Saturday, July 12, 2008

Maternal Implosion

I have found there is no joy greater in my life than observation of my childrens' growth and development. They endear themselves, charm, amuse and enlighten us every day. I love all children so much more now that I have my own kids--I find them all so charming and interesting; I think I could spend most of my time happily engaged with kids.

Which is not to say its all sunshine and lollipops because sometimes ... well, sometimes its NOT. Like today, for instance.....

My older daughter who is nine, and believes she is 29, can be challenging. She's often delightful. But she hasn't stopped resenting being an older sister for a single moment since June of 2000. I'm her favorite target of said resentment, despite the fact that I'm perfectly reasonable and practically perfect in every other way, as well. To give you an idea, let's suppose I wanted to tell her that I had a huge surprise for her. Our exchange would no doubt sound like this:

Myself: "Oh, Haley?"
Her Majesty: "WHAT!!!!????????"
Myself: "I just bought you a brand new Maserati!"
Her Majesty: "(huff)...fine...!"

(really; this is more a scientific, data-driven projection than exaggeration---just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't). So, to give you an idea of how a parent might feel about this kind of behavior, imagine that it replays each and every single time you call the child's name and particularly forcefully when anything is asked of her. This tendency is even stronger should there be any person or activity for her to be engaged with... for instance, if her same-age cousin were visiting from California. Let's say that after no more than four hours this morning, the child had actually pushed each and every one of your "buttons" seven hundred thousand times in rapid succession.

Who can help?
At about noon today I called my Mom and asked her if she'd ever wanted to... you know, .... beatourbrainsout or something really terrible? Turns out, yeah--she had! And wasn't it nice that she didn't laugh at me? Or that she didn't gloat? Because she always used to say, "*MY* mother always used to say, 'I hope you get two JUST LIKE YOU and I ended up with THREE'" so you know...there has to be some little sliver of evil satisfaction lurking back there. But she was nice and said I could send her away to visit someone for a while---but all those guys are coming here to visit next week, so they'd just bring her back...

The dust, debris, dismembered limbs and general hubub have finally settled and I think Haley has a new appreciation for her freedom and security in this world. I'd have left her in her room all day today were the Danimal not pacing about worried and bored (more one than the other...)... I'm hoping there's an attitude shift soon.

What is irony?
A bit ago, myself, Haley, Anna and the Danimal piled up in bed for some reading time; this visit we're all taking turns reading from A Little Princess. There have been some reading opportunities we've missed because Rock Band is so darned fun and we just party till we fall down... but tonight we read. It was Haley's turn. She read aloud,

...Miss Minchin drew a breath in sharply. 'BUT? One simply does not say BUT when one has been told what they are to simply DOES what one MUST.'...

I asked her to repeat it once. Again. I looked at my nephew, struggling to keep still. I asked Haley for one more reading of the line... and then said, "do you remember about an hour ago when you asked, 'Mommy, what is irony?'" Done. Oh---such balance in the universe, isn't there?

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