"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."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Kerrie, Queen of the Laminate

For the past month, Josh and I have spent every possible moment repairing and cleaning a rental house from which we had to boot a (unpaying, manipulative, lying sack of) tenant. "Every possible moment," of course, being defined as "half the weekend" because one has a lot less every possible moments when one has one to three children that (depending on the minute)  one cannot trust as far as one can throw them. Which might not be that accurate of a measurement, being that the smallest one could probably be thrown pretty far.

Anyway. During this time, we have made a surprising discovery: I have a marketable skill.

We paid someone to paint. I'm great at painting, but I just don't have the kids-mucking-around-in-the-paint-free-time. And neither does Josh. We paid someone to put in carpet. Paying someone to put in a laminate floor would have been another $500, and Josh was really not big on shelling it out. He struggled with the directions and the pieces for awhile, gave up, and called me in to try. I looked at those suckers and did not have high hopes for myself. But I DO like puzzely things, and it WAS something non-kid oriented to try, so I played around with them for a bit. And I figured it out.

I put in a whole freaking floor by myself.

(Ok, ok. Josh helped when I called him. And he did the cutting. I had an unfortunate instructor in Power Tools for Artists during college. The kind who tells stories about people accidentally sawing their own ears off and long hair getting tangled in drill presses resulting in holes through the hair owner's head and embolisms caused by pneumatic gun misusage. So, although I KNOW how to use all the power tools, and could successfully operate them if some one was threatening me in a way that was scarier than getting my hair tangled in it if I didn't rip a board for them, I really prefer not to.)

I can't even TELL you how proud I am of myself. Legitimate, measurable success that your husband brags to his friends about. A person could get addicted to that, I tell you. Not something I get in my normal day.

Plus, look at what a good example to my daughter I am:

The Cuddle Bear "built a fwoor, like Mommy!" All by herself.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And Then...

...there was Wednesday.

I knew it would happen. I really did. Josh and I had a garden party to attend (doesn't that sound so much more sophisticated than I really am?) Tuesday evening, and the friend who took the children felt it would be easier for her to keep them all night. Because this is a good friend I know well who knows my children (and their issues) well and whose children are friends with mine, I agreed. Knowing.

I picked the kids up, and a fight broke out in the back of the Suburban about Princess's thermos, whether or not it was leaking, and whether or not it was Peanut's fault. When we got home, Princess got out and threw her (expensive for me) thermos down on the driveway. I did not have a therapeutic moment. I went nutso.

"Non-Therapeutic Interaction"
-by Kerrie

K: Oh that's nice! I hope you enjoy drinking water for lunch in second grade. Fine! If you don't care about your things, neither do I! (K proceeds to throw Princess's overnight equipment out of the car onto the driveway)
P: You're making it dirty! You're mean!
K: Yeah, well, if you don't care about your things, why should I?
(by this point, we are both stomping and yelling and pointing fingers and throwing things and being very mature)
A: Yeah, well, you're supposed to treat others the way you want to be treated!
K: What!!!! What did you just say to me!!!!
A: (spits giant wad of Hubba Bubba at K)
K: (waits til P isn't looking and puts giant wad of Hubba Bubba inside P's shoe)
A: (pe.es pant out of spite and throws them down the stairs)

(The writer of this blog is in no way insinuating that anyone has this type of conversation with their child. The writer of this blog also fully realizes how immature she was)

"What I Should Have Said"
-by Kerrie

Yep. That would be nothing. NOTHING. I should have said nothing. I should have bit my cheeks until they bleed, gone up to my room, locked the door, and pounded all the poky feathers out of my pillow until the urge passed.

And now this is where I sigh heavily and acknowledge that I stunk.
And move on.

Getting Rid of Stuff

The rest of Monday was pretty impressive, too. We are in the process of buying a house, and so I am beginning to panic about moving and everything that goes with it. Buddy has a little trouble getting rid of stuff he doesn't use, mostly because he doesn't want to hurt the feelings of the person who gave it to him. So I spent Monday with him going through his things and packing them off to the consignment shop. The question, "would you rather keep this toy or have money for it?" seemed to work well for him.

Of course, Princess wants to do whatever Buddy is doing, which is (usually) fine because it is (usually) a good example. However, Princess has less things because she has been here four years less and because she breaks stuff. So all she has left are the "good" toys.  As she brought in toy after toy after toy that I personally had put tons of thought, energy, and love into purchasing and said, "I don't really care about this that much," I took a deeeeep Mommy breath and said to myself, "don't freak out. Don't make this about you and your feelings. She's right: she doesn't really care about it that much," and gave it a big Whatever. I paid her $5 per giant pile of junk and $5 per good toy I wanted to keep and asked permission to give it to one of the little girls, which she always granted.

I did talk her out of the cupcake maker, for which I am kicking myself and asking WHY? but dang it, she really does love the thing. I don't know if you are familiar with this particular brand of parental torture. Never. Ever. Never. Buy one for a child who is younger than the age recommended on the box. I think the box recommends ages 32+, and I am telling you, stick with it. The directions are hard for a young reader to follow, it's difficult to clean, and the mixes cost $5 for three cupcakes. I have done it with her exactly twice. It involved the entire day. The only part kids care about is the frosting mechanism that spins the cupcake around while piping frosting in a professional manner. Hahahahahaha! The frosting container has a hole about this big: . to stuff the frosting into. So for each cupcake, I am forced to stand in the kitchen for (literally) hours stuffing frosting that smells like something died into a tiny tiny whole because my children do not yet have the motor coordination. Because they are not yet 32. So don't ever buy one. But if you're not going to heed my advice, buy it off my blog, because then I get a cut.


