Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Made Up

One of my daughers has been wearing make-up lately. In the beginning she didn’t wear it to school, she just came home each day and played around with it. I think she’s going for a look similar to Becca’s in the movie Pitch Perfect.

Yeah. It’s too much.

But when she was just doing it at home, it was not really that big a deal. I figured she was just experimenting, trying to get the right balance of a light hand and just enough definition.

The problem is that I realized one day last week that playing around with make-up at home had somehow morphed into putting on make-up every single morning and heading out the door with a fully done face.

No. Stop right there. Back right the hell up.

We talked last night about the make-up thing. I reminded her that she’s twelve. She needs to look twelve.

I don’t want to stifle her creative streak. I don’t want to stomp all over her individuality but I also want her to wash her face and stop trying to grow up so fast.

So we talked. Okay, I talked and she listened. She agreed to lighten up on the eyeliner.

This morning as she was getting ready for school, I offered to get her a washcloth for her face. I think she might have rolled her eyes but since I didn’t actually see it happen, I’m going to pretend that I know for sure it didn’t.

When she came into the bathroom and gave her eyes a very light rub with the washcloth, I managed to not roll my own eyes and said helpfully, “That old make-up is sometimes hard to get off, isn’t it?”

She nodded, probably hoping I’d let it go and let her go…to school with yesterday’s make-up still smeared under her eyes.

Alas, I’m not that cool.

Nope, I grabbed my Oil of Olay moisturizer, put a very small dab on my fingertip and told her to look at me and then look up. I swiped some of that moisturizer under each eye and then used the corner of the wet washcloth to wipe the old make-up off her face.

She instantly look three years younger. My sweet, innocent twelve year old was back.

She examined my handiwork in the mirror and when she didn’t say anything, I said, “Better, right?”

She nodded, though not sullenly, so I’ll give her that and went about her day.

It was refreshing not to be met with resistance in the make-up wars that I know a lot of mothers and teens/preteens wage. We’ll see how long it lasts but I’m warning the universe right now, I’m not backing down on this one. Now that the conversation has been had, I’ll continue to gently police my daughter’s eyes and wipe the excess eyeliner away myself if I have to do so.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Olivia comes home with all kinds of brilliant ideas from school.

Just last week she announced, “I want to try crab legs. My teacher thinks I would like them.”

Oh. Okay. Except we don’t eat seafood in our house and we don’t go out for it either. Like ever. And I’m not taking her to Red Lobster and ordering a $19 + tax platter of crab legs just so she can try them because no one else would eat them and there goes $19 + tax into the garbage.

Lucky for Miss O, my mom loves all things from the sea and will take her adoring granddaughter out for crab legs at her earliest convenience.

Just last week I got home from work and Olivia was waiting at the door for me to come in from the garage. She didn’t even wait for me to take my coat off before informing me, “Did you know they make Legos for girls!?!”

I feigned surprise, “They do?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “My teacher told me they make Legos for girls and we need to get me some so I can play with them.”

Well, then, I guess I needed to add an item to my shopping list for Saturday.

See, Olivia listens to everything going on around her and she gets all these ideas. She hears her teachers talking, she hears me talking to Tom and my mom and she takes it all in. She figures out when we’re talking about her or her sister and really tunes us in. She’s like a sponge; a sponge soaking up very expensive ideas.

But yeah, we got her some Legos last weekend. As we were browsing the toy aisle she found a box with a mom, a baby, a stroller and some blocks to make trees and benches and, well, other stuff.

She wanted it.

The box was labeled for 2-5 years old. The blocks were a little bigger than your typical Legos. I figured if she’d play with it, it wasn’t money wasted and she loves things like baby strollers and wheel chairs and wagons. So we got it.

When we got home, she opened her new toy and looked at the package asking,” What does the two and five mean?”

I saw Alyssa perk up, her eyes on me as she waited for me to explain myself. I could almost see the glee bubbling up in her as she waited to see if this would be a mom-fail situation. Brat.

