"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."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where's MY Calm-Down Card?

I have all these great ideas, and no one they work with.

Since spring, I've had to restrict Princess's world smaller and smaller, keeping her closer and closer to me. She's been going 0 to 120 in under a second and hitting or bludgeoning siblings with very little warning, in addition to the bus incident and shouting in the gym teacher's face. I now need her withing hearing distance so that I can catch things going south quickly, which means no girls' room, no basement, and no outside when I'm not there and other kids are. Josh or I are outside plenty every day, but this one is still a particular thorn in Princess's paw.

At the same time, I've been focusing on encouraging her to use her Calm-Down Card. So last night I though, huh; I could pair them together.

This morning I explained that YAY! I thought of a way she could earn some time outside with other kids and no me! Every time Daddy or I tell her to use her calm-down card, and she does, she can have 15 minutes of other-kid-outside-time. Isn't that GREAT?

Princess sure thought it was. She immediately grabbed her calm-down card off the fridge and started to run down the steps.

Um. Princess? So...who told you to use your calm-down card?
But you said if I use it I get time outside with the other kids.
I said if you use it when Daddy or I tells you to you earn time outside with the other kids.

And she went back to running the steps on the card.

Princess. Who told you to use the card?
No one.
Ok. I think you should grab a paper and a pencil. I think you need some help remembering this.

She came back with lined paper and a marker. I recited the conditions. Twice. She wrote them in hot pink marker completely ignoring the lines on the page. When I had her read it back to me, she got as far as word three before she was stumped.

Hey Princess. What do you think the lines on the page are for?
To write on?
Right. So I bet it would be pretty helpful to write ON them, don't you think? Try that.

So she did. Twice.

Honey, do you think it's the marker that's the problem, or your handwriting?
My handwriting.
Ok, then you'll need to write it again, but neatly, because you'll need to be able to read this when if we have a disagreement about it later.


Get a new paper and a pen or pencil.

So it was written and read successfully.

So now can I go outside?
Uh....the Cuddle Bear is out there right now- how many minutes have you earned, honey?
So can I go outside?
Um, no.
Go use your calm-down card.

So she sat down on the steps. A few moments later the noise started up again.

I see you're not using your calm-down card, so you'll need to go finish that noise in your room.

The typical room-scream fest insued, followed by the quiet formal Time Out, and I released Princess to "do over."

So can I go outside?
You told me to do my calm-down card.
Yes, well, but the whole DOING of the calm-down card was missing, and that's kind of the whole thing behind earning Time Outside With Kids.
Oh. Ok.

And she began to run down the calm-down card steps.

Ok! I'm done! Can I go outside?

Seriously, I'll spare you, because this happened twice more with negative-forty calm-down card usage. By 9:30 a.m. I was banging my head on the table trying to hold back tears as to not upset Buddy who was verbalizing his desire to not have to listen to this crap all the time as Josh prepared to leave for work earlier than he had intended because listening to all of this was actually putting him backward in what he needed to accomplish.

Did I mention my Suburban is in the shop? Since Monday night until Friday afternoon? Yep, that's right- I cannot leave. Oh, and by some disgusting slap in the face of fate, Josh has extra stuff after work several nights this week and has to show our old house to several prospective tenants. Fabulous life timing. Plus the thing he's going to tonight has great food and great wine and great people and every year everyone says, "you should bring your wife," but his wife is not fit to be seen because she keeps breaking out in hives and is missing chunks of her hair.

On the bright side, I have plenty of time to pound the calm-down card. Excuse me while I go use it myself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Peanut Ingenuity

My children are geniuses.
No. Seriously. They are.
Ok. So there hasn't been any testing to prove it. Who needs testing when there is cold hard evidence like this:

Summer (so far) hasn't been as bad as last year, but no miracles have ocured in the past year, either. As a result, the atmosphere of our house could be described as... well,


The good news is: thanks to what they call "pharmaceutical intervention," we're down to one decent size rage per day, plus we're getting about four rage-free days for every 10 non-rage-free. This is a major step up from six to ten rages per day plus my hugely bruised shins, bite-marked arms, and concussed head of yester summer.

Still, it's... well,

The above photos were taken during a particularly noisy moment. I had restricted Princess to smack dab inside my space, and she was making very sure I enjoyed it as little as humanly possible. Princess has patented a noise she reserves for such moments. It is truly indescribable, but if you did a mash-up of fingernails on a chalkboard, squeaking Styrofoam, a fork scratching into ice, and the mating cry of rhesus monkeys, you could probably use it as a springboard for your imagination.

As this hideous noise is taking place, in slither these two blanketed figures, at an incredibly slow pace. So slow that it take at least five minutes for me to realize they are slithering through the kitchen. As they near me, the larger blob raises an appendage and hands me a blanket.

