Monday, December 31, 2007

The one where we come full circle...

Remember my "recent" post about what a great mom Bryn thinks I am?

As anticipated, that feeling has vaporized over the Christmas break.

Now, her catch-phrase is "Mommy, be nice to me." Sometimes she mixes it up and says, "Don't be mean to me, Mommy." Usually that last one is offered up through very dramatic tears.

In the spirit of full disclosure, these pronouncements usually occur after I've had to get on to her about something. The most common somethings of late are not listening, not obeying (aka taking one's own sweet time to comply), not being safe in the street, and the like. Given the weight of those infractions, I think I'm more than within my rights to raise my voice a little. I am an exceedingly patient person...until I get pushed WAY too far. I suppose it would be more fair to her for my breaking point to have some sort of signage, but still....I'm certainly not being MEAN to the child.

So when she starts with the "be NIIIIce, Mommy...don't be me-ee-eeaan to me, Mommy" stuff...I have even less patience for her 'tude.

Last night, we were driving to grab some dinner...talking about our upcoming trip to see GG and Papa...and all of the sudden Bryn squeals with delight. I naturally assume it is related to her delight about going to see all the Princesses....

Nope. She just says,

"I'm so excited that you're being nice to me!"


Thursday, December 27, 2007

PHOTO UPDATE: Christmas Day Shenanigans

What began as a perfectly normal, delightful Christmas day, quickly turned into one head-shaker after another. See if you can tell when the day took a turn. It was hard to tell when I was living it, but--man--by the end of the day, I was whooped and ready for bed.

1. Bryn slept late, but fortunately Santa didn't mind. That allowed me to start some "breakfast" (also known as Pillsbury quick bread) to cook while we opened gifts.

2. We opened gifts. Glee abounded.

3. We ate the "breakfast"--but I had to be stingy with the milk because I only had about an inch of it left in the jug (more on this later). If anyone older than 3 asked for milk, I had to quickly assess if they really meant it--and by how much--as that affected my choice of glasses. Luckily, we made it through breakfast without incident.

4. Bryn received an electric car for Christmas. Naturally, she wanted to hit the road in it. After grazing both of our cars, she made it to the "open sidewalk" and when she went to turn---one of the wheels fell off. OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but it did slip off the axle in such a way that the car wouldn't turn properly. Soooo, within 3 minutes of having the thing---it was back in the shop. The adage that a car depreciates dramatically when you drive it off the lot apparently holds for Disney Princess convertibles as well. But...Dad and Papa got her up and running again pretty quickly, so she took a quick spin around the sidewalk. (technically, we have A LOT of work to do on steering, lest we take out the neighbors' landscaping more noticeably.)

5. GG and Papa left to drive back to Florida.

6. We lounged for a bit while deciding what to do for lunch. Our Christmas lunch will require a separate post--mainly because I'm still a little traumatized and can't speak of it just yet. Suffice it to say, it was a head shaker, too.

7. As imagined, Bryn wanted to ride her car when we returned. As I mentioned, I was traumatized a mite, so I thought resting was a better idea. We cracked into her Cinderella movie that she got for Christmas--with the promise that she didn't have to sleep. I took my cell phone to the playroom to make some holiday calls while we were at it. As Bryn sat transfixed at the sight of her favorite (a word that somehow doesn't seem adequate) princess, I decided that it was rude to talk through her first viewing of such a classic. So I promptly fell asleep.

8. Following Cinderella, we (read: Beau) made good on the promise to take Bryn and the Princess convertible to the parking lot of the neighborhood school for a little joy ride/steering lesson. While they were gone, I attempted to pick up the house from our guests and Christmas morning, etc.

9. Beau and Bryn return. Bryn was wailing; Beau was steaming; my "hey-how-much-fun-was-that" grin was suddenly very inappropriate. As I helped her out of the truck, Beau told me that she needed to go straight to her room. EEK. Was getting the impression that it was, in fact, NOT a fun trip to the parking lot. Apparently, Bryn declined Beau's "request" to put her jacket on in the sharp wind, and when Beau required it, she basically made a run for it in her car. (Beau still cannot speak of the fit-of-epic-proportions, so I can't confirm any of this....but my mind's eye pictures Bryn driving around erratically in circles with Beau chasing her like a little kid trying to catch a football that doesn't bounce straight. I'll be sure to correct this image if I'm way off--when he's up for it.)

10. Back to Bryn in her bedroom...very upset...she knows that she's in trouble because she didn't listen and wouldn't put on her jacket...she basically proposes a "do-over" which isn't going to happen since dad's still steaming and the whole affair required loading up the electric car into the truck and hauling it elsewhere. I leave her to calm down on her own and go to try to calm Beau down.

11. Bryn gets very quiet, and Beau decides that they should make up. Next thing I hear is "Honey, what are you doing?". My gut says "grab the camera," and I head upstairs. Bryn has a small aquarium in her room. When I turn the corner in her room, I hear: "The fish were hungry. ... Look, Mommy! It's snowing! Only it's not snow, it's food!" She was so proud of herself. In the quiet of her mind, she had decided that the fish really needed some food---all of the food. It truly was a blizzard of orange flakes, and little "food drifts" were forming on the bottom of the tank. The fish (although you could hardly see them for all the "snow") were swimming around in seeming ecstasy. I can see how she thought they would just LOVE some extra food for the holiday. Beau proceeded to siphon out all the food, but in the process had to take out more water than is good for the fish. Basically, we were going to kill them with too much food or too much new water. Don't know which is the worse way to go. (I can happily report that all seven fish are alive and well at print time, however.)