Princess racked up $30 during this exploit. We has discussed several times over the past six months that she may have possession and control of her money when she is done throwing furniture and toys and kicking in the door when she is angry, but until then, Daddy and I are keeping her money to pay for repairing any tantrum-induced damage. So she says to me:

"I really want to buy a stroller for my baby dolls. So I am going to try to not have tantrums. I know it's going to be hard and a lot of work. I think maybe if I say my "I am smart."* three times every day, I will feel good enough about myself to not throw things and kick."

Just lately, Princess has been expressing acceptance of responsibility for her tantrums. Sometimes. But this is defiantly the first time she has had a plan. She even asked if she could put a sign on her wall, so I gave her a dry-erase board.

The $30 was totally worth it.

*What I jokingly call "Daily Affirmations." A card has "I am smart. I am special. I am successful. I am somebody." written on it. Princess gets a Skittle after she says each one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Plugging Up the Hole

Princess did not! have! a tantrum! this weekend! Not one. Not even while fighting withe Peanut. Yelling, yes. Telling Peanut to shut up, yes. But no slapping or throwing anything. Seriously, I am reasonably sure that has never ever never happened before. Ever.

Here's the thing: I think she replaced the tantrums with something. She downsized, but she's still filling the space.

I think she dropped her brain somewhere and did not pick up it (I'll take it! I'll take it! I don't care! Just no more tantrums!). And I say that affectionately. Here are some examples:

  • I made it rain by flushing ice cream down the toilet. (Huh?)*
  • Will we fit in this car? (Not unless we have suddenly and mysteriously lost a family member)
  • What is "twist?" (It's the kind of ice cream you always have every single time we go out for ice cream)
  • Is this how I use ___? (Said while using said vary familiar daily item correctly)
  • Are we having beans for dinner? (Asked while looking at the beans on her plate)
  • Are we going swimming? (Asked after being directed to attire self in bathing suit for a known trip to the beach)
  • Can I have ___? (Insert non-fruit, non-vegetable item for fruit- or vegetable-only between-meal snack and multiply by seven before Mommy looses her marbles and insists Princess go outside and not have said between-meal snack at all)
  • I'm going to have this vegetable. 'K? (Said while holding up a bag of deli turkey meat)
  • Can you tell me what orange and blue and green and yellow are? (Um. Colors.)
But here's how I see it. She's (maybe) replaced tantrums with attention-getting behavior that, while, um, weird, is more socially acceptable. And I am good with that. Because next it'll be something smaller, and smaller, and smaller yet. If I'm not mistaken, eventually it will be filled with....her personality.

I think I'm going to meet my daughter!

*Immediately denied saying this. I think it had something to do with a tradition of her friend's where they flush ice cubes down the toilet and wear pajamas backward to provoke a snow day. Still unknown: was ice cream actually flushed down the toilet on the sly? And does Princess truly take credit for the rain?

Friday, July 23, 2010

RAD Meets the Pioneers

I have not run across any information on RAD and creativity, so if anyone has any, chime in. I do know that I view Princess as, well.....not very. She draws, a lot. But every drawing is fundamentally the same: her in a field of something. She writes, a lot. But every page of writing is fundamentally the same: I love (whoever), or copying a page out of a book. She has difficulty with creative play; she is unable to come up with her own scenarios, and when she is playing someone else's her contributions tend to be rejected as not making sense, or being completely different from the already established game.

So when I saw this:

I was so shocked I was almost in tears.

This is a covered wagon. Princess is Laura. The Cuddle Bear is baby Carrie, and Peanut is Mary. Jack is just outside the frame, played unwillingly by Jorge.

She thought of this herself. As in, no one was in the room when she built it, and then she successfully engaged Peanut and the Cuddle Bear in playing Little House on the Prairie. Herself.

I don't know if the lack of creativity has been a brain thing, or a confidence thing, but either way I'm thrilled to see signs of whatever it is resolving.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


"Mooooooooooom!!! They're teasing me! They're saying I have fits!"
"You do have fits, Princess."
"Yeah, but they're making me feeeeeel bad!"
"If you feel bad, don't have them. You have fits because that's what you want to do. You want the attention you get when you have them. You are in charge of them. Quit whenever you feel like it. But don't expect your brother and sisters and me to enjoy them with you."

The weird thing about these conversations (well, except that no one normal ever has them), is that they're working. Even two months ago, I couldn't say things like that. They'd either be tuned out or cause escalation. After I said it, Princess paced around dis regulated and tried to further engage her siblings, so I dragged her up to her room and sat between her and the exit. When she tried to pass me I set her in my lap and let her struggle, but (loosely) didn't let her out. I mean, she wanted to be there, anyway, really. After she was sitting quietly picking her cuticles, I said, "I wonder why your brother and sister are teasing you? I wonder what could be frustrating for them? I wonder what you could be doing that would bother them so much?" And I waited.

"I scream at them and throw things at them and tell them I'm going to hurt them."

These declarations of responsibility are only the summer-old. And what is even newer than that, is there are no false starts. No claiming to not know, no suggesting rock-bottom stupid things like she had a blue popsicle. Just admission.

So I told her something hard to say. I told her she's been screaming and throwing things at us for four years. Almost every day. I told her Buddy and company aren't going to play with her just because she exists. And that every time she screams or threatens or throws things, she'll make it worse. And I told her that the only way she's going to get their trust and their company back is by playing alone for a while. Maybe a lot. And when they see that she can play alone calmly, without coming to find them and picking fights, they'll start including her again. But it's her job to look calm and fun. It's not their job to include her.

I even know that it wouldn't take much for them to include her. They have loving hearts. But they. are. tired. They practically live in a war zone, and I am amazed at what they will tolerate and forgive. I will not force them to include her with what they already endure.

But I did ream them. After my talk with Princess, she went down to draw armed with warnings about what choices she would not have if she couldn't get along in a family space. The others were playing in Buddy's room. I won't make them include Princess, but they had been literally stalking her in a mean spirited way. I understand they're worn, but still, unacceptable. I told them so. And reminded them that Princess needs absolutely no help whatsoever being miserable; she does a good job of being that way herself. So if they're not going to be helpful, then get out of her way.

