"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, February 26, 2010

Peanut Bonaparte

Poor Peanut. Not only does she have the stinkiest birth position in the family (second middle AND middle girl), she's, well, we'll call it petite.

She has no hope of catching up to Princess, who is the tall side of average. The Cuddle Bear, who is on the average side of tall, is only a breath away from being the same height. All last year, when Peanut was in preschool and still went grocery shopping with the Cuddle Bear and I (until the fateful day of Screaming and Kicking while Walking Barefoot Through Meijer With One Hand Clamped to the Cart and Her Flip Flops in Aisle Six, anyway), I was asked if they were twins at least five times per trip, and trust me, Peanut remembers. And resents. I have a bad feeling in the bottom of my stomach that she has mental pictures of every single person who suggested twinness, and has sadistic things planned for them someday.

She has compared every body part she owns to her sisters', and somehow finds them favorably larger: "My arms are sooooo long! Look how long my hair is! My legs reach ALL THE WAY TO THE GROUND! My butt is big and yours is only small!" We're the kind of awful people who amuse themselves at their childrens' expense. So if it's a slow night in out household, one of us might casually mention, "wow. The Cuddle Bear's legs are sure getting long." The record so far is about 200 feet, or the dining room to living room. Peanut will swoop in from wherever she is like some kind of crazed squirrel and spaz, "MY legs are REALLY long!" She's amazing. She can hear height comments from a supernatural distance.

Conversely, if she's in a bad mood or having a hard day, all one of us have to say is, "Peanut? Have you grown? Your pants look a sixteenth of an inch shorter." She'll pull herself up to her full (short) height, her cheeks will pink, and she'll strut around the room beaming. Such an easy fix.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Theology and the Three-Year-Old

I had a h-uge dizzy spell in the shower this morning. It must have been my sinuses, but it was so bad and lasted so long that I honestly wasn't sure I was going to survive. While laying on the bathroom floor, I slung my bathrobe on myself, slithered to to door, opened it, and weakly called for Josh. He came. The Cuddle Bear came too. And got to see her mother laying on the floor.

Josh got me back to bed, and the Cuddle Bear lay down next to me, stroked my hands, and sang me songs "to make me feel better." Including a very rousing "Joy to the World." As I started to feel better, she said, "Mommy, I know! Jesus can heal you (she's studying John in Bible Study Fellowship)! I'll call him. JESUS!!!!!... JESUS!!!!!...Ok. He's coming now." She looks up at the ceiling.

"Um. Mommy? How far away is heaven?"

I think she felt Jesus was taking his sweet time to come down. In fact, now that I think of it, she may have been using me. Buddy and Peanut were fascinated with the Second Coming starting at that age, and the Cuddle Bear has been expressing her impatience at his timing lately. I'm thinking she thought she could get Jesus to visit HER by asking him to heal ME.

Are no one's motives pure around here? Sheesh.

Laundry and Attatchment

I think one of the most interesting things about Princess is how she heals INSIDE a regression. I hate regressing. I think I hate it more than canned beans, even. It exhausts me. It's more frustrating each time it happens. But interesting, it is.

We've had two days this week (in a row!) of relatively compliant behavior, and even when things don't go her way (ie. her purse getting a time-out for allowing itself to be used as a weapon), she screeches for a minute and then regroups. I have some more flexibility with her. She's done her homework three days in a row!

But the interesting thing happened yesterday afternoon. Typically, she will do something in the most difficult and time-consuming way possible JUST SO it looks nothing like the way I do it. So one of the problems with her laundry has been that she turns it inside-out about four different ways when she takes it off, washes it, then has to un-knot it so it gets dry in the dryer. Takes her about 30 minutes. Seriously. Yesterday, though, yesterday I said, "Princess, you have laundry that needs to go in the dryer. Would you like to put it there, or would you like me to do it and then you can pay me back by washing the kitchen floor?" She chose laundry (for the first time in two weeks), and was done in about three minutes. She said:

"I untangled it before I put it in. Like you do. Because you don't have to spend a lot of time on it because you do it that way."

AAAAAAAAAAAH! I about fell over and hit my head on the dryer sheets. Doing something efficiently AND trying to be like me? At the same time? Unprecedented!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It Takes Two to Argue

I am not an argumentative person. I might give you a piece of my mind, but I rarely argue. Peanut happens to have a gift, though; the gift of Provocation. I am convinced that child could get Ghandi to bite.

I was tired after swim lessons yesterday, and Peanut was performing her weekly ritual of Dance Around the Locker Room Naked. I asked her twice to get dressed, then told her that if I saw her buck naked doing anything that did not involve to process of wearing clothing, I would dress her and then she would sit. In one place. I turn around a moment later, and her naked hiner is in the air while she folds her towel on the locker room floor. I dress her. She sits. Pretty soon she is so distraught by attention not being centered on her that she declares loudly and emphatically, "DINOSAURS ONCE LIVED RIGHT HERE IN THIS VERY SPOT UNDER THIS CEMENT BENCH!"

I don't know what possessed me. I really don't. I was tired. I was hungry. My defenses were down. And I said,

"you have no way of knowing that dinosaurs lived underneath the bench in the Covert Public High School Girls' Auxillary Locker Room."

Why? Why would I do such a thing?

Now, in my defense, this child is deeply in tune with people's "buttons." I am fairly sure that more than one sub has cried herself to sleep at night. There is a parapro in her classroom that looks at her sideways each day to assess her mood. One of the high school student volunteers is forbidden to speak to her, because every time he does she provokes him to the point of fury. She is good. But I should know better.

So we had a knock-down drag-out fight in the high school hallway about dinosaurs. I'm sure I showcased my parenting skills nicely. And I couldn't even stop myself there. In the car on the way home the other kids were talking about how much they like swim lesson, and when Peanut growled, "I hate swim lessons," I actually said, and I quote, "no, you just hate being wrong about dinosaurs." Can you believe it? I bow my head in parental shame.

