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."