"Here Mom. Here is your snail shell. If you put it on, you won't be able to hear the screaming. It'll just sound like, 'hey I REALLY love my family.'"

See. I told you. Geniuses.

(photo by Peanut. Which is why my hips look disproportionately wide. She's short)

Friday, June 3, 2011

What Goes Around

Our family's therapist suggested (strongly) that I get a "prickly mean" babysitter for Princess once a week for the summer, and take the other kids on a fun outing, or I am risking them hating her for the rest of her life.

Which I totally believe.

So, two sisters came to mind who are in their 20s, have good senses of humor, and grew up with foster and adopted children in their family. But they're 20, so they're not going to be free. I figure $20 for two hours to sit and read, or surf the internet, or knit, or anything just as long as it is not entertaining Princess was fairly reasonable. So then comes the question of how to obtain $240.

I could give up yarn.
I could stop buying hanging baskets.
I could quit feeding the kids. That would provide $100 a week, easy.

None of them sound very appealing. But nether does three children hating one child for life. So, you know.

Then I got a phone call. It was the foster parent I provided respite for last summer.

Last summer I watcher her two medically-fragile prematurely-born foster infant twins for 4-6 hours once a week. While packing for a move. And dealing with Princess's near-constant packingforamove rages. It wasn't fun, but when the girls were placed with me, someone I had never even met came for four hours once a week so I could get two my own appointments. Or Princess's appointments. Or breathe. It completely saved any sanity I had left. And she stuck with me for three years. Now we knit together.

It's important to me to pay that forward.

I didn't ask for, expect, or want money, but when she asked if I'd take payment if DHS would pay for it, I said, sure- why not?

That was a year ago, and I stopped providing respite last September.

So this week, she calls me. And she said,

"DHS paid me for you. Not all of it. I don't think I'll ever be able to get you all of it. But I got some, and I left it at Josh's work for him to give to you.

It's $250."

I am well cared for.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chihuahua Fear

Jorge was, surprisingly, the first one of us to get in a campground brawl.

I was walking him to shake down a poo before bed. With no warning whatsoever, the most obese boxer I have ever seen came darting out of her campsite and jumped Jorge. She was snarling, Jorge was screaming, the owners came running out to pry her off him, and I stood there, with NO idea what was going on. The first conscious thought I remember having was, "I should really do something." So I yanked him up into my arms by his leash.

Apparently I am fabulous in an emergency.

The owners asked if he was ok. As I said blearily, "I don't know," Jorge started screaming. I went to find Josh. The camp host went to talk to the owners.

He's ok. He has a shallow claw puncture on his rib cage. It's possible he has a bruised rib or a pulled muscle that nothing can be done about, but he's happy and eating and healing, so no worries.

The camp host said the dog was elderly and toothless (or Jorge would likely be dead) and had probably gone momentarily insane. She should have been on a leash, but the dog had never behaved that way before, and hadn't the entire weekend.

The next morning, Jorge didn't want to come out of his formerly detestable crate. I cajoled him out. He didn't want to go down more than half the campsite drive. I cajoled him down. He didn't want to go into the road. I cajoled him into the road. He didn't want to go near the edges, where the campsites were. I stopped cajoling.

Buddy, who was with me, wanted to still introduce him to other dogs. I said, "honey, we're going to let him take his time. He's afraid now, and he has a right to be."

And, as so often (too often) happens, I realized I had to pay attention to my own supremely wise words.

She's afraid. And she has a right to be.

When she refuses to ride her beloved bike rather than adhere to the boundaries I set, it's because she's afraid to let me protect her. And she has a right to be.

When I ask her to put the Monopoly money in the Monopoly box and instead she spreads the entire contents of the two game boxes across our (fairly large) entire kitchen because she's


while complaining the entire time how mean I am to make her put away one of the 26 toys she and the Cuddle Bear were using, it's because she's afraid to do something I tell her to do. And she has a right to be.

When I set out a tank top to wear with her long flowing skirt on a 95-degree day and she selects a long-sleeved fuzzy shirt instead to wear on the second-grade's day-long walking tour of the downtown area and playground, it's because she's afraid to let me be in control.

And she has a right to be.

(And when I say something reeeeeeeeeeally snarky to the people in the van next to me in the car-rider line who use the f-bomb and average of once every three seconds, including to the filthy half-dressed toddler roaming around in the back, because they make nasty comments about who on earth would put on a long-sleeved shirt and a long skirt on a 95-dregree day without knowing that she's the daughter of the unstable-looking woman in the car next to them- before peeling away out of the parking lot,

it's because I'm defensive of my child.
And I have a right to be.)