Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"No I Amen't!"

That's what Thing 1, sick with a cold, vehemently said this morning when his sister inquired if he was going to school with her.

I'm not exactly sure how "No I'm not" somehow became "No I amen't!"

But I can respect the passion.

Still, the big feelings these little people get can overwhelm. And I don't just mean them.

I recall a David Sipress cartoon from the New Yorker in which a father and mother faced their young progeny, and the father addressed the kids thusly: "Your mother and I are feeling overwhelmed, so you'll have to bring yourselves up." (See the cartoon here.)

That's exactly how Late Blooming Mom -- and Dad for that matter -- felt tonight after Thing 1 and Thing 2 began to grab for the same toy after dinner. When I took the toy away from both kids, telling them, "If you fight over it, the toy goes away," a switch flipped in Thing 2 and she went from "difficult" to "The Wrath of Khan" in sixty seconds. Her fit continued for the next fifteen minutes, during which we mostly ignored her, though Thing 1 did his part to make things worse by being the unfeeling little brother, laughing at her plight. This was deemed unacceptable and got HIM a talking to. Finally Late Blooming Dad managed to get her in the bathroom, at least in proximity of her waiting bubble bath. There I gave her cold water to drink, stroked her calmly, and got her at least down to "Defcon 2."

Getting their teeth brushed and hair combed was well nigh impossible, given their lack of ability to focus on anything that needed doing, in favor of dawdling and finding new ways to distract one another or, in Thing 1's case, weave in and out over the sink so that more toothpaste wound up on the sleeve of his Alien pajamas than in his mouth.

Our nightly routine of late involves Late Blooming Mom or Dad sitting in the right angle where their beds come together (the two beds forming an L shape) and reading books to them by flashlight. Tonight things went awry within moments because Thing 1 had chosen a lift-the-flap book, and Thing 2 insisted on lifting the very same flaps Thing 1 wanted to lift, while Thing 1 was insistent on going first all the time. I finally had to take the book away from them and move to the next book. This very nearly caused escalation to "Orange Terror Alert" on the part of Thing 2, but when she saw it was no use throwing yet another fit, because I'd already started reading the next book -- one she wanted anyway -- she shut up.

By this time, dad had already poked his head back in the room twice to find out why I'd raised my voice at them yet again. Dad had reached the top of his fed-up-meter by the time the baths had ended, so it was lucky for me that exhaustion finally kicked in on Thing 2's part -- the fits had taken their toll, and she just didn't have another in her. And Thing 1, who remember has a cold, was already settling into a Benadryl-induced drowsy state.

Thing 1 was out minutes after I finished the second book. Thing 2 took a bit longer -- she just had to have one more, if minor, freak-out. As I curled up next to her she declared, "My finger hurts," and tried to pry a band-aid out of me, but I stood firm, then tried to distract her: "Think of how much fun we're going to have on Saturday when we go to ballet, and have a girl-girl date." (That's what I call a day when I take her out alone.)

At last, the boy was snoring and the girl was sleeping quietly up against me. I finally left the room and unclenched at last.

The big passions come out of these little bodies, and they tend to do so at day's end, when mom and dad have the least energy and reserve to roll with the rolling waves of feelings too big to handle.

One day, I'm going to show them that David Sipress cartoon.


Unknown said...

Loved getting your comment on Mommy Lite! Thanks for following! I'll follow you too! Best, Sarah

Unknown said...

So cute and love that cartoon. Thanks so much for the link!!!!!

William V. Madison said...

Somehow, every time you mention the Alien pajamas, I picture the Sigourney Weaver Alien, and not the Toy Story Alien. I wonder whether, when the kids are being extra difficult, you start to picture the Other Alien, too! (But I don't think that would be an appropriate image on pajamas -- for any age.)

Uncle Bill

P.S. My dad used to say "amen't" a lot, as a joke.