I didn’t take too much time to think about it because Olivia can tell when I’m trying to concoct something to fool her. I kept pretty close to the truth. I told her, “The two means that kids under two years old shouldn’t play with these toys because they’re small toys and babies who aren’t even two might choke.”

She nodded wisely and then asked, “But what about the five?”

“Well, the five means that even kids over five years old will like this toy. You’re eight and you like it, right?”

Alyssa started to roll her eyes and I gave her such a mom-glare. She gave me a blank look. I continued, “Even Alyssa who is twelve, played with this toy-“

“I stole it,” Alyssa interjected.

“She PLAYED with it,” I told Olivia, again giving Alyssa a pointed look. “And that means that anyone who is at least two years old and even over five years old can play with and have fun with this toy.

Olivia accepted my explanation of the 2-5 rating on the Lego box and went about playing with her toys, enjoying making trees out the blocks, making the mom push the baby (who looks like a boy but Olivia insists is a girl because the stroller is pink) around in the stroller and rescuing random blocks from Alyssa who steals plays with them whenever O’s not looking.

Speaking of waiting for me at the door when I get home (I mentioned it several paragraphs up) O did that again yesterday (she does it most days) and as I walked in the door she told me, “Today, this afternoon, at school, the FFA people brought cherry pie and ice cream to the classrooms. Do you think they brought the cherry pie and ice cream for the teachers and the students or just the teachers.”

From the way she asked the question, I could guess the answer but I could tell she wanted the satisfaction of telling me herself so I replied, “I don’t know. Who did the bring the pie and ice cream for?”

She put her hands on her hips and declared, “They brought the cherry pie and ice cream for the teachers and NOT for the students.”

She was stunned by the unfairness of it all. How dare those future farmers of America bring CHERRY pie and ice cream to the teachers and not bring some for the students too? It was criminally unfair and all involved should have been prosecuted.

She asked me later if we had any pie. We didn’t. She asked if I could maybe pick up some pie when I was at work today.

I asked her if she wanted cherry pie, thinking she’d say yes because she’d been denied cherry pie at school that day. She requested apple, because it’s her favorite and as much as she’d have liked to have the FFA students bring enough cherry pie and ice cream for everyone (everyone knows that if you’re bringing a treat into a classroom, you bring enough for EVERYONE or you don’t bring any at all, duh!) if I was taking requests, she’s prefer apple, thanks so much.

So yes, I’ve already picked up an apple pie to take home to my pie-deprived first grader.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why My Hair Looked Especially Awful Yesterday

So I’m just over two months away from the worst haircut of my life. That means my hair has had about eight weeks to grow out. I’ve had that much time to learn to deal with my hair on a daily basis.

I feel like we’re still about six weeks away from the time I can find a trusted, experienced stylist who can try and blend my current choppy, crappy layers into something decent. Right now it’s still short enough that to go to someone and ask for a ‘fix’ is to just ask for shorter hair and I’m not going to do that because, yeah, my hair is short enough right now, thanks anyway.

But yesterday was perhaps the worst hair day since the very beginning and yes, it was my fault.

Why was it my fault? Well, let me tell you why.

It was my fault because I was at the bottom of my list of priorities yesterday when it came to doing hair.

Alyssa asked on Sunday night if we could straighten her hair on Monday morning. I told her if she got up when I did, than we could straighten her hair. If she waited and got up even ten minutes after I did, there would be no straightening of the hair.

Lucky for her and unlucky for me, she got up when I did and so her hair was straightened.

After my shower, I did the rest of the morning routine, which is get dressed (duh), head downstairs where O should be done with breakfast, put her socks and shoes on her, brush her teeth, cajole her into trying to pee because she is facing a fifty minute bus ride, brush her hair, tell her I’m sorry I’m hurting her, brush her hair some more, tell her she’s not being killed DEAD and that we’re almost done. Then I usually braid her hair in an effort to keep the tangles at bay for the next morning.