She still has almost daily rages, so I've had to get into the habit of looking around them, underneath them, through them for steps forward. I have to for my sanity. I have to find something. I think this is more than a small thing, though. It's been so frustrating for me to not be able to talk to her about her behavior. So this actuall communication? Is huge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sowing and Reaping

The last few days have been bleak, frustrating, and full of ennui. It's been hard to write, because I don't want to say nothing but complaints about how boring and useless Princess's tantrums are. Add to that the frustration level of the other children. Buddy's crabby in general and far less tolerant of Princess. Peanut's anger is quick to flare. The other day she told me, as I closed the door on her time-out, that she was going to call 911 to report that I was a "shut-up face."

Good thing there isn't a phone in my room.
Crap. I left a phone in my room.

Open door. Take phone between 91 and 1. Wonder if I should call 911 to warn them the may get a call from a five-year-old because her mother is reportedly a shut-up face. Decide against it.

And Amiya threw and dead on copy-cat tantrum because I made her come out from under the desk where Jorge was hiding. Dead on. Packaged complete with pinching, biting, kicking, slapping, "you're hurting me," "I have to go to the bathroom SOOOO! BAAAAAD!," and "I have an itch." Very disturbing, but I kept trying not to laugh. I don't know why.

Yesterday it was about some pennies of Princess's that Peanut had apparently taken four days ago. They suddenly became of the utmost importance, and getting them back could only be done by throwing things and screaming. From what I could tell.

Early on, before she escalated, I asked Princess to sit down with me.

"Princess, there's something people say sometimes: you reap what you sow. It's about planting stuff. So, if you plan flower seeds, you get flowers. If you plant prickers, you get prickers. It's also about people. If you plant kind things, you usually get kind things back. If you plant mean things, you get mean things back. You've been planting a lot of mean and not listening. So I'm not surprised that your brother and sister don't want to help you and say yah yah yah instead of listening to you. You're getting back what you planted."

This is where I see progress: this kind of stuff is starting to sink in. The tantrum didn't happen right away. I revoked my help problem-solving after the first lie; from there on out my help consisted of: "have you been planting listening or not listening? Have you been planting truth or lies? Have you been planting throwing things or gentleness?" and, believe it or not, she'd turn around and try again. The tantrum happened, but it was very delayed.

Unfortunately, Princess mistimed the tantrum and ended up with no time to put on her bathing suit for swim lessons. Additionally, she and Buddy had a prize to redeem on the way there. I was geared for a rage in the car, but Princess was able to take a warning and stay in control. Well, excepting a slap or two. But who's perfect. As if that weren't enough, I heard a mumble from the back seat directed at me. I said what. Silence. Then,

"I'm sorry I was rude to you, Mommy."

I told her I forgave her, and, though the rudeness hurts me, I love her all the time.

Then I steeled myself, because we hadn't redeemed the prizes yet. I was fairly sure the apology was a way to get me to let her go in and get the prize. Buddy went into the store. Princess said nothing.

The apology was real.

I said to her, "you know Princess, lots of girls sass their moms. Sassing isn't the big problem. The tantrum is the big problem. Instead, you could say to yourself: 'wow, I shouldn't have said that. I guess I'll take my time out,' and NOT have the tantrum, and be done with it."

On to swim lessons. Princess sat next to me and watch. And we

talked! About

BOYS. Gah! Boys!

She asked if we were in a high school (yes) and asked if the kids who went there could have boyfriends or girlfriends (yes, because they can drive cars to go on dates). Princess then informed me, to my shock, that she had a boyfriend, which is ok because she can drive the tractor. I asked him if he knew, and she said no, so I wiped sweat from my brow. She likes him because he can run faster than her, which is a good enough reason, I guess.

Then she said, "Mom, I said sorry real quiet because I was nervous."
It's almost too much for one day!

And that was the afternoon. All morning the children worked together cooperatively on an art sale. They hung a sign on the mail box stating they'd accept checks or dollar bills. Buddy was furious that I wouldn't drive him around to post the signs.

So really, the worst parenting moment yesterday was when the Cuddle Bear asked me why Tyrannadons didn't drive cars. I automatically said, "because they don't have thumbs," (my standard answer for why whatever animal doesn't do whatever), then kicked myself because it would have been so much funnier to explain that the fuel that makes cars run is made out of dinosaurs, so they would have been socially opposed to car ownership.

Josh claims it's just like me to be mad for hours for missing a chance to be more of a smarta$$.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Hate Crafts

Actually I don't. I love crafts. Buddy and I have enjoyed doing crafts together since he's been old enough for closed-ended projects (stuff that's supposed to turn out a certain way). I've always looked at the adorable sewing and beading girly-girl kits in the craft shop and looked forward to sharing time like that with a daughter.

So, I don't hate crafts. What I don't enjoy is how "doing a craft" inevitably ends. Princess was voluntarily reading to me earlier, when she got tired and didn't want to work at it anymore. So she wandered around a bit and then asked for her stepping stone kit. Which involves mixing plaster and I should definitely have nixed when she bought it way back when she was receiving an allowance. But I didn't, and it's still here. I sighed inwardly, because if she was tired of reading, following a sheet of directions was not going to happen. Then I got the kit down.

Princess mixed up one bag of plaster without measuring, so it was a runny mess. Progress note: she did come in a get a measuring cup for the next try. Hence the whole learning by doing thing. However, after she got the plaster mixed up and let it sit for the 1-3 minutes as stated in the *directions,* she realized that she didn't have the plastic mat with shape templates you're supposed to pipe the plaster on top of (who THINKS of these monstrous kits any way? Someone paid to sit around and rub his hand together and say, "how can I distract children from crayons and paper against their mother's better judgment THIS time? A-HA! I've got it! Plaster and fake jewels! Mwa ha ha ha haaaaaa!"?).

