I know you read that title and expected a long, deep post. You aren't going to get it.
In fact, this post, which is not be about politics or world affairs at all, is actually about mommying. More specifically, it is about Persistence, whom I adore, but who is also hmm shall we say in an extremely challenging phase that I am extremely challenged by.
Persistence's pre-school ended nine days, three hours, and 22 minutes ago. That would be three weeks before public school lets out. It has been hell on earth ever since.
I realize I should be overflowing with the joy of uninterrupted quality time with my precious child who I adore more than life itself, but pretty much I wake up and within ten minutes am humming, "I wanna new drug." I'm counting minutes until her father comes home by 8:30 a.m.
This is because Persistence is THREE, also known as the Cruel and Vicious Age. People tell me five is worse, but I lived through Patience at five and did not actually fling myself out the window---which has felt very tempting at least twice in the last couple of week---so I live in hope that People Are Mistaken.
I have my doubts, though, because I really do not recall falling off the deep end this way with Patience.
Persistence is, and always has been, a completely different ball of yarn.
Recently, she decided---in a manner not unlike immature and self-centered adults in major leadership positions---to toss out the Geneva Convention. Her rationale appears to be that the pursuit of her goals (which are unnamed and vague, largely due to her not really being too sure what they are, largely due to there not really being any goals, largely due to the fact that in all honesty she's really just acting out of her prevailing emotion, which largely seems to be Peevish)...
...where was I?
Oh right, the pursuit of her current state of Peevishness supersedes everything else, including that middling matter of human rights.
So, as I sit in the preschooler's equivalent of Gitmo, I have had a few minutes to ponder the situation and I have figured out a few things.
The charges against me include: not giving her what she wants even when I give her what she wants, and lack of superhuman powers to make the impossible happen just because she wants it so. Lesser charges include: existing, breathing, being a convenient target.
My torture includes Incessant Recitation of All the Ways in which I Fail to Meet Expectation, threats, tantrums, hissy fits, destruction, public displays of threeness, and an incredible imitation of Gladys Kravitz.
I realize that as a three year old her job is not to make my life easy, but it also behooves her to not make it this hard---a point I am trying, unsuccessfully, to press home.
I also realize this is a phase and this too shall pass. We just left a lovely phase, which I didn't full enjoy because I know enough about parenting to have a part of me waiting for the shoe to drop, which it now has. I am also not fully suffering in this phase because I know enough about parenting to realize it's of limited duration.
Don't think I don't know how to handle this or parent. Often griping leads to Unsolicited Advice (read: Assvice). I'm really just seeking sympathy, you know, "You're a good mom Julie, your kids are fine, you'll all get through this with some hair left on your head and your teeth enamel not damaged beyond repair."
Here's a sample of one of many moments in our day:
P: I hungry.
Me: You ate ten minutes ago, how can you be hungry? (This is me, resisting fixing meal number 12 before 10 a.m.)
Me: Okay so do you prefer a bagel or a cheese stick with apples?
P: NO! Those is YUCKY!
Me: Did you have a food in mind?
P: NO! YOU FIX ME FOOD! I HUNGRY!
Me: Okay, bagel with cream cheese and apples.
P: I HATE APPLES!
Me: Hmm okay a little while ago you said you loved apples. If you don't want them now, how about an orange.
P: ORANGES ARE SOUR! YOU MEAN! I STARVING A DEAF!
Me: So just the bagel then. Okay let's go make it.
P: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! YOU BAD MOMMY BAD!
Me: Are you really hungry for food or do you just want attention? Do you want to play a game? Pet shop?
P: NO! I HUNGRY! FOOD! FOOD! YOU GO 'WAY MEAN MOMMY!
Me: I'll make a bagel and set it here. I'll put milk here too. You can get it when you want it.
P: AAAAHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGHHHHH (body flung to floor)
Me (losing patience): Okay. Not a bagel. You come look here in the kitchen and see what you want.
P: I WANT A BAGEL! WITH COOKIN'! AND WITH CREAM CHEESE! On a PINK plate! PINK PLATE!
Few minutes pass, ruckus of some sort continues
Me: All righty, here is your bagel, as ordered.
P: A BAGEL! NO! I HATE BAGELS! I'll throw your flowers on the ground, mean mommy!(shoves plate to hit flower basket, I catch both)
Me: TIME OUT!
Persistence is very, very angry right now. She is angry because her school is over and she doesn't want it to be. She wants her class and classmates every day just like always. Nothing is ever right because I can't fix the problem and give her what she really wants. No amount of fun events---such as special playdate and birthday outing with her cousins yesterday---redirection, attention or similar will make her happy until she really adjusts to this change of pace.
She loved school, loved her teacher, loved her buddies and loved her routine. The days now are unstructured, unreliable, inconsistent (read: not just like school). I can do as much as I can to help her during the time, but I can't change how things are; school is over, that's that.
She has fun at the pool, enjoys the playdates, but under it all is a sort of sadness and irritation because she'd rather be doing these things at school, and every day she is reminded of school because her sister still goes.
I hope that by the time her sister gets out of school, Persistence will have adjusted a bit and with her sister home too, the sense of injustice won't overwhelm her quite so much.
I keep guiding her to good behavior, keep rewarding good behavior and do my best to keep myself as the Grown-Up in our interactions, but oh they do get weary, these mommies do get weary, wearing that same old shabby mantle, waiting for some tenderness.
In the meantime, I am speaking through gritted teeth by 10 a.m. and am asserting my rights: my right to remain silent, my right to not be silent, my right to a Time Out, my right to be spoken to kindly, my right to be the parent, my right to not be hit, my right to laugh out loud at the Gladys Kravitz impression, my right to call her father at 9:30 a.m. and simply say AAAAGGGGGGHHHHH.
So far, if I resort to Extreme Parenting (e.g., time out in room instead of on stairs, grounded from morning TV show) I can buy a few hours of relief: she's relieved there are still boundaries that will be enforced in her life, even without school and I am relieved we can have a little bit of fun and good time (my standards for that, by the way, are really low right now, so basically I qualify any period of time that doesn't include my darling daughter yelling that I suck <-- paraphrasing there; we don't actually teach our children to curse).
And I wait...
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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