Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And that is known as irony

It was a chaotic morning. There was fighting! Yelling! Gnashing of teeth!

The littlest scholar dawdled over the television, finally appearing upstairs to get ready.

She got her clothes on without a problem, but fought us over her teeth, taking her loaded toothbrush with her to brush in her bedroom.

How many times have we told you to brush your teeth in the bathroom?

Hair was a struggle, as usual.

You're hurting me! That! Is! Hurting! Me!

By the time we made it downstairs, she had lost her TV program for tomorrow morning.

How can I earn it back?
By showing how well you get ready tomorrow morning!

At the door, she caught sight of her new shoes. Sparkly ballet flats that another girl wore to school. We had not yet decided whether hers would go, but if so they would be indoor shoes only. We were late already; the option to wear them wasn't on the table.

You can guess where this is going.

I want to wear my new shoes!

I'm wearing my new shoes!

My! New! Shoes! Now!

The shoes were promptly placed back in the store bag to tears and hysterics. With just enough time left for my husband to walk her to school.

Fifteen minutes later, I got this text:

Omfg Will has won the award for "cooperation" this month.

Irony at its best.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Of field trips and five-year-old queen bees

I volunteered to go on Will's first school field trip today. She is in a combined class of junior and senior kindergarten kids, which (for the record) is an integration I fully support. It is still nice to have a buddy your own age though, so I was disappointed when Will's main JK friend (and the only junior girl in the class) changed schools at the end of last week.

This morning I was put in charge of a group of four girls: Will, and three girls in SK. They included the twin we met in music class a couple of years ago, the girl who just got back from Disney World, and the Queen Bee.

At first the Queen Bee was only the instigator of shenanigans to just push the limit of whatever rule had been set. After being told to sit flat on their bottoms, she repeatedly half stood or kneeled and encouraged Disney to do the same. After getting off the bus, she directed the girls to hold hands in a line as we walked, or later, to link elbows. At the apple orchard, she tried to get Twin to pick up this or that rotten apple. She orchestrated seating arrangements on the train and wagon ride by announcing the girl she would be sitting beside, Twin and Disney following her lead.

She didn't actively exclude Will, none of them did, but they didn't make a point of including her either. But figuring out how to navigate these social waters is arguably the most important part of going to school - and in the process, to figure out who you are and who you want to be - so I took some deep breaths and just observed.

On the way home Will and I ended up sharing a seat with Queen Bee, across the aisle from the other girls. Will had missed out on a window seat on the way to the apple farm, and looked at me imploringly, whispering "I want the window." I told her to ask QB if she would mind switching, knowing she had sat at the window earlier in the morning.

"Can I sit at the window?"


Will looked at me and crossed her arms, her lip quivering. I decided to intervene.

"QB, didn't you have the window seat on the way here?" She nodded. "Is it okay if Will has a turn sitting there on the way back?"

"No. You get what you get."

Will started crying. I whispered to her that there was nothing we could do if QB didn't want to switch, that Will could only control her own reaction. I tried again: "I know you both want to sit at the window, so why don't we switch seats part way home, so you can both have a turn."

"No. I'm not moving."

Will kept crying. I thought some not very nice things about a five-year-old child and the child's mother, who was sitting a few rows back with her six-year-old son's class. Then the Queen Bee turned to Will: "Why are you crying?" When Will didn't answer, she turned to me. "Why is she crying?"

I gritted my teeth and kept my tone pleasant. "I think she would really like a turn sitting at the window."

"Oh. No. It's just a window."

Queen Bee had what she wanted, and she was keeping it. Until she noticed Twin and Disney giggling uncontrollably across the aisle. Without her.

She started shouting: "Disney! Twin! Hey! Disney! Twin!"

They were having to much fun to notice. That's when QB turned to me with her sweetest smile. "I want to sit with them."

I smiled back. "Oh, I'm sorry. We can't change seats when the bus is moving."

She tried again. "Please may I sit over there? I want to sit with those girls." She paused and looked at Will. "Then she can have the window."

Nice try, kid. "No. It's not safe to walk around when the bus is moving. Sorry!"

Frustrated, QB went back to shouting. "Disney! Twin! You know what? We'll play in the school yard when we get back, just the three of us! Wait until we get back! All three of us can play!"

And that's how we arrived back at the school: Will snuffling, Disney and Twin in their own world, QB desperately (and loudly) demanding to be included, and me, ready for a drink.