Now, lest I seem cold and callous, let me assure you my desire is to swoop in and fix it all for her. And boy does she want me to. However:

1. I gently warned her, at the store, that this kit was over her head, would be difficult and frustrating, and would require my help which would not be available if I was getting yelled at all the time,
2. When she asked for it today, I gently warned her that the directions would be difficult to follow and she'd have to read them to get the project right, and
3. The VERY. FIRST. step in the directions is to lay the stuff out on top of the.....


On top of that, she allowed her sisters to "help" (after telling them the box said they weren't old enough), so now added to the extensive clean-up is the plastery paint job the Cuddle Bear did on the picnic table bench. I will say she's handling it fairly age-appropriately with only mild whining and mother accusing. For now.

Nothing in a pink box that requires water to be mixed into it is every crossing my threshold again.
I am serious.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bananas With Chives

We have had quite the sneak-fest going on here lately. In addition to the Hanger Incident, we have also had a Skittles Incident, and now a Fruit Salad Incident. And those are the ones I know of.

Chronologically, the Skittles Incident came shortly before the Hanger Incident. I came downstairs, and the Cuddle Bear informed me that "sick" Princess was asking her to get her Skittles. This is not the first time the Cuddle Bear has been used in this way. Princess uses her because Princess has sensory issues and has a difficult time climbing. Peanut uses her because when the Cuddle Bear was very small, she would obviously be in less trouble than Peanut for taking candy, so Peanut would hang around underneath the Cuddle Bear waiting to be handed contraband and then scatter quickly when parental footsteps became audible. Later, when I put the Skittles in the pantry (which has a doorknob cover which, for some inexplicable reason still foils the Cuddle Bear), I discovered the previously half-full bag was now almost empty. Which also implicated Peanut.

This morning when Princess asked to do her "I am special" card, I said, "absolutely," but when she asked me to get the Skittles I said, "I believe you've had your share for the week Princess." She pretended to throw away her card, and then stomped out of the room. But when Buddy discovered the Skittle carnage, he was irate, and I insisted Princess confess. While she did start out insisting she didn't do it, she did eventually confess. I made her do it again without the "Peanut did too!" tacked on the end. But then, Peanut, who I wasn't entirely sure was involved, began to get all self-righteous on Princess. I leaned in and did the Two-Inch Eyeball Stare, and she dissolved into a puddle as close to the floor as she could get.

So we're out of Skittles.

And if that is explainable, try it out on this one:

Princess and Peanut were outside in the garden. And then they weren't. They weren't in the sandbox. Or at the swingset. Or on the patio or bikes. Which left one place other than on the lam: the treehouse. I have never known them to play in there just the two of them. I very quietly closed the door. I used my toe-heel walk through the yard. I stealthily climbed the ladder. And I stuck my head in the window.

Peanut immediately saw me and turned around to face the wall (inside the wall, actually) and covered her face. Princess looked right at me and kept on doing what she was doing, which was cutting a peach with a butter knife. They were making fruit salad: nectarines and sliced bananas sprinkled with chives on a garden kneeler. Those chives must have taken some dedicated work. Plus the knives: I didn't hear them come in. So either they were very very stealthy, or they had taken them earlier and stashed them in the sandbox. My Oneida knives. And while I stood there, silently, I screamed in my head, "I WOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU THAT STUFF IF YOU ASKED! YOU KNOW YOU CAN HAVE FRUIT IN BETWEEN MEAL IF! YOU! ASK! WHYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

But what I said, in a muy muy soft voice, was:

"Peanut, I'm glad to see you are having that feeling. Because that feeling is telling you something is wrong."

And then, to both:

"Please clean up and come inside."

I walked to the house, each step sounding why! why! why! why! why!, and since it was coincedentally snack time, served Buddy and the Cuddle Bear cookies and milk.

Mwa ha ha ha haaaaaaa.

Two interesting things happened next. The first was while they Peanut was cleaning up, Princess began to yell at her to hurry up. I pulled her aside and said, "Princess, that bad feeling is telling you something is wrong. You can't make it go away by yelling at Peanut. You can only make it going away by talking to me about what you did and apologizing." And I walked away. A few minutes later from behind my head I heard, "Mom?"
"I took fruit and your knives without asking. And I'm sorry."
And next to her appeared Peanut. "Mom? I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't have done that."

Drop jaw.

"I forgive you. I love you. I think you're great." x2.

The second was that Princess asked, "what did they have for snack?" as opposed to the usual "what are we having for snack?" showing that: 1. she was fully regulated, and 2. she is getting the hang of my consequence style.

And then she asked me to cut her hair and put it into pigtails.

This week has been a total roller coaster.
It's Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You're Making My Plum Stink

I knew Sunday would be no better at breakfast. I knew, because Princess asked for three non-breakfast items she knew she couldn't have before asking for the nectarine.

The Nectarine. I bought four nectarines because Buddy asked for them, Buddy doesn't like most fruit, and only fruit is allowed between meals. I only bought them for Buddy, because that sort of thing usually goes bad before it gets eaten here. My oversight was that it only goes bad if it's for EVERYONE. If it's for someone in particular, then it become the most sought-after item since the Cabbage Patch dolls of the '80's. So I said, "no, the Nectarine is for Buddy because that's the kind Buddy likes. But good news! The fridge is FULL of fruit YOU like! Look at all this fruit I bought just! for! you!

She didn't buy it.

She chose a plum. And I knew Sunday would be no better because every time I came near her she accused me of making her plum stink, and then washed it so hard each time it eventually disintegrated down the drain. It was not a good start.

Sunday. Was. No better.

Monday morning I was to Josh telling me Princess was downstairs puking. I ran downstairs, and Princess was getting a sippy cup of water.

With a strange smile.

