelle’s brain that controls fluid thought and creative thinking has been damaged. Will it repair itself? We don’t know, but we are working on her neural pathways reforming and rebuilding so then she will be able to (that is why she needs 12 hours of sleep because the repair happens while sleeping).

We felt stressed, Isabelle feels the pressure and it turns bad.

If that fails we teach her her triggers and ways to handle herself, but she is too little to do this at the moment to a greater extent. The part that is damaged is telling her that it is her seat, according to her brain because she sat there before and her brain can't allow her to sit somewhere else because that's lateral thinking. Why should you sit somewhere else when you have a perfectly good spot to sit? Who cares if someone is sitting there, it is her seat. They must move.

ADVERTISEMENT

People don't care at this point in a public meltdown anyway, Isabelle has lost it over "her seat" and may of said the f-bomb, started the "fight or flight" process and you as a parent must intervene because it's not acceptable behaviour. You look over your shoulder as you carry her away kicking and biting and the other child is sitting in the seat grinning ear to ear because they got their way and Isabelle is now in trouble. The sad part is, Isabelle is still carrying on once the other child has moved onto another seat. Isabelle by then is in a terrible state, stress triggers a migraine or seizure, we leave early and all the other kids are upset with the need to go and miss out (again). Isabelle doesn't sleep that night, which triggers bad behaviour and more seizures or migraines the next day which leads to no sleep again. It’s stressful next time we go out. It's not just the moment of fighting over the seat.

No one remembers that Isabelle shared her lollies when the other kids ate them fast and wanted more.

I'm definitely not saying she needs her own way but a little flexibility and understanding goes a very VERY long way. From that day, everyone remembers Isabelle yelling “Fuckin Hell” (no idea where she heard that) and having the best tantrum anyone had ever admitted seeing. No one remembers that Isabelle shared her lollies when the other kids ate them fast and wanted more. They don’t remember the big hugs she gave out when she arrived. They don’t remember how much they felt loved or felt special when she gushed over them. They don’t remember her playing with the little kids and was kind to others, which gave people a break from chasing their toddlers.

Isabelle wants to do the right thing, she does most of the time now. We all want her to do the right thing. We don’t want her to get away with bad behaviour, we are working on her to help her to relearn right from wrong. Our house is like a constant hostage negotiation situation. It’s exhausting. We are constantly trying to mould and help reform neurons. Isabelle attends rehab and in 2015 she attended weekly more often than not. Now due to school it’s less but it’s constant. We are definitely not wanting to let her get away with pushing the boundaries. She does a lot of good for others, which other kids may not do... so when her brain tells her she needed to sit in a particular chair, if it’s not a big deal, give her your chair! Just make sure it's after she asks nicely and she says thank you. The rest of the day will pan out a lot better for everyone when you make small allowances occasionally. She might even share her lollies with you. We need to remember her brain is rigid but it’s beautiful too.

*Please note this is my opinion and I don’t encourage anyone to let Isabelle to get her own away all the time.

This post was originally published on Isabelle's Web. It has been republished here with full permission.

Katie Cummins is a nurse from Yarrawonga, Victoria. She has four kids, a one year old, three year old, and six year old twins.  You can find her on Facebook or at www.isabellesweb.com

 

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. You click, we help. Shooting star illustration.

Mamamia is funding 100 girls in school, every day.

So just by spending time with Mamamia, you’re helping educate girls, which is the best tool to lift them out of poverty.

Thanks for helping!

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. Girl with pigtails sitting at desk writing in notebook. Row of four books.
Three hands holding books
00:00 / ???