"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, June 30, 2010

When Being Paid Back Does Not Involve Money


It started in the car on the way home. It always does. I think it might be legally mandated. So, since I strongly suspect these tantrums are completely under her control 98% of the time and because I've really been hammering this one home, Princess started yesterday morning with an hour of time to "pay back" to me, because she "took that time and energy from me without asking." So, right away after breakfast she popped right outside to stack wood.

Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa. That even made me laugh. Erg. Excuse me for a minute.

Um. No. After fifteen minutes of accelerated grousing and five minutes of trashing the entryway, she went up the hill where she spent a half hour intently inspecting her navel and scratching her arm.

I had plans with a friend at a playground with a bike trail. When I went out to load the (three) bikes into the Burban, Princess came down to see what I was doing tell me she wasn't sure what to do because there wasn't any wood to stack.

Uh huh. Sure there's not. I pointed back up the hill.

Further navel-gazing ensued.

The twenty-minute drive to the park was filled with twenty minutes of general nastiness, so I seated Princess on a bench to "pay back" the kids the time she spent filling their ears during the drive. See a theme?

Got home, had lunch, pointed Princess to the entryway. Told her it needed to be reorganized now, and of course it would count toward paying back the time and energy of my she took.

Didn't go over so well.

It's (slowly, slowly) occurring to me that I am not the toe-the-line mother I thought I was. I think I have been letting a heck of a lot slide. I realized yesterday that she asks me for things she knows she's not to have/didn't earn when we're not home with rapid-fire speed. Why? Pride. I hate how it "looks" when I deny a child something stupid. I know I look like a control-freak. I am, actually, a total control-freak, but come on! I like to be able to hide it sometimes, just like everyone else. I also realized that she is surprised when I make her finish something later or the next day. I fell into to trap of Oh Well She Did Some of it With a Good Attitude and That's Really the Point Isn't It So Why Should I Trash a Whole Other Day by Making Her Finish.

I think Princess figured she would not be required to follow through after semi-good behavior at the park. Because behaving well at a park is so hard.

Where is that sarcasm font when I need it?

When we walked in the door, Princess has 55 minutes to pay back. By 5:00 pm, she had 210 minutes to pay back. Guess what I was doing during those 165 minutes? I'll give you a hint: I threw two half-pairs of shoes in the trash, Buddy's nose is swollen, and my muscles are sore down my back from my neck to my ankles. I am determined to not let this continue unchecked any more. Every. Single. Time Princess so much as fussed, I was there. And, of course, every time I became "there," the fussing escalated. My back is sore from not allowing Princess to pinch me or head-butt me. My legs are sore from not allowing Princess to kick me or my belongings. Buddy's nose is sore from having a shoe thrown at it. Because he walked through the kitchen. What? That's not a good enough reason? And during it all, I repeated maybe 86,000 times, "you're right...I will not allow you to hurt me or damage our things. I'm sure that is very frustrating for you. This is hard! I'm right here." Honestly, I cannot even believe how calm I stayed. What I felt like doing when Buddy was screaming in nose pain? Well. I didn't.

I gave the others snack at the usual time, reminding Princess that snacks are a "family privilege" earned by doing "family work," none of which she was currently participating in. I let her know that she would be provided with an early dinner, and the early bedtime that would follow had the dual benefit of : a) paying back some of my time with peace and quiet and not having to deal with any more of this crap, and b) providing her with the extra rest she needed from a day of tantruming. Which is exhausting. For her, too.

The Magic Switch flipped at exactly 5:00, and she began earnestly organizing the entryway. Why? Sure wish I knew. My best guess is If I Work Really Hard Now, I Will Only Have Had to Do Anything Productive For a Minimal Time and Then Tomorrow Will Happen and Mom Will Not Make Me Do it Any More.

It is 8:45 am. Guess where Princess is.

The woodpile.

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