Princess gets sick strange, but I've never wondered if it was purposeful. Because you can't fake vomit, Right? I wish I knew. What I do know it that she made hideous retching noises producing about two tablespoons of spit-like substance twice. And then she asked for breakfast. Because I don't trust Princess's own determination of her stomach contents, I always stick with keeping the water down for twenty minutes before trying "sick food," and nothing but "sick food" unless she hasn't thrown up between breakfast and dinner. Plus, I made her stay on the sofa because she never wants to lay around like every other sick person on the planet, but she will not/ forgets to carry a bucket along with her, which resulted in an unfortunate carpet incident not long ago.

So. Possible faked illness + no good food + staying on sofa + everyone sick and tired of being screamed at, kicked, pinched, and hit with shoes therefore keeping waaaaaaay clear of the sofa = no extra attention + tantrum with bucket thrown at mom's head.

The bucket incident was near dinner time, and as she had missed the past two dinners (being that "throwing things at people" and "forks" are not compatible). Knowing that three of anything in a row indicates it's being done for a Reason,  I told her that if she did not join us for dinner tonight, I would not be expecting her at dinner for the rest of the week.

And then after the children were asleep, I laid face down of the floor and asked, "why? Seriously. Why?" of God repeatedly.

Today I was on my game a little more. I deflated two almost-tantrums, got her to take a time-out instead of raging, and got her to say she needed a hug. At swim she was allowed to try no bubble, almost drowned, and asked for a bubble. But I found a new Laundry Hiding Place. I cleaned it out and put it on Princess's bed, along with the fresh laundry. I went downstairs and told Princess to do her laundry, adding that, "from now on, if you hide your laundry you get to practice NOT hiding it by taking all the clothes out of the closet and putting them back in directly." She told me she was done, and I checked the hiding place that I had just cleaned out. There, were several of Peanut's shirts, STILL. ON. THE HANGERS!!!!"

"Um. Princess? What was your plan for these?"
"Your plan for these. What was it?"
"I didn't hide them behind the dresser!!!!!"
"But what was you plan?"
(Incredulous, pained at being accused look)
"Well, I don't really need to know your plan. I was just curious. But I do need you to go do Peanut's laundry to pay her back for trying to get her in trouble. And if you ever feel like telling me what your plan was, I'd love to hear it. It would make for an interesting story."

And then it was 4:30. I started making a cheese sandwich (plus carrots and milk), and Buddy asked why I was having lunch now. I said, "oh, no. This is Princess's dinner." "Why?" "Oh, Princess and I talked about it already."

Bat Ears: "What?"
Me: "Dinner. Remember? I told you last night that if you didn't come to dinner I was going to plan on you not being there the rest of the week. But I thought you should have something to eat. So here you go!"

And she munched happily away.

We went to swim and came back. I sent Princess to get on her pajamas and brush her teeth while I served dinner. She came in the dining room.

"WHAT!!! But that looks GOOD!!!"
"Um, y-eah! It is good."
"Why can't I have some?"
"Like I said. You haven't been coming to dinner. It's easier for me to plan on you not coming to dinner this week."
"But! But! But! You didn't tell me we were having THAT!"
"True. But I feel you should use family behavior not matter what we're having for dinner. I hope you'll start joining us again."

Mwa ha ha ha haaaaa.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Alone Together

These days, Saturdays are work days, so we began the weekend sorting out the division of labor. Josh was to take Peanut and the Cuddle Bear to the home improvement store, and I got Buddy, who had a birthday party to attend, and Princess.

Me: "But...but.......but that means...."
Josh: "I know. But the only other choice is to leave you with Peanut, and you're almost out of patience with her already."

It was true. Peanut has a 14-year-old mouth on a 5-year-old head and had been wielding it in full form for hours. But I HAD to get some cleaning done on the rental and, believe it or not, I have never been home alone with Princess. So I told Princess to get some stuff to play with or work on and hang out at the rental with me.

I've had each of the other kids there with me alone. They beg for it. We hang out. They play. I work. We talk. It's nice.

Princess stood in front of the window staring at the street without speaking for one hour and fifteen minutes. Not. One. Word.

We came home so I could start lunch, and thoughts rattled around in my head. I was waiting for a chance to type out how horrible I feel because I don't know my daughter (who she really is) enough to be able to "hang out" together without hour-long painful silence. I felt a failure as a mother of a daughter. I'm failing her. I don't know her. How do I talk to her?

And then I realized. That wasn't it at all. There's some truth to all that, sure. But that wasn't at all what was going on.

She was watching for Josh and the little girls to come home. Because she had been spending the whole time she was with me worring that Peanut was having more fun with Daddy. She was ticked off that she was "stuck" at home. I am sure I'm right because as soon as Peanut was home, Princess shoved her off a bike. Then she shoved Peanut off a different bike. Then she kicked Peanut. Then she kicked the bike.

I am sure I'm right because when I handed Princess and Peanut identical factory-sealed pre-packed bags of the exact same 100-calorie snack mix, Princess somehow discerned that her bag contained significantly less 100-calorie snack mix than did Peanut's, and spent an hour throwing said 100-calorie snack mix and said factory-sealed bag around the rental yard.

I am sure I'm right because during the second hour of the 100-calorie snack mix tantrum, Josh and I had a "conversation" in front of the screaming kicking head-butting pinching Princess about how sad we were for her that she chose to spend so much time worrying about everyone else having more fun and more stuff that she didn't leave any time to have fun and enjoy stuff herself. About how it is sad, indeed. And there was a pause in the screaming.

And then there was crying.

So, I might be a failure in mother-daughter parenting. It might be true.
But not today.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Martha and the Sneaky Weasel

Princess hit the ground kicking this morning.
But so did I.
(Mwa ha ha ha haaaaa.)

We had play therapy right away in the morning. In light of this new Not Getting Enough Attention revelation, I chose some books, excellent books, thought-provoking books, erm, appropriate books to read to Princess while Peanut had her session.


