2/27/08

Kindergarten Vendetta

A few weeks ago, I -- perhaps inappropriately -- shared with Mallory my strongest memory of my kindergarten days, which is this: I had to share a locker with a boy named Reuben, and Reuben was mean. Reuben was mean because every time we were at the locker at the same time, Reuben would turn to me and shout, "My locker! My locker!" And in my memory of this, Reuben's dark hair is spiky and villainous and his eyes are glowing with wrath and spittle flies from his mouth as he proclaims our locker to be his sole domain. You don't have to tell me that my memory may be embellishing the facts just a bit for dramatic purposes.

So Mallory, I don't know why or under what circumstances, apparently told this story to her kindergarten class. The whole class. And the whole class was awash with indignation. "Oh my!" her teacher said. Many kids said, "That's not nice!" And one boy, the boy who "always tries to help people," according to my daughter, said, "I'm going to find that boy and tell him to be nice to your mother!"

I am absurdly touched.

As for Reuben -- wherever you are today, you just better watch your back.

2/26/08

Another Bedtime Conversation

Prior to lights-out, we read The Runaway Bunny. Mallory saw the inscription on the first page and asked what it said. "To Mallory from Mimi," I said. "No, there are more words than that," my now-literate-child corrected. I sighed and said, "It says, 'To Mallory from Aunt Amy and Uncle S.'" Mallory said, "Who's S?" I said, "The person Mimi used to be married to." Mallory said, "Oh yeah, I remember." Then we read the book and the girls got into bed. And then:

Mallory: Why isn't Mimi married to that boy anymore?

Me: They just decided they would be happier if they weren't married anymore.

Mallory: But why?

Me: Well, actually, S wasn't always very nice to Mimi.

Phoebe: Oh no!

Mallory: What would he do?

Me: I don't know exactly. He just wasn't always a nice guy.

Mallory: Did they fight?

Me: Yes.

Mallory: Sometimes you and Daddy fight.

Me: Yes, we do. The difference is that Daddy and I still try to be respectful of one another, even if we fight, and we still love one another. S was not always respectful, so Mimi decided not to be married to him anymore.

Phoebe: Yeah, that's right!

Mallory: Mommy, do you know one reason why I love you?

Me: Why?

Mallory: Because I really like the boy you married.

Me: Thanks. I like him too.

Mallory: And you got some really nice babies too!

Me: Yes, I agree.

2/25/08

Compromises

Mallory has a problem with primary nocturnal enuresis -- in other words, she wets the bed. Rather, she wets a Pull-up; it's highly ironic that I went to a great deal of time and effort to use cloth diapers for her as a baby and then have had to use a disposable pull-up for her every single night for going on four years. Her pediatrician told me not to worry about it; that some kids, due to a combination of heavy sleeping, small bladders, immature brain-bladder connection, whatever, just aren't able to hold it until they're 7 or so and any methods I may have tried -- waking her at midnight, withholding fluids, etc -- probably wouldn't have worked anyway.

So I have followed the path of least resistance and done nothing. And lo and behold, around Christmas she started to have the occasional dry night. Hooray! In February, I started drawing a star on the calendar for every morning she woke up dry. I told her that if she got ten starts in a row, she could have a special treat. This Saturday she woke up dry, I drew a star, and she counted and said, "Ten stars! I get a treat!" I said, "You have ten total stars this month, but not ten in a row." She said, "Don't you think I should get a little treat?"

So I agreed that maybe she could have something little. "How about...a TV in my room?" she said.

"No."

"Um...how about going to Disney World?"

"No!"

"Um...I know, a puppy!"

Good grief, I hate to think what the child will expect if she ever does earn a "big" treat. We finally settled on going roller skating. She said it was the most fun ever. I was happy to oblige. I'll let you know if she ever does get ten in a row...and what we manage to agree on for a special surprise at that point.

2/21/08

Blue!

One step closer to finished:



I love it. Looking at my kitchen makes me very happy. Much thanks to my father-in-law and husband for painting today while I was at work.

