I think I’m scared of my toddler.
And if, say, I was scared of my toddler, I think it would be safe to say I am especially scared of her around dinner time when she is very, um, vocal about me getting food on the table as fast as possible.
Kit yells at me if dinner isn’t ready in time. She yells at me if her food is too hot. She yells at me if she doesn’t have something to drink. She yells if I give her the wrong fork. She yells if she doesn’t have a napkin. (She still doesn’t have a lot of words so when I say she’s yelling, she’s really just screaming “AHHHHH,” crying, and pointing to her high chair until I cater to all of her demands. It’s super calming and chill and doesn’t cause me any insane anxiety or anything.)
More than once I have begged this to her while preparing her dinner: “Please stop yelling at me. I’m working as fast as I can. ”
The other day, I had a (brilliant, terrible) idea: I would leave work a few minutes early, come home first and make dinner so that it would be on the table, waiting for her when we all got back from day care.
If I did that, I reasoned, she wouldn’t yell at me.
Friends, I’m going to stop here and point out the obvious: This is what an abused wife would do.
You realize this, right? Women who are in the cycle of abuse change their day to day lives to please the unreasonable demands of their abuser.
I just did a quick search and came across this article about how to know if you are entangled in emotional abuse:
“You feel oppressed, controlled, manipulated…caged. You know you can never fully please your abuser, but you continue to try. And the compromises you make in the relationship are not in the interest of the relationship; rather, they are to keep a lid on your abuser.”
“The abuser will show…excessive jealousy, possessiveness, controlling behavior, unrealistic expectations, hypersensitivity and a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality.”
“[The abuser] needs to control/dictate the way the victim spends her time, attention and money.”
“[The abuser] is non-empathic to her feelings and/or experience, and behaves as though the world revolves around him / her—expecting her to continuously cater to his needs.”
“There is a tendency to externalize fault—blaming problems and issues on themselves, on other people, or on extraneous circumstances.”
I mentioned my feelings to a coworker and she told me about how once, she went to the grocery store and had a little panic attack on the drive home because she couldn’t remember if she picked up her son’s favorite cereal or not. And if she didn’t, she knew there would be hell to pay
“I was scared,” she whispered.
It was like we were in a Law & Order episode and admitting to a sympathetic Detective Benson that 1. Yes, we are scared about our domestic situation. 2. The person we fear is less than 2 feet tall, can’t speak in complete sentences, and whose butt we wipe on a regular basis. But whom we love anyway and will never, ever leave. Ever. (Sorry, Detective Benson. We just love them, and they love us. We can put up with some yelling, throwing, and hitting now and again.)
That last paragraph reminds me of the excuses women make about staying in an abusive relationship. SEEM FAMILIAR, CHILDREN?
- “It was my fault. I got them mad.”
- “It doesn’t happen all the time.”
- “I know they love me, and I love them.”
- “We have a lot of great times together.”
I will say, in defense of my daughter, she becomes sweet as pie after she eats and gets food in her belly. And then we’re loving, happy and content.
Until, that is, I have to put her to bed. And the yelling (and my pleas for her to stop) start again.
[Cue Law and Order theme music here.]