"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, August 6, 2010

Dipping My Toes in Lake Respite

So the "tomorrow." On the "tomorrow," we had plans to get together with friends. Every last one of my nerves assigned to Riding in the Car With Four Young Children was frazzled and raw. Before we left I said to Princess:

"We are going to drive to L's house. I expect you to ride safely, not screaming or hitting. If you refuse to ride that way, you will not come with us to the next fun family activity."

Well, you know what happened, don't you?

Half-way there, Princess beat the heck out of Peanut with the seat belt buckle. So I had the additional joy of standing in someone's front yard on a busy road while Princess screamed, kicked my shins, and tried to run away.

I never said anything else about it.

I provide unofficial respite one day a week for a foster parent. She is....unique. I cannot imagine anyone telling her what to do, ever. I've had to put up firm boundaries with her about when, where, and for how long I'll care for the babies. But, slowly, something about her personality dawned on me: with some training, she would be and excellent respite provider, at least, for what I'd be looking for. Once, I was describing an issue with Princess and she said, "send her to me," and I thought, "hmmm."

So I called her and booked her for yesterday evening. The night of our traditional Dollar Ride Night at the Gladiola-Peach Festival.

(Yes. It is as glamorous as it sounds. Shut up.)

I wrote her a note telling her exactly what I wanted Princess to do and not do, and I knew she would follow it and not give in or be fooled. I packed a bag for Princess with work gloves, books on her reading level and a bottle of water. Princess did not say one. word. on the drive there. She did not say one. word. when we walked in the house. And, reportedly, she did not say one. word. the entire time she was there. She pulled weeds from the landscaping. She read her books aloud. She drank water. That's it. Exactly as I had planned.

Her eyes were HUGE when I said good-bye. I told her I wanted her to know that I would much rather have her with us. I wanted her with me and I wanted her to act safely in the car. I wanted both. And I love her and would pick her up before bedtime.

And the foster parent graciously clinched it as I walked out the door with, "bye! Have fun with your family!"

Not having her with us. It was such a strange feeling. No one stomped their feet about going first. No one crossed their arms and scowled when someone else's choice came before theirs. But nothing felt quite right. It wasn't our family.

I didn't expect this to be a cure-all. It was to make a point, to give us all a break from the chaos. But I expected a bat-out-of-Toledo explosion today, and it hasn't happened.* Princess has been hovering around me all morning. She's complied with directions. There's been very little friction. And right now, she is playing with princess figures on the steps....by herself. So the respite seems to have had the effect I intended.

And almost like a parting gift, as we left the foster parent said, "she walks just like you." I turned, a slow smile on my face. "She does? I didn't know that."

"Yes. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. You'd never know you weren't her first mom. She walks exactly like you do."

Thank you.



  1. That's completely awesome. Hope it lasts until bedtime!

  2. Ive only had to send Bip away once and once only .... the effect was awesome.... I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family.....

  3. I'm so happy you left that qualifier at the end of your post to appease the Wango Tango Powers That Be. I was really going to worry about you guys otherwise.