Next steps: Touching up the paint on the trim and doors. Assembling the cute little bookshelf I got for that area to the right of the door in the picture. I also bought a very cool wall organizer thingie from Pottery Barn to hang on that wall, covering up the gaping hole where the phone jack used to be, but alas, the item arrived damaged so I have to send it back to PB for a replacement. Also, we have to paint the entryway and bathroom. And hang curtains and maybe blinds. I'm tired already. But I love what we've done so far.

2/19/08

Sneak Peek!

We painted half of the kitchen this weekend; the top half and the trim, to be precise:





It's not exactly a subtle shade of yellow, is it? Mostly I like it. Sometimes I look at the walls and think that it looks like a big jar of mustard exploded in the kitchen. I think I'll be pleased with the final product, though; the wall beneath the chair rail is going to be a bright blue, similar too (although not as dark as) the colors in the pitcher in the second picture.

We also, obviously, need to hang the curtains and get new outlet and switchplate covers.

Did you also notice my valentine's day roses? Thanks Chris!

I'll post more pictures when the entire thing is done. Stay tuned!

Oh,and here are the girls helping:



And, have you seen Mallory without her front teeth? Because that's cuter than my half-done kitchen any day.

2/15/08

Bad morning, part 379

I spanked Mallory this morning.

Chris and I kind of vowed, in a non-binding kind of way, not to spank our kids. We don't care what other people do, we just figured we'd try other methods of discipline first. This morning I tried all the other methods and none of them worked, and she's been awful, simply awful, every morning this week, and I'd had it, and in a moment of I-don't-know-what-else-to-do, I spanked her.

And honestly, it was kind of a relief. Not because it worked -- because it didn't, it just made the whole situation worse. "You hurt me!" she howled, and then she started hitting me, and then she told me how mean and awful I was, and then she cried for her daddy, and none of this drama helped us get to school on time. No, I was relived because it didn't work. Because now I know it doesn't work, and I can stop wondering, in the midst of every upcoming power struggle we have, whether I should just haul off and spank her. Now I know it's not effective, and I'm satisfied with that.

I apologized, a few minutes later. I told her that I was angry, and that I shouldn't have hit her, and that hitting was wrong no matter who does it, and that later we'd sit down and work out a better way of handling our mornings so they don't all end up in a screaming match. And we hugged for a minute and then she ate her waffle and I think she's fine. I also think it's quite probable that she'll bring up the incident many times in the coming decades because that's the kind of child she is.

Because she also remembers this:

A few months ago we were out in the backyard. I was over by the fence with Mallory, searching for caterpillars, when I heard Phoebe cry out. I turned and saw her dangling backward from the treehouse ladder. I sprinted across the lawn -- moving faster than I had for years -- and caught her before she fell on her head. Trauma averted, Phoebe was fine, and I hadn't even thought Mallory noticed what was going on. A few weeks later, though, she said apropos of nothing, "If I were falling out of the treehouse and I called for you, would you run run run to save me?"

And of course I said yes.

And I say to Mallory (and Phoebe) now:

I will nag at you to eat your vegetables. I will make you brush your teeth and pick up your toys. I will deny you a third piece of Valentine's candy and I will force you to buckle up in the car. I will not let you watch TV all day long and I will not let you finger paint after your bath. I will snap at you when you try my patience and I will yell at you when you frustrate me and I will yank you, not gently, by the arm if you try to run off in the parking lot.

But I will always run run run to catch you if you fall. And I hope that makes up for all the rest.

2/13/08

Why it's important to really listen to your children

Phoebe was singing a little song to herself as we got ready to leave this morning. As I yelled at Mallory asked Mallory nicely to get her backpack and threw biscuits at the dog to get her to stop barking and searched for my keys and cell phone, the words of her song slowly filtered through:

I don't have a diaper on
Mommy forgot my diaper today
I really need a diaper on
Mommy forgot to give me one

It occurs to me that if she's smart enough to make up a song about it, she's also smart enough to potty-train.

2/12/08

That's pronounced Fee-Bee-Ah

Last night Phoebe said, "I got hurt at school today!"

"Oh no!" I replied. "What happenened?"

"I bonked my head. And I cried!"

"Did your teacher help you?" I asked.

"No...My teacher said she didn't see anything."

"Really?"

"Yeah. And my teacher said to get a number."

"What?"

"And my teacher said it was time to wock n woll."

"Okay...is your head okay now?"

