"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Whoo-Hoo! Spring Break! Sandy Beaches! Sunshine! Or Not

I've been (slowly, slowly) developing the conclusion that much of Princess's behavior is probably shame-based. I don't know most of what happened before she landed here, but the guesses I have are probably more right than wrong. And, if they are indeed right, she is exhibiting pretty classic shame. So, since I've started to suspect this, the question has become, "so what do I do with it?" Shame doesn't really look like anything. It certainly does not look like embarrassment or guilt. Mostly it looks like a whole lot of obnoxious behaviors with the general purpose of deflecting attention from the real reason: shame.

Hands down, the most frustrating behavior is the pe(e). I have never know exactly what was driving her desire to not use the toilet. In June, it will have been here four years. Years. At first, I thought is was that she was only three and of course she would regress. And, as I got to know her birth mom, I began to develop a mental picture of what toilet training must have been like. And, well, let's just say it probably wasn't the way I do it. But then, after months of insisting Princess had been perfectly trained before she was removed, her birth mom admitted that no, she never really was.

For the next three years, I tried every method of toilet training conceivable. Finally after consulting Christine's wealth of experience a year ago, I arrived where we are now. I pretend I am totally ok with it. I've gotten pretty good. I feel like screaming inside every time I see her walking around the house with a wet bottom, but you'd never know. If she changes herself, I say nothing. If I see it or smell it, I lean down, give her a hug and kiss, stay in her (smelly) space, and say, "you are wonderful and you deserve to feel clean and smell nice. Please go make that happen." And she does. Sometimes quietly. Sometimes not. There is a large lidded storage box out of sight in the downstairs bathroom. Every Saturday she luggs it to the laundry room (great heavy work for self-regulation, by the way), puts her laundry in the washer, and asks me to start it. Because, as I've explained, if she doesn't care to use the toilet, that's just ducky with me, but it's really not quite fair to expect I do all that extra work. She sprays the box down with vinegar and puts it back. All the children put their own laundry away, and so does she. Well. Sort of.

But here's the thing. A whole year. It hasn't gotten better; it may have gotten worse. I don't think I've handled it wrong, but with her neurological and processing issues, I'm not sure she knows how to get herself out of it. When the Cuddle Bear toilet-trained herself (she wasn't even two- I was totally against it), she had a few weeks where she would wet her diaper, whip it off, and sit on the potty chair. Next she had a few weeks where she would whip off her dry diaper, sit on the potty chair, not pe(e), walk away and wet on the floor. Then she got it down. I wonder if Princess isn't in the place where she doesn't know what order to do it in. I just wonder.

I get these feelings sometimes of what my kids who can't say what they feel are feeling. Not nearly enough, but sometimes. They are never based on any evidence; just a thought that starts to rattle around. And they are usually correct. And here's the thought that's started to rattle the past few weeks: she doesn't want this. This thought is based on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. She hasn't indicated in any way whatsoever that she wants to start using the toilet. But Princess never communicates what she wants. I'm not even sure she knows herself. Even when she does say she wants something, it's usually something I know she doesn't really want. Like the doll that she wanted for her birthday that has been laying stuffed between her dresser and her bed for the last four days (for anyone who's not counting, her birthday was five days ago). So, if anyone's going to know what she wants, well, it's going to be me.

Next week is spring break. Like usual, every one of my friends will be somewhere more fun. So it's not like I have anything better to do. Every hour the timer will beep and Princess will sit on the toilet for five minutes. This is risky. I've thought of doing this many times, but haven't because I'm concerned I won't stay calm enough to not say something shaming (or have a shaming facial expression, for that matter). I'm concerned it will be grounds for another power struggle if I'm not careful. I don't want to go back to where I can't contain my frustration, irritation, and fear that she will attend her wedding in a pull-up. But I'm doing it because I'm even MORE concerned that by allowing Princess to continue this way, I'm allowing her shaming self-talk to feed itself.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

*Warning* Whine Fest Ahead

I honestly did not realize it was possible to become bored with tantrums. But that is where I find myself: a sense of Tantrum Ennui. Gone is the cliffhanging sensation of "gosh, what will happen next?" Gone is the wonderment of what the next new thing will be. There is no next new thing. It is all the same. Day. After day. After day.

A minimum of four times each school day (60, if it's a weekend) I remind Princess to clean up after herself. Each and every time she leaves one thing out. Each and every time I tell her to finish. Each and every time she stomps her feet and kicks the door and screams about how she already did it or how she did not make the mess. Invariable. For those of you math whizzes, that's roughly 140 times per week. Boring.

Every. Single. Saturday she hides her laundry somewhere instead of putting it away. Until last week, she hid it in a Build-a-Bear box in her closet. Last Saturday, she hid it under the doll bed. That was exciting. Every. Single. Saturday when I find it (within three seconds), she stomps her feet and kicks the door and screams about how she did her laundry. Boring.

Each and every day after school she does something to one of her sister's belongings and swears she didn't do it. This one is a little more interesting, because I don't know ahead of time what belonging it's going to be. Yesterday, she hid Peanut's Easter eggs and then couldn't find all of them. Of course, she didn't do it and it was totally unfair when Josh insisted she donate one of her own Easter eggs to Peanut. Of course.

And, every night without fail she does something to ensure she goes to bed screaming about how she didn't do anything so she doesn't have to be forced into snuggling on the sofa with a book, a song, and a prayer.

Monday, March 29, 2010

So You Want to be an Obstetrician?

When we picked Peanut up from Sunday School, we could not see her anywhere in the room. Bad sign #1. When her teacher called her and she appeared, both shoes were untied. Bad sign #2. Her teacher said, "she didn't want her shoes tied for some reason," and when she tried to tie them, Peanut ran away. Bad signs #3 and #4. Josh sat with her to wait for her to tie them while I retrieved the other children. They were still sitting in a corner when I came back. Bad sign #5.

I didn't witness it, but Josh reportedly dragged a screaming Peanut out of church to sit in the Suburban. Peanut is incredibly skilled at making a scene look and sound like she is being torn limb from limb by an abusive parent, so Josh was steaming when the other kids and I got to the car. Literally. Like I couldn't see in the car windows.

After a very loud drive home, I marched Peanut up to my room (Parent Tag Team). I informed her she would be paying the screams back minute-by-minute with peace and quiet, and she would be paying Josh back later for purposely making him look like a Bad Daddy at church. Then I held her so that, while not uncomfortable, she would be unable to punch me in the face. I held her facing inward, so that she'd be able to hear my heartbeat and my deep breathing. This left some of my anatomy exposed to baby teeth, but that part of me is small; I figured it would be hard for her to get a good grip.

