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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Having No Self-Respect the Same as Clinical Depression?

So. When the summer class schedule came out for the school at which I was taking Zumba,* I noticed they were offering Old People Beginning From Dirt Ballet. Ok, so they called it "Adult Beginning Ballet," but we all know what they meant. And I was really excited, because somewhere I got it stuck in my head that I wanted to take ballet, but no one else offered it for People Who Suck.

I happily bought my first pair of adorable pink ballet slippers and showed up.

I was the only one.

Until another girl walked in, and it turned out she was a professional dancer (as in, "gets paid") for a company in Baltimore. And then I really wished I had been the only one who showed up.

But then she didn't come again, and I talked a friend into joining too, and it was all good and I learned how to plie without looking like a cow. And I took two more sessions and started to feel actually competent, even though whenever I demonstrate anything for Josh, he looks like he's in pain or has gas and says, "I'm really glad you're enjoying yourself."

So I was feeling pretty good about myself. And then class got canceled and I asked what my options were for make-up. The director said, "well. There's Beginning Adult Hip-Hop."

Heh heh. No.

"Well, then your best fit is probably Floor Barre."
Floor Barre?
"It's kind of like Pilates."

So Saturday morning I happily tripped off to Floor Barre.

And she was right. Floor Barre was like Pilates in the exact same way escargot is like potato chips.

The mean age of the class was 16, and the total weight in the room was roughly four pounds. The first thing we did, for a warm-up, was ten solid minutes of plank position, without a break, taking various body parts meant to hold you up off the ground. And it only got worse from there. There was even rolling.

I got home and slunk past Josh and laid on the floor on my face.

Josh found me out. "How was it?"
"Yeah. I thought so. I saw you limp past me."

It was ten years ago, but I'm not sure childbirth was that painful. And certainly not for as long. Buddy was born after two hours of labor. I still cried after every sneeze until this morning.

Josh said, "you know, the next time you're in a room of teenagers and 20-year-olds, you really shouldn't try to keep up."
What are you talking about? I'm only 28."
"You're not 28."
Yes I am.
"No. You're not. You're 37. We've been married for 15 years. Buddy was born when you were 28."


Now I guess I'm supposed to participate in the recital. With a costume. And tights. And I wonder, exactly when did my reaction to such things stop being, "no! I can't humiliate myself that way! What about my family! They need to be able to hold up their heads!" and start being, "heh. Heh. That would be really funny."

*because my doctor said I either had to exercise sometimes or take more anxiety medication. The anxiety medication makes me not sleep, and I really, REALLY like sleeping.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What Love Is

Princess asked for her homework, and my eye began to twitch. I got out the easiest paper: a Weekly Reader with some obvious questions to answer on the back. It was about nutrition, and she was to read the question and write "Plate A" or "Plate B" in the blank space. My first cue that this was not going to go well was when Princess asked me how to spell "broccoli."

Use your best third-grade spelling.

She "finished" and I checked over her answers. In response to "which plate has two vegetables and one grain," she replied, "the plate that has two vegetables and one grain is the plate that has two vegetables and one grain."

At least it was a complete sentence.

"Princess, I'm wondering if you read the directions. Each answer should be only two words, "plate A" if it's plate A, or "plate B" if it's plate B."

She took the paper back and wrote "A" or "B" in each space, not necessarily corresponding to the correct plate.

Now you don't have enough words, Princess.
Can you help me?*

(Loooooooong pause).

Princess, if I help you, it's going to be by putting your homework away so your brain can rest and get strong enough to write the word "plate."
But I can't do it. You're supposed to help me.


This was, naturally, followed by polite suggestions to either speak respectfully downstairs or fuss loudly in one's room, then the Sending to the Room with No Choices, followed by the No One Cares About Me soliloquy..

Princess was brought down for dinner, finished, and asked for a treat. I said yes.

Buddy blew his stack. "What? She had a big fit? Why does she get a treat?"
Josh said, "I thought we weren't letting her have treats when she rages."

I know. We weren't. But I get so sick of never being able to give her anything good, and she'll sabotage everything if given half the chance. So if she eats her dinner, she gets a treat. I want to give her something good.