The worst part? Josh claims that dinosaurs did likely live in this area, so as far as I know there actually are dinosaur remains under that bench. Josh thinks I should apologize. But if I did that, then I'd have to apologize for last year's fight about Whether One Can Play Soccer in the Snow. And that's not happening.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The List

First thing Sunday morning I sat down next to Princess, whipped out a piece of paper and my trusty brown crayon and said, "So. What kind of day are you planning?" Confused, she said, "good?" I said, "sounds interesting," and wrote:

"How to Have a Good Day."

"So. How do you plan to do that?"
"Be nice."
"What does that mean? What do you have to do to 'be nice?'"
"Not yell?"
"Well, that's something to not do. Now think of something to do."
"Do what you say."
"AHHHHHHH! 'Obey Mom" (I write), what a great way to start having a good day! Obey Mom!"

So after a surprisingly minimal amount of prompting, this was the List:

How to Have a Good Day
1. Obey Mom
2. Speak kindly
3. Treat others kindly

Pretty comprehensive. Pretty basic.
And she did it. She had a really good day. She had a really good day to the point that it was kind of creepy, because whenever I corrected her or asked her to do something she said "Ok Mom," and did it. As opposed to the typical response as of late of "WHAT!!!! I DON'T WAAAAAAANT TO, YOU STUPID UGLY MOM!!!" At bedtime I congratulated her on making a good day, and she said, "I can't stop smiling!" Refreshing change. In a Stepford Child kind of way.

Luckily, I did not have to remain creeped out for long, because this morning Princess got up while I was in the shower and took the unsupervised opportunity to break School Day Princess Rule #1 and woke up her sisters getting out the clothing that she was supposed to get out last night before bed but didn't. I sent her back to bed so her brain could get enough rest to remember the rules. See above for her response.

After ten minutes I sat on her bed with the list. "What kind of day are you having so far, Princess?"
"Really? Laying on your bed in the dark is good? Interesting."
"Oh? Let's find out why. (Holding up list) how many of these have you done so far?"
"Hmmm. Is this working for you?"
"Oh. What can you do to make it work for you?"
"Obey Mom. Speak kind. Act kind."
"Interesting. Go try it."

You can tell this was ground-breaking and successful and that I am a fabulous mother because after breakfast she sat down with a book that is too hard for her and made fun of Peanut's reading (because Peanut is catching up to Princess fast, and don't think for one second that Princess hasn't noticed), then told Peanut that Peanut couldn't use Princess's library book because the librarian said they couldn't let "little kids" use the books. And when I foolishly pointed out that the book with the now sadly crumpled cover that she was looking at belonged to her brother and suggested that she learn to treat borrowed materials nicely before trying to teach someone else, causing her brother to freak at her, it was all over.

It all makes me start to wonder if she has good days to taunt me. But that couldn't possibly be. Could it?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Princess Shoes? Fairy Wands?

The Cuddle Bear received $5 in cold, hard Valentine's cash. And this is what she selected in a store chock full of princess, fairy, and baby doll gear.

You can see the love and affection for Crocodile flowing throughout her very being. She made him a bed in her room and snuggles with his spiny self at night.

That's my girl!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

RADtastic Saturdays

Ahhh, Saturdays. A day of family fun. Togetherness. Laughter and joy.

Ummmm, yeah.

At best, Saturdays around here are sketchy. When Princess is "going through something," however, they are absolute minefields.

I think it's the actual essence of Saturday that is the problem. Saturday is a day to get out of your routine. A time to do something out of the ordinary. A day without the usual demands where you can relax and do what you like. For a RAD child, Saturday is a black hole of fear and uncertainty.

Today was worse than usual because I have a cold, and colds make me whiny and needy. The record in my head kept playing, "can't I just have a day off? I'm not really in the mood for therapeutic parenting today. I don't feeeeeeel goooooooood!" So I slacked and didn't do the prep work needed to help her structure her time, and since Princess still has not gotten the hang of engaging herself in an activity she chose, of course it was a disaster. Der. After the second fight erupted, I assigned her to the room in which I was curled in a ball on the couch and played Queen of Social Interactions. Whenever Princess convinced someone to play with her, all would be well for a grand total of five minutes, and then I'd intervene and rephrase her responses or *cough* mildly threaten her.

There were two major fights during two phone calls (during which the Queen of Social Interactions was unavailable for intervention services) and a dispute over whether a person with pants full of pe(e) should be allowed in the fort. Then it was Homework Time. I left the room to play with the laundry and another fight broke out. Now, of COURSE I couldn't have known who started it, and it was certainly NOT Princess, so it was NOT FAIR that I called her to stand next to me in the laundry room and I was JUST TRYING TO WIN by not LETTING her do her homework, but I guess sometimes as a parent you just have to make your best judgment call. A-hem. Next she threw her homework across the dining room and insisted I wouldn't let her out of her chair to get it. Then she pretended to not hear me ask if she wanted to have sauce on her chicken sandwich (which is the kind of culinary delight you get around here on these kinds of Saturdays) and had a fit about having a sandwich with no sauce. Currently she is in bed with a plain chicken sandwich in a shirt and nothing else. Why? Because she is "not allowed" to go to the bathroom, and "not allowed" to change and clean up, and it's "too dark" to walk to her dresser and get out underwear and pajamas. Yep. Cause that's how we roll around here. Uh-huh. *

I'm thinking Saturday night should become date night. So don't pass this post around to any babysitters. I think it would be best if they didn't know what they'd be facing.