Then it’s time to gather coats, hats, mittens, lunches and backpacks and wait for the bus.

During the wait for the bus (my hair is still wrapped in a towel at this point) I pack my own lunch.

Once the girls are on the bus I go upstairs to do something with my own hair and slap on a little makeup. I had about eight minutes this morning to dry my hair, make up my face and then try to smooth the frizz out of my hair before walking out the door to head for work.

Yeah, my hair needs more than eight minutes to look even half-way decent. Today it was way less than half-way decent.

Talk about not putting the oxygen mask on myself before others. (I know, not the same thing at all. I KNOW!!)

For the record, today is not much better in the hair department. I…I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Playing Favorites

It may seem, when reading the stories I share here, that I favor Olivia over Alyssa. I know I share way more about O than I do about A.

There’s actually a reason behind that, a reason that has nothing to do with my favoring my younger daughter over my older daughter.

It’s just the fact that Alyssa is growing up. She’s building her own on-line presence and I these days I want to respect her privacy as much as I can as an over-sharing mother who adores her children and thinks the rest of the world must think they’re as awesome as she does.

But I know that Alyssa and her friends are on-line more and more these days and I don’t want to share things that might embarrass her should one of her friends find this blog.

I suppose they could google Alyssa Ordinary and find all kinds of things she doesn’t want them to know but at least the most current stories are more amusing than embarrassing, at least as far as I’m concerned.

These days I do ask her before I write about a specific story that involves her. Usually she’ll roll her eyes good-naturedly and then say, “Sure,” when I asked if I can blog about something.

She’s one of the good ones and I want her to always know that I think that. I also want her to know that I respect her need to keep some things to herself and that’s the main reason stories starring Alyssa J. Ordinary are fewer and further between these days.

Olivia K. Ordinary, on the other hand, is only eight and still very much my baby, which means her stories are all up for grabs by the one called Mumzy in our house.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hard and Fast Rule

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I’m a pretty easy going mom. And by easy going, I mean that I don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules for parenting. Wanna wear a princess dress to town? Go for it.

Wanna play on your tablet while I make dinner so you’ll not lay on the kitchen floor directly behind me? Sure, no problem, at least I’m not tripping over you while holding a knife.

But when Olivia tried to bring a blanket to the dinner table last week, I put my foot down. “You are not sitting at the table wrapped in a blanket,” I told her.

“But I’m cold,” she replied.

“So go put your pants back on!” I insisted.

She huffed and she puffed and she took the blanket back to the couch. She then went to the basket by the basement door, took the pants she’d tossed on top of the pile of other dirty clothes and brought them to me to help her put them on.

“Why do I have to wear pants?” she asked.

“Because, if you’re cold, you need to be fully clothed instead of bringing a blanket to the table,” I informed her. “Besides, it’s just good manners to wear pants to dinner.”

She rolled her eyes and went to the table, this time fully clothed.

Maybe I’ve crossed the line into ‘strict mom’ territory but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that my children wear pants to dinner.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oh My Heck!

Last night on The Middle, Sue Heck (the daughter for those who don’t watch the show. If you don’t watch, WHY NOT? It’s an awesome show.) found herself engaged.

Her boyfriend bought a tiny house, presented it to her on Valentine’s Day and then proposed. She said, “Sure.”

The rest of the episode revolved around her trying to tell him that she didn’t actually want to get married. She’s a senior in high school, is only seventeen and wants to go to college.

It was a funny episode.

But oh, how it brought back memories of nineteen year old me.

Way back when I was nineteen, my long-distance boyfriend (a soldier in the Army) was home on leave over the Christmas/New Year’s break. I loved being a long-distance girlfriend. I wrote excellent letters, enjoyed the occasional phone call and really, really liked being on my own the rest of the time, able to hang with friends, watch what I wanted on television, study when necessary and sleep when I wanted.

