Friday, August 22, 2008

Petit Fours, Petite Threes and Demi-Sass

The bumps of raising eight individuals all at different stages of development towards adulthood sometimes tickle and sometimes bruise. Fortunately, the odds are in my favor that there will always be at least one that isn't irritated with Mom.

When we moved the two toddlers into the same room, they were delighted. The Jedi master now had her apprentice to makeover in her own image. Within weeks, the younger had begun to contribute to the scribbled walls, discover the joys of dumping laundry and found an effective means of getting sweets, climbing into the lap of whoever was eating.

There were still limitations on the young Jedi which her master Yoda had to address. One evening after bed, they felt a bit peckish. The younger was unable to get out of her crib so her older sister lovingly provided room service. Sounds of unmistakable glee from upstairs awoke us, both girls sat in the crib scooping large quantities of mint chocolate chip goodness with soup spoons.
Home Regulations have been modified: Ice cream must now be put in the second freezer in the garage behind any frozen vegetables.


Watching the Olympics, my daughters were captivated by Women’s gymnastics. Naturally, each of the girls came to me separately asking if they could sign up at the gym where Dominique Dawes had trained for the 2004 games, only two miles from our home.

“If I start now, that could be me in 2012.” My oldest said dreamily. “The rules say you have to be 16 to compete, and that year, I’ll be 16.”

Treading delicately with my very talented daughter who makes great grades, was a fabulous guard in both soccer and basketball and plays the saxophone, but who cannot at this point, do a cartwheel, I tried to explain. “I’ll be happy to sign you up for classes.” I started, “But you should know those girls have been in most cases, taking gymnastics since they were about six.”

Shawn Johnson had just done a flip off the balance beam.

“Well thanks Mom for shooting down my dream with a sniper rifle!” She snapped and marched off. I sat there breathing deeply. Adolescence rots.

The other day, ever the optimist, I suggested to my not yet three year old that she use the potty. Being a talented negotiator, this wasn’t a skill she’d agree to simply because Mom wished it. “M&m’s!” she said brightly. I agreed. M&m’s for pottying and producing pee in the potty seemed reasonable. “Miss Chief”stripped entirely while her father tried to explain this degree of nudity was unnecessary to no avail. We decided modesty could be learned later.

She sat for fifteen minutes happily looking at a book. We went about the morning routine. The announcement that there was water in the potty seemed subdued to me. She then requested the promised M&m’s. The abandoned potty held oddly 100% clear water. Further investigation revealed the potty had been filled with water from the sink.

This may be the only child in the history of the world requiring urine testing to verify substance and not substance abuse.

Getting ready for school to start, it was time to clear the desks in the study from their summer displays of intricate lego wars. My oldest has a Smithsonian view of his lego displays. Once made, they must not be unmade. His five foot desk was covered.

“You have to have a spot to study.” I explained as I cleared off another child’s table.

“I do.” My son argued.
Looking at the desk, there was a 1x2 foot rectangle of clear space on the desk. He pointed to it proudly.

“That’s it?”

“Dad said I could keep a few models.”
Now 80% of the entire desk was a landscape of legos. I knew this was not what his father had meant. “You need a clear desk for school. Clear desk, decluttered space for studying. Clear mind.”

“It’s clear. I can put my papers and book here.” Technically, a sheet of paper and an open (small) text book could fit in his designated space. However, this minimalist interpretation did not satisfy the parent in me.

“No.” I stood my ground. “There’s a table…”

“August 18th! The day Mom crushed my childhood!” he yelled as he dumped every one of his models in a fit of temper into a large plastic bin, and marched out.
Taking deep deep breaths. Supressing urge to place a RIP childhood note on his door for the dramatics or a Wanted poster with my picture, I arranged a clear table adjacent to his desk for future Lego battles that don't involve me.

I'd be discouraged by all this except that having smaller people around helps maintain perspective.

Today, Miss Chief got up with a project in mind, two pony tail holders and a tinkerbell costume before breakfast. Mom indulged her morning whim and as soon as the costume was on and her hair up, she looked at me with great seriousness, her soft toddler hand holding my cheek. “Mom,” she said, making sure I was looking directly into her eyes, “I promise not to fly outside.”

"Not yet." I thought.

Thank goodness.

For humor that doesn't ruin a child's hopes or dreams or childhood, try

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