*After reading this post, Josh felt the I should add for those "not familiar with my sense of humor" (I believe that's a direct quote), that most of that paragraph is sarcastic and does not directly represent my parenting style.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Daddy Got Rolled

When my sweet Princess was just three, only a few months before she came into our care, she watched an armed throw-down between the Cuddle Bear's birth father and the police (who, incidentally, had been called by the girls' birth mother for domestic violence) that resulted in the bf handcuffed and taken to jail. That's what we know. Who knows what we don't know.

Saturday night we were retuning from a friend's house, and blue and red lights showed up behind us. Neither of us had any idea why Josh was being pulled over, and Josh said the fatal words, "did you put that registration in the car?"

So I search frantically for the registration that I had not put in the car while the officer tells Josh that he did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign (I know. I know. But that's beside the point). The officer goes to his car with Josh's license, and Josh and I decide to up the tension in the car by fighting about whose fault it technically is that the registration is not in the car. Josh swears he put it in my purse, and I swear he took it out and didn't put it back, but we won't discuss the finer points of that anymore, mostly because it's probably my fault. Somewhere during the arguing, I realize Princess sounds exactly like a frightened two-year-old. Instantly realizing what's going on in her head, I turn around as the officer is returning to the car. Because no one likes to have crazy conversations with their children in front of police, I condensed and quietly said,

"Princess. This is not Birth Mother's Police. Daddy is not going to jail."

Thankfully it was enough to stop the strange-sounding fussing. Thankfully the officer had only a short annoyed-sounding conversation with Josh before giving him the ticket and leaving.

The rest of the way home we discussed the many-varied aspects of police officers jobs, and the subtle nuances *cough* in the differences between why police come to Mommy and Daddy versus why police came to Birth Mother. Since this discussion has happened many, many, many, many, many times before, something about it worked. There hasn't been any fall-out. In fact, this week she has been much more regulated. And I am thankful.

It stinks when your child can't handle life, and life happens anyway.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Poison Control Has Your Number

Today is Keeping it Real day, a day to make everyone else feel good about their parenting.

It started with a daffodil. Not that I had never called poison control before, mind you. I had done the typical "help my child is covered in expired Nyquil and I don't know how much he drank because he only just learned how to drink from a cup" (syrup of ipecac) and the "I know the packet of silicone that came in his box of new shoes says it's non-toxic, but is he really going to be ok after eating it all?" (yep). And I joked that they probably had my file tagged. This was different. Because this was the Cuddle Bear.

It started with a daffodil. I was driving Peanut to preschool, and she had picked flowers for her teachers. Hearing Peanut wail hysterically was nothing new, and we were about to pull into the parking lot, so I didn't think much of it. When I got out to let out the girls, Peanut is in hysterics screaming a mostly unintelligible "she ATE it! Cuddle Bear ATE Mrs. Teacher's flower!" I look down at the Cuddle Bear, and she is suspiciously silent. I say, open your mouth. She complies. Her mouth is full of mostly masticated yellow. We enter preschool, where all the good parents say, "aren't daffodils toxic?" I have no idea. Hello, Poison Control. And yes, they are. But she hadn't finished her snack, so they said to give her a juice box and send her on her merry flower-eating way.

Two days later, I blearily open my old person pill box container (which I bought because I am so tired all the time that I have no idea whether or not I took it's contents without proof), and it is empty. Enter another call to Poison Control to find out what Synthroid and Yaz do to a puny skinny-heinered 2-year-old.

Less than a week after THAT, a friend was watching the Cuddle Bear for me, and while they were playing outside the Cuddle Bear ate some type of ornamental fruit she found on the ground (WHY?!?! WHY!?!?!). Knowing my daughter's consumption history and being a good parent herself (one of children who would never eat ornamental fruit), she called, you guessed it, Poison Control.

A week later I get a phone call. From Poison Control. Wondering if my child is ok. Is there anything they can do to help me?

Oh, and those pills? Never ate them. I had forgotten to fill the box that week. I had been taking imaginary pills for two mornings in a row.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Right Idea. Wrong Shirt.

The right shirt for yesterday afternoon would have read:

"This momma doesn't cave. You got the wrong momma."

Some background.
We have been having a *cough* issue around here regarding keeping track of one's stuff and putting one's stuff away when one is done with it. It's been getting worse since Princess's teacher had the audacity to go off and have a baby, and I know it's nooooooo coincidence. She'll leave one article of clothing outside the laundry box. Put away the craft project but leave the stuffing on the floor next to the away space. Leave out one crayon. Leave one hairband on the counter. Leave one game piece on the table. One. One. One. One. Additionally, everything that should be kept at home seems to be at school at the moment. And things that were meant to stay at school mysteriously walk home on their legs that do not exist.

So yesterday.
Yesterday morning I held out the $5 for dues for Daisy Girl Scouts. I said, bring me your Responsibility Bag, please. Princess goes to her backpack and digs and digs and digs and digs, which is a necessary operation to find something when the inside of one's backpack strongly resembles a rat's nest. She says, "I can't find it. "

What was that bag called again? "Responsibility?" Was that it? And didn't you get a badge in preparation for how you'd carry it to and fro Daisys? I thought so.

So I say, "No bag. No Daisys"
"It's at school."
"No bag. No Daisys."
More frantic digging ensues.
We take off the tunic and put it away.

Fast-forward to five minutes before school lets out. The phone rings and Lo and Behold, it is the Daisy Leader. "Princess says she can't participate today because you don't have the money right now. I just wanted to let you know that it's no problem for her to come, and then you can pay when you can.

Really, really nice. Unfortunately, totally false information.

"Ummmmm. Yeah. Princess isn't to come home because I can't pay the dues. Princess is to come home because we're having a little *cough* issue with personal responsibility and caring for possessions. No bag, no Daisys."