While waiting for her to calm, I thought. I knew the problem wasn't Josh. I knew it wasn't her shoes. Something made her feel crazy; what was it? I was thinking through the scene, about that poor Sunday School teacher trying to bend down and tie Peanut's shoes when she was so obviously pregnant, and.....


Peanut has a hard enough time when someone other than us or her time-proven teachers and sitters are in charge of her. But if that relative stranger is pregnant, look out. Pregnant women who are in charge of Peanut are a trigger. A bad one. A while back she made some highly disturbing threats to a pregnant sub that would have likely gotten her expelled if she were a couple of years older or in a different sort of school.

Once I realized this trend, it made sense. The Cuddle Bear was conceived when Peanut wasn't even a year old, so any pre-removal memory she has of her birth mom must be of her with a large belly bump. And by all reports, her birth mom did not exactly thoroughly care for her.

When I told Josh my theory on what went down, he said, "but she wants to be and obstetrician?"
Well, of course.

And obstetrician takes babies out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Princess Turns Seven

Fairy Canopy, Fairy Favors, Fairy Treats:

Princess dresses as a Fairy with her Fairy Land cake:

Building homes for Fairies:

Great photo of the tutu I made for Princes. Bad, bad photo of me and Princess. Bad photo of the stocking hangers I have yet to take down. From 2008.

Great birthday party. And Family Fun Magazine really should probably be paying me for advertising by this point.

Now onto Post-birthday Come-down Day....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Um, Happy Birthday?

There is only one thing worse than Saturdays in my opinion, and that is Princess Birthday Week. She's the one I try the hardest to please. It's a fairy party this year. I use "party" loosely. We've invited one friend. I am not insane, after all. But there is a fairy canopy and fairy treats and fairy favors and a fairyland cake and fairy costumes.

But beyond that, there are presents. And beyond THAT, there is the Annual Comparison of the Presents. Did I get as many as everyone else? Are they as big? Are they as good? Are they all exactly what I wanted? The answers, of course, are no, no, no, and no. No matter what. Knowing this, I even added "filler" presents, stuff she needed anyway, but it won't matter. She will open them and find them lacking. Not obviously. Her real self is a kind-hearted child, and she won't try to hurt anyone's feelings. She'll tell everyone thank-you. But nothing will be exactly right. Exactly right does not exist. There is never any way to win her birthday.

But I keep on. Hard.

One year, I wracked my brain, spent hours on e-bay, trying to find the perfect gift. The only things she asked for that year were toys the other children already had that I knew FOR SURE she would not play with. Finally, I found it. Buddy was into remote control cars at the time, so that was something she had mentioned. It was a remote control Cinderella carriage that steered intuitively with a glove. It was perfect. She opened it. Looked at it. Set it aside. Played with it one. Set it on a shelf. Two weeks later, Peanut threw it in a snit and broke it. Princess said, "that's ok. I didn't really like it anyway." Broke my heart. And I am not kidding.

This year, I did a better job on the gift. I grabbed her from school, took just her and I to Build-a-Bear. She loved it. The key was that it was not associated with her other gifts.

So tomorrow is her birthday. I already know it cannot possibly match up to her expectations. That's ok. I will keep trying to meet them. But I have lowered mine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Leathery, Furry, Twittery Beast from the Depth of You-Know-Where

I have an irrational fear of birds. I don't mind having them around if they are outside and far away and not big. Or if they are in a cage in another room. But that's all I can tolerate. I don't know what started it. As far as I know, I have never had a traumatic bird experience. The first I knew of it was a day a bird flew into a friend's open window, and I suddenly dove under their counter screaming, "AHHH! AHHH! AHHH! AHHH!" without really knowing why. Naturally, this fear extends to bats.

This morning I was innocently making coffee and pouring cereal when I heard the yelling. I couldn't make out what Buddy was saying, but he definately would not yell that early in the morning if it wasn't important. I ran upstairs. Buddy said, "Mom! There's something flying in here!" "Where?" "Right there! See it?"

I think the reason I didn't see it is that I was expecting it to by bug sized. And I am not proud of this next part:

I ran screaming downstairs, by myself, and locked myself in the laundry room.

I heard Josh yell, "bring me some tools!" All I could think was, "we don't have any tennis rackets! No tennis rackets!" so I grabbed the first think I could think of in my addled mind: a tupperware container. I ran back upstairs. Josh not-so-calmly asked what was wrong with me, told me to suck it up, and requested a broom. I hid curled up in a trauma ball around the corner while Josh pinned it down with a broom. Then I heard it. The same evil twittery noise that woke me up this morning.

While in my own bed.

I don't see how I can possible sleep again. Ever.

I apologized to Buddy. I said, "Buddy, I'm really sorry for running away screaming and leaving you alone with the bat. I should have at least grabbed you and taken you with me. I'm really embarrassed." He graciously replied, "that's ok, Mom. I know you're afraid of things that fly. Even though I don't know why. It was just a little bat."

Thanks for having my back, son.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Mourning

Hot diggety dog! Put another log on the fire! Batten down the hatches! Hit the basement, because boy-howdy do we have another wicked front blowing in!

Peanut's teacher informed me (minutes after finding out herself) that she'd be having semi-emergency surgery the beginning of April. And Peanut would finish out the year with a sub.

Yesterday Peanut came in the door after school and instantaneously melted into a sobbing puddle on the entryway floor wailing about me not hanging up her backpack. For ten minutes. We finished the backpack episode and I said, "did Mrs. B say something to you today?"

Instant silence.

"Did Mrs. B tell you some bad news?"

"NO!!!!!! I WON'T TALK ABOUT IT!!!!!!

So I scoop her up and sit on my bed and rocked her. And she told me about it.

She told me about it.

We strategized about how we'd handle it, and had a snack.

Then bedtime came, and a wailing, flailing Peanut wailed and flailed herself to sleep.

This morning, her shoes were too hard to put on. Yet, they kept slipping off. And apparently it was preferable to freeze her buns of rather than wear her coat. Which she threw across the yard. But she did opt for walking onto the bus herself, as opposed to having me carry her like a loaf of french bread. So that's good.