12. After our big lunch, we weren't really hungry, so we poked around for dinner. And afterwards, I decided to get back to making my phone calls to family. Remembered my cell phone up in the playroom, so off I went to retrieve it. Didn't see it on the couch or on the blanket I was using, so I started to feel around in the cushions. I kind of, sort of felt something WAAAAYYYY back in the cushion--but it could have been anything....a pen, a piece of Bryn's plastic food, or a telephone. My fingertips aren't highly calibrated...and I just barely caught a feel of the thing before it fell off the back of the cushion. Geez, I thought. So I moved the couch to see what fell behind there. That's when I realized that whatever it was had fallen INTO the couch, not behind it, and that the bottom was sealed up with fabric. I called down to Beau to call me...I wasn't up for retrieving any fake eggs or pancakes. While I waited for Beau to call, I just stared at the couch...waiting for it to ring. And it did. ARGH! Went back to the top of the stairs and asked Beau to come help...and bring a knife. Minor surgery (and the creation of a cool hiding place) under the couch and my telephone was reborn.

13. 10:00--I was exhausted and ready to call it....try to start again the next day. I put on my pjs and just went to bed.

Merry Christmas to all....and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How Not to Behave at a Funeral

I’m sure there are plenty of parenting resources out there that explain how one should approach the subject of death with a three-year old. Having none of those resources around, I found myself incredibly short of words and ideas the week of Thanksgiving. We had a death in the family—a great uncle whom Bryn and I had never met—so we loaded up the family and traveled to Oklahoma for the funeral. I tried to explain where we were going and why, and why Daddy and Grandmother were sad and would appreciate us being as helpful and nice as we could be. But in saying the words “Grandmother’s brother died,” I realized that those words—to a three-year old—probably sound no different than an explanation about why the batteries in the remote control don’t work anymore. Obviously the implications are dramatically different.

The Southern rule book indicates that you always attend funerals and weddings to support your friends. Attending funerals—I believe—is all about empathy, and I’m not sure when people hit that developmental milestone. Some people never develop much of it, I guess. But three years old may be a little early to have a robust empathetic bent. I was pleased when Bryn showed some signs of understanding, telling Grandmother one time (unprompted) “I’m sorry your friend died.”

In other cases, she was just taking it all in the festivities with seemingly no grasp of the weight of the situation. After we filed into the chapel for the service, she was settled preemptively between me and Beau’s mom. Her response to my request to be very quiet can only be described as a poorly executed stage whisper. As the last of the family was seated, Bryn whispered, “Is the show about to start?” Me: “Yes, honey. Now, please. You must be very quiet.” Bryn: “oh-KAY.”

But, being very still is clearly a different request than being very quiet. I hadn’t covered that in my “how to behave at a funeral” crash course that morning. She wanted to stand in the pew (to better see the show—no doubt) and was quickly yanked back into my lap. So began the struggle to stay seated without too much hub-bub. I tried to sit very still to compensate for her movement, but that worked about as well as when my sister and I would get the giggles in church and try not laugh and instead our heads would bob uncontrollably and the entire pew would shake. I’m sure—to those behind us—we were a bonafide mess. I’d be surprised if all the extended family that we didn’t know weren’t thinking “who brought the zoo and elected to sit up front?”

I had promised that I would take her out if she needed to go, so I had to debate the exact moment that her behavior in the service was so intolerable to justify the shrieking that was inevitable if I were to forcibly remove her. Oh, and I forgot to mention her unbelievably inappropriate outfit. It’s really most important at this point in the story. She received a dress for her birthday that was navy blue corduroy with a sweet white turtleneck underneath. The weather was quite cold and rainy so I thought it would be our best option: dark color and relatively warm. I hadn’t had Bryn try it on, but when I put it on that morning, it was REALLY short—as in barely covering her bottom. Ok, I’m rounding up…it really didn’t cover her bottom all that reliably. Add to that the fact that she “declined” the tights that I brought to keep her warm-ish. So, as I escorted her out of the service—shrieking for GG and other family members—her pink princess panties were on glorious display.

At the end of the day, our real comfort in times of loss is the next generation. I would like to think that Bryn’s spirit brought some comfort to people in the room, (she says hopefully). At any rate, I’ll still be tiding up my “rules of behavior” manual in the meantime.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A New Trick

I think--without question--this photo speaks for itself.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today is my sister's birthday. And since I have generally not been able to pull together a package (or even a card) in a timely way, I will substitute a birthday haiku in honor of my sister.

Hope today serves you
Pampering, remembering
You are loved by all.

Happy Birthday, Sis.
Many years in the making--
Funny, Smart, Older.

Honestly, my sister is my best friend--always has been. Even when we were growing up, I can remember only ONE fight that we ever had. I still have the note of apology that we were required to write to each other. Even though I could have easily been the annoying younger sister, she never treated me that way. I was welcome to hang out with her and her friends even when she was in high school and I was a dorky junior higher.

Wendy, I want you to know that you are hilarious, brilliant, creative, an incredible author, mother, wife, friend--an inspiration. I know lots of people have been blessed by having you in their lives, but I am incredibly fortunate to trump nearly everyone on "time on task". I've had the joy of your company for most of your years. Thank you for being such an awesome sister to me.

I love you.