How will we ever make it through middle school?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Four years; Four months (okay, five months, but that doesn't have the same symmetry)

She calls herself a "goose ball", this free-spirit of a girl who finds a clearing in the woods and sings Lady Gaga for her parents and sister and all the wild life that has now been scared away. She loves to sing and dance and play dress up, her room looking more and more like a tornado has hit as she puts on and then discards every combination of every outfit she owns.

At four and a half years old, she has suddenly become a climber, perching on the edge of arm rests and bumbo seats, flinging herself off of tables and couches, willfully oblivious to our continued demands that she stay. off. the. furniture.

She is articulate, except when pretending to be a baby. Dear god when will she stop this infuriating game? (When she senses that I'm no longer bothered by it probably. So maybe never.) She could be mistaken for being developmentally disabled. Everything is a one word answer or demand, in a drawling whine of a voice. She staggers around, her arms flapping in front of her. "Bay-bee!'

She is creative and energetic and a joy to be around, unless she is tired or needs to eat. Then she is a beast who has escaped from the hell mouth. Refusing to eat. Refusing to sleep. Bereft of logic or rational thinking. Capable of throwing a screaming fit (especially if you have dared to tell her "NO") or a slow whining death (if you want her to do anything) until she is tricked into eating a granola bar or some fruit chews.

She draws the most incredible pictures and tells the most complicated stories to go with them. I am constantly in awe of her imagination and her ability to express herself.

She is generous and empathetic. She adores her sister, her cousins, her dad, me. She is excited by language and identifying words. She asks intelligent questions and wants to discuss complicated ideas.

She is our goose-ball.

This one is a delight to be around.

She wants to be in on the action, not content to be lying on the play mat, she needs to be up at the table, high in the baby hawk, part of whatever is going on.

She used to lean slowly towards what she wanted, now she has started to reach for it, with sudden, staccato flaps of her arms. She gets a hand in her mouth, the tail of a cat (if she's lucky), the dangling string from a hooded sweatshirt.

She will smile at almost anyone, especially if she's perched in my arms. She laughs hysterically and with abandon. She sleeps. Yes. She sleeps.

When I'm holding her she reaches her hand to the back of my neck: a hug, a caress. I press my lips against her temple, my voice into her ear: "I love you too."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just another day

In art class today, Will created a mask, a wand and a persona. She is now Princess of the Sneezing Flowers. This princess wears her mask, adorned with feathers, into the garden where she bends over flowers, making them sneeze. With each "ACHOO!" the flowers release the scent of strawberries. The princess then waves her wand, bringing forth the wind to carry the smell of strawberries into the castle and around the world.

Bea has spent the day smiling, shrieking at the indignity of being put in a carseat, eating, smiling, stuffing her entire fist in her mouth, attempting to propel herself out of her carseat with only the force of her mind and the weight of her head, smiling, and snoozing.

I am just breathing it all in, filled with gratitude.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What we've been doing for the past five (!) weeks

Meet our youngest daughter, Bea. Here she is just after birth on April 2nd, weighing in at 9 pounds, 5 ounces.

Will holds her baby sister for the first time.

Almost five weeks old and taking in her surroundings.

So that is the new normal around here, and it really is the best of what I'd hoped for. Although we can't stop channeling Miss Hannigan: Little girls, little girls, everywhere I look I can see them . . .

Friday, April 1, 2011

Translation fail

But it's still pretty funny to say it out loud.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reproduction for Preschoolers, Part 2

I was becoming a little concerned that Will didn't seem at all curious about how the baby would get out of my belly. I imagine it would be that, if nothing else, that I would wonder about if my mother was getting bigger by the day and somehow that belly was to transform into a living, breathing baby.

So I was relieved more than anything when she finally asked.

"How is that baby going to get out of there?"

"It's actually very interesting," I began.

"Will it hatch out of your belly like a giant egg?!"

That was logical. I knew Will must have come up with her own explanation.

"Um, no. Actually it will come out of my vagina. The baby's head is right here, and when it is ready, it will come down a tunnel and out. Of my vagina."

Will looked at me, her eyes wide.

"But what about your pants and underwear?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

As the weeks and now days count down to the birth, Will's concerns have remained focused.

"When it's time for that baby to come out, you need to get your pants and underwear off really fast!"

"But Mama, when the baby comes out, won't it fall on the floor?" (I explained that the midwives' job was to catch the baby so it didn't, in fact, fall.)

"When the baby wants to come out, get to the hospital, and then get your pants and underwear off right away!"

Reproduction for Preschoolers, Part 1

As my belly got bigger, I started waiting. I knew the question would come sooner or later: how will that baby get out of there?