I figure our family will stabilize, oh, round about the middle of June.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Culture Clash

I am not so sure Buddy is an American. He seems to have not gotten the memo that you're supposed to amass as much stuff around you in the biggest space you can find to call just yours. When I tell him that in some parts of India 40 or so people would live in our house, you can catch a glimmer in his eye. He seems to think that the main point of a bigger house would be the acquisition of more children (HA!).

When the girls came, the Cuddle Bear was four weeks old and slept in a bassinet in our room. The other two girls shared a bed in a room slightly larger than Buddy's. Later, we moved a crib into Buddy's room. Then a toddler bed. He was in seventh heaven with all these little sisters, especially the Cuddle Bear. Then Cuddle Bear turned two, and we had to move her to a bed in the girls' bedroom to comply with licensing rules. We considered moving her back in later, but she quickly established and claimed her own space in that room, so we let her be. Except.

Every night two extra people appear in our queen-sized bed: Buddy and the Cuddle Bear. It hasn't been a problem until lately, when Josh has had trouble sleeping. And everyone has about this much space (---) to turn over. They both tell us they're too lonely at night. Apparently they prefer a communal sleeping arrangement. Which seems to involve my bed.

One night, Josh picked up a sleeping Cuddle Bear and tossed her into Buddy's bottom bunk. No midnight apparitions appeared in out bed. Nor the next night. Or the one after that.

I guess we were all meant to sleep with someone breathing near us.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Conscience! A Conscience!

Last night we finally got around to having an evening Bible study with the kids. I grabbed the family questions from the Bible study I participate in, read the passage to the kids, and asked them the questions. The content was a little tricky; it was on the Holy Spirit being a Counselor, someone who helps you know what's right. The kids's answers were pretty spotty on the right/wrong scale, and afterward Josh said, "I wonder if they got anything from that."

But at one point during the study, Josh used Peanut as an example to explain. Because we have been noticing, more and more, that Peanut is actually feeling repentant when she does something wrong, and she is starting to seek forgiveness and resolution. And it showed up later that night.

I tucked the girls in bed. Peanut said something (or muttered something), and I had to ask her a couple of times what she was trying to tell me. Finally, she lifted up the corner of her pillow.

There, under her pillow, was an unbelievable candy stash. And some candy wrappers. She said, "I hid this here. And I ate some."

After I picked MY JAW UP OFF THE FLOOR, I said, "well. I'm glad you showed that to me. You were honest, and you listened to your conscience. I think I'll move these to an ok spot for you now." And she smiled really, really big, and snuggled under her covers.

I told Josh later, it's a good thing she picked last night. I change sheets on Mondays. Heads would have rolled, I tell you.

And that reminds me: I had better go check the contents of Princess's pillow.

When Chickie Pops Attack

As some of you know, I have a problem. So put together the phrases "second grade," and "bake sale," and, well, you can probably guess what happened.

I tried to pass my psychosis to my son.

I poked around a while on the computer looking for bake sale ideas from other psychotic mothers (guess what- there are not as many of us as I thought), and came up with this from Bakerella:

I figured we'd only have to make, oh, say, four thousand of them at fifty cents a piece to pay a few kids' ways to the end-of-the-year zoo trip. Buddy and I started in, and Josh walked in and said, "wow, fifty cents? When I worked at the hospital, we would have priced those at $2.50."

That's when it really sunk in. Fifty cents. These were going to cost fifty cents.

So I bought some marshmellows and started making Rice Krispie Treats.

Ok, so not exactly just Rice Krispie Treats. More like Rice Krispie Nests With Jelly Bean Eggs in Them. I can't quit cold turkey. It's too much to ask in this stage of my life.

But Buddy was pretty sold on the Chickie Pops by this time, so I couldn't back out entirely. So I did something different.

I had fun.

Usually, I get real cranked up about everything looking perfect and Josh ends up sending the children outside so I can say bad words without corrupting their small minds. But this time Buddy and I ended up laughing so hard we couldn't breathe about how monstrophic some of them turned out (you can't tell by the picture. You'll have to trust me on this one).

And it was totally worth it.

Plus, we have about 64,000 Rice Krispie Nests for sale. Fifty cents each.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dear Saturday,

I've been wracking my mind for weeks trying to think of what I might have done in the past few years to offend you. We used to get along together so well. You used to let me sleep late. You used to give me peace and quiet while I had a cup of coffee. You used to fill my day with peace and relaxation.

What happened between us?

It is 10:00. In the morning. Already, I hear Princess's "crazy voice" wafting out of her room. The "crazy voice" signifies that she has already run out of ways to amuse herself. It is 10 a.m. As I walk the hallways (ok, hallway, singular), I see ONE toy left laying out, ONE sock not put in the laundry box, ONE spoon left on the table. Why, Saturday, why must you torture me with purposeful undoneness today? We have the whole rest of the week...

It is 10:30. In the morning. Oh dear, I see Princess's head cocked as I discuss making second grade bake sale items with Buddy. Wait for it, yes, now I hear the distinct noises of dog torment. Could you not protect me from jealousy pay-back this one day, Saturday? Really, what would it cost you?

Truly. We've talked about this before. You KNOW how I crave one. stinking. day in which I do not have to structure every available microsecond of free time. You KNOW how I would like to sit down on the sofa and read a book without the Cuddle Bear radar finding out and pelting me with four thousand questions about how Spider Man operates and what sort of motives he may have. You KNOW how my ears crave a void in which there is no Peanut "the Cuddle Bear just stabbed me with her pirate sword for NO REASON!!!!!*" screams. You KNOW these things?

Why? Why do you hate me, Saturday?


P.S. The snow is a bit over the top, don't you think?

* "NO REASON!!!!" is secret code for "I grabbed her toy out of her hand, hit her with it, and then spit in her hair and ran away." In case you weren't familiar with the language.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Choosing Words

A couple e-mails came in from Peanut's teacher last night. One was about how Peanut contributed to a discussion of toilet paper usage and environmental conservation by announcing that her father does not wipe when he uses the bathroom. The other was about how she upset Princess by getting into the wrong bus line at school.

We were all in the kitchen. I was doing dishes. Josh was eating cake (does that seem fair to you?). I said:

"Hey, Peanut. I got a letter on the computer from Mrs. B. She said she got worried because you went to a different bus line this afternoon. Can you tell me about that?"

Did you notice how delicate I worded that? No use of the words "wrong," or "why." Nothing with even a whiff of accusation. No mention of upsetting Princess.