And read them, we did. I alternated stoking her hair, cuddling her like a baby, and rubbing her arms and fingers with reading. I read each book three times. Here are some of my favorite lines:

From Sneaky Weasel
"Nobody came to your party because you're mean and nasty and a bad friend. And you never ever say sorry!" (Princess said, "that sounds like me!" in a disturbingly chipper voice.)

"'I must find a way to be a good friend,' he thought desperately, 'but how?'"

I liked that Ms. Shew did not tiptoe around the concept that no one will play with you if you are mean. And bonus, she pointed out that it is hard work to be friendly, that you may not actually "want" to, but despite those two things, you can push ahead and acheive the results you want, namely, having people at your party. Because these are things I harp on constantly. In a pleasant voice, of course.

From Martha:
"There are many things Martha does, but apologizing isn't one of them."

"Martha doesn't say sorry. Martha does, however, want a cookie! But Martha's mother doesn't give cookies to people who don't say sorry."

I loved that Martha does all the same good and not-so-good things that Princess does. I loved that she tried saying sorry by mumbling unintelligibly, and her family pretended they could not understand her until she said it appropriately. I loved that Ms. Berger pointed out that Martha wanted in her heart to make things right.

Good stuff.

We went to the beach after therapy, and all was well until Princess thought she couldn't touch (she could), got scared, and attempted to drown Peanut in her floatie fish to save herself. She wouldn't let go, or come out, so I went in to get her. She was mad that I made her get out of the water. But worse, she was embarrassed because as soon as I grabbed her, she realized if she put her feet down the water only went up to her stomach.

There is nothing worse than an embarrassed RADling.

The good news is that, if you keep a pleasant look on your face, it is possible to restrain a RADlet in a way that looks like you're having a nice snuggle with your daughter who is inexplicably trying to kick sand in your face from an impossible position. I know because someone smiled at us while walking past.

On the way home, the other three started to play a guessing game, and formed a "team" of them and a "team" of Princess. Princess was ticked. I wondered out loud why siblings might not want to be on Princess's team, and mused about how it reminded me of Sneaky Weasel. What did Sneaky Weasel do? Hmmmm. I could not remember for the life of me.

Fortunately, Buddy, Peanut, and the Cuddle Bear did, and they were happy to fill me in. He made things right by helping the people he hurt? Hmmmmm... He apologized? Hmmmmmm.... How interesting.

We got home and changed, with Princess stomping around a grousing a bit, but nothing that called for intervention. Then, suddenly she stopped what she was doing and went to the table. Fifteen minutes later, with a gigantic smile, she gave me (and Peanut) this:

("I'm sorry for being mean to you guys. What do you need? Can I do something for you?")

I'm still in a bit of shock.
The shock wore off a little when she asked for the dessert she knew she couldn't have. But it's still mostly there.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Attention Mongering

After Princess finished breakfast I (subtly) cornered her and said, "so last night you were so mad that Miss K wouldn't let you have a hard time swimming with no bubble that you ruined your whole evening and went to bed early. Tell me about that decision. What were you thinking?"

False Start #1
False Start #2
False Start #3
False Start #4

On the fifth try, she came out with that the thing she got that she wanted was attention. "So, you don't think I give you enough attention (!), and you would rather have no fun attention than no attention at all."


"Ok then. What can we do together so you get enough attention?"
"I want you to draw with me."
"Not a problem. We'll draw together at 10:00. Will that be enough?"
"No. I want you to read with me, where you read a page and then I read it."
"Ok. Is that enough? Or do you need more?"
"No. That's enough."

Ummmm. Hmm.

You want to know how it worked out, don't you. Ok. I gave her the attention she told me she needed, and the day was glorious. We romped hand-in-hand through a field of daisies, and after we fell from joyous exhaustion we made each other crowns and stared at the wispy clouds while Princess told me of her hopes and dreams for the future.

Ok. You can stop laughing now.

Princess wanted us to draw pictures of us eating Skittles. She had gotten as far as her head and hair when she told me she couldn't find a cap to one of Peanut's Special Birthday Markers. "Well, go tell her then," I said. She left, and I heard her say, "Peanut! Did you have a cap for your marker?"

"Princess! Come here please!"
"You told me you took the cap off the marker (she had, by the way). So you already knew she had a cap. Your job is to tell her you lost it."

Princess left. Cue Princess yelling, "Peanut! I lost your cap!" repeatedly. "Mom! She's not listening!"

"Well, what was your job?"
"But she's not listening!"
"What was you job?"
"So. What. Was. Your. Job?"
"I don't know. Will you tell me again?"

For anyone who may not recognize it: that last line there? Pure RAD. Not only that, pure I'm About to Start a Rage RAD.

I had her get the regulation piece of paper so that she could write her directions out in order to be able to "remember" them the "next time (she) forgets." This involved waaaay more crumpled sheets of paper than one would have thought possible. Then she told Peanut she lost the cap.

And maybe you though it ended there.
But you'd be wrong.

Peanut walked in and complemented me on my picture, and Princess felt offended that the two marker strokes she had added did not gain the same admiration. She asked that I stop coloring so that she could "catch up" because apparently I was going to "finish first." I reminder her that drawing was not a race, so there was no "catching up" to be done.

Enter the RADy Eye Color Discussion.

"Wmmimble ungumble shmumble grumble."
"Wmmimble ungumble shmumble grumble."
"You know, I bet our little talks would be so interesting if you would move your lips."
"Do you KNOW what color my EYES are!"
"Why yes, honey. Of course I do."
"NO! Can you see my EYES!"
"NO! Can you see them NOW! Show me!"
(Mom looks at Princess's eyes)
(Repeat conversation with increasing amounts of angst)
"They're orange."


Things did not get better from there.

Later, I asked her what she was thinking when she wrecked her Mom time. She said, "I wanted to finish first."

