The Art of Saying No
The Art of Saying No…not so lovingly brought to you with screams, tears, and tantrums from my [almost] 4 year old son. Ugh.
I thought cancer was tough. And it is. Cancer is incredibly hard on the body, the mind, and the spirit. It changes you both physically and emotionally. It alters your physique, it renders you vulnerable, and it f*cks with your mind. You come out of that battle transformed, and you are forced to rebuild your life. It’s astonishingly difficult. It was – and continues to be – an uphill climb for recovery both in body and in mind. But let me tell you this, surviving breast cancer has proven less dispiriting than surviving the everyday onslaught of an [almost] 4 year old child. Here I thought the Terrible Two’s and the Thunderous Three’s were bad … but holy sh!t the Formidable Four’s has rendered me completely helpless. This is a battle I don’t know how to fight, and I am way out of my league.
The tantrums came swiftly and violently approximately 3 weeks ago. It was alarming, shocking, and frustrating. For every comment, or answer, or request from me, came an assault of No’s followed by screams, tears, and tantrums from my child. A day has not gone by where there isn’t at least one meltdown, one tirade, and one physically aggressive act bestowed upon me by my darling little son. And how does one handle that? Let’s see … there is the Time Out method, but because I had a mastectomy I do not have the strength (or ability) to scoop up a writhing, screaming 4 year old into my arms and carry him into his room for a “cool down”; and so the next idea is to walk away from the situation, but he follows me, and the outburst escalates because Mommy is walking away from him. And then there is the Sit quietly and wait for him to go through the emotional journey method, which I do a lot of, but that too, inevitably backfires. And I, as the parent, am not supposed to reciprocate in any aggressive way (no yelling please, no spanking allowed) because then I am teaching/showing my child the wrong techniques of dealing with angst, anger, and frustration …
I feel as though I am walking on broken glass in bare feet and no matter how carefully I step I inevitably get cut.
So what does one do? One survives. Just like battling cancer, you will traverse through some good days and you will endure the bad. You will do this because you know in your heart-of-heart that this is one chapter in your life – one phase – and to ensure you do not get stuck but continue to push forward through the murkiness, you persevere. You charge onward and you fight through it. You reach out to your support system, you be kind to yourself, you surround yourself with love, and you take a rest from what is wearying you. Find healthy ways to alleviate your own feelings of frustration, hurt, anger, or bitterness. It is not at all easy to do – it is very hard – but it is something that must be done. As for my Formidable 4 year old? He’ll survive it too. I know that – whatever little demons he is fighting through – he’ll get to the other side. Learning to grow, accepting change, struggling for independence, and owning big thoughts and creative imaginings are all changes and challenges that are frightening for someone his age. All I can do is keep parenting, keep persevering, let him take the journey, and give him the confidence to know that he is travelling through this daunting time in a safe and loving environment.
I know that the Formidable Four’s won’t last forever but perhaps, while we are in this troublesome phase, I will self-soothe with decadent lattes by day and a glass of wine by night.
The Art of Saying No. Published by Crystal Joy Hall