Peanut replied, "oh, I just went over to talk to Madison."
Me: "Ah. Well, I'm glad you're being such a good friend. Next time please do your talking at recess, and make sure you stay in your bus line. So no one gets nervous for you."

Again with the delicacy. Notice that?

Then Josh, with his mouth full of cake, pipes up:

"Yeah, and Peanut? I wipe when I poop."

Thank-you. Thank-you very much.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not-Happy Traumaversary to You

I really should have recognized this. And I did, at least in part of my brain. Unfortunately, that part of my brain was apparently not communicating with the rest.

March 2007. Possibly the worst single month of all time. It's only competitor is April 2004, the month I was told the tumor I had been hosting was cancerous (turned out it wasn't, exactly- another story). March 2007. The first week, we were told the that 8-week-long reunification plan was now a 3-week-long reunification plan. It didn't take long to relate that little detail to the major case-worker quittage that occurred two weeks before. Nobody involved really thought the girls' bio-mom had developed any change of behavior, and she wasn't even participating in any service her case plan outlined, but there you go. Staff crunch, and someone probably figured my girls would be the least not safe of the children on the caseload. So, the first half of that first week was two unsupervised all-day visits, with their first overnight that Saturday. The week before had been one two-hour supervised visit.

Week two. Our beloved rottweiler became sick. He couldn't stop emptying his insides in every conceivable manner. He became part of what was to be the Iams pet food epidemic. By the end of the week his bones were sticking out and he was laid up at the vet's. The next week he came home better (to the tune of several thousand dollars), crawled into the neighbors window well, and died. It turned out he had an unrelated and unidentified tumor that burst from the strain of the illness.

Week three. I came home with the girls from a Friday therapy appointment, and Josh was waiting in the driveway. Extremely pale. He had lost his job, in an unexpected and incredibly painful way.

Week four. I had had enough. The girls were on unsupervised overnight for half the week, and the caseworker called because the bio-mom wanted the girls for Princess's birthday, wanted me to drive them there, wanted my car seats so she could take them somewhere, and had told the caseworker that she felt uncomfortable when I talked the her. I yelled on the phone outside for nearly an hour. And not irrationally, I might add. Some things changed after that conversation.

So. This is March. Princess has been giving me a serious, SERIOUS run for my sanity all month. Hmmmm. I wonder why.

Yesterday was Josh's birthday. Ten days before Princess's. It's so hard for Princess that we wouldn't celebrate it at all if we could get away with it without the other children birthing a cow. But we can't. So we had a cake and sang Happy Birthday. Princess got crabbier and crabbier, and totally flipped her lid at bedtime. After doing a whole bunch of wrong things, I finally crawled in bed next to her and hit on the right one.

"It's hard when it's someone else's birthday."
"It's even harder when it's almost your birthday."
"It's really hard, because you remember other birthdays, where you did not feel good inside."
(More silence)
"This is a different birthday. You are here. I am here. You are not going away. I am not going away."

I cuddled her for a bit, repeating that last little nugget several times. When I kissed her goodnight, she had one tear running down her cheek.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homework, Except Different

I've noticed a few good changes lately; I think Princess is stepping out of her "thing." Maybe it was the shirt. The change was definately after the shirt. I can see that as a possibility; I imagine it's hard to yell insults at someone if you look at them and they are actually wearing everything you were going to say. I may need more shirts.

One day she seemed to notice, almost out of nowhere (well, not exactly nowhere), that the other children hug and snuggle and, well, talk to me. And, really, treat me much nicer in general that she does. There was a point where I actually saw her turn her head and NOTICE. So almost every day since, she's asked once or twice a day if she can hug me. Sure, it's a lot like hugging a pillow. Yes, it's not exactly what you'd call spontaneous, but it's a HUG. A hug! She's obviously trying to make me feel good around her, and I'll take it!

She is also making a h-uge effort to not turn her homework into WWIII. Usually she has a set time of the 45 minutes before dinner to complete what is for most first-graders ten minutes of work. Usually she doesn't finish because she heads off into InsulttheMommyLand, but this week, she really has been working hard. Last night four math problems took her one hour of really, REALLY hard work and compliance with my help. It gave me the chance to notice some things.

For one problem, she was to draw 67 cents in coins. She used only dimes and pennies, and she did not draw them in any organized way. For comparison (because I was curious), I asked Buddy to do the same problem, and he did it the way I would expect: QQDNPP. The next problem was a line of coins in no particular order, and she was to figure out what amount of money they equaled. She could not seem to see which coins she had already used, so I walked her through organizing them and labeling their value on the back of the paper. Then I had her add them one by one, and write the values one at a time next to the coin so she would not get confused. Her adding was correct. She gave me the correct verbal answer. But I was cooking dinner and was not LOOKING at her paper. I came over to check it, and couldn't even understand at first what she had done. Then I realized: she TOLD me 85, 95, 105- the right answers. But she had WRITTEN 80, 90, 100. And she had written them next to the coin underneath the ones they belonged to.

I don't even really know what to make of it. We happened to have a vision therapy appointment today, so I told Dr. F, but she wasn't so sure it had to do with her visual processing. One of the things that frustrates me the most with this whole "child-rearing" thing is that I can never seem to figure out what is causing anything. So how the heck am I supposed to fix it? Huh?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Something in the Soup

Oh, there must have been something in the soup yesterday; the Cuddle Bear was in full form, I tell you. We weren't even home for more than a few hours, and she managed to feed Jorge a jar of peach jam.

Which he barfed all over my bedroom carpet.

Not to be found until it had crusted over.

And then swim lessons were last night. The teacher moved her down from four floaties to three (and don't think for a second Princess didn't notice, although that's fuel for a different post), because she's so teensy that she actually can't lay on her back with four floaties. So she was tippier, and, like I said, in a mood. She did not stop yapping at Ms. K the entire time she was in the pool. Ms. K had to stop. the. lesson and make all the kids sit up on the side as a result of the Cuddle Bear's not-so-compliant chipperness. At one point, as Ms. K was taking the Cuddle Bear and another beginner across the pool on their backs, I heard the Cuddle Bear chirp, "no, Ms. K! I can do it myself!" Boom! The Cuddle Bear went under. Ms. K brought her back up and said, "no... I don't think you are. I'll decide when you can do it yourself."

Is it wrong for a mommy to about pee her pants in that situation?

