As I've said, we had a great weekend at our family retreat. It was the best What-a-Family weekend we've had in the 3 years we've gone.
However, by Saturday night, we knew we (meaning Sara Madalin) were inching closer and closer to a meltdown. She'd not gotten much sleep at night. She'd gone to bed later and gotten up as early or earlier than she normally does at home. She did nap for me Saturday afternoon. But after all the activity she'd had, she was in need of more sleep.
After dinner Saturday night, we went to evening worship service. It's always lots of fun. After the worship service, we have a talent program. All the kids LOVE this part of camp. They make up skits. Some of them sing songs. I believe there was even a dance or two. The little girls, Sara Madalin and Audrey, decided they would sing together. Audrey had signed up to sing, and she asked Sara Madalin at the end of worship service, "Sara Madalin, do you want to sing with me?"
So, Audrey's mom took them both outside to practice. She helped them pick a song and she said they did really great in their practice session. But there is one thing I know about my girl, no matter how she does when she has an audience of one, you never know what she's going to do when the whole room is looking at her.
They sat through several group skits and one sweet little girl who sang "God Bless the USA." They were tired. They are 4. And they were given microphones. None of those make for the best combination. I've already posted the video of their "performance." If you want to see it again, click here. I guess the important thing is, they enjoyed themselves. Here are a few photos of those giggly girls during their song.
Sara Madalin and I stayed to watch one other group skit, then I told Reagan I needed to get her to bed. We walked back to our cabin and she was asleep within 10 minutes of me putting her down to bed.
Sunday morning when we got up, it was raining. I finished packing up everything in our cabin while Sara Madalin played. Reagan loaded us up so that we could leave as soon as the morning worship service was over. First, we had breakfast though. Sara Madalin was thrilled to get to walk in the rain with an umbrella all by herself.
I mentioned in another post that I'd brought SM her own snacks, candy, and drinks for the weekend. However, I had forgotten to bring extra things like cereal for breakfast. Saturday morning she did fine with what was served. Sunday, we were served French toast sticks and syrup. Syrup full of artificial flavors and colors. But, because there was nothing else for her to eat, I let her have some. The syrup couldn't have been more than a couple tablespoons, and she didn't eat half of it. But what she ate was enough to affect her.
We've discovered that she has a strong reaction to over-processed food and foods full of artificial ingredients. Her body cannot metabolize as quickly as some children can. So, these artificial, man-made products, stay in her system and affect her neurologically. While some children are allergic to food and have a physically reaction, she has a sensitivity to certain ingredients in foods and has more of a mental reaction. Usually her reaction results in high aggression and terrible behavior. It took us a while to figure out all of that. Once we did, and we cleaned up her diet, we see her acting differently. She's still her active, curious, hyper self. But she has more clarity when we keep those foods out of her diet. She's more polite and much more receptive to discipline. When she eats foods she shouldn't, she is a completely different child.
So, she ate the French toast sticks and syrup because I had nothing else for her to eat.
Before leaving the cafeteria, we took a family picture.
We went outside and she and Audrey played on the porch before worship service was to start.
As they were playing, I heard Sara Madalin begin to argue with Audrey over the toys. All weekend they had played well together and had not argued at all. Then, I saw her jerk a toy away from Audrey. I went over and told her to come sit with me for a minute.
I could tell she was really tired. She sat there for a minute or two, then went back to play. Again, they began to argue. Reagan took Audrey to her sister in the gym and I stayed there with Sara Madalin. She began to throw a fit and get really loud with me. When Reagan came back to the porch, we decided to take her back to our cabin to calm her down a bit.
When we got in the cabin, she began to get very angry with us and talk back and argue with everything we said. I told Reagan I thought we needed to leave and just miss the last service of the weekend. I've been around her enough to know when she's past the point of reason. She was there. What she needed was to be removed from everyone and everything, have some quiet and rest, and let the things that were affecting her system and behavior pass through her system. Sometimes when she gets this way, we deal with this behavior for several days, then she's back to herself. But I knew she needed to leave.
Ever the optimist, he thought he could calm her down. He continued to talk to her and suddenly she jumped up off the floor, and ran out the cabin door. It was still raining. Reagan went to the door and told her to come back inside. She ran across the gravel road, then turned to him and said, "SHUT UP!"
Oh, yes. Yes, she did.
Let me chase a couple rabbits right here.
First, we never say that. Not to her. Not to each other. Not to anyone. We are extremely careful what we say in front of her. We don't even say, "Oh my gosh!" We say, "Oh, my goodness!" The first time I heard her say "shut up" was one day when she still attended day care. When I heard her say it, I told her that was a really ugly thing to say and we shouldn't say it. So, now, when she's very tired and angry, or she's having an aggressive reaction to food, she says it. It's the worst thing she knows to say. She's doing everything she can to get a reaction from us at that time, and so she says the one thing that she knows will make us the most upset. And trust me, we get pretty upset when she says it.
Second, we have spanked her again and again for saying those words. We have taken privileges from her. We've kept her from attending fun things after she's said those words. We have done everything we can think of except make her put soap in her mouth, which I am thinking might be our next step. I do hope I live to see the day when those spankings and other punishments result in the changed behavior for which we are hoping. But at the rate things are going, I think God will probably call me home before we win this battle.
So, she said what she did, and then she started to run. And Reagan ran after her. (I wish now I had reacted differently and gone back inside for the camera - cause that was a sight - him running after her in the rain.) Once he caught her I could tell he was furious with her. He brought her back inside, and spanked her. She started screaming. And he said very calmly and quietly, "You stay here with your momma, because I'm going to get the truck and we are leaving."
She screamed the entire time he was gone to get the truck. She took her shoes and socks off and began to throw them around. I spanked her. She'd scream louder. It was a wonderful way to end such a great weekend. Only not really.
He came back with the truck. We loaded her in while she continued to throw a fit. Oh, and we had an audience by this time. The people we shared a cabin with were on their porch. Our friends in the cabin next door were outside loading up. We were super excited for all of them to see and hear all that was going on.
We got her buckled in, we left, and she was asleep within 5 minutes. She slept for two hours and woke in time for us to eat lunch. The first thing she said after she woke up was, "Mommy, I love you." I then said, "Do you think you need to apologize to Daddy?" She knew exactly what I was referring to and she said, "Daddy, I'm sorry I ran from you and told you to shut up."
The good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm worn out from it, embarrassed and humbled by much of it, but I'm thankful for it all.