Or, possibly, it might have been that Buddy was invited to ride Neighbor's tandem bike with Neighbor, and no one else's legs were long enough. Just a thought.

Emotionally Crushed by Bubbles

It's not fair. It is totally not fair. Because it is not me who has a problem with the speed at which Princess learns to swim. It is not me at all. But it is me who has to sit holding her in restraint for 40 minutes, with sweat so slick I can barely keep the fingers from pinching me, the hand from slipping out and hitting my face, the head from rearing back and knocking me out by my temples. So, really. If "things being fair" ever actually entered into consideration in real life, I would be on the list.

I've got three children for which everything comes easily, and I oh so desperately wish Princess were the youngest. I can already see that Peanut is academically slightly ahead of where Buddy was at her age, which means that with Princess going into second grade and Peanut going into first, they now read at the same level. And Princess knows. Oh, she knows. Not that she's ever said anything about it, or about (heaven forbid!) how it makes her feel, but I can tell because every time Peanut picks up a book, Princess loudly and not-very-nicely proclaims that Peanut can't read that. And, while the Cuddle Bear is comfortably enough behind Princess, it's not so much behind (she can already spell some words correctly) that Princess doesn't copy what the Cuddle Bear gets praised for.

But academics is still not as obvious as swim. I ran into the swim teacher at the grocery store, and we strategised together for this session. I told her that Peanut had swum the length of a hotel pools with no floaty things; she said she had been waiting for Peanut to want to not use a "bubble" (the handy device that keeps the learning children from actual drowning). We decided to move the Cuddle Bear from four to two bubbles, mostly because she's so tiny that four bubble actually keeps her from moving. Buddy was to be allowed to try out the next class up. And then there's Princess. Who still looks like she might manage to drown, even while wearing the four bubble. We decided two, for now. Because either she'll be able to do it, or she won't and won't feel secure, and might come to the conclusion of what she needs on her own. Maybe. Or not.

So I tell Buddy the new plan privately. And I tell Peanut the new plan privately. But when I tell Peanut, I can see from 50 feet away that Princess's ears have changed their shape. They are now large and pointy and hairy, remarkably like those of a bat. When I near Princess, she jumps up and says,

"Can I have no bubble too?"


"Um, well, Princess, you'll have to talk to Miss K about it (like the deflection there? Nice!). But I'm not sure you'd feel safe that way. I notice that when we're swimming in other pools, you hold on to the wall."

She wore the two bubble. And she tried to get the (very young) lifeguards to take it off her. Twice. Until Miss K told her she was absolutely not to do that again. At dinner the kids told Josh their swim lesson news. Except Princess, who said nothing. Until Peanut asked for seconds. Seconds are rare at our table, but Peanut is about to hit a growth spurt and had shoveled in her dinner entirely in about 90 seconds. I told her to wait awhile to see if she was still hungry after the food actually made it to her stomach, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Princess's ears go pointy again right before she fit the rest of her dinner into her mouth all at once.

"Can I have more?"


"Well, yes, but just you'll need to wait like Peanut so you can listen to your stomach."

And really, what followed could have been about the food, on another day, because that is a typical "thing." But it wasn't. Because after she decided on green mouldy teeth and no pajamas and her shirt not all the way off her head and we were on her bed I said in her ear, "I love you Princess. I think you're great. I thought you were great when you used the four bubble. I think you're great now that you're using the two bubble. And I'll think you're great when you're using no bubble. I just think you're great."

I know, because then she howled, "NO I'M NOT!!!!!!" and renewed the pinching scratching hitting kicking biting head-butting unetheral-screaming.

Until Josh came in and turned a fan on me and I said loudly and theatrically, "thank you for showing my your love that way, honey."

We are not an aceivement-oriented family. Princess is a very, very hard worker, and we feel good about the work she does.

I just wish she could feel good, too.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chlorine-Induced Apologies

I wanted one of these soooooo badly last year, but times were lean so I made do with two wading pools and four sprinklers and waited until the end-of-season clearance to snag one for $30. The children have been riding my rear asking politely in their sweet, musical voices when it would be ready since the first crocus appeared in February. Finally, this weekend our Neighbor took a Kubota ride down and leveled the designated Pool Spot. Which turned out to be a much bigger deal than I had envisioned. Specifically, my mind had blocked out the small detail of Where Would the Dirt Go? So, instead of cleaning the rental, I helped with the leveling. Then, instead of cleaning the rental, I spent the ENTIRE afternoon in the blazing sun trying to understand Filter Assembly Directions.

The children have a lot of experience by now with Mom and Dad working on Projects, and the know to leave a wide amount of space between them and us, and they know it's a bad time to ask for snacks. But they were so excited, and three of them kept hugging me and telling me thank-you for putting the pool up and it was so darling and sweet and every. single. time I'd forget completely what I was thinking and had to stare at the directions for another five minutes to remember.

And you'll notice I said three of the children. Somewhere in there Princess hit a snag. She was trying to ride her (large) bike on our (small and crowded with stuff) patio, and snarling at anybody or anything that happened to be in her way. She had already been warned, so I directed her to ride her bike not on the patio. On any of the other three acres. As this was obviously unacceptable, she threw down her bike and stomped around, nearby enough to be sure she was irritating someone, anyone. I asked her what her plan was, and she growled, "nothing!" so I told her to go get a card. She stomped inside, stomped back out, stomped up to the swing set, and stood in front of a swing. Which quickly filled with another child's body. Ok, ok, the Cuddle Bear definitely did it on purpose. For the reaction. I never said she was pure of heart.

Things started to get ugly. I didn't overreact, but I was not feeling filled with patience, and Princess escalated. She got stuck on "swings," couldn't flex, and began yelling at me. I'm mean, apparently, and also only try to make things hard for her. Plus I'm ugly.