A little while later while I was doing dishes, Josh came up to Princess and put his arm around her and said,

"I want to give you stuff, too. But I want you to notice something. It's Mommy who makes sure you get good things. It's Mommy who cries all night because you're screaming and she can't take you to the ballet. It's Mommy who changes things so you can have something nice. It's Mommy".

I don't know that she heard him. Or that she cared. He was standing between her and the pantry. But I heard him. And I cared. No matter how anyone else feels about me, that man loves me.

* I can't find a font to express the type of whiney this was. It sounded something like a 2-year-old with pony tails dressed in pink frills and ruffles licking a swirly pink lollipop in the sunshine surrounded by unicorns, bunnies, and rainbows and covered in white glitter.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

364 Days

Until my next birthday.
(Insert deep sigh of relief)

Because the only thing around her that's better than my birthday is Mother's Day.
So you can imagine.

In light of the land mine that is a birthday, Josh and I make ours non-events. Nothing but a cake (and me sneaking out to a nice lunch with Josh. But Princess doesn't really need to know about that- does she). Princess's birthday is in two months, so to deflect, a few days ago I asked her if she had decided about her birthday cake. She had. Care Bears. I have no idea why.  But anyway.

The evening before my birthday, Josh assigned each of the children Cake Jobs, and they started baking. Princess came up to me and said,

I changed my mind. I want cupcakes.
That's fine, honey. You think about it, and I'll ask you for a For Sure in a couple of weeks.
I want cupcakes.
No problem. You have a couple weeks to think about it.
No. That will be too late.
Because your birthday is tomorrow.

She had "changed her mind" about MY cake.
Of course.

Princess, I'm having a rectangle cake.
But Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii waaaaaaaaaaaaaant cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupcaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakes!!!
Oh. Well. You can want cupcakes all you like, Princess.

Here is where I stopped and Josh intervened.
Here is where Princess was sent to bed.
It was her bedtime, anyway.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to....

And in the aftermath of the Bookshelf Incedent, there was, of course,


(not really)

At the beginning of the year, Mrs. C and I worked out a homework plan. If Princess's homework was not completed and correct by Thursday, she would stay in for recess Friday to finish it.

Normally I would not be a proponent of staying in for recess. But here's the thing: Princess is not really struggling with her homework. Which means when she has to stay in for recess to finish it, the work takes her an average of five minutes per page.

Keep that in mind: Princess's weekly homework has been proven to use about fifteen minutes of her time per week.

Princess stays in for recess to finish her homework almost every Friday.

This is getting a bit stale for me (and, I venture to say, Mrs. C), so I decided homework would be a priority for Princess this weekend. Or a priority for me to have for Princess, anyway. Friday evening as I started dinner, I called her to the kitchen counter to start Homework Paper Number One: coloring the odd numbers red and the even numbers blue.

Ok I'm done!
Hmm. I see you colored the first row red and the second row blue and the third row red. Please read the directions again.
Um. Now I see you colored all the numbers that start with one red and the rest blue.
That's fascinating! Because you had two papers in your Friday Folder that you did in school this week with odd and even numbers and everything on them was done right.
Hmm. Well, I can't teach it to you right now because I'm cooking. I'll ask Peanut to, though.

Because Peanut is in first grade. You know. The grade in which they teach you odd and even numbers. Peanut's help, though, I have to say, was less then well received.

I don't like it when Peanut tells me how to do it.
I can understand that, Princess, because I don't like it when you pretend you can't do stuff.
It makes me feel frustrated when she does that.
I can imagine. Because it makes me feel frustrated when you pretend you can't do it yourself.

And she did the worksheet. Correctly. In five minutes.

Saturday. Same odd and even numbers. Different paper. Same story. Only this time she asked if Peanut would help her. Josh said, "I don't know...she's being really compliant and letting Peanut explain it to her. Maybe she doesn't really understand it?"

Baby. Come on. I love you, but. Really.

Sunday. I knew this one was going to be a corker. It was just estimation and subtraction- two skills she's been doing for a while, but something about the way it was set up and the wording, well, I knew it was going to seem harder than it was to her.

