Losing the plot

I have been pretty stressed out by the demise of my hard drive and the consequent loss of my calendar and other data. We did back up my computer in August, but there are important things missing. We have learned our lesson, and have better methods in place now, but that doesn’t solve some of my immediate problems.

Then, when Ted loaded up my new hard drive, he installed new versions of software onto it. That was really nice of him, but I am a person who doesn’t like to change my computing environment. I find it confusing and frustrating at the best of times. Right now, it feels like going into my house to discover that half my stuff has been stolen, and the things that are left are all in the wrong places. I’m looking for my keys, because I urgently need to get to an appointment, but it takes me 45 minutes to discover that they’re in the bathroom medicine cabinet. And then when I go to get in the car, it’s not parked in front of the house, but in the back yard. And when I back it out into the alley I discover that I’ve run over some chickens I didn’t know we had. I really don’t like to kill anything other than mosquitos.

I don’t actually cry very often, but I was driven to it today.

I am sure that Hazel can feel my stress. She’s been busy looking for all my buttons, making sure she’s pushed all of them adequately. Upon arrival at our group birthday party yesterday she instantly put on a pink dress, acquired fuzzy pink sandals, and came down to tell me, “Boys can’t play with us, I don’t like boys.” Today she refused to put her blocks away, “I don’t want to, I want help, I can’t…” all said with the maximum degree of pathetic whine in her voice possible. She refused to eat. She triangulated by going upstairs to get Ted to do what she wanted while I was stuck in the chair nursing the twins and unable to go after her. etc etc etc.

I lost the plot. I started making threats I knew in the moment I wouldn’t follow through on.

Thank god I have a sister who’s got solid and practical parenting tools to offer. I called her up and she (and my niece on speaker phone) talked me down from the crisis of the moment (“Just give her 20 seconds to put them away, and then if she doesn’t put them away out of her reach, and then move on.”) And then later my sister called me back and we had a more lengthy conversation. It’s amazing how hard it is to put one’s ideals and values into actual practice. Of course I think that everyone needs to be able to be upset, to learn how to deal with it. In practice, sometimes I allow my fears and discomforts with Hazel’s sadness, defiance, or anger to warp my response into something that doesn’t help either of us. It’s good to talk to someone who’s not in the immediate situation. And it’s good to learn from someone with the years of experience my sister has.

After several thousand deep breaths, I might even get the plot back again. For a little while.

To help me, Ted re-loaded the familiar 2010 version of Office, and things are looking more familiar again. And I’ve exported my contacts from my phone to my laptop. One step at a time…

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