Saturday, September 21, 2013

Do the right thing

Once Maddie came to stay with us full time, parenting went from a Very Manageable, Enjoyable Job to High Stress, High Stakes Career.  Isabella had been such an easy kid - very mellow and adaptable, somewhat ornery at times, but overall, a breeze.  She had a set bedtime and she rarely woke up before 6:45 in the morning.  Gina and I thought we were getting away with murder, basically - we had this cute kid who admittedly arrived with a bit of trauma but who seemed unaffected by said trauma.

Maddie alone is a tough kid - beautiful and sweet but with a temper running in her bloodline she sometimes can't control. Alone, both kids present their own challenges...toddlers are difficult, as a rule. Together, they are maniacs. They are lunatics in adorable little-girl bodies. 

Parenting two children this young is not something I would have ever avoided on purpose; however, it is also not something I was prepared for.  Would it be different if the new child that had arrived had been a newborn?  I'll never know.  And I don't have time to think about it - my life is now full to the brim with transitioning the girls to the next part of the day: asleep to awake, morning at home to morning at daycare, daycare to car, car to home, home to dinner, dinner to bath, bath to bed, mommy to Jack Daniels, and so on.  These transitions are never consistently seamless, despite our best efforts.  Our daycare provider suggested bringing something to entice them into the car so that we could avoid the screaming fits from one or both if she couldn't open the door, or shut the door, or climb over the other's car seat to get to her own, or buckle herself in (ISABELLA HELP YOU!  ISABELLA DO IT! - News flash, you'd help me a whole lot by SITTING THE EFF DOWN and letting me BUCKLE YOU IN LOVE YOU MEAN IT OKAY?).  So one day when I had a little extra time, I ran home before going to get them and I secured some pretzel sticks for them.  They are ravenous little beasts right after school and I thought maybe a small snack would help.  It turned into Isabella having some pretzel left that Maddie wanted, and Isabella wouldn't give it to her (even though she wasn't eating it), and Maddie didn't regain control of her wits until about an hour and a half later. And then there is bedtime, which admittedly is getting better (Maddie is starting to fall asleep to songs and rocking instead of Rizzoli & Isles), but it is such a process, and there are no rules, and Gina and I end the night barely awake at 10pm, wondering what we are doing wrong, if we are doing ANYTHING right, and if we are ever again going to have a life that doesn't include trying to console a 3 year old because her 2 year old cousin flushed her poop without her written permission.

It's hard.  There is yelling.  Lots of yelling.  By me, by Gina, and by them.  I don't want to yell at them, I know yelling is my temper tantrum, but it usually WORKS and it makes me feel better.  I say stuff to them, try to reason with them, in a way that makes absolutely no sense.  I ask them insane questions - "Why would you do that?" Answer: I am 3 or I am almost 2 (depending on the kid), I make no sense whatsoever, haven't you figured that out yet, you fool?  And then my favorite is when they have a case of the "MINE!s", we are both known to say something like, "You know what?  NONE OF THIS IS YOURS!  It's all MINE and I let YOU play with it, so calm down!"

We both have college degrees, you guys.

They say you should be the person you want your child to be.  I'm not there yet, and I can see it when Maddie plays with her babies and gets right in their face and says, "Stop it! Nap! Quiet!" in the sternest voice a three-year-old can muster.  I can see it when Isabella looks at her milk (HER MILK) and says, "Stop it, milk!" in her quiet, authoritative voice.  And I can see it in how they talk to each other, when Isabella tries to shut the door (there is a no-shutting-the-door rule in our house (lest fingers get caught) that is broken every six seconds), and Maddie goes up and grabs her by the arms and says, "NO, Isabella, no shutting the door!"  It's in moments like this that I know I'm just screwing them up, and they will grow up talking about their mean mommy/auntie, and by then, therapy will be like $2000 an hour.

Inevitably, the tears come.  You get to a point where you are too angry and too tired to even yell, and the tears start falling if for no other reason than your body forcing you to just CLOSE YOUR EYES for a minute.  About 30 minutes after we got them home from daycare on my 35th birthday a few weeks ago (a birthday I was NOT looking forward to), I hit my wall.  They were fighting and screaming at each other over I can't even remember what, and there was still dinner to give and a kitchen to clean and baths to administer, and I had nothing. left. and I just put my head in my hands and let the lump in my throat evolve to tears, because just like yelling, tears make me feel better.  They stopped fighting and just looked at me.  Maddie came over to me and put her hand on my arm.  "Aunt Katie, so sad?"  I said, "Yes, I'm sad."  And then, as though it were scripted in a movie, she rubbed my arm, and then leaned her head on my shoulder and said, "It's okay, Katie.  I got you.  No sad.  I got you.  Ssssh.  I got you."

I guess we're doing something right.  Maybe they can get away with bi-weekly instead of weekly therapy sessions?

No comments: