Monday, July 28, 2014

Daily (mis)adventures vol. 1

Any parent of a preschooler would probably agree that mealtimes can produce some of the most epic battles between parent and child.  At least that has been the case for our family as of late.  It is not so much the battle of what food is on the plate (i.e. they are not really picky eaters), it is more the issue of actually getting them to sit still long enough to eat whatever it is on the plate.  This morning Elisabeth requested an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly.  Simple enough.  Unfortunately she took only ONE bite when she hopped off her chair and announced she was going to play.  I knew that this was not enough calories to break the fast, so I told her she had to finish the English muffin before she could play with her brother and sister, and as any healthy 3 year old would do, she dug in.  And I responded just as any normal parent of a 3 year old would do: I dug in too.  So there we were, seated next to each other in a complete stalemate.  I resolved to keep calm and she remained surprisingly calm too.  She just wouldn’t eat.  But the longer she sat there, the more upset I became, ever questioning my parenting skills.  I tapped my foot in impatience, I looked up at the ceiling and gritted my teeth.  I was finally at the point where I was fighting back tears….WHY does everything seem to be a battle with this child?!...when she efficiently chewed all that remained of her English muffin.  And to top it off, she said she was sorry and gave me a hug.  Crisis of the day resolved.  Or so I thought.

As she ran off to play, I realized that the other two children were oddly quiet.  Never a good sign.  I asked Margaret what she was doing, and she gave me the reply that makes every parent cringe: “Nothing.”  I found her hiding behind one of the armchairs in the room (hiding is also a very bad sign) and I knew immediately why she had not been forthcoming with her current activity.  I didn’t even have to smell the present she had hiding in her underwear to know.  I am very proud to say that I kept my cool, and told her to go upstairs so I could clean her up.  In the meantime, Gregory was pulling on the refrigerator door and whining (unlike his sisters, this kid has absolutely no problem sitting down to eat; he’s a mealtime machine).  I opened it for him and he pointed to some yogurt.  So I set him up in the booster seat with his little snack, contemplated leaving him for the time it would take me to clean up Margaret, told myself that yogurt doesn’t really pose much of a choking hazard, said a prayer to his Guardian Angel anyway, and left him to his yogurt.  As I was finishing up with Margaret, I heard Gregory crying.  Well, as my husband always says when he hears a child wailing, at least he’s got an airway.  I hurried down to the kitchen to find a little toddler COVERED in pink yogurt: face, shirt, hands….and the little container on the floor (the reason for his distress).  I cleaned him up as best I could without getting much sticky pink stuff on myself. 

This is proving to be a busy morning.

Elisabeth announced that she wanted to wear the “Sleeping Beauty” dress (aptly named because it is long and pink).  Now normally I don’t have a problem with the girls choosing their own outfits.  However, when the temperature barely reaches 20, and the dress in question is a light, sleeveless summer dress, I have to put my foot down.  Even with tights and a sweater she would not have been warm enough.  I took a deep breath, knowing the reaction I would encounter, as I said quietly but firmly, “No.”  Immediate whining.  Instantaneous flailing of hands and feet.  Jumping up and down in protest.  It was the whole package.  I tried to suggest other pink dresses (with long sleeves, of course), but nothing seemed to console her.  So I tried my best to ignore her behavior.  Key word here is tried.  I started to get very annoyed, especially when she wailed that she was COLD (anyone else see the irony?).  So in yet another stalemate, she announced she was tired and going back to bed. 

A quick summary of the scene.  I have a half-naked toddler following the yogurt explosion, I am loading up the washer because the yogurt explosion and Margaret explosion warranted such, and I have a disgruntled little girl cuddled up in bed, completely naked save for a pair of fairy underwear. 

It is at these precise moments, when EVERYTHING is in a semi-controlled chaos, and all I can do is to let out a large sigh and look up to heavens asking, “What exactly am I supposed to do now?” when the situation starts to turn around.  I took a bathroom retreat for myself just to allow myself some personal space and a few moments of quiet.  A bit calmer and some confidence regained, I re-entered the circus tent AKA the playroom.  And the quaintest of scenes lay before me.  Margaret came running up to me with a drawing of 5 smiley faces and pointed out each member of our family.  She was so proud of her work, and each barely recognizable smiley face had the broadest of smiles.  Gregory was sitting on the floor most contentedly stacking plastic teacups from the girls’ tea set.  And Elisabeth came bounding in the room with a seasonally appropriate, color-coordinated, and incredibly cute butterfly ensemble.  Everyone was all smiles, content in finding their own activity, and proud of their individual accomplishments.  If anyone had come in the room at that moment, they probably would have observed how easy it is to take care of 3 little ones.  It was as if the entire previous half hour had been erased from time.  I stood there incredulously for at least 2 minutes. 

Well, I guess if everyone is playing so nicely, I can go get dressed.  I looked at my watch: only 8:50 AM.  Only 5 more hours until naptime.  Piece of cake, Mama.