The children, if you must know, are driving me slightly insane right now. Chickadee’s propensity for opposition borders on OCD, and I have resorted to all sorts of bizarre methods in last-ditch attempts to modify her behavior. (This is where the people who were JUST WAITING for evidence of my crappy mothering skills hit the jackpot.) In the last month, I have been: charging her a quarter for every time she tells me “okay” and doesn’t do what she just agreed to do, banning her from her brother’s room (due to her habit of running in there and making a huge mess), throwing away her dirty socks left in any location other than her room or the hamper (this would include but is not limited to: the shoe cubbies by the door, the kitchen table, the couch, MY BED, the stairs, and by the pool) and then making her purchase new ones with her own money, tasking her with cleaning the bathrooms pretty much any time she breaks a rule that doesn’t already have a set consequence.
And it’s not as though Monkey’s off the hook, either.
What Monkey lacks in refinement or, frankly, common sense, he tends to make up for with raw love. But cuddling can only go so far with a child who appears to be missing a volume switch and instead possesses an overblown sense of paranoia. Anything that goes wrong is a GRIEVOUS AFFRONT to him, a DELIBERATE SABOTAGE on his fragile psyche, and woe to your eardrums if you are in the vicinity whenever such a transgression is perpetrated. Furthermore, he is currently the gold medal winner two years running in the Tattletale Olympics, which is completely unnecessary because his sister is in trouble all the time ALREADY. All the tattling accomplishes is making her REALLY ANGRY at him, which increases the chances of her doing something mean, which results in him being aggrieved at the injustice that is his burdened life.
Both of them make my childhood melodramatics look like amateur hour, whether it be the agony of a broken pencil lead (“I have been doing my homework FOREVER and now I’ll NEVER FINISH IT!”) or the horror of what’s served for dinner (“You know I don’t like it when MY FOOD IS TOUCHING!”) or the regular slave labor I demand of them (“WHY do I always have to MAKE MY BED??”).
That’s sort of how it’s been going, in the grand scope of things. Oh yes, I rest easy in the knowledge that they are both being lovely and personable and hard-working at school and the fact that they save all of this SPECIAL BEHAVIOR for me means they are normal and secure and yeah, whatever; I may still be spending a lot of time these days taking a deep breath and quietly saying, “You are invading my personal space. Please move. Thank you.”
The OVERALL is a bit… trying, is what I’m saying.
The way to get through the OVERALL is to focus on the MOMENTS, I am finding. It is certain moments that are saving my children’s hides.
Like, the other day we four were all in the kitchen and Monkey was rambling on about something, and I was mmhmming and filling up my water glass and hoping he was actually talking to Chickadee or Otto, because I wasn’t paying much attention.
After a brief silence, Monkey pointed at me and said, “Girls only think about their husbands and girl stuff.”
“Girls only think about their husbands and GIRL SCOUTS?” I asked through my guffaws, because I’d misheard him and for some reason that struck me as completely hilarious.
Chickadee and Otto—who’d heard him correctly—laughed at my mistake while Monkey tried to correct me.
“Blah blah blah blah husband,” said Otto, thoughtfully. “Blah blah blah blah thin mints!”
“I like thin mints!” joined in Chickadee. “But I do not have a husband. Maybe I can just spend that time thinking about more cookies!”
We all giggled and kept it up (“Hmmm, I think I… oh, Samoas!”) until Monkey decided he was offended and needed to make his affront as clear as possible.
This was achieved by emitting a sound that approximated sheet metal rubbing on gravel.
“Oh!” I declared, “I think you should let us know you’re upset by making a REALLY HORRIBLE NOISE! Good idea!”
A giggle burst through the screeching noise, but he was otherwise unwavering. The rest of us had now stopped our cookie talk to observe him.
“Wow,” said Otto, “that sort of sounds like a cat in a blender. On low.”
Chickadee thrust her arm into the air, pointer finger extended in the international symbol of “I have an important scientific point to raise,” and intoned, “Will it blend?”
They’re pretty good entertainment, my family.