That New Year’s Eve I found myself on a deck overlooking a lake with a full moon shining down on us as we stood on freshly fallen snow. So romantic, right? Yeah…well…then he dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and slipped it onto the ring finger of my left hand.

And…I was engaged. I was a freshman in college, home for the break and suddenly I was engaged.

See, the problem was that I kind of knew even then that I probably won’t marry this guy. He was very nice and fun to date but I wanted to do more than finish school (honestly, I’m not sure he even wanted me to finish school) and get married. I wanted to live a little. I wanted to move to a big city, live in an apartment, enjoy life before I got married and had kids.

But I couldn’t tell him that in that moment because I knew it would mean we would break up and I kind of liked him. I liked being his girlfriend and having him as my boyfriend. I was happy with our life the way it was and didn’t want to mess things up by refusing his proposal.

I guess I figured he could call me his fiancé for the rest of our time together even if I knew even then I’d never be his wife.

Was this wrong of me? Probably but I was young and kind of stupid and more than a little selfish. I’d like to think I’ve grown up a little since then.

I’ll give Sue credit. She told her boyfriend she didn’t want to get married right away even though she knew it would end the relationship. It was sad for both of them.

And for the record, when the dude to whom I was kind of engaged to came home for good, I ended our relationship pretty quickly. It turned out that when he was in actual visiting distance, he wanted to see me every single weekend even though it meant a four hour drive one way for one of us each and every weekend. Yeah, that didn’t work for me. Not at all. It was kind of sad for both of us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

High Tea

Olivia, through the love of her Gram, has discovered the joy of drinking hot tea.

She loves hot tea, especially if she’s given a lemon drop to put in the tea and a spoon with which to lift the lemon drop out every so often so she can suck on it a bit before dipping it back into the tea.

I do not enjoy hot tea. I don’t like iced tea either, so there’s that. I don’t actually like any sort of hot beverage. Hot chocolate? Ick. Coffee? Gross. Hot tea? No, thank you. Just call me Amy Farrah Fowler.

But Olivia loves it all. She’ll sit at the kitchen table in just a pair of pants (she’s eight, it’s not a big deal) with her hot tea or hot chocolate (with lots of marshmallows, thanks) and act like she’s all sorts of high class since she’s sipping a warm beverage.

Tom often joins her at the kitchen table but usually insists she don a shirt since she’s now in mixed company. They’ll talk about their day, toast each other with their drinks (he’s a coffee man) and often ask me, the waitress of the coffee house, to bring cookies or muffins (we don’t have muffins. We never have muffins.) and laugh over the fact that they have no intention of leaving me a tip.

I find it amusing that even though I don’t drink hot tea, I now know how to make hot tea. I know how long to steep the tea bag and how long to microwave a cup of water to bring it to a boil.

All this for my fancy eight year old who now thinks she can't start her day without a cup of hot tea, thank you very much. And don’t forget the lemon drop.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Cool-Down Table

While at the school last week for O’s Valentine’s day party, I had a few minutes to talk to her teacher, Mrs. A.

I love this woman. She’s taken a personal interest in my girl, a child who can be so withdrawn that it’s virtually impossible to know what she’s thinking, what makes her tick, what she knows. Mrs. A has taken the time to get to know Olivia, to learn what makes her tick and has come to care for her in a way I only hoped for when O started school four years ago.

Mrs. A even stopped in to the party (which was in the typical first grade classroom) just to check on Olivia.

It was at the very end of the day that Mrs. A and I had time to actually talk.

“She’s starting to get defiant,” Mrs. A confided to me as Olivia was gathered her folders and put them into her backpack.

I raised my eyebrows and replied, “She’s arguing all the time at home these days.”

Mrs. A nodded, “She works with a variety of helpers these days and will argue if one doesn’t do something exactly the way another helper did the day before. Or, if someone gives her direction, Olivia will point at the instructions written on the paper and say, ‘That’s not what it says.’”