Mrs. Leader was very nice about it (although I may have heard the "ok, crazy lady" pause- I couldn't be sure), and said she'd put her on the bus.

Cue the arrival of Princess and Co.

"Hey, Princess! Let's you and me go have a chat in my room."

I won't subject anyone to the entire conversation. It involved a lot of Princess insisting she told Mrs. Leader she couldn't go because she didn't have her bag and a lot of me silently staring with a soft smile and loving eyes and even more of me saying, "nope! Try again!"

She was TOTALLY not happy she was caught. But, she didn't pay me back (although I think it was because Peanut was in even more trouble, and who'd want to call attention to themselves in that scenario?). AND, she was able to process a little. Super huge! She did say a few times, in a highly snotty voice, "WELL, I didn't have money BECAUSE I didn't have my bag! So there! See?" which gives me the very valuable information that she fully recognizes the nuances behind what she told Mrs. Leader. Plus, when I asked, "so what were you thinking when you told her I didn't have money? What did you think would happen?" she said, "you'd let me stay at Daisys." Which was totally true (in her mind). Also totally unprecedented. But that's another story.

This momma doesn't cave. You got the wrong momma, baby.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wearing One's Heart on One's Sleeve

Like my new t-shirt? It's a conglomerate of endearments from the mouths of Princess and Peanut. I can hardly wait until homework time tonight. Princess is going to come home from school today with some paybacks for me; I think she'll love it when I strip down in the middle of the kitchen and change into this. I'm sure she'll give me an appropriate moment. She'll be so excited!

Or maybe not.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to You; Happy Not Birthday to Me

Last week Peanut got an invitation to a boy's roller-skating party. Buddy saw it. "Mom, why don't I ever get invited to skating parties anymore? And why don't girls invite me to their parties anymore?

I have theories about everything. It's a hobby. So I took the opportunity to explain one. "Buddy, in kindergarten the kids don't know each other real well yet, and the parents don't know each other either. So instead of guessing which kids their child likes to play with, they invite everyone. And then parents don't feel uncomfortable leaving the children with someone they don't know.

But when kids get older, they have a couple special friends, and those are who they want to invite to their parties. And they're usually only boys or only girls."

So Saturday I took Peanut to her party. She had a great time (which, incidentally, is unusual. Deep down inside she hates parties. Not that she'll admit it). On the way home she said, "Mom, when will I be invited to a party at a house? When? Buddy does."

I learned that day that I only like to share my fabulous theories once.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Pit

Princess's regressions are a lot like she's dug a hole in the orchard out back and climbed in. It looks like she sits there an does nothing while I beg her to come back out. I'm not sure what she's doing in there, but it's not that. Not exactly.

This is a child who does not care much about stuff. She care about getting stuff; she cares about having stuff (especially if it's just like someone else's); but the stuff itself? Meh.

This is the child who has torn apart carefully Mommy-chosen gifts in front of my very eyes. This is the child who said, "that's ok. I didn't really like it anyway" when her sister broke the wheel off her brand-new remote-control Cinderella carriage. This is the child who, on a bad day at school, sawed her wrist back and forth on the back of a chair until her adoption bracelet broke and flew all over the classroom. This is the child who presented me with a Skittle she had stepped on.

Yesterday I gave them their Valentines Day gifts (because I really thought it WAS Valentines Day. Who can keep track of silly date facts like that, anyway? If you can, then isn't there a floor you should be cleaning somewhere?). There were things from the dollar section at Target; nothing I expected to last long. Princess had a set of plastic bracelets with plastic heart charms hanging off them. And, believe you me, I noticed that she was not wearing them. Not that I said anything.

Turns out, I was wrong about the "why." According to Josh, she showed him where a plastic heart charm was in precarious danger of falling off and said, "I think I'll keep this in my bag. If I break it, it might hurt Mom's feelings."

Insert dropped jaw here.

I don't know how she can heal in that dark, cold pit, but she does. She is. She'll be back out soon, I think.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Driving to Therapy

Driving to therapy makes me want to remove my eyes with flaming bamboo skewers. That has to be more fun, right? Play therapy is 45 minutes away, and totally worth it, but at one point I begged (begged) my husband to buy me a two-seater with a series of four trailers, each with their own booster seat. Yesterday was no different.

About 3/4 of the way there, Peanut started to chow down on her nose findings. Princess started wailing from the back, "stop eating your boogers! Stop it! Take your finger out of your nose right now and stop eating your boogers! I'm going to throw up!"

Secretly about to retch myself, I turned up the music.

"Mom! Now she has both fingers up her nose! Stop it Peanut! Stop it!"

Peanut replied by making loud slurping noises. Music turned up further.

Princess: "Stop it! I'm going to throw up!!!

Two-Fingered-Nosed-Peanut: "Dis is not your bidness! Not your bidness! I cad eat booger if wadt to! It's like hadbuger!"

Seriously, can you blame me for my chosen dream-ride?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cutie Valentine Patooties

Thank-you Family Fun Magazine. Way to make a mommy look far cooler and craftier than she actually is.

(Did you notice the Cuddle Bear is deep in the "Three-Year-Old Grimace-Smile Phase? I did.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When a Puddle on the Floor is the High Point of Your Day

Wednesday was the final day of Homework Competition Week One, and idea devised during a round table discussion at the "intervention meeting" at school for Princess. It was a great idea: Princess and I would compete for "points" based on the ten-point system in place at school for homework. There were two points a day for five days. If she got the most points (by having her work done by dinner), she would get to draw a reward from the bag. If I won, she'd arrange for me to go out for coffee. I thought I had all the bases covered. Rewards are minefields, so I carefully chose rewards that would increase bonding time (playing a game, helping cook dinner) and very very small rewards that were things the other children got anyway (extra snack, drawing paper). I clued in Buddy so that he would not feel he was getting ripped off by doing his homework faithfully and with minimal reminding. But I still missed it. A MAJOR loophole. And she found it.

