Dealing with a complainer
There is always at least one person you know that you might dread talking or dealing with. You know the one. Every time you see Jim, he complains about work (or politics, or the economy, or sports) non-stop. Or perhaps it is Sue who talks endlessly about how awesome her kids are. Then there is Mary who does nothing but yammer on about any topic.
You know how these people are and honestly sometimes you just aren’t in the mood to deal with them. You find yourself mentally (or actually) sighing or rolling your eyes at their approach. You don’t fully listen to them as it is the same old thing, each and every time. Ok, there are slight variations to their stories but really, it is the same situation.
Now while I don’t know too many people that fall into this category that I want to avoid them; I am finding that it is happening with my own child.
Every evening, I can expect Lexie to come into our room at least half a dozen times when she should be asleep. I know she has trouble turning off her mind and falling asleep, but EVERY night it feels like the same thing. She comes in to complain about some random pain or ailment. Her legs hurt. Her stomach hurts. There is a bump on her leg, or this area of her skin feels different.
Of course, my husband and I assume these are merely stalling techniques, just like her coming in to tell us about a video she remembers watching earlier in the day or how when she was 3 she once saw a man drop his hat into a wishing well. Ok, I made that last one up, but she does come in to tell us some random stuff. The point is because we know it is an every-night occurrence, we sigh whenever she comes in. We sometimes don’t wait for her to speak and merely say go back to bed.
But sometimes I worry that there could be something important mixed in with these late-night stalls. Sometimes I know Jase waits until right before bed to divulge something that has been bugging him. So in our frustration with Lexie are we missing some bit of information that could be important? Or are we right to keep sending her back to bed for the umpteenth time?
It isn’t just her late-night antics that drive me crazy. She also complains daily about her brother. He talks too much. He is too loud. He keeps telling her what to do. He is rude. He yelled at her. He pushed her out of his bedroom. He said something mean. Ugh. It is always something.
And because it is always “something” we have a tendency not to fully listen to her complaint or to brush it off. Some of it seems petty or unimportant. But of course, they are important to her just as her trying to share videos, jokes or stories she hears on the internet or at school.
But again, I worry that she our response as that we don’t care about her or what she is interested in. And will she at some point stop coming to us with her concern all together? I try to remember that while her complaints, comments or stories are not urgent or important to me that they might be to her.
I know that I need to change my reaction to her instead of expecting her to change. I am forever telling the kids that you can’t change other people only the way their own reactions. And just as I am writing this, I remember in one of her counseling sessions, Lexie admit to interrupting us (typically while we are trying to watch a movie or TV show) because she wants attention. She wants to feel important and who doesn’t want that. Maybe by giving her a set amount of time to complain or have our undivided attention will help curb some of this. And of course, reminding myself that she is only 11 and doesn’t have the many years of experience of dealing with these thoughts, pains/ailments or concerns might help too. All I can say is I have to do something, because I can’t avoid her. She lives a room away from mine.