After several hours of attitude and accusations and crumpling and tearing (and a new one! Biting off pieces of paper and spitting them into the waste basket), Josh sat down with her. Then Josh and I had an argument.

She got him. She is that good.

He said he really thought she didn't get it, and he was upset because the way she wasn't getting it reminded of his own struggles with school and dyslexia.

Now, I'm not saying she doesn't have learning and processing problems. She does. Oh, she does. What I'm saying is this particular thing? She knew how to do. And my point to Josh was that there is no evidence whatsoever that she actually struggles with homework in particular. EVERY week she crabs and moans and fakes and acts and just plain doesn't do her homework. And EVERY week she gets it out during recess and is done correctly in five or ten minutes. EVERY. Week.

However. I have a theory. Of course I do. I am reasonably sure she is afraid she won't be able to do it. And she is even more afraid someone will find out she can't do it. And she is super afraid that then SHE will know she can't do it. So, she pretends (and very realistically) that her Hello Kitty Build-a-Bear wields a syringe every night while she is sleeping, uses it to extract her brain, squirts it into the toilet, and flushes. Because she knows she is faking. And if she knows she is faking, then she can tell herself she can do it just fine and doesn't have to risk maybe finding out she can't.

Because, you know, that makes total sense.

So finally I marched into the kitchen. I took away all the papers (because I cut them up into individual problems), erased them, and handed her one. I said, "all this is is subtraction and estimation. Just subtraction. And estimating. I know you know how to do this. Mrs. C knows you know how to do this. Now you need to tell yourself you know how to do this. So tell yourself you know how to do it. AND DO IT!!!!!"

She was done in ten minutes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stupid Things

Stupid bookshelf.
Stupid stupid me.
Stupid stupid stupid RAD.

There were signs withing the first twelve hours of installing the bookshelf that it was all rolling downhill. But I hoped. I hoped we could ride out the irritability, the big feelings about having stuff, and eventually except the bookshelf's existance.

But by Monday it was gone.

The crabbies kept getting crabbier, the crazies kept getting crazier. On the way home from swim Princess mispronounced "estoy," so no one understood what she was saying. She kept getting madder and madder that everyone thought she said "stew," and then she asked me, and I tried my best, but she really did say "stew," there was no way around it. And she let everything go to pot over accidentally saying "stew." Even though no one cared. By the time we got to our street she had Peanut pinned to the seat by her hair. I made her get out of the car in the driveway and walk up to the house. She refused, I threatened, she waited until the last possible second to get into the house and of course it wasn't fast enough, so I sent her to her room. And pretty soon I heard the thump thump thump of the bookshelf getting slammed into the wall.

Goodbye bookshelf.
Goodbye nice Princess.

It's been six days, every one worse than the last.
My heart is totally broken.

The first two days, I'd get a physical reaction when she'd start to rage. I'd shake. The next two days I felt so depressed I was moving in slow motion. And now I've adjusted, but I'm having the hardest time bringing myself to be therapeutic. I'm so ANGRY. At everything. All over again. I'm doing everything wrong, and I can't kick myself into doing it right. I feel like I'm starting over. I wonder if it woudn't be better if we never had the two good weeks. Everything is back. The pe-e. The lying. The rages. The fussing complete with artfully perfected Most Annoying Noises Known to Man. Hours upon hours of pretending to not know what odd and even numbers are. And it's sooooo well-done. Yesterday Josh said, "I don't know, she's letting Peanut explain even and odd numbers, and she looks like she really might not understand." I said, "don't be fooled Josh. Don't cave." She worked on that page for two hours, circling every non-odd or non-even number possible. Then suddenly she decided she wanted to be done. Zzzt zzzt zzzt zzzt zzzt. Everything correct. Two minutes.