"Yeth, Mamma."

"All right then."




Phoebe loves Shrek. Phoebe is obsessed with Shrek and watches at least one of the Shrek movies at least once a day. She talks about Shrek and "Biona" and the Donkey, and she asks me to help her re-enact her favorite scene from Shrek II: "Are we there yet?" "NO!" "Are we there yet?" "NO!" "Are we there yet?" "NO!" "Where are we going?"
"Far...far...away!"

The other night we were in Target and Chris plucked from an endcap a can of -- "Shrek thoup!" Phoebe exclaimed. She was extraordinarily excited about this soup, and it was on clearance (eww, clearance soup!) so I bought it for her. She asked to hold it when we got to the car and she clutched it the whole way home. The next morning she saw it on the counter -- "It's my Shrek thoup!" she shouted -- so we had to take it with us to school. I convinced her to leave it in the car once we got there, and she agreed, after giving the can a big kiss first. That night she got home and had a loving reunion with her can of Shrek thoup. "I want to eat this, Mamma, in my mouth!" she said. So I cooked it up and served it to her (after draining off the broth, which I knew she wouldn't eat, and I also would've picked out the chicken and vegetables except this can of chicken noodle soup had about three pieces of chicken and maybe five itsy bitsy bits of carrot). She ate the Shrek noodles and "Biona" noodles and Donkey noodles while saying, "I love this, it's so good!" But when her bowl was empty she pushed it away and said, "I don't like Shrek thoup!"




Phoebe has started to add an extra syllable to many of her words. No has become No-ah, shampoo is shampoo-ah, okay is okay-ah, and I've become Mamma instead of Mommy even though her grandma is also "Mama" and everyone is getting very confused. It's kind of contagious, too; this morning I caught myself telling Mallory to close the door-ah on her way out.




A few nights ago Phoebe found a pad of post-it notes and a pen and announced that she was "writing work". Mallory said, "Hey Phoebe, are you writing your name?" Phoebe agreed. "How do you spell your name?" Mallory asked. Phoebe said, "D R E Y F!" Mallory repeated the question several times and Phoebe recited the same letters each time. Chris came in from down the hall and said, "Hey Phoebe, how do you spell your name?"

Phoebe turned to him, pen in hand, and said very firmly and with great emphasis, "D! R! E! Y! F!"

2/11/08

My Best Work

This weekend the girls were drawing. Phoebe finished her picture and moved on to something else; I saw Mallory lean over and write something on Phoebe's paper. I went over and read this:

"Not Phebe's best werk."




Mallory loves writing. Every day before she goes to school, she says, "Oh, I hope we write sentences today!" Some examples:

"When I am 7 years old I will take a pony lessen."

"I want to have long hair like a mermaid."

"In 100 years I would be a dokter for little kids."

"I love my mom and my dad and I like my dog and my cat." ("This one isn't true because we don't really have a cat," she explained later.)

"My mom and my daddy and my sister and I went to eat at Red Robin and we came home and had ice cream."

"A mail truck is a truck and a fire truck is a truck."

And, this almost poetic description of a painting: "My little flower, pretty and red in the sun."

I told her that maybe she'll be a writer when she grows up. She gasped and said, "I can do that?" I said sure, and that in fact, when I was a little girl I'd wanted to be a writer when I grew up. She said, "Well then, why aren't you?

Why indeed.

Really, there are lots of reason -- can't make a living writing, don't have time to focus on it, don't have any great ideas -- but I think the true reason is tied in to last week's "Zero" post. I'm afraid to fail; therefore, I often don't try things that I believe I will fail in doing. Which explains a lot about my current job and lots of other things about my life, too, sadly enough.

I'm still looking to accomplish my "best werk." Maybe someday I'll get there, or at least have the courage to try.

2/10/08

Success at last

Right after Christmas, I purchased myself a new laptop. It arrived just about a month ago, and it is sleek and lovely and full of features. Unfortunately, I had no end of problems and frustrations trying to get it connected to the internet. Finally, we had to hire someone to do it for me, and now, finally, I'm connected. Now, after spending all day at work on the internet, I can come home and spend more time on the internet! What a weird world we humans have created for ourselves. (We did, of course, already have a computer at home, but technically it's Chris's and he uses it at night for important things like lessons plans.)

