“It duh-uh-zent feel good!” exclaimed my exasperated 6-year-old in her whiniest voice as she stomped her foot on the floor. The seam in her sock was hurting her baby toe and no matter what we did to adjust it, the moment she put her shoe back on, the fires of hell broke loose, rapidly escalating her to the next dramatic level. We attempted to adjust this offending sock no less than eight times. By the time she was in drama-induced tears and I was losing all patience because we had less than 10 minutes to leave the house to get to school on time, I threw my hands up in the air and calmly declared, “I’ll be in the kitchen when you are ready. Work it out.” A minute later, after removing her socks completely, she came downstairs unfazed, smiled and said, “What’s for breakfast?”
If this scenario is familiar, it is safe to assume that you, too, are the parent of a Drama Queen. For me, this realization came as no surprise. From the moment of her birth, all the signs were there. My daughter entered the world via the path of most resistance: face up and at odds with my narrow pelvic bone, only to be the most happy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow baby on the planet – as long as all her needs were promptly met . In her almost seven years here on Earth, she works on perfecting her natural acting skills daily. And she makes it look effortless.
After many “Oh, I totally get why parents start drinking in the middle of the day!” moments, I realized that my overly expressive and dramatic daughter was not the one with the problem – in fact it was me. Yup. Hard to swallow that pill, but think about it:
- Children are born with complete personalities and agendas of their own. As a parent, you don’t know what you’re going to get. And, chances are (actually, I don’t believe it’s by chance at all, but rather God’s ironic sense of humor) you get at least one kid who has the exact opposite personality as you do. This, of course, is meant to be for our own personal, spiritual and emotional growth because what fun would it be if our child was just like us?
- How we, as parents, respond and react to our children’s behavior is (almost) completely within our control. As adults who are theoretically more mature than our kids, we are the ones who determine whether or not a situation like the Sock Drama escalates out of control – or not.
Believe me when I tell you, I have responded and reacted to my daughter’s extravagant theatrical performances in just about every possible way. I have yelled; I have taken away toys; I have thrown tissue boxes at the wall; I have cried; I have laughed out loud; I have jumped up and down; I have clapped my hands and shouted, “Bravo!”; I have tried to reason with her; I have locked myself in the bathroom; I have read parenting books (which suggested that I was doing everything wrong); I have prayed, sung, danced, called other parents for advice, and turned the music up louder to drown out the one-act play taking place in my living room.
Ultimately, and most likely in a moment of deep despair (as in, “What on earth was I thinking when I thought having a baby would be fun?!”) I very calmly realized that my reaction to my Drama Queen’s behavior just fueled her fire. I was the other actor on her stage that she could play off of, as long as I stayed and delivered my lines.
That was my light bulb moment. Since I have realized this, my beautiful daughter continues to hone her acting skills. Whenever possible, I attempt to calmly offer my assistance to her, as I did in the Sock Drama. But, I am also much better at recognizing my cues and knowing when it’s time for me to exit stage left.
I impart this valuable information to you, my fellow parents and caregivers, so that you might learn from my experiences. If you, yourself are the mom or dad of a Drama Queen, or you know someone who is, please realize that you are not alone and that you can do something to downplay the stage show.
Parenting is fun, even when it’s full of drama. Look at the bright side – this little thespian of yours might just make it big one day leading you to a comfortable retirement career as her manager. That’s my plan, anyway.