If you earned all your points every day through Tuesday, you could do a crap job on Wednesday and still win.

I can't believe I missed it.

I called the school therapist for tweaking advice, and we decided that with the way I had phrased the rules, I'd have to reward her this time. But next week, mwa ha ha ha haaaaaaa, next week will be different. We reworked the system to remove the loophole with an automatic weaning process. If it works. We shall see.

Shortly after I hung up the phone, the kiddos came home. Princess handed me a bag with a strange object in it and said in a bubblegum voice, "here Mom, I brought you a Skittle!" I looked again. Yes, it did have Skittle-like qualities, if said Skittle had been soaked in spit then run over by a double-trailer truck. I said, "um, thanks!" and gave everyone their snacks.

Very, very soon after I noticed her corduroys had a wet-sounding squeak squeak squeak. "Hey Princess! I think it's time to change into your robe and hang out with me!"

"But I have clothes!"

"Absolutely you have clothes! Now change into your robe."

After dinner she took a turn keeping Josh company for a while, and when I came in the living room she said, "Mom! Did you eat that Skittle I gave you?"

"Um, noooo. That Skittle kind of looked like it had lost a war, so I was a little nervous about eating it. What happened to it?"

"I don't know."

"You brought me a Skittle that you don't know the history of?"

"Yes. No! It fell on the floor and I stepped on it."

"You brought me a Skittle that you stepped on."


"How do you thing being given such a thing makes me feel?"


So either she brought me one nasty Skittle because she actually thought I would be thrilled with her generosity, or she brought me one nasty Skittle because it was one. nasty. Skittle. Either way, not good.

Why does that hurt my feelings more than being called "stupid poopy dumb Dog Mommy?" I do not know. It is a question for the ages.

Santa in the 21st Century

We were out waiting for the bus in the new-fallen snow when Peanut said, "Mom, how can Santa see me?"

Now, I totally respect all the varying opinions on Santaness, but around these parts we've never done a whole lot about him. Buddy is faaaaaar too logical and concrete to have ever bought the concept, even when he was small, and the idea of a man who breaks into your home and eats your cookies seemed a little too creepy in light of my daughters' background, whether or not the intruder leaves you presents. But the older girls came to us Santa in tact, and we certainly aren't going to do anything to disrupt that, either. Princess, under the unfortunate influence of her older brother, is starting to question the whole deal, but Peanut is STEADFAST.

So I said, "hmm. That's an interesting question. What do you think?
Princess (who is involved in every conversation and couldn't hold a conviction to save her life) interjected, "I don't think Santa is real?"
I said, "you're not sure about it."
Peanut (who couldn't not hold a conviction to save her life) got distressed and started yelling, "Santa IS real! He IS! I saw him at school and he was ALIVE, not DEAD!!!!"
Princess backed waaaay up and said, "I think Santa is real?"
I said, "you're not sure about it."
Peanut: "HE IS REAL!!!!!!!!"
Me: "and you are sure about it. So how do you think he sees you?"
Peanut: "He watches me on TV."

(Lest anyone thing I'm still living in Magic Fairy Land, the last time I saw Princess yesterday was while she was busily engaged in informing me that I am a "stupid poopy dumb Dog Mommy," and the first time I saw her this morning was right after cleaning up the place on the carpet outside the bathroom where she sat and peed. But I am so completely bored of this that I don't even want to devote a whole post to it right now. )

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wowie Wow Wow

Somebody either kidnapped Princess yesterday, or brought her back. I'm not sure which.

After snack gave her the choice of putting away her laundry, or cleaning the bathroom to pay me back for putting away her laundry. She chose bathroom, the significantly longer job. Maybe laundry just isn't the girl's household chore of choice. I don't know. But here's the thing: she did it right. The first time.

She had some play time, then sat down for homework. And did it correctly. The first time. As she was putting it away I said, "boy, I bet you feel proud inside." Big smile and vigorous nodding. "Point to it." She pointed to the middle of her chest, the first time she's located a feeling in a place she might actually feel it (as opposed to her foot, for instance). I said, "you sure look like you feel better than when you pretend you don't know how to do it," and sent her on her merry way.

Then I discovered something. The roll of toilet paper was empty. Buddy and Peanut replace it, and the Cuddle Bear tends to not use it at all if I'm not right there, so this left only one other possibility.


When Josh came home, she greeted him with, "I used the toilet because I wanted to be with the whole family. And at dinner she said, "I just can't stop smiling!"

I don't even care if it was only yesterday because IT HAPPENED! Ok, I do care. But still.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

.....and More

I'm going to type this really quietly because of the known blogging behavioral hex.

Princess used the toilet after school!

And did her chore correctly the first time and did her homework correctly the first time and is cheerful and pleasant in general, but

Princess used the toilet after school!


The Guns Have Been Put Away

Yesterday Princess came home to a mommy armed to the gills with PLAN!! Before she got home, I cleared out the entire entryway floor. After snack I said, "so Princess, would you rather put your laundry in the dryer or scrub the entryway floor?" Surprise (not really)! She said she wanted to scrub the floor. I explained what a "done" floor would look like (wet all over with no visible crud) and said, "all rightie! I'll go put in your laundry." I spent all of three minutes de-clumping her clothes and tossing them in. She tried out a, "Mom, can you help me with this (unidentifiable piece of sticky orange coagulation)? I can't get it to come off?" To which I replied, "Oh Princess; I'm already done with your work." Then I stepped over her into the kitchen.