The pool got done (mostly. In the interest of your precious time, I will leave out the Chemical Saga, only to mention: WHAT is a skimmer, WHERE the heck is it on this thing, and EXACTLY where do you put the stinkin' balance granules if one does not exist on the blue form of hideousness one purchased???), and the sucking up began. I finally, with no reserves of good feeling left, leaned into her and said in a low, low voice:

"You said mean and hurtful things to me while I was trying to do something nice for you and your brother and sisters. I strongly suggest not asking me for stuff until you fix my hurt feelings." And walked away. I did actually see her reel back, out of the corner of my eye.

Not long after, she came up to me and said, looking in my eyes, "Mom? I'm really sorry I said that stuff. I'm sorry I made you feel bad."



I guess the heatstroke payed off.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Idea Box Ideas

Here is a semi-condensed list of the Ideas in Princess's Idea Box. Keep in mind she is seven chronologicaly and about four emotionally. I generated the card by thinking of things she likes to do and things I would like to be easier for her. Guess which ones she picks more often. Yep! So here they are:

Story Starters
*Write a story about...
   something that happened in first grade
   Buddy/Peanut/the Cuddle Bear/Mom/Dad
   your birthday party
   a time you felt mad/happy/worried/excited/sad
   something you did in Daisy Girl Scouts
   something you did with K
   Read your Journey Book (Girl Scouts) and answer some questions

Arts and Crafts
*Draw a picture of...
   swimming in a pool
   a day at the beach
   your favorite thing to do with Mom/Dad
   playing in the sprinkler
   going shopping
   a camping trip
   going fishing
*Work on your weaving loom
*Use your Aqua Dots

*Make a meal/cookies/ocean of sea creatures with playdough
*Use foam stickers to make a critter
*Ask Mom to do your I Am Special card
(this was the brain child of Dr. S. The card has four statements: "I am smart! I am special! I am successful! I am somebody!" I put a Skittle on each sentence for the child to eat after they've said it. This becomes really fun after your children have done it for a while, because they will chant it in the ophthalmologist's office while one child is having her eye tests done, causing the staff to wonder if you run a small cult)

Pretend Play/Toys
*Put on "make up" and change your hair
*Build a house with Legos
*Pretend a baby doll needs to go to the doctor
   "going out for ice cream" with Playmobils
   "haircuts" with Ponies
   "pizza party" with Ponies
   "wedding" with Playmobils
*Dress your dolls and give one a birthday party
*Make a puppet show

*See how many times you can jump rope/skip ball without missing. Tell Mom your best one
*Ride your bike
*Fill the wagon with bark. Dump it in the garden
*Run three laps around the garden
*Spread Hyperdash out far. See what your best time is

*Jump 50 times on the trampoline. See how high you can go
*Dig a deep hole in the sandbox
*Draw hopscotch. Play it.

So, with any luck, it'll keep her busy for the summer

Friday, July 2, 2010

Good-by, Storage Box in the Shower

Ok. I'm going to have to type this very, very quietly. Hopefully it's not too soon.

I think we may have kicked the pe(e) thing.

I know, I know. Shhh.

This has been going down since April. Since school has been out, I've been sending Princess on a timed toilet sit if she's gone without for two or three hours, but, believe it or not, I rarely have to do it. Buddy has been urging me to reinstate her long-lost Webshmuz privileges. That step is still giving me chills, but I took a step toward it this week:

I put away the storage box.

Princess's laundry is now officially mixed back in with the rest of the family females. I am now officially doing her laundry again. I've been observing on pins and needles for the past few days, and it does not seemed to have rocked her world. She has been heard to say, bouncing up and down, "hurry up Peanut! I have to go! Bad!"

Am I really going to have to give back the Webshmuz?
Do I really have room for more of this in my ears?

And, on top of that, there's been three tantrum-free days. In a row. Since Tuesday, any time Princess so much as thinks about fussing, there I am. "Getting along with your sister is hard. I'm right here. Take as much of my time as you want. And don't worry! I'll let you pay it back." She only escalated to throwing something once, but I was right there. She calmed almost immediately (!) and then sat quietly for the prescribed five minutes. Then she changed her sheets to "pay back" my time. Seriously. That was it. For three days. This whole I-don't-follow-through-as-well-as-I-think-I-do revelation has been astounding. Dare I hope we've turned a corner? Dare I?

Dare I compose a Webshmuz song about it?

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I am a super-genius, and here is why:

When we transitioned into school the past fall, Princess completely came unraveled after school. She'd pace around the kitchen driving me nutso for a half-hour, and follow it up by picking fights for the rest of the evening. I guessed it was too much unstructured time, so I bought some table activities (playdoh, lite brite, barrel of monkeys, etc.) that were only for me to give. After the half-hour pacing session, I sat her at the table (because I was nearby) and switched out activities every fifteen minutes. We worked up to choices, then finally to (relatively) free choice by the end of October.

It was with this in mind that I approached the first week of summer. I bought a small file box and spent an unspeakable amount of time writing ideas on color-coded cards (outside, writing, art, imaginative -oh! the horror!). I set the box on the counter and told Princess, "you can use one whenever you want," which is true, but I also send her to it when I see her pacing, when her voice gets loud and brassy, or when her personality changes after not getting something she wants (like one gumdrop. For an example that may or may not have occurred five minutes ago).

This was such a brilliant idea. And, like most of my brilliant ideas, I had no idea whatsoever how fabulous it was going to be.

See, that's the problem. Well, maybe not THE problem. Anyway. I never, ever, never can even take a stab at how well something will work until I try it. I have had the most dismal failures you can possibly imagine from the most intricate planning you can imagine. And wild successes that left me shaking my head saying, "was that all? Why didn't I do that before? What the heck took me so long to come up with that?

I'm haunted at night by a horrible fear that complete healing will be a result of something like breathing out of one nostril at a time instead of two. All this work? For all these years? And it was just a nostril?

But then, I guess I can be thankful for nostril-induced progress, too.