Saturday, June 30, 2007

Someone really gets it! On Princesses and manipulation.

I have just read all three of the past posts from Yondalla's blog out loud to my husband and kept interrupting myself to embrace my computer and exclaim "she gets it!!!!!"

I can't tell you how much that means.
I think the princess behaviour is so hard for me to emotionally deal with because
1) of what Yondalla says about the difficulty of HOW to modify it
2)how hard it is for anyone else to see how awful it is and why it should be stopped!

When Monkey first came to us, she asked me if she could be called Princess.
She had been before, that was what birth Mom, birth Dad and Birth Grandma all called her and it is how they treated her and trained her.

It is not cute to live with especially because it is very hard to find someone to vent to about it.

Some people think I am nuts when I have tried to talk about it, or even point out the behaviour. How they can fall for it all is almost beyond me, but they do and look from the little, adorable girl with the beautiful, huge, trusting eyes and think there is something really wrong with me.

But see, most of the time I have to be on guard, constantly evaluating if the little girl I am seeing right now is the real child or the fake princess one, because damn it, it is my job not to let her grow up to live a life of manipulations instead of relationships.

It can be exhausting and worse confusing because I am constantly double and triple checking myself to make sure that I have read the situation right and I am responding the right way - I don't want to become jaded and simply assume that she is the princess all the time and therefore hold her at arm's length.
She is also my child and a littlish one at that and I want to give her the love she needs too.

Here are some examples from the last few days -

*talking to her and the other kids at the dinner table about why somethings that day upset me.
When I asked if they understood what I was saying, the other three nodded or said yes but almost before I was finished speaking - Monkey made eye contact with me with her most innocent expression on her face and asked me to pass her more food. When I asked her she had even heard what I had been saying, she said, "Yeah, can I have the food?".

*when caught doing something dangerous at the playground the other day and told that she had to come play on a blanket right in front of me, she cocked her head, widened her eyes and said plaintively, "does this mean I can't even play at the playground?". There was an audience of course but I have also been at this game with her long enough to pick up on how mad she was that I was upset with her. And she stayed mad for the night and into the next morning. How dare I?

*Yesterday in the car, I hear her brother Buddy say to her, "Monkey, can't I please have the bottom bunk in the trailer when we go camping next week?". Her answer? No he can't, she wants it. I break in to ask why they thought the decision is up to Monkey any way, because usually the way it is decided is that the biggest person gets the bottom bunk because it is slightly bigger ( they are both roomy).

*The other morning I hear Buddy ask Monkey if he can use some of her hair gel, she says no.
I interrupt to tell Buddy to come into my room and I will put my gel in his hair for him and Monkey, true to form races to prevent that from happening. "No, no he can use this stuff!"
I ask her why and get her to admit that the gel in her room isn't hers, it's theirs, she has just been storing in her room instead of in their bathroom.

It is hard because Buddy is used to asking her for things or worse simply assuming that she should get first pick all the time. It can drive me crazy and it certainly doesn't help her.
Everyday things like when they go up to brush their teeth after breakfast, she will be behind him but telling him that she is going to use the bathroom first (to brush not for any other pressing reason) and he says OKAY!

Celebrating her birthday can be a bit of nightmare because the behaviour is untrammeled.
Her oldest brother gave her a present that he had thought hard about and spent his own hard earned money on - she was thrilled with the package, not so much with the actual present under the wrapping and tossed it aside without so much as an insincere thank you and started demanding (in a terribly cute way) the next gift.

I was horrified and we stopped the process right there.
She didn't get it, exactly but she tried to fake her way through it but she still wasn't impressed with the gift, an age appropriate game for her new game boy thing.
She hurt his feelings and even when it was explained to her, didn't get why she should care, there were more presents to be opened.

Sunny was embarrassed and unhappy about the whole thing.

A few months later, Monkey was chattering to me about how much she likes the game, how great it is and I reminded her of how she behaved when she got it, and she didn't like that.

Again, it is about how she feels about these things, not how other people feel and that is hard to break through.

But you know what?
She is in there.
The real flesh and blood human who needs and wants to be valued for who she really is, to learn how to talk about how she really feels.

There is a lot of pain and survival that went into becoming the Princess.

After all, sometimes when there wasn't much food or anything else, she got to eat and he brother Buddy didn't.

How is that for reinforcement?


Granny said...

Those last couple of sentences broke my heart.

How do we (all of us in this little circle that comments back and forth and the countless others trying to raise these damaged kids) ever make them whole again?

I'm not even sure it can be done completely.

ipodmomma said...

I think Monkey is young enough, but it will be a process. but you're not losing your mind. it's all there, for anyone with time to see....

it's just that solving the problem takes so much MORE time that usually it's left to whatever happens. and that's so sad...

Elsa said...

The princess posts, here and at yondallas, are kicking me out of lurkdom.

My princes is 3. Yep, 3. It too *me* long enough to figure out her behavior really was above and beyond what I should expect from a little little girl, and at this point I've pretty much given up on getting anyone outside our family to see it. But, yeah, your example about the playground hit home -- my little one is not quite so savvy, so she does the wide eyed, sweet smile, giggle routine when she is warned etc, and then is truly heart broken when she has to come off the playground. I'm sooo tired of being the mean terrible mom with the wailing little girl!

And yeah, your last couple of sentences are heartbreaking, truthfully heartbreaking, and an important reminder for me about *why* this behavior is so persistant.

Yondalla said...

I was thinking about writing a post about why this extreme form of princess behavior develops. I've been wondering about Rhonda. Did it save her life? Get her fed? Save her from at least some physical abuse?


On another note -- you hugged your computer? Wow. Here....I'm hugging my laptop right back.

cloudscome said...

This post gives me deep chills.

Jenbuster said...

First time commenting but long time lurker. The discussion about princess behavior is so amazing to me. I find myself always seeing it in a certain friend's children and yet they don't see it at all and it becomes MADDENING to me that they continue to let it happen. Thanks for this highly important discussion among this group of bloggers. Very important stuff.