Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We've come a long, long way together

Let's pretend our children are Chinese food. Kenzie is my Sweet and Sour. Just like in the dish, I'm not sure where the sour comes in, because she's been sweet. She's been easy (and I am seriously throwing salt over my shoulder and knocking on wood as I write this, because I know I am cursing myself.), most the time. This is lucky for her, since she's the experimental child. Being a experimental child myself (firstborn), I can pretend that things will turn out alright, even though I make lots of mistakes.

Hannah is Szechuan. I love Szechuan, but sometimes it's a little on the spicy side. It can give me heartburn. Today, it gave me heartburn. But, but, I'm making an effort right now to think about the good things. Because we've come a long, long way.  I think. Sometimes. And then I think maybe we haven't come a long, long way. I think maybe it's not temporary heartburn. Maybe she's so spicy it's not heartburn, it's heartbreak, permanent style. Maybe it's a horrible underlying chronic condition and something is HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY wrong. And then I start hyperventilating and I become convinced that her entire future hinges on my giving in to her wanting one more minute before she does her chore. So I am firm. "No Hannah. No more minutes." And she throws a fit, and I tell myself not to give in because if I do she will end up staggering homeless through an alley, high on some illegal substance and cursing me and God.  All because I gave her one more minute too many times.

Deep breath. Deep breath. I'm just going to have to make a list. Lists always tend to calm me down and give a little perspective to my heartburn induced nightmares.

Bad things: Hannah told me a blatant lie about using soap to wash down the counter. "I didn't," she said furiously wiping soap bubbles from the counter. "It's not soap." (This was the second lie she told me today. The lies, about stupid things, seem to be increasing lately).  Hannah yelled, "I hate you. You're not a good mom," twice.  She refused to have her hair done until I threatened her with toy loss. She refused to go to school until I took her there. She refused to do her chore until I threatened toy loss. She refused to practice her piano until I threatened toy loss. She kicked Ellie. She made Kenzie cry. She had five timeouts for various infractions of our home rules.

Good things: Hannah played nicely with Ellie until quiet time. Hannah had a great time at school and loved telling me all about it and showing me her papers on the letter P. When I came upstairs from putting Ellie down for a nap, Hannah was sitting quietly on the couch, ready to play reading games. While Hannah was in timeout she chose to make me birthday pictures, coloring and cutting out cakes and making them "chocolate," my favorite. Hannah made me a birthday crown. She practiced her piano. She did her chore. She ate her dinner and lots and lots of corn. She helped Kenzie find some of her jewels. When Mike took the girls to his parent's after dinner, she said sweetly, "Mommy, do you just need some alone time?"

See. It was a good day too. That Szechuan is wonderful stuff.

Ellie is Beef and Broccoli on Noodles. With chopsticks. She is slippery and everywhere and wonderful and messy and sometimes frustrating.  She's still mostly mild, but has the potential to be spicy too. And sometimes the beef can be a little tough.

Mike gets to be the fortune cookies, and I'll just keep trying to be the ham fried rice. Actually I think we're both the ham fried rice--- the thing that pulls the meals together, the essence of the meal.


Sherrie said...

Have you read nurture shock? I think you're a fab mom by the way, and my guess is that you and Hannah will be best friends one day.

Tobi said...

Your Chinese food analogy is wonderful. Especially since I recently read that when your children become teenagers you suddenly understand why animals eat their young. Carry on Warrior Mother!