Stupid bookshelf.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow Day

We played hookie Wednesday (buy one/get one free day-- we're no suckers) to teach Peanut how to ski. Josh took Buddy last year and they had a great time. Without me. But this year I got to go; mostly so Buddy didn't have to hang out on the bunny hill half the day. And because I wanted to. But there was a catch: technically it was Princess's turn. This posed a dilemma, and we were entirely sure Princess learning to ski would be enjoyable for no one, least of all Princess. Fortunately, Josh is the Duke of Spin, and handled it quite nicely. He actually got Princess to realize (and accept) that for her, learning to ski would be very, very frustrating. And he posed and alternative: Date With Daddy tubing, bowling, or ice skating. Whoa. Not having to be frustrated and getting something no one else gets. He is a genius, I tell you. So Princess happily skipped off to a girlfriend's house after school, and the Cuddle Bear semi-bitterly went with a friend for the day.

I have to say, Peanut is a total trooper. No whining, no complaining, nothing but good attitude. And rubber. She is obviously made of rubber and has no joints or nerves.

Here is the result:

The best part is that Josh and I didn't even know she had fallen (like Superman flying, no less) until we watched the video. Josh was calling for her on the other side of the hill because we assumed she was just having trouble getting up the little hill.

The purpose of children is to give parents something to laugh at, right? Good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Playing With Fire. Or Bookshelves

I did a dangerous thing today.

I moved a piece of furniture into Princess's room.

It was the bookshelf that fits behind her bed. When I started desiring a house with another bedroom, it was because I suspected Princess would do better (and my life would be easier) with a stripped-down room. So for the past four months, her room has contained a bed, a stuffed animal, a doll, some (but not all of her) clothing, and carpet. It isn't un-pretty, but it's, well....let's say minimalistic.

And it has worked.

And now she hasn't thrown, kicked, hit, beat, clawed, bit, pinched, kicked, or even screamed in three weeks. But it was when she told her sisters, "I can't have toys in my room, so can we play in yours?" instead of tricking her sisters into playing in her room and then pretending she forgot that it occurred to me that maybe it is time. Maybe she is ready.

When she saw us lugging it from the basement to the second floor, she asked a bunch of questions about where it was going and who it was for (because, of course, she knows it's hers) to which we said, well, let's see.

I wanted to congratulate her for her appropriate behaviors and verbally equate them with the reinstatement of the bookshelf. And just as much, I wanted to remind her that furniture is a privilege and a responsibility and that one slam against the wall and swoosh! I will rip that thing back to the basement so fast her eyes will spin, but I said nothing. Nothing at all. I moved it in. I left the room.

Because saying anything would make it into too big of a deal, and big deals are hard for Princess to accept.

Oh, I did say one thing. Princess watched me put her bedding back together while she exclaimed over the shelf and she said, "so I get to have toys in my room now?" So I said,

"You get to have this in your room now."

Sloooooooowly. Very very slowly. I won't add anything else to her room for at least two weeks, just to make sure this isn't too much too soon as it is. And when I do add something, it'll be a clock. Mostly because it creeps me out that she's in and out of our room in the wee hours checking the time without me waking up. But it'll be a cute clock. But seriously, toys? Maybe a year from now.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Because Scrapbooking Just Wasn't Doing it for Me Anymore

I found a new hobby. You know, because there's only so much Oprah and premium chocolate a stay-at-home mom can stand, and I had all this extra free time to fill.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Don't Know Who You Are, But I Like You a Whole Lot


That's what I've got.
Because of the whole Ice Cream Bingo deal.

I was all set for a boiling rage Monday morning. My stomach churned all Sunday, even. I was ready.

It never happened.

Princess's teacher said she asked Princess why she didn't make a bingo, and Princess shrugged and said, "I get tired." And still, nothing. She came home and said that she could work on her workbook while the other kids had ice cream, so it was ok.


But not only nothing. Princess has not raged since before Christmas. This length of time has only happened one other time, and it was two and a half years ago.

She's making great eye-contact. She's smiling. A lot. She is using the bathroom. She is giggling all. the. time. Constantly. A real giggle, not the obnoxious fake one. A real giggle. I cannot believe it.

She went to her first slumber party right after Christmas. This is the only connection I can come up with. I was expecting the worst when she came home, and she wasn't even grouchy. Maybe being around a group of girls modeled something? Did everything suddenly click into place? Is it going to end soon (oh please please no!!!)?

For now I'll take it. And now I'm going to was dishes and listen to Princess read without arguing or faking. And giggle.

And giggle.