But it was as if she had it all figured out in her 3 year old brain. Will showed no interest in how the baby would leave its current environment and join us in ours. She seemed to already have a theory she was comfortable with as the weeks went by.

She did need clarification on one little thing.

"How did that baby get in there?"

Her question took me by surprise as we were waking up one morning. Before I could answer, she got distracted by something and I took refuge in the Internet. ("explaining pregnancy to a preschooler" "preschooler asking how baby got in there" "reproduction for precocious 3 year olds" "HELP!!")

Will is quite nosey by nature, so I was convinced that a discussion of the "egg and seed" (which I had to practice saying with a straight face) was not going to be enough. But by god, I was ready, and of course, she waited for weeks before asking me again.

"Mama, how did that baby get in there?"

"It's actually very interesting," I began. "You see, the mommy has an egg, and the Daddy has a seed. And when the Daddy gives the seed to the mommy . . ."

Will's eyes lit up. "Then the baby grows and grows!"

"That's right!" I waited for her to ask where the egg and seed were kept, or how exactly the Daddy made the transfer.

She had other things to think about. "I wonder if the baby liked being a seed!"

"I have no idea."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Now with more crazy

I was going to blame the entire contents of this post on my daughter. I was going to describe the adolescent moodiness that is 3 1/2 (almost 4): my daughter, sweet and creative and thoughtful in one moment, stubborn and willful and cah-razy the next.

But you know, it's not all about the crazy of being three. It's that crazy coming up against the last trimester of pregnancy insanity. When those two collide? Watch out.

True events that have happened in the last few weeks:

The Bookstore Bathroom Battle
Will and I are about to leave Chapters after a lovely morning when she tells me she has to use the bathroom. We go to the bathroom. She refuses to go. We start to leave the store. She says she has to pee. We go back to the bathroom. She refuses to go. We start to leave. She sits on the floor. This scenario repeats several times until I am ready to lost my shit. I drag her back to the bathroom (not my proudest moment) and tell her we are not leaving until she pees. We are both hysterical. As Will stands in the stall singing I start weeping and text my husband that I may need to be rescued from the book store bathroom.

A few minutes later? Will pees and we go home, with my daughter narrating the whole incident as we go, a funny moment that has passed. It takes me hours to recuperate.

The battle over quiet time
Lunch is over and Will is watching an episode of "Kai-Lan" before quiet time, a time that sometimes still becomes nap time, but either way must take place alone in one's room. (Um, yeah. That part is not going so well.)

The "Kai-Lan" episode ends and the DVR shuts off, but the television has been left on a children's channel. I hear the opening of "Angelina Ballerina," which is a favourite and only 15 minutes long, and I ask Will if she wants to watch the episode before going upstairs. She agrees and we review the expectations: "What will happen as soon as Angelina is over?" Will makes little snoring sounds. "Yes. You need to go right upstairs to snooze or have some quiet time."

The show ends. I ask Will whether she wants to turn off the TV or have me do it. She screams at me. I turn the TV off. She turns it back on. I turn it off and tell her she will not be watching any more TV today. She screetches, "Yes! I! Will!" and turns it back on. I turn off the cable and tell her I cannot carry her upstairs because of my belly, but I will be waiting for her in her room.

I am a little bit surprised that she does drag herself slowly up the stairs. I suggest that she pees before quiet time, but don't insist since she probably won't sleep anyway. She gathers a few books and we sit on her bed to talk about what has happened. I ask her why she won't get to watch any more TV. She knows and tells me. We talk about being rude. I ask her whether she thinks she will get to watch a second TV show anytime soon. She doesn't think so. I leave her with her books and go downstairs.

It's quiet for so long that I wonder if Will has actually fallen asleep. Then I hear her voice.

"Mama! I need to tell you something. I peed."

There is a terrible silence before I ask, "Where?"

Sitting on her bed, reading, my angry almost 4 year old just peed. Just sat there and peed.

That child is lucky I can hold it together, even when losing my shit. She tries to tell me that "sometimes things happen" but I look right in her eyes and say, "This wasn't an accident, was it?" She shakes her head. "You peed because you were angry?" She nods. I put up the gate and make it downstairs before I burst into tears.

It took hours before I could discuss this incident with my daughter. Hours. But we were finally able to brainstorm some more appropriate things to do when we are angry. Scream into a pillow. Do an angry dance. Draw an angry picture.

A few days later Will stormed up to her room and returned with this:

Will told us these people were angry, so they were shouting into pillows. Then they left the angry in the pillows and were happy again.

An afternoon of crazy wasn't wasted after all.