Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tempest in a purple teapot

E has been expressing herself creatively through clothing all weekend. Thursday night when she wasn't feeling well we offered her her favorite purple pajamas. She was cold, so she asked for long pants instead. But then she was upset at the breakup of her favorite PJs set so she pulled the shorts back up on over the long pants.

And thus a trend was born.

All weekend there have been pants under shorts. Yesterday's outfit had a flowered tank, a purple skirt and green capris. Then the tank left and she put on a shirt she had painted in school. Then she spilled applesauce and spent the afternoon shirtless, but wearing two bottoms to compensate.

This was her at the bagel store this morning:

September 6, 2008

Portrait submission for The Sartorialist: Junior League.

Notice the green butterfly shirt with the purple butterfly shorts, the purple leggings and the socks of a whole different green, tucked into blue Crocs, even though she owns three pairs of purple Crocs, any of which might have made a little more sense. (And don't forget the purple fingernails.) This girl has a definite sense of style.

E's been really having some trouble with the overlapping issues of listening/asserting independence/listening/generally being 2/potty training/asserting independence/listening. Or maybe I should change at least of of those listenings to complying. Partly we haven't been all two serious about following through with threats of punishment, partly we've been too quick for too long about diffusing her so that her screams don't awake or upset her baby sister, but basically we've decided two things: 1) we've had enough of E's shtuff, and 2) L's almost 9 months old and hey, the world's a tough place, she's just going to have to hear her disappointed sister do a little screaming sometimes.

It got bad today before nap time, as it often does. E knows if she doesn't listen she doesn't get a book read to her before going to sleep. We started the nap time preparations by having her sit on the potty. She heard her pee-pees coming, and put them in the potty, and started talking about which colors of M&MS she would eat. (Here's the official potty training system in our house: 1 M&M for sitting on the potty and trying to put something in, 2 M&Ms for pee-pees, and 4 for poops. And if you're reading and have no children, I'll understand if you just skip this post or never come back again. Sorry, and nice knowing you. This is my life.) But then the child wouldn't put her pull-up back on, and left the bathroom without washing her hands. So we gave her a shot: we cautioned her that if she didn't return immediately to the bathroom and do those two things, there would be no M&Ms. And, for kicks, I also reminded her that if she didn't do good listening, there would be no book before nap.

This is the House of Mean.

This is what happened next: No M&Ms. M put her pull-up on her when she wouldn't do it herself. General not listening. Reminder of no-book-at-nap threat. She pulled a cord out of an outlet while looking me in the eye as I told her not to touch it. Promise of no book at nap. Much screaming. Carried upstairs. Divide and conquer: I nursed L in her room while M to E to her room to calm her down. L almost ready for nap. M checks if it's okay for E to come in to apologize. E says sorry, but won't say what she's sorry for, nor will she look me in the eye, as she is instructed to do when apologizing. M reminds E to utter a complete apology. She runs out of the room. Calm slowly restored. Everybody in L's room. E poops in her pull-up. I say let's go change you. She shouted no and ran away. Reminder of rules: it's okay if poops go in a pull-up instead of a potty, but it's not okay to run away from changing, because poops need to be changed right away, because big girls learning how to use the potty are not allowed to walk around with poopy tushies like little girls do. Girls who don't go willingly to be changed and girls who don't listen might get put in diapers, because girls who act like little girls instead of big girls will get treated like little girls, and little girls wear diapers, not pull-ups. More screaming and running away. Diaper installed on tushie, not pull-up. Much much much much much screaming. Hallway floor absorbs much unwarranted punching and kicking abuse. M tries fruitlessly to keep L in near-sleep condition as I watch E have the chutzpah to grab a book off the shelf and start reading it. Reminder that girls who don't listen don't get books before nap; book confiscated to high shelf. If you're a sympathetic sort, feel sorry for the hallway floor now. And for L, who really would otherwise be napping by now. And for my eardrums, and even for E, who really is a good girl who just can't always control her emotions very well, especially when tired.

I want to help her learn how to manage her emotions because I know they lead her instead of the other way around. I know the feeling of knowing which action would end a bad situation and just not being able to direct oneself toward that action, that unyielding, stubborn, angry feeling of just wanting to continue carrying on and just being upset instead of agreeing to act rationally. It's like stopping the tantrum admits there was a tantrum. It admits one's behavior was imperfect. But carrying on: as long as you continue to draw out the tantrum you don't get to the end point that admits you were tantrumming in the first place. As long as you keep the tornado swirling, you're so caught up in the adrenaline of the tornado that you don't have to sit down and face its damages.

Eventually we got it together and she wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at me: I want to get into my bed. I asked her if I could hand her her milk. I asked her if I could snuggle her. She was hesitant. She quietly told me she needed to get out of bed. I shot her quite a look and she immediately protested even before I spoke: but I NEED to! I asked her what she needed; I told her I would get it. I need pants! And unders! My legs are cold! She had never put anything back on top of her pull-up after we had replaced the diaper. I handed her unders and pants and she dressed her lower half and grabbed her milk cup to drink.

The world was decelerating down to its normal rotational speed; I could feel it in the house as across the entire upstairs settled that pleasant quiet of outdoor noises seeping in. A few birds and a distant lawnmower and the sound of my calming daughter slurping her milk from her purple cup were all I heard, and my blood began flowing slower to pace the earth's rotations. Then: the slurping stopped and my heart did a double-pump to prepare for whatever stalling antics were about to come next.


Mama? Mommy, I need shorts for on top of my pants. My pants don't have shorts on them. I crawled out of her bed one more time (not such an easy feat with the two rails along both the open side and exposed bottom end of her bed) and pulled out another pair of purple pajama shorts. I tossed them to her and as she added her top layer she smiled at me for the first time in an hour. I crawled back into her bed to snuggle her and she was asleep in less than a minute. Pin It


Anonymous said...

Whew! No wonder E fell asleep - she had to be almost as exhausted as you were.
Love, Grams

georgie said...

i gotta tell ya....what i wouldnt give to be going through potty training right now...VS BOYS