So, the rest of the lesson happened, with the the Cuddle Bear yapping away the entire time. The older ladies who participate in the water aerobics class straggled in, and the children got out of the pool. I assembly-lined the towels, and we started to file out toward the locker room. Suddenly the Cuddle Bear stopped dead in front of two ladies. She said to them, eyes wide, "do you know what I have???" They foolishly said, "what?" Before I knew what was happening, the Cuddle Bear dove into her bag, held the contents an inch away from the ladies' noses, and announced


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things I Said This Weekend

I would NEVER suggest you use the bathroom! I know how much joy wetting your pants brings you, and I do not want to take away any of that joy.

It's not really considered kind OR friendly to pe.e on your sister's bed. So yes. You have to fix it.

You are trying REALLY hard to trick me into arguing with you. We can argue about jello. Jello is acceptable to argue about. I'll go first. "Red jello is the best!" Ok, now you go. You say, "no it's not," and then you tell me what flavor you think is best.

I wonder why you waited for me to sit down before asking me to get you a fruit bar. Maybe someday you'll tell me why hid around the corner watching everyone else get one instead.

What did Daddy say when you asked him for an apple? You don't know? Oh. Let's go ask him together.

Don't worry about wasting so much of my time by repeatedly asking me to check a job that's not done. You can always pay it back with strong-sitting.

Red jello!

Red jello!

Red jello is the best!

Please put your bottom back into your pants.

It's spells "as.s," it means "but.t," and I'd really prefer you didn't use that particular word.

Josh's contributions:
Take the step stool off your head and go sit down!

If it's easier to sit with the blanket over your head, then go ahead and do it.

And finally,
That math was hard, and you tried, and you did it. That was some good family girl stuff right there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This is Your Brain

A variety of comments from Buddy and Peanut over the past week prompted me to consider giving them a class on Princess and Her Brain. I've been avoiding this topic, as Brain Functions was a class I narrowly escaped a D in while in college. Luckily, I just finished The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog. Super good read, buy the way. Highly recommended. In it, the author talks about speaking to an elementary class about this very topic. Also, he includes a handy brain hierarchy chart in the back, plus this nifty way you can hold your hand to show what the brain (sort of) looks like. Last night I started paging through the book getting prepared. Josh looked at me quizzically, then said, "oh I get it. You're going to go way overboard with this, aren't you?"

Why, of course I am. Haven't you known me for 18 years?

This morning, while Princess was paying back three hours of screaming from last night with some peace and quiet upstairs, I sat down with Buddy and Peanut. I made a loose fist and stuck my thumb out and down. I explained that my thumb was the brain stem, and my stacked-up fingers were the midbrain, limbic system, cortex, and neo cortex. I told how we move through the brain as we grow, and told them a little about what each area controls. I showed them where they are (limbic system) and where I am (neocortex, of course!), and then I showed them where Princess is (midbrain), and that's why she has trouble with this and this and this and this. It went pretty well. Buddy even corrected me once when I couldn't remember what part I was talking about.

In fact, it may have gone too well. Because later Peanut and Princess had a (typical, ongoing, and redundant) falling-out over the game Sorry. Exasperated, Peanut waved her fist in the air, stuck out her thumb and yelled, "you know where YOU are, Princess? You are RIGHT HERE!!!"

She was pointing to her midbrain finger.

Friday, March 12, 2010

No Contest

A semi-embarrassing fact about myself: I am veeeeeeery competitive. But only when there is no actual competition. An illustration:

This is my contribution to the Washington Elementary Spring Carnival cake walk.

Yes. I know the vast majority of moms are going to pick up a tray of brownies from Hardings, and that is normal.

Yes. I realize I just want attention.

Yes. I have tried to convince Josh that my obsessive behavior is cute. And no, he was not convinceable.

But see, here's the thing. Here are the things that are not going to be said to me about this cake:
-yucky blucky
-neurological damage

And THAT, my friends, will be blissful.

Mama Gets Wet

I love love love the beach. I love being at the beach. I love sitting on the beach. But I hate getting wet. I won't go in the water unless it's 90 degrees outside.

It is never 90 degrees inside indoor pools.

Peanut had a kindergarten-wide field trip to a local indoor waterpark today. Personally, this is my version of about the third level of hell, but, you know, she's my daughter and all.

My daughter with a few trust issues.

So I purchased a bathing suit that I thought might not frighten the other children, popped some pain reliever, and bit the bullet.

Peanut didn't see me when she walked in, so I followed roughly 120 five-year-olds up the steps to the balcony. Peanut's class was, of course, way in the back corner.

When I found her, she looked about two feet shorter and three shades paler than usual, with her "holy chihuahuas I am going to die" look.

I had to get wet. My lungs are saturated with chlorine from strange children grabbing my arms unexpectedly and pulling me under. And I do believe my pelvis might have been fractured by several kindergarten feet. But it was surely worth it. My child did not freak out today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Parenting the Second Middle

In my opinion, Peanut's birth position has a lot to to with her behavior, which can be best described as "HEY! LOOK AT ME!" But her birth position also has a lot to do with the way she gets parented.

When Buddy was her age, if he had a concern I would focus my attention fully on him, give him social and scientific evidence to back up my stance on the outcome of his concern, and possibly pull a video up from the internet to further support my claim.

Peanut gets: "here's a cup."

She got an eyelash in her eye during dinner last night. And I really did try. I did. I told her how incredibly unlikely it would be for her eyeball to fall out. I told her it would be the first time doctors ever saw such a thing. I did. But she just would not let. it. go.

She got up from dinner and went to stare at her eyeball in the mirror. Then came running out frantically to tell me that her eyeball was shaking. I tried to explain her eyeball was shaking from the strain of staring at itself in the mirror, but apparently this was not considered plausible information. So, I handed her a cup. I told her if it fell out, to put it in there so it didn't get lost, and I would put it back in after she woke in the morning. She walked around for the rest of the evening with the cup clamped tightly over her eye.

I'm not sure I would even have thought anymore about the incident, except for the unfortunate coincidence of Josh playing with a voice recorder at the same time. He said, laughing, "come listen." And there, recorded for all posterity (and for my daughter to play for her therapist as an adult) was Peanut frantically obsessing about her eye falling out while she slept and me calmly, with a slight sound of exhaustion, saying, "so go get your cup."

"The purpose of parenting is to give you child a reason to leave home and something to work out with their therapist."
-Dr. S.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

While One Pot Simmers, Another Boileth Over

Once I heard having four children is like cooking one thing on each burner of the stove all at once: one of the pots is always about to boil over.

