Hannah. Hannah. Hannah. Maybe if I write a post that overuses cliches I will feel better about my parenting skills and be able to wake up tomorrow and be better. But parenthood is hitting me unexpectedly in the back of the knees.
So here goes:
I'm at the end of my rope.
She's bringing me to my knees.
I've lost my will to live.
My egg is cooked.
My turkey timer has popped.
My bacon is fried.
It's like trying to herd cats.
Today we were having our family picutres taken by my sister Alisha. We made those super cute hair flowers, I curled Hannah and Kenzie's hair, and almost (almost) convinced Hannah to wear pants to match the rest of us. I had her in the pants and I went to feed Ellie before we left. (Mike was at work, he was meeting us at the photo shoot.)
As I was feeding Ellie, I read a story to Kenzie and I started to wonder, "Where is Hannah?" Usually if Hannah is quiet, she is doing something like unrolling all the toilet paper or stealing toys out of gunny bag (the confiscated pile), or spreading gum on her bedspread and the carpet, or writing on her dresser, or dumping all the toys out in her room so she can sit on the bins.
I thought, "Wouldn't it be typical if Hannah were upstairs smearing something all over her face? Something like lipgloss or vaseline." Because I can't even tell you all the times I've walked into the bathroom and found Hannah with something on her face.
I finish feeding Ellie, load her up in the carseat and Kenzie gets into the van.
"Come on Hannah! Let's go," I yell up the stairs. No response.
I walk upstairs. Hannah is standing on the stool in the bathroom. I notice that she has changed into a skirt. She turns to me. Black covers her mouth and the area surrounding it. Her hands are covered in it.
Deep, deep breath.
I know that if I yell, Hannah will cry and fight and I will never get out the door and when I finally drag her out screaming and crying she will have pulled her hair out and her face will be tear-streaked and her smile will have left never to return. And it most certainly will not appear for any perfect family holiday pictures.
Calmly, I say, "Black just isn't a good color for lipstick Hannah. I have some pink in my pocket that we can use when we clean this up." And I wipe it off. Luckily it comes off easily and she hasn't wiped her black black hands on her new clothes.
She whimpers a little and acts only slightly defiant when I ask her what it is she has on her face. "I don't want to tell you Mommy."
I let it go and load her in the car. The picture taking goes smoothly. Later we find a can of black shoe polish in her room. We confiscate her favorite doll. I'm pretty sure it doesn't faze her.
This is probably how I should act all the time with Hannah. Calm. Collected. Kind but firm. I am ashamed to admit that when I am not motivated by the immediate threat of an unhappy family picture (heaven forbid we should have a picture with Hannah crying and me glaring), I yell. I blow up. I give her exactly the reaction she is looking for. I want to PUNISH her. Because surely she is plotting to ruin my life in every way possible and if I don't punish her immediately and punitively she will get pregnant at the age of 14 and steal from her relatives. And hyperbole is always a good guideline for parenting and peace.
I don't know what the secret is to parenting this stubborn, often delightful, often devilish, frustrating little girl. All I know is that I feel like crying in my cheerios.
And Kenzie? She's going to be muttering that line from "The Prodigal Son," "But I was the GOOD Son! (Daughter). I was the GOOD one!"