We all just want to be heard, right?  We want to be understood and have our feelings validated.  It’s funny how talking about our emotions can seem so simple, yet it can be one of the hardest things to do.  Not only to say it, but have it understood.  We can hold back on what we are feeling for the fear of the other person not understanding.  Not getting it.  We don’t want our delivery misinterpreted.  “That’s not what I said!?”  It’s so easy to be misunderstood.  To have the delivery be all wrong.  How many times have you heard this phrase, “It’s not so much what you said, it’s how you said it.”  Most of us have either said that, or had that said to us at some point.  Well, I find that Ellie has been having plenty of trouble expressing her emotions lately.  And I’ve been having just as much trouble trying to understand them.

Ellie is great at saying “yes” and even better at saying “no.”  It doesn’t always mean she gets them right though.  Other than yes’s and no’s, she’s been communicating in whines lately.  More like a holler combined with a whine.  “AHHHH!  AHHHH!” said with a whiney voice.  It’s that annoying whine that gets under your skin too.  It’s like someone poking you in the arm over and over and over… and over.  You just want to say, “QUIT IT!”

For example, at breakfast (or any meal actually), I’ll prepare whatever is her current favorite.  I’ll bring it to her and she’ll smile, look at it, and then say “no, no, no!” and push it away.  I’ll try again, explaining what it is, how good it tastes, how much she loves it, and I’ll even take a few bites in good faith to show even I’ll eat it.  I’ll still get the “no, no, no!” response.  How about yogurt, do you want yogurt? I’ll ask.  Then she’ll smile and excitedly shake her head up and down.  Once the yogurt is out, she repeats this.  What about a banana?  Do you want a banana?  She says yes, I bring it, and then she says no.  Then she’ll start whining.  Sigh.  So I begin to ask a series of questions.

Are you hungry?  “Yes”

Do you want oatmeal? “No” (it’s a whining forceful “no”)

Do you want yogurt? “No”

Do you want a banana? “No”

Do you want to get down? “No”

Did you poop? “No”

Then she whines, and whines, and whines, and then starts pointing.  What do you want? “Dis, dis.”  You want the oatmeal?  The first thing you rejected?  “Yes.”  I give it to her and then she eats it with a smile.  And after she gobbles that up, she eats the yogurt and the banana.  So you just wanted to see all your options first, is that it?  “Yes.”

Other times, she’ll just walk around the house whining.  She’ll have a fresh diaper, be rested from a nap, had eaten a snack, but still whine.  I’ll shower her with attention and she’ll whine.  “I don’t know why I’m whining!  I think I like the sound of my own voice!  AHHHHH!”

I’ll put on the music she likes and she’ll dance, but as soon as I dance with her, she’ll get mad and start whining.  “You ruined the song dad!”  She’ll want to go up in the chair, then down from the chair.  She’ll want to sit with her crayons, but she doesn’t.  She’ll want to go outside, and then whine and want to come right back in.

The whining is like a jackhammer in my head.  As soon as it starts, my shoulders tense up and I cringe.  The guessing game begins, I think.  As I give her options of what she may or may not want that are constantly rejected, I’m thinking that maybe it’s not about a need or a want, but an emotion; the most difficult thing to express.  I feel lonely, bored, frustrated, sad, vulnerable, gassy, etc.  I think it’s time to get in touch with Ellie’sfeelings.

Sometimes we can use greeting cards or songs to help express what we are trying to say or feel.  Unfortunately, Hallmark doesn’t make a line of cards for this.  From baby, to parents who don’t understand what I’m trying to say.  It seems like it’s an untapped market.  But until they do, I’ll be here with my therapist voice ready.

I hear you say you get annoyed when I dance with you to your favorite song.  Does that make you feel embarrassed?  Or frustrated?  Tell me how you feel.

One thought on “TELL ME HOW YOU FEEL

  1. She was like that today when I babysat but still smiling! It was so much easier feeding her when she would eat anything.

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