I think if I had to sum up the difference between raising a boy and a girl, it would be that boys are physically exhausting and girls are emotionally exhausting.
Since the beginning, my daughter has fulfilled her role as my “emotional child.” I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this girl started a “cycle” at age 2. Every few weeks, she would get noticeably moody, crabby and irritable. I never knew a little girl could be described as melancholy until my kid came along. To say my daughter is a drama queen is an understatement.
Now that she is turning 6, she might as well be turning 16 because the drama has become more intense, her moods more drastic and unpredictable. She is affected by everything and everyone so much, I might change her middle name from “Elizabeth” to “Sensitive.” I am known for my sarcasm and simple jokes, but if I catch Maddie on an off day, she will pour on the waterworks for a simple quip about her hair.
From the moment she wakes up, she is in character. If I don’t make her waffles perfect so that the butter melts just right, she brings on the drama.
If I don’t allow her to wear red pants with a hot-pink top along with mismatching socks, she puts on a pouty face.
When the Velcro on her shoes won’t line up properly, she is sure to blow a gasket. And don’t even get me started on homework. She can turn two plus two into the most complicated algebraic equation in three seconds flat. If she’s this bad in kindergarten, I can just imagine how high school homework will go down.
Of course, I have to have a relative amount of empathy since I was known to spend many an evening crying over my Spanish homework at the kitchen table. If things didn’t go my way, I admit I could pout, sulk, sigh and stomp my feet with the best of them.
Maddie has always been particularly attached to me, and if I make plans to be away from the house for any period of time, she finds a way to manipulate me and send me on a guilt trip that warrants a stamp on my passport.
She also developed a sensitivity to my own mood swings. If I am feeling down or stressed out, she is the first to look out for me and make sure I am okay. However, sometimes we feed off each other’s emotions, and God forbid we both wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It is battle royale in the Stien house.
Of course, that is when I employ my own form of armchair psychology in order to work through our respective rough patches. I’ve enlisted a little therapy session for such occasions. We sit down together, talk through what is bothering us, agree to press the restart button on our day, count to 10, force ourselves to smile and move. Oddly, in most cases, we never can really pinpoint what is bothering us. Bad moods just crop up for no reason. Typical girls.
I have to admit, as challenging as it is to raise a daughter, it has enabled this self-proclaimed drama queen to take a long, hard look in the mirror … and then call my mom to apologize. My payback for putting my mother through the emotional ringer is my very own daily dose of Academy Award-winning performances.
In the end, those who suffer the most are my husband and son. They are just left shell-shocked by the two lovely ladieswith whom they live. Catch us on the wrong day and end up in our cross-hairs, and they might as well sign a death wish. Even Maddie has learned to throw daggers with her eyes and disappear into her room for some alone time if she is rubbed the wrong way. The boys seem to push buttons and don’t know when to stop.
Both my husband and son, however, had better learn a valuable lesson in quitting while they are ahead if they ever want to make it past Maddie’s 16th birthday and my Change of Life.