Five minutes or so later she informed me she was "ready." I looked her dead in the eye and said, "if I look out there and see dry places, I'll set the timer for 10 minutes, and you'll scrub until the timer goes off instead of deciding when you're done." She turned around and went back to work. Another three minutes passed, and out popped Princess. I stuck my head around the corner to view the, you guessed it! half-dry floor. I said, "thanks for letting me know you want to scrub with the timer," and set it. She turned around and went back out. I told her a few times how thankful I was that she was paying me back this way for my doing her work for her. No crabbing. No fussing. No blaming. No lying. Astonishing. Came out when the timer beeped.

She had some playtime, and came back to do her homework and only laid on a thin layer of crap. Again, shock. But apparently that was the extent of the goodwill and cooperation because at 6:00 I said, "well Princess, it's 6:00 and it's been at least three hours since you've used a toilet, so go ahead and clean up and change into your bathrobe and you can hang with me for the evening," and Princess exploded guts and glory all over the kitchen. But. She did come out in time for dinner. And, although she was not anything anyone would deem pleasant to be around, she stayed in the kitchen and didn't throw anything despite threats to the otherwise. She did stick something down the back of my pants, though. I still haven't figured out what. It fell out somewhere before I had the chance to investigate my heiner without looking interested.

Now the laundry needs to be put away. I will have the bathroom prepped for cleaning. Mwa ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Saga Continues...

So. Yesterday at about 1:00 I said, "Well Princess; you haven't used the toilet in five hours, which tells me you've used your pants. Let's go get you cleaned up and changed into your bathrobe, and then I guess you can hang out in your room." Whereupon Princess launched into a very loud, very long insistence that her pants were not wet. All the way up the stairs, into her room, and all the while I changed her obviously wet pants. She sat in her room, in her bathrobe (wet bathrobe after 3:00) for six hours. Had dinner there (no BBQ sauce, either). I hung out with her for a while, but I kept thinking, this is not working. She was too alone. Since somewhere at the bottom of things, that's what she's going for, it backfired on me.

Fortunately, I woke up this morning with my jujubes back, PLUS today just happened to be Princess's appointment with her super-cool psychiatrist, Dr. D. So I sat down with my coffee and cranked Christine's video on playing dumb LOUD so Princess would be sure to overhear it (she surely did- I could tell because she pretended to be having a really good time in the kitchen while it was running. Ironic, don't you think?). When I got back in from the bus, I told her she needed to get her mat (waterproof crib pad) from her room so I could wash it. I explained that I understood walking that far would be super-hard, because it was so hard for her to walk to the bathroom and the laundry room, and this was even farther, so I would go with her and we would go reeeeeeeealy sloooooooooow so she wouldn't lose too much energy. And we did. We averaged about 30 seconds per step with a rest on the landing and the top. When we got to the mat, I asked if she thought her brain was strong enough to tell her hands to reach out and pick up her mat. She said it was. And she did. I jumped! I cheered! I hugged! I kissed! I cuddled! I told her what a fantastic job she did. She cried.

Let me interject to say this was not at all sarcastic. It might look that way in print. I certainly wanted to be sarcastic; I love to be sarcastic. It's probably one of my favorite things. But this wasn't. Not at all. The crying surprised me a little. I'm not sure what to make of it. It was brief. I hope it's fatigue from this horrible way she's treating herself.

So. We went to Dr. D. I am so so so thankful for this group of people surrounding Princess and I. There are so many crappy service providers, and I don't have ANY. Not one. They are all supportive. They all understand what we're dealing with and what we're doing. They all have ideas. We decided this afternoon I will offer Princess a choice: the laundry's getting in the dryer and my entryway's getting scrubbed. She can choose which one she wants. That way, either she's doing what she's supposed to do, or she's paying me back for doing what she's supposed to do myself. Win-win. If *cough* when she wets her pants, she can hang with me in the kitchen.

Plans are good. I like having a plan.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy Day!

Essie gave me an award! Isn't that cool? Brightens up my ratty week, anyway.

The supposed rules:

1. Put the logo in my post or within my blog.

2. Pass the award onto 12 fellow bloggers.

3. Link the nominees within my post.

4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by leaving a comment on their blogs.

5. Share the love and link to the person who gave you the award!

I don't think I can pull off 12, but here goes.

Life in the Grateful House
Recovering Noah
Rage Against the Minivan
Watching the Waters
Welcome to My Brain

Yesterday, Continued

Wowie wow wow. Yesterday actually got worse. I had Princess take a rest, and when she got up I let her know her laundry was ready to go into the dryer. She freaked. Out.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa Princess. You don't want to put your laundry in the dryer right now. Not a problem. No big deal. Go ahead and rest up, and when you're feeling stronger you can put it in."

"I'm not going to do it."

And she didn't.

Unfortunately, she is entirely out of clothing. And money. She has paid Peanut $10 to wear Peanut's three-sizes-too-small clothing. And I am entirely out of ideas. That fact, right there, is upsetting me. I don't run out of ideas all that often. It has to be baaaaaaaaad for me to run out of ideas. And I am OUT.

In one hour we are going to church. Princess will be wearing something that is three sizes too small (and cost her a dollar). I haven't had to do much of the whole "public humiliation" thing since she stopped screaming and throwing things in Target three years ago. I'm trying to gear up for responding to looks and questions calmly and matter-of-factly. Fun.

Then, there's the matter of what to do when she uses said set of Peanut's clothing for a toilet. Peanut does not have enough clothing for her sister to pee in five or six times a day, so wearing more than one set of Peanut's clothes per day will have to stop today. My best idea for THAT is having her sit in her room in her bathrobe pantsless. Less than ideal.

I try not to think too far ahead. Heck, maybe she'll break down and put her laundry in the dryer today. Who knows. But SCHOOL. The fact that she is wearing Peanut's obviously-too-small clothing by her own choice will not matter. Uh-uh. Not at all. She will inwardly freak out about what the other girls think and probably have a major issue. I will need to be on call tomorrow.