I wore my shirt yesterday. I give it a lot of credit. I have to wonder if every time Princess turned to me to spout something foul-mouthed she saw the shirt and realized I had pre-won whatever argument she was about to try. Or, maybe the switch in her brain flipped. I don't know. But yesterday had some reprieve.

Peanut has always waited for Princess to take a break before presenting me with her "stuff." She is very in tune with what is going on around her, and I think she senses that I am emotionally unable to deal intensely with someone else when Princess is firing all her barrels. So guess who got our her guns yesterday?

Buddy couldn't figure out why Peanut was suddenly wigging out, so I told him that all the anger that's been in our house lately has been making Peanut feel uncomfortable and not quite safe, and now that it's quieter she needs to let out some of the yucky feelings that got in. Princess happened to be listening in. That, and some well-timed, "hmmm. It takes a lot longer to win people back that it did to get them to not play with you, doesn't it?" and a few, "I understand that; I feel sad for you that you feel you need to scream at me like that" whenever she tried a "I'm going to say I'm sorry even though I'm not so much, because that's what will get people to give me stuff again," seemed to have some effect. Or, at least they got heard.

So was it a day, or was it the start of an upward trend? Who knows? Who cares. At least I got a day. I got to steal almost the girls' whole session with Dr. S. And I found my sense of humor. It's all good.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Anytime Bowl

I was perusing blogs in my reader for attachment ideas and re-came across the Anytime Bowl At Attaching Hearts. I thought, sounds great! A way to say yes during a period where I feel I am doing nothing but removing privileges and making my non-quite-all-the-way-attached child's world smaller and closer to me. A way to make it obvious that my neglected child's needs are being met by this mom.

And it will be a great idea, if I can stand the transition period.

I don't have a before picture; it all happened too fast. Here is a during picture. It is minus and entire bunch of bananas and three apples.

Here are some other during pictures:

Looking at the pictures, I don't believe they accurately portray the catastrophic amounts of juice covering all surfaces of furniture, flooring, and children. They do, however, accurately portray the Cuddle Bear's hair before I get around to caring for it on a Saturday morning.

Some quotes:

Me: Keep in mind, too much fruit can make a belly hurt.

Peanut: I've had seven! In two more I'll have nine! Then I'll blow up! If I eat a million apples, I'll never have to go to the dentist! And then I'll have lots of poop!

Me: Please note that squeezing juice in a cup does not qualify as "eating an orange."

Me: You are asking if you can do the dishes. I feel very uncomfortable letting you do a big job like dishes when you are not ready to eat neatly. I think no one should try to do dishes until they can eat fruit without having to change clothes after.

Here is the after picture:

And yes. I did have to explicitly tell them the tomatoes were off limits. I needed them for dinner.

I think it's an excellent idea. But that right there was $40 worth of produce, folks. I'm not sure I have the stamina, sanity, or budget to continue.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Expressing Love

The past few day have been rough. Princess seems to be in a place where she believes she should have the same privileges as everyone else in the family without having to do a single positive thing to contribute. At this point, she is required to do exactly four things:

1. Treat others with respect.
2. Clean up after herself without excessive complaining
3. Laundry (cause, ya know, hers is used as a toilet)
4. Five minutes worth of homework

She will do none of it. None. She mostly ignores me unless she wants something. Or if I act like a parent. If I try to require some kind of contribution from her, her head spins off her neck and hits the ceiling. The only communication we've had for the last three days is her asking for things or her calling me names and telling me she hates me.

I know this child loves me. I know I'm very important to her. I know she would completely freak if I wasn't here. But being called stupid, ugly, and unlovable all the time takes it's toll, even when you know it's not true.

By last night, I had pretty much reached my limit. She was doing the same stuff, but she also threw in a discussion with Josh about how it doesn't matter that she lies all the time about everything because her sisters lie once in a while, too, and anyway, she is not the biggest lier in the whole world. So it's all ok, apparently. And then, when she wanted a treat later, knowing full well that treats are not distributed to tantrum-throwers (being that they don't need the extra sugar, which makes self-control more difficult, so goes the explanation), she claimed vehemently that she had not thrown a huge hairy tantrum that involved screaming and kicking things in her room for an hour when I told her she did not get to decide whether or not she had to help pick up the living-room-filling fort that she and her sisters had built. So, in a not-so-therepuetic-moment, I told her to go find someone she hadn't said "I hate you" to, and ask THEM for a treat. Cause, really, I'm not so sure I'm expected to provide candy to people who say they hate me.

So, that didn't go over well, and unfortunately we had a commitment at church so some members of our small group got treated to some animal-level Princess screaming in the parking lot. But, I insisted she be snuggled on my lap the whole time we were there, and the rest of the evening went ok. But I was really, really emotionally sore.

This morning the Cuddle Bear climbed in bed with me to snuggle for awhile and play with a ladybug she found on the window sill. At one point she hugged me around my neck and sighed, "I love you, Mommy." Then she looked like she was thinking, and a moment later she said, "but Princess doesn't love you. She yells at you and calls you stupid." Great.

Later I sat down with my coffee, and Princess walked in and said, "Mom, can I give you a hug?" A little shell-shocked, I said, "well, of course! I love hugs. They make me feel good." And she hugged me. I found Josh and asked him if he told Princess to do it. He said, "do what?" I told him, and his eyes teared up. He said, "no. I told her what the Cuddle Bear said."

So that's a pretty big deal, because she made the connection to her own behavior and what it looks like to others herself. Empathy is not typically one of her strong points. I don't really expect today to be a whole lot better, but now I have have evidence of hope. It's in there, somewhere.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Found a Peanut

My sweet Peanut. She has been on the move the past six months. It is pure pleasure to watch her grow and heal.

When Peanut began kindergarten this past fall, I was heartbroken. She has loved preschool, and all signs pointed to her being very very ready for kindergarten, even though it is all-day in our district and she would be starting at age 4. I should have been forewarned when she went into a depressive tail-spin when preschool ended for the summer. But of course I wasn't. Who ever is?

Kindergarten started. I had Peanut placed with the same teacher my older two had, an amazing, fabulistic woman equally magical will typically-functioning and special needs children alike. Who had her second knee surgery over the summer. Who had a LOT of follow-up appointments in the fall. It didn't take long to notice the pattern: substitute teacher=principal's office. The principal is just as wonderful, and Peanut is the type of child who charms the crap out of people, even when she's acting rotten. However. I started to wonder if I needed to pull her out after lunch. Maybe it was just too much for her little self. Then she tried it on her teacher. We knew she would, so no one was surprised. At least, not until I got to class. She looked possessed. Her sweater was half-off, her hair was standing on end, and she was running around the room tearing stuff off the walls. I had to carry her out of the school like a log while the principal handled the Cuddle Bear and the backpack. It took me and the principal both to stuff her into the Suburban while she slapped and scratched my face. Fun stuff.