The kids have had fun with my new computer too. The other night we played around with the webcam. Look and see!









And look at that! I'm posting on a Sunday morning! Woohoo!

2/6/08

Zero

I don't remember what the worksheet was about -- something to do with math, I'm sure. There were only four problems, and I got them all wrong. I was in second grade and I don't think I'd ever gotten less than a 95 on any paper or test. To be handed back a worksheet with a big red "0" at the top was shocking, to say the least.

Needless to say, I wasn't concerned about my failure to master the material. I wasn't even old enough to worry about how this ZERO would affect my grade point average. No, my only concern, the only thing on my mind, was destroying the evidence so that no one would ever, ever know that I had received the worst grade ever on a paper.

So alarmed was I by the possibility of being discovered that the simple act of tearing the paper up and throwing it in the classroom trash can was Not Good Enough. Instead, I very stealthily, when no one was looking, erased my name from the top of the paper. Using my left hand, I wrote another name, and I'm embarrassed to say that I think the name I used was "Juan." Then I slipped the paper into my pocket. I checked it obsessively during the long minutes left in that school day.

I had piano lessons after school that day, so instead of going to the bus line I had to walk a block to my teacher's music studio. Since I had already broken all the rules by GETTING A ZERO, I chanced walking down the alley rather than following the sidewalk. There, after looking around very carefully to make sure no one was looking, I took the "Juan" worksheet out of my pocket, wadded it up for good measure, and threw it into a big dumpster. Then I ran away, as fast as I could.

My precautions worked. My subterfuge was successful. No one ever knew about THE ZERO.

No one, that is, until today.

2/5/08

Ewww

Mallory often wakes up and tells me that she doesn't want to go to school. Usually she gives the standard excuses: Stomach ache, stuffy nose, bad cough. Sometimes her reasons are exclusive to the Catholic school student: It's Mass day and the incense hurts my eyes; I have Religion today and it's boring.

Today her reason was so valid that I found it hard to say, sorry, you're going to school anyway:

"I don't want to go because I have to sit next to Petey, and he keeps sneezing on me."

2/4/08

I spent the morning searching online for new curtains for my soon-to-be-repainted kitchens, and my conclusion is that there are, wow, just a lot of really ugly curtains for sale out there.



(I apologize if you happen to have these curtains hanging in your kitchen.)

I finally found a pair I liked...at Ikea. Who doesn't sell their curtains online. They just post the pictures online so you can see them and want them and then realize that you cannot have them, unless you're willing to drive to Atlanta or College Park, MD. Which I'm not, for curtains.

Maybe I'll get a nice pair of blinds instead.

2/1/08

Again with the guilt

My father-in-law is the "Safety Patrol Officer" at Mallory's school, so every morning after I see Mallory off to her classroom, Phoebe and I go hang out in front of the church until Bob/Papa gets through herding people safely across the crosswalk, at which point he takes Phoebe to his house and I go on to work. (Mallory's school is right by the church; the preschool is in the church. Just to clarify. Anyway.)

Lately Phoebe has devised a new game, wherein she instructs me to stand at one end of the sidewalk while she runs away from me, toward the church doors. She looks back every few steps and calls, "Stay there, Mommy! Don't go anywhere!" When she reaches the doors, she turns back and we wave to each other and play peekaboo and so forth, and then she'll yell, "I'm coming back to you!" and runs back down the sidewalk to me for a hug. Repeat ten or twelve times -- that's our morning game. People walking past always comment on how happy she is during this time, and it's true, she's just always beaming and skipping around and really enjoying herself.

Until, that is, Papa finishes his duties and comes over and says, "Okay, Phoebe, it's time to go!" And it's like all the joy is just sucked right out of her. She hangs her head and her mouth turns down and she looks like she'll never be happy again. She doesn't cry, she doesn't hang on to me and plead with me not to leave her. She just looks pathetically sad.

And I know, I know she loves her Papa, I know that she's fine all day long and that as soon as they get home she has toast and watches Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and she gets her happiness back and it's no problem. I know that I'm not scarring her for life because I have to go to work. I know that she's really, really, fine.

But man, I hate seeing her looking so sad.