Oh, and THEN! All pee aside. The child has not combed her hair in over a week. Josh has been suggesting for quite a while that I cut her hair to make it more managable for her to comb, and I knew he was probably right, but I just did not want to. I love her hair. She loves her hair. But she left me with no choice yesterday. After her shower (which, by the way, was taken fully clothed with me in my bathing suit in there with her washing her under her clothing- that was fun, let me tell you), she would not comb it. Just wouldn't. She go in the bathroom and come out two seconds later saying it was done, and I'd be able to get the comb about two inches down her hair before it would be stuck. So I cut it. She was maaaaaaaaaaaad. I cannot believe I managed to give her a decent haircut without her getting stuck in the eye. I have to say, it looks way cuter. But that's besides the point.

So, while Princess hangs out in the bathroom because it's 8:00 a.m. and she's already wet her pants and her sister is still sleeping so I won't let her go up and change into her too-small clothing, I will sit back and wait to get inspired.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pe(e)- A Thorn in My Side

Princess has never been completely toilet-trained. She was just over three when she came to us, and, trust me, I have used every toilet-training technique know to man in the past four years. Well, three years. About a year ago I had a conversation with myself where I decided that it really wasn't a "training issue" anymore. It's not a matter of whether or not she can use the toilet, it's a matter of whether or not she does. It's a control thing. No one can make you eat, no one can make you sleep, and no one can make you pe(e). A lot of kids choose one as their battle ground. Pee is Princess's ground of choice.

So, for the past year, it is not my problem. Sure, it grieves (and annoys) me deeply, but it's not my problem. She has 20 pairs of underwear and 15 pants or skirts. If she's out, she can rent from her sister. She puts her laundry in a rubbermaid box that sits behind the curtain in a rarely-used shower. She does her laundry every Saturday. She puts it away. She sprays down the box with vinegar and starts over. Not my problem.

It comes and goes. Until her teacher had the audacity to have a baby, she WAS using the toilet, at least some of the time. Once, for an experiment, I mentioned to Josh in her hearing that her box smelled nice. Immediate toilet boycott. Hmm, I say. Hmm. This week has been especially bad. She was through all 20 pairs of panties by Friday. She's paid Peanut $4 dollars so far, and I've already discovered an additional pair of un-paid-for undies. She has lost A PILE of cash. And it's going to the sister. And so, an hour ago, it hit the skids.

"Princess, it looks like you didn't take a sticker off your money chart. Why don't you fix that."
"Um, Princess, it looks like you didn't do something else, too."
Princess goes and stands by her wallet with her finger in her mouth staring, staring, staring.
Peanut says, "can I have my dollar, please?"

"Oooooh, Princess. This is so hard. I'm right here. You want to be SuperInControlOfTheToilet Princess, but you want what Dry Pants Girls have, too. It's a hard, hard choice. But you chose to be Super In Control Princess, so you must pay Peanut her rent."
Peanut thanked her.

Josh reminded Princess that the more appropriate response would be "you're welcome," which must mean "please start a tantrum" in Princess language.

Soooooo I walked her upstairs, commiserating about how hard these choices are, sometimes they're so hard that they exhaust us, it looks like she needs some time to rest and get strong, here's a blankie and my bed, I'll see you in an hour." Which was probably hard to understand, as I kept getting hit in the mouth.

I wish that I could make her choices for her. Mommies, at least, should have that power. It's so painful to watch. It hurts me. I want her to feel proud, and successful, and, well, powerful. And sometimes she seems to want something entirely else.

Friday, February 5, 2010



All that progress. I know she'll get it back, but,

Big, heavy sigh.

Princess's hand-selected first-grade teacher has been on maternity leave for two weeks. I saw it rolling in last week. If it can be stopped, I haven't figured out how. It's like an wave- just waiting until it crashes on the shore and retreats.

This entire week, Princess has spent every waking minute not doing homework. She gets up, sits at the table, and doesn't do homework. She gets home from school, sits at the table, and doesn't do homework. She finishes dinner, sits down at the table, and doesn't do homework. Don't imagine for one minute, though, that all this not doing homework is quiet. It is most certainly not.

Yesterday I spoke with the school and found the problems are not restricted to home, and we set and "intervention" meeting. We're still not done with it. I am so thankful for these people and their dedication to my daughter. Unfortunately, my Suburban was parked in the wrong place for how long the meeting went, and the secretary announcing over the loudspeaker that a "gray Suburban is parked where it is not supposed to be and is blocking the buses," as well as my subsequent tearing through child-filled halls dragging a curly-headed three-year-old clued in Princess that I was there and that I was there for her. Fortunately, she responded to this information by doing her homework. Correctly. In five minutes' time.

As a "good parent," I felt like we should discuss "what was the good thing you were getting out of spending all your time doing your homework wrong." She wouldn't play. She kept saying "jealous," because it was the big feeling LAST TIME, so even though it makes no sense NOW, what the heck, my mom is an idiot. And really, I should not have bothered. She was no where near regulated, and she was not in a mental place to access her feelings. I decided to give her the answer this time.

"It feels pretty powerful, doesn't it? NO ONE can MAKE you do your homework right! NO ONE can MAKE you use the toilet! You are IN CHARGE! You are IN CONTROL! You are IN CHARGE PRINCESS! The SUPER-CONTROL GIRL! I even hummed a theme song and flew around the room with an imaginary cape. I must have hit the nail on the head, because she did. not. like it. Cue fussing and flailing and wailing, "nooooooooooo! Stooooooooop it!"

Math: 4. Mommy: 1. But I get bonus points for creativity, so I still win.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sticky Fingers

Actually, I'm pretty surprised this happened for the first time yesterday, considering the Cuddle Bear is the youngest of four. She's been toying with the idea for quite a while, but has not yet completely pulled it off. She finally did it.

