It was a cloudy, gloomy, rainy day. Chloe was away at school, but Ellie had the day off. Chloe is used to Ellie being gone at school, but not the other way around. It had been a long time since Ellie and I were alone together for a length of time. Needless to say, she was a bit lonely and anxious for Chloe to come home and play.
We ran some errands and did some fun things, but she was really excited to go pick Chloe up from school. She even packed a snack for when we picked her up.
When we got to the school, Chloe was still asleep from naptime. More like, OUT. COLD. Ellie immediately jumped in.
“Chloe, sweetie. It’s time to get up. I brought you a snack,” she said gently.
(She’s a bit of a Mother hen with her little sister. It’s a very sweet thing to witness. I like to think it’s partly because she’s mimicking how I treat them.)
Chloe growled and grumbled, but Ellie persisted. She was very excited to see Chloe, but she’s still working on reading the social cues of when to back off. Needless to say, Chloe was grumpy for a while. You know the feeling. You’re in a deep sleep and your obnoxious alarm jars you awake and you have no idea where you are, what time it is, or what day it is. I imagine that’s where Chloe was. But eventually, the sleepy fog lifted and they started to play together when we got home. The peace didn’t last too long though…
“Daddy, Ellie is being mean! I don’t want to be the baby!” Chloe shouted.
Apparently, they were playing school and Ellie was in her dominating Mama Bear mode and Chloe just wasn’t in the mood for it.
From upstairs I heard Ellie say, “I’m sorry Chloe, I’m sorry Chloe.” She actually even sounded sincere. But when Chloe completely ignored her, Ellie began shouting, “CHLOE! I’M SORRY!!!”
This was followed by a “Hmmmph” a door slam, stomping footsteps and another door slam.
Oh boy… I thought I better go assess the situation.
They share a bedroom, and on their bedroom door was a sign written by Ellie that said, “KEEP OUT!”
Now, this is an event that clearly displays their different personalities. When I opened the door and asked Ellie what was wrong, she immediately ranted and specifically said what made her upset and why. Obviously, it was Chloe completely ignoring her while she was trying to apologize. But when I found Chloe hiding in the corner of my bedroom whimpering and I asked her what was wrong, she just wanted to cling onto me and wouldn’t say a word. I asked her questions about why she might be upset, but she remained tight lipped.
The more Chloe remained shut down, the more Ellie became enraged, and the more Ellie became enraged, the more Chloe shut down. They were like polar magnets. Which you can imagine is a difficult situation to negotiate.
I somehow remained calm as I stood between this toxic energy. I was caught in a swirling vortex of childhood emotion with not a clue of what to do.
And that’s when it clicked. I realized what was going on and declared, “you know what, I think you both have a very bad case of rainy-day-itis!
Both of their faces immediately dropped their grumpy frowns and furrowed eye brows and said, “What? Is that a real thing?”
“Yes, it is, and you both have a major case. And you know what the remedy is?”
Now they were curious and almost smiling in anticipation.
“A dance party and Mac and Cheese for dinner!” I announced.
Well, that smoothed things over nicely I thought. But while I was blissfully making mac and cheese and rocking the Sing soundtrack for them in the kitchen, more problems were brewing upstairs.
I heard more shrieks and growls of anger.
“That’s mine! Quit it!”
“I don’t want to play with you!”
When I went back upstairs to see what happened, I saw they drew a line down the middle of their room and were defiantly ignoring each other. They never fight like this. Ever. Once in a while Ellie gets mad, or Chloe feels hurt, but they get along very well and are usually inseparable. They do everything together. What was going on with them?
Well, it was clear. This was an extra extreme case of rainy-day-itis. And extreme problems call for extreme solutions. As a last ditch effort to resolve this case, I had to bring out the heavy machinery. I reached back to my childhood tool my dad used on my brother and me. The GRUMPY MACHINE!
Works. Every. Time.
*RDI effects more than 92% of children worldwide at some point in their adolescent lifetime. Please consult a physician before using The Grumpy Machine.