A few days later, I found that she had felt ganged up on by some girls at school and I started to think, "this is happening when she doesn't feel safe." Not long after, she had a sub again. I got a call. Peanut had gone ballistic. The sub was very pregnant, and Peanut had kicked her and threatened to kill her baby with a knife. That was when I realized that subs in general make Peanut anxious she won't be cared for. This sub in particular was even more complicated.

Peanut was 20 months old when she and Princess were removed. Their birthmother left them with her sister and her sister's husband, who ran a flourishing meth lab when she went into labor with the Cuddle Bear. Birthmom stayed home alone with the Cuddle Bear for one week; then the Cuddle Bear was hospitalized for stomach surgery. No food was getting through to her digestive system, and she was down to four pounds. Then birthmom disappeared for three weeks while the Cuddle Bear healed up alone in the hospital. Meanwhile, my girls were living in a trailer mostly alone with an empty fridge. Princess and her five-year-old cousin cared for Peanut and her younger cousin. Their uncle frightened them, threatened them with a knife, and I suspect some other things, too. So. No parent or teacher=how do I know I'll be taken care of? And I can only imagine what the vision of a large pregnant woman did to her. So it would have been no surprise if I put it together earlier.

For a while I brought Peanut home early when I knew there would be a sub. I gave her some ideas for when she started to feel angry and worked them out ahead of time with another teacher. The real breakthrough, though, came with the "Worry Worm" exercise with Dr. S. Peanut was able to identify situations that make her anxious, rate her anger appropriately (right between "livid" and "homicidal maniac"), and implement a plan. And it worked! She's five, for pete's sake! I told her there are grown-ups who can't do that. She liked that one.

Now she can handle subs with barely a blink. She told me the other day, "I almost don't ever have fits anymore." Two nights ago I corrected her during our bedtime routine. Embarrassment usually makes her go nutso. I noticed she slowly covered her head with her blanket. As I moved my arm to put it around her (fully expecting her to jerk violently away), she leaned into me. Huge for an attaching child. I'm so proud of her. My heart is lightening.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Practice and Processing

Last night I had the misfortune to notice that Princess laundry box was turned on it's side with her day's clothing stacked on top of it. Made note of it. Went to bed. This morning I told everyone good morning, had my coffee, got myself mentally ready, and walked into the bathroom.

"Oh Princess! Thank you! Thank you so much." (That ensured everyone would come running.)

"What? "What?"

"You used our secret code to tell me that putting your clothes in the box is too hard! Thank you for letting me know that way!"

Princess's face changed to a scowl. Everyone else cleared out like the bathroom was on fire. "But it's the Cuddle Bear's fault! I didn't do it! The Cuddle Bear did it. It's too hard."

"How much time do you think you need?"

"One minute."

"That doesn't seem like enough time. If it doesn't work, I'll choose the time. Deal?"


"Ok, you come up with the plan."


"Well, we'll stick with mine, then."

I set my timer and shut the door while she ranted and raved and stomped around. I came back in one minute and she said, "look I did it" (although since there's no sarcasm font, like Miranda suggested, you'll have to do the snotty voice tone in your own mind). I said, "wow! That was fast! I'd really like to see that!" and I started counting seconds. She stood and pouted for 40 seconds, then stomped to her box, opened it, picked up the clothes, and dropped them back in. I said, "but that's not really taking them out and putting them back, is it. So it's not really practicing. Do you think five minutes is enough, or do you need more time? (Silence) Do you need some extra time to think about your answer? No? Five minutes is good? Super."

The first two "practices" she spun her head around for most of the five minutes, but then she started to do it quietly. Each time I'd go in and say, "wow, you're getting faster. Let's try (one minute less)." Finally, since there was no grousing or mother abuse, I sat in there with her while she "practiced." By the end, she seemed abnormally well-regulated* for such a situation, so I said, "hey, you practiced so well that I think putting your clothes away correctly won't be so hard next time. Let's go talk." We left the bathroom and sat on the stairs.

Let me preface by saying the following conversation is huge progress. Processing a situation is very difficult for Princess, and we hadn't been able to do it at all until about six months ago. We sat down and I said, "so, what were you thinking when you set your clothes on top of the box laying on it's side?" Notice I did not use the word "why." The word "why" is the death knell of any radling conversation. She actually said, and here is the impressive part, "I didn't think you would notice."

"I didn't think you would notice."

"Hmm. Tell me about a time where you did something the wrong way and I didn't notice."

"My laundry yesterday."

"Do you remember me not noticing you did your laundry wrong yesterday? Five times?"

"You noticed."

"Yep. Tell me about I time you did a job the wrong way and I did NOT notice."

"My laundry."

(Pause to rub temples). "Do you remember when you came in the living room yesterday and I asked you how many times you thought it was reasonable for me to tell you to do your laundry right and you said two and I said how many times have I told you to do it right today and you said five and I said I'm glad you recognize you are being unreasonable?"

"Oh! (loooooooooong silence). You always notice."

"I always notice. Yesterday you asked to make those ladybug cookies in your library book. Can you tell me what I said?"

"You said I don't have time because I have fits."

"No. I said you don't have time because you use your time to do your jobs wrong. How much time do you think you spent putting your clothes away wrong and practicing?"


"Yep. That's about right. So we have about seven hours on a Saturday to do stuff, and every hour has sixty minutes. So you spent almost ONE WHOLE one of those hours not putting away your clothes correctly. And that was ONE JOB. Everyone has more than one job, so if you use an hour to do each of even four jobs, you've used almost HALF your day on only doing things wrong. If you want time for FUN things, you're going to have to make time for them yourself. Now. I see you left me another secret code in the dining room (art supplies all over). Let's go practice so that gets easier too."

This time she stomped around a little and said it "would be too long," but amazingly, when I whipped out my timer and said, "ok, how much time do you thing you'll need," she said, "oh, I mean it's ok." She practiced putting away her things ten times with only minor scowling. I hugged her and said, "look at that! Not only will it be easier to pick up after yourself next time, but you got it done in two minutes! Now you have lots of time to make fun choices! Good for you!"