The Cuddle Bear shoplifted.

She and I had gone into a gift shop to buy an item Buddy had been saving for. Then we went to the Social Security office (barely-related note: children adopted out of foster care are at very high risk for identity theft). First, she walked up to the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Then, she worked the room and learned everyone's name, age, make of car, and profession. Finally, she sat down next to me and softly patted her pocket with a dreamy and contented look on her face.

"What have you got in your pocket?"
What is it?"
"Nofing! No peeking. No peeking! No peeking! No Mommy! I said no peeking! NOOOOOOOO!"

It was a shiny, sparkly, bejeweled Christmas ornament. And, by the gift shop price tag, quite a pricey one.

"CUDDLE BEAR! This is not yours! You took it without asking. We'll have to take it back."

We finished at the Social Security office (new numbers in four weeks) and drove back to the gift shop. The back of the Suburban was unusually silent. We parked.

"I no want to go in."
"I'm sorry. It's not a choice. We're going in. You're going to give the lady the pretty, and you're going to say, 'I took this without asking. It was wrong."

"I no want to say that."

"Oh well."

We went in. The Cuddle Bear bowed her head, extended the arm with the ornament, and walked toward the manager. The manager said, "what do you have there?" The Cuddle Bear's face contorted, and she wailed,

"I TOOK this!"

The manager got down next to her and said, "oh. And you know that's wrong, don't you?"

(snuffle snuffle snort snuffle) "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!!" Tears stream down her face as she sobs.

We went back out to the car with the Cuddle Bear doing the twitchy thing she does after she cries.

"That didn't feel very good, did it Cuddle Bear."
"No. My head felt all shaky inside and I fot I was going to fall down."


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's Sneaking Around Behind Your Anger?

Yesterday evening I walked in the house and was greeted by the pleasant sound of all four children playing a game together. I foolishly commented to Josh how nice it was hear them playing cooperatively when a fight broke out. I could hear Princess complaining about something and, having played with her before, had a good idea what it was without even being in the same room. The game was too difficult for the Cuddle Bear, so Buddy was helping her, which causes Princess to "not win." Princess has high anxiety and is very competitive. That mixed with things in general being harder for her than for the other children makes a dangerous soup. Withing seconds, it escalated to Princess tossing her emotional cookies around the room: roaring, wailing, threatening, and throwing of the game pieces. I removed Princess from the room. It was about bedtime anyway, so I walked her loud, flailing self up the stairs. She wriggled around like a buttered snake, making it impossible to stuff her into pajamas, so I rolled her in her comforter and laid down next to her while she scratched, kicked, and pinched me while wailing, "I want pajamas" at the top of her lungs. She's an excellent multi-tasker.

Only very, very recently have we started to try to help her process what went wrong in these situations, and Josh has always been much, much better at this than I. But yesterday Christine posted an excellent video on talking children through their feelings. This morning I grabbed my handy "Managing Your Anger" chart and sat down with Princess.

"Princess, remember back to that game last night? Buddy was helping the Cuddle Bear because the game was to hard for her. You weren't winning. You acted very, very angry. You looked kind of like this (pointing to the middle "angry" face). But, you know what? There was a bigger feeling, too. It was being really sneaky. It was trying to hide behind the angry so we couldn't see it. It was one of these (pointing to the faces in the circle around "angry"). Which one was it?" Princess pointed right at the "jealous" face and said, "jealous."

"Aaaah. You felt jealous. You felt jealous that the Cuddle Bear was winning. You felt jealous that Buddy was helping her play. You wished Buddy would help you instead because you wanted to win." This was probably as far as she heard, but I went on for good measure: "but you can be proud of you even though you didn't win. This game used to be hard for you, but now you understand what your eyes are seeing, and you can find the pictures yourself, without help."

But anyway, wow! Wow wow wowie wow wow! This is a child who never ever NEVER tells the truth about how she's feeling. EVER. And this is the third time in the past month that she's opened up a little. It's always exciting around here, I tell you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Not Fair

The Cuddle Bear climbs in bed with us every night, which means she gets up when I do and we have a few minutes of just us and a cup of coffee first thing each morning. Week day mornings I choose everyone's breakfast to cut down on the before-school chaos, and today it was pancakes. Every month we order a box of food from this co-op (sort of), Angel Food Ministries, and this time there was a bunch of heat-and-serve pancakes in it. We don't eat a whole lot of processed or prepared food, so obviously the kids were chomping at the bit to suck these down. But the Cuddle Bear pulled out a box of Raisin Bran. I told her we were having pancakes, and to please put the cereal back. To my surprise, her little face crumpled, tears began to roll, and she wailed, "but I want Raisin Bran! It's not faaaaaaaair! I don't WANT pancakes." She went on while I empathized in my best "too bad for you" voice when she came out with, "I want CHOCOLATE pancakes!"

A-ha. See, here's the thing. Three months ago, the Cuddle Bear began breaking out in terrible hives whenever she ate chocolate or used cocoa butter products. We went to the allergist, but he couldn't tell what food allergies she had by the usual scratch test because- guess what? The Cuddle Bear is also apparently allergic to cuts and abrasions. Her skin releases hystamine and she scratches herself into a case of hives. Then, a blood test turned up that she is also allergic to dairy and egg whites.

Don't get me wrong. I know this is not a big, life-altering deal. But I feel so BAD. She's three. She's a trooper. But I was at a Golden Arches birthday party with Princess yesterday thinking, if this were the Cuddle Bear, there would not be a thing here she could have. Except apple juice. And the fries, I guess. We try to make her changes "special." And she hasn't complained. Until this morning.

And I. Can't. Fix it.