My little Addy has always been a feisty one. I actually love that about her. So full of life. But when she unleashes the 'fiesty' into a full blown tantrum - it isn't pretty.
A few days ago, we had an audiology appointment. This was not because I have noticed any troubling indicators that there might be a problem with her hearing. It was simply that a routine test carried out at school was 'inconclusive' and a follow up examination was recommended. At the time I wondered if the 'inconclusiveness' of the test was because she had dug her stubborn little heels in and refused to co-operate. She is not very comfortable with anything even vaguely medical. But as dad has suffered with single sided hearing loss since childhood, we had to take it seriously. I did then start to think that maybe those times when I accused her of ignoring me (the 'up to bed now, Addy' times and the 'tidy up your mess please Addy' times), perhaps there really was a problem.
She was most reluctant to go to the appointment (lending weight to my suspicion that not co-operating was the leading factor in the need for further examination). I CAN HEAR!! she insisted. With persuasion and persistence, I got her into the Medical Centre.
She was fine up until the point when we were sitting in the waiting area... up until the point when the audiologist called her name. She called her Adrian. The stroppiness commenced. I don't like Adrian - I'm ADDY!!!
She refused to sit in the chair offered to her.
She would only sit in the chair already occupied by her little brother, Dylan (cue frenzied battling between siblings).
I was trying to break up the fight, restore calm and answer questions about Addy's general health and any concerns I might have. (No concerns about hearing - PLENTY OF CONCERNS ABOUT BEHAVIOUR!)
By now, I was understandably a little stressed. The audiologist stepped in, offering a toy to Dylan so he was happy. That left me free to concentrate on Addy. I calmed her. I sat her on my lap.
The audiologist took out her Otoscope.
The device didn't really get anywhere near Addy's ear. She saw the bright light shining on the end of it and screamed - THAT BURNS ME. YOU ARE BURNING ME!!
I felt my energy and resolve to be a good parent draining away. I literally slumped in the chair as she broke free of my hold, stood very upright in the corner of the room, arms folded across her chest, chin tilted upwards, eyes closed. She took a moment to look over her shoulder at the audiologist with a hateful glint in her lovely blue eyes and spit YOU SMELL OF POO AND SOCKS! before resuming her posture of defiance.
Thankfully, the audiologist was very understanding and very patient. I thanked her for it about a million times in between apologising for my child's unacceptable behaviour.
Poor Dylan didn't quite know what to make of his sister's aggressive outburst but he was easily distracted by the book of pictures that the audiologist was now holding. He was more than co-operative. He pointed to pictures, naming the things he knew and asking 'what's that one called' for the ones he didn't know. Addy was lured over - curiosity and not wanting to miss out on something her brother had overcoming her suspicion of the audiologist with the burn-y thing. She was very happy to show off how clever she was, pointing to the items whispered to her. Given the level of background noise provided by Dylan who couldn't quite understand why it wasn't his turn any more, she performed superbly. No indication whatsoever of any hearing defect. Unfortunately, it was still necessary to look in the ear with the Otoscope and take a picture with another device.
The audiologist tried to show Addy the Otoscope so she could see there was nothing to be afraid of and the light would not burn. Addy grabbed it off her and would, had I not intervened, have thrown it across the room. She then refused to let go of it, gripping onto it with a strength that no nearly five year old should possess. After much prising, the instrument was finally returned but we were no closer to a successful examination.
The suggestion that a picture should be taken of inside her ear sent her running to the corner again, where she turned all the lights off and plunged us into darkness!
It was obvious that we were not going to achieve anything without a general anaesthetic so the appointment had to be rescheduled.
I try my best to practise positive parenting. I explained the importance of the examination and between now and the next appointment, the plastic otoscope from the doctor's kit she had for Xmas will be gently probing toy's ears at every opportunity. I hope that will be enough to avoid a repeat performance.
I love my little girl with all my heart but she does push me to the limit sometimes. She plays on my insecurity about being an older mum by saying things like "I love you mummy but I don't love your wrinkles" and then there's "I love you mummy but I love daddy more"
Yesterday when I picked her up from school, she had a picture that she was bringing home. I made the mistake of putting the picture inside her book bag for ease of carrying. If the audiologist could have seen her, she would have realise that she got off relatively lightly during the aborted hearing test. Eardrum shattering screaming. Vitriolic accusations that I needed a checkup because I couldn't hear what she was saying. The picture needed to be carried a certain way and I wasn't doing it right.
You feel the eyes of other parents - some sympathetic, some surely thinking what a terrible mother I must be to have raised such a vile child. The tantrum lasted the whole laboured walk back to the car. I made her carry the picture herself which certainly was not following the path of least resistance.
Later, I asked myself why I didn't just carry the picture in the way she wanted me to. Anything for a peaceful life. There was a practical consideration - one hand was holding Dylan's and the other was holding her lunchbox and book bag - but there is more to it than that. She is wilful and stubborn. I never want to quash her spirit but I do want her to learn to temper her wilfulness and stubborn streak and use them in the pursuit of the positive - NOT for getting her own way at any cost, for controlling people around her or in the avoidance of medical examinations.
She is challenging. She is difficult. But she is amazing and wonderful and glorious... and honestly, I wouldn't change a thing about her... (modify slightly... maybe!!)