* "regulated" is a fancy term for "can accept a direction like someone you'd meet in a local kindergarten room as opposed to someone who's head is situated in such a way that is spins 360 degrees whenever she is spoken to." I do believe that is the scientific term.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Not-So-Therapeutic Afternoon


You remember.

Normal after-school routine. Snack. Time to unwind. Chores and homework. I told Princess her laundry was ready to go in the dryer. Then I dropped what I knew would be the bomb.

"Oh, and Princess. When I was taking out your laundry I noticed some of Peanut's underwear in with yours. I know you didn't ask to use it, and I know you didn't pay Peanut for it, so I'll let you go ahead and pay her double. You know, to kind of apologize for trying to sneak it so you could use it without paying for it."

S***, meet fan. Because OF COURSE she didn't take it and OF COURSE she didn't use it and OF COURSE she had absolutely no idea whatsoever how it could have gotten mixed in with her laundry, never mind that her laundry is completely and totally separated from everyone else's.*

I ended up telling her that she had three choices about her voice and words:
1. Speak with a respectful voice and kind words while putting her laundry in the dryer. I am
right here.
2. Speak with a disrespectful voice and mean words in the laundry room with the door closed.
3. Don't speak.

Would you believe she actually chose to sit in the laundry room doing nothing with the door closed for the whole entire evening, except for the moment I opened it to hand her a cheese sandwich and broccoli and receive more scowling and six-year-old-style verbal abuse? Yes she did. Oh yes. Well, ok, she didn't do "nothing." She got a packet of stickers out of my craft box and stuck them all over the mini-fridge, threw MY laundry all over the laundry room, and ripped up some paper and threw it on the floor. So not nothing.

Do you know how it feels to know that your daughter would rather sit in a laundry room behind a closed door for THREE HOURS rather that speak civilly to you and do one thing that contributes to her own well-being? Not good, people! Not. Good.

I HATE it when I trap myself that way. It was the exact opposite of what I should have done. If she wasn't going to do the job anyway, I might as well have had her sitting on a chair by me in the kitchen. She at least would have been able to see my pleasant face smiling at her while she insulted me (RAD kids don't read social cues well, so there's no way she would have noticed the strain behind the smile, the extra lines developing at the corners of my mouth, the knot growing between my shoulders, or the gray hairs sprouting instantaneously from the top of my head). It was all wrong, and I let it happen.

I got so close to completely losing it and going out behind the cedar bush to cry that I began to sing. I am the queen of Badly Made-Up Songs. Little-known fact. I sang a lovely little ditty about how great a mom I am. The best mommy every created, in fact. And the prettiest. And the smartest. The mommy who can't be fooled by six-year-old tricks. The mommy whom no one can make not love her. The mommy who no one can get to leave. I got so loud, in fact, that my husband who loves me more than life itself asked me to stop because my singing was hurting his stomach. It was that good. Anyway, it worked because "You Can't Ever Do Anything So Bad That You Can Make Me Stop Loving You So There" happens to be one of Peanut's favorite topics (one that has been covered in principal's offices and church basements, in fact), and Being Loud happens to be one of Peanut's favorite things to do, so she came down stairs and sang backup. Other people joining in on Mommy's crazies is NOT one of Princess's favorite things, however, so she stopped the verbal onslaught.

So anyway. I have slept. I have regrouped. I have ideaed. I have informed Princess that this evening will be different. Busy for her, yes. Filled with not her favorite ways to spend time, yes. Mommy has had her break with therapeutic parenting and is now formally back on the wagon. May God have mercy on your soul.

*This is that "sarcasm" we talked about that Josh thinks I need to make more obvious.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trauma by Banana

It may not have been so bad, except for the series of events. Isn't that always how it goes?

My defenses were low. I was tired. I had only moments before finished the 45-minute drama entitled "Princess's Homework." She found nine different ways to read the word "summer" incorrectly. Nine. When she got to seven, I finally said "wow Princess! That is nothing short of amazing! Let's write them down so we can count them. Seven! High five! I bet you can't even think of more. What will you do? It would be so sad for you to have to resort to, you know, reading the word." Then she found two more. I think they were "soomner" and "sumter." And when I left to pick up Buddy from piano, she asked Grampa to tell her the word. You know. So she could keep pretending she couldn't read it. Then she finished the book, reading ACTUALLY hard words like "diary."

I walked into the living room twitching, sweating, and rubbing my temples and my dad, purposely ignoring all these signals because he has a sick sense of humor (SICK!) says,

"were you aware of the contents of this dog crate?"

I looked down at Jorge's crate. It's usually in Buddy's room, where the Cuddle Bear often hides to perform various acts of deviousness. I fliped open the shallow top compartment.

The foulest banana I have ever seen stared back at me. Stared. It had grown eyes. It had obviously been working on growing said eyes for several months. I screamed. I actually said, "oh, the humanity! How much must one woman endure in a day!" Yes, I did. Those very words.

So there you have it. It is possible to be thrown over the edge by a banana.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homework (Aaaarugh)

On a good day, Princess will have her homework done correctly in roughly five seconds. On a bad day, Princess will spend 45 minutes fussing, crabbing, stomping, and complaining that she doesn't know how to do it and I won't help (read: "do it for") her. On a typical day, Princess will do the first problem correctly, race through the rest, not check her work, not stop to work through anything, and stomp wordlessly back to the table seven or eight times to correct it. I get butterflies in my stomach as 5:15 approaches. Anxiety attacks.

Then there's A Day Grampa is Visiting.

She did "typical day" work. And if it indeed had been a "typical day," it would have very quickly degenerated into a "bad day," complete with door-slamming and stupid ugly mommy-calling. But she had a new audience. An audience she felt she might embarrass herself with. So she walked quietly back to the table over and over and over for the 45 minute homework time. Nothing but smiles and glitter and butterflies.

Grampa said, "wow, she sure is patient."

I thought about that. I thought about it all evening. And the more I thought about it, the more ticked off I got.

Because he's right. She is patient. She is very patient and tolerant of correction and hardworking. More so than most people.

And she doesn't use a single. ounce. of it. on. me.

I get so tired of being the punching bag. I know it's necessary. I know it's important. She needs to beat up on a mother and have her not leave. Have her still hug her. Drag her to birthday parties and dance classes. It's critical. But I am sooooo tired. Get sucker-punched in the gut, get up, walk back to her, and do it all over again. Repeat. Who does that?

(A RAD mom.)