We shared a smile at this because that is so typically Olivia. She’s all about routine and being very exact. Ahh, the joy of OCD.

Mrs. A went on, “This is all actually very developmentally good, just frustrating in the day to day work around here. We want her to keep growing but we also need to maintain boundaries. She’s had to sit at the Cool-Down table a few times when she gets overly argumentive.”

I gave a look of trepidation and Mrs. A assured me, “She never needs to sit there for long before she’s cooperative again. I’m actually glad to see her coming out of her shell and acting out a little bit. She’s really come a long way talking to both the adults in the classroom and her peers. I think this is an excellent setting for her to learn.”

So yeah, good things but also some defiance. The defiance is something we’ve been dealing with at home for some time. But it’s a sign that Olivia is becoming more sure of her own voice, her own opinions as being as valid as those around her.

I’m proud of her even as I get frustrated when I’m dealing with the arguing.

That evening I was telling Tom about my conversation with Mrs. A and Olivia was standing there listening. When I mentioned that O has had to sit at the time out table a few times, Olivia piped up, “It’s not the time out table, it’s the cool down table.”

Yeah, those are the moments we’re talking about, Miss Sass!

I thanked her for the correction and asked her if we needed to create a cool down table for home.

Her eyes got big and she backed away with a smile. “No. No we do not need a cool down table here.”

We’ll see about that.

Monday, February 16, 2015

On Why We Do Chores

One of Alyssa’s very few chores around the house is to get toilet paper from the upstairs linen closet and bring it down (usually in batches four rolls) to the small cabinet in the downstairs half bath.

Yesterday she was running up the stairs to do something and Tom called after her to bring down four rolls.

She sighed and grumbled something about why she had to do everything.

I just happened to already be upstairs at the time and I grumbled back, “Well, someone has to do it and it might as well be you.”

She grumbled about not wanting to take toilet paper downstairs.

I said, “Yeah and tonight I’m not going to want to make dinner and yet, guess what? I’m going to do it anyway.”

“Yeah, but,” she interjected, “I’m going to be hungry, which is why you’ll have to make dinner.”

I countered, “And at some point today, you’re also going to need to wipe your butt.”

She blinked at me a couple of times and without a word got four rolls of toilet paper and took it down to the bathroom.

I love it when I can use the word butt in a teaching moment.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just Another First Grader

Let me preface this by saying that I know how lucky we are. I know that the fact that Olivia is healthy and happy and able to walk and run and speak and play is very much a blessing. I know all this.

And yet...I hate 5p- syndrome. I hate that life is harder for her than it is for her peers.

I went to lunch with Olivia today. She was so excited. Today is their class Valentine's day party. I'll be there for that too. But since I'd taken the whole day off, I went to lunch with her because it's what I do.

When I got there her lunch teacher told me that today was the day that Olivia would get to pick where she'd eat lunch in the cafeteria. All year she's sat with the other first graders while they eat their lunch. She only eats at the table with her classmates when I'm there, which has been a total of three times this year. Every other day, after time in the cafeteria, she goes back to her classroom where she sits on a tablecloth on the floor and eats her lunch in the quiet of the room with her teacher Mrs. A.

At least she's eating, we all thought.

But next year, in second grade, Olivia will need to eat at the same time as her classmates. There just won't be time to carve out a special time when she can eat by herself. So today the experiment started.

Olivia was allowed to pick where she'd eat. She chose a ramp along the wall of the cafeteria that leads up to the stage. There's a wall and a railing that separates her from the rest of the cafeteria. She can still hear the noise of the cafeteria but it's less chaotic and she can have some privacy while she eats.

The goal is to have her slowly come down the ramp, a little each week or so, until she's actually sitting at a table eating her lunch while her classmates eat theirs. She isn't expected to actually sit with her classmates if she doesn't want to, but by next year she will need to be able to eat while in the same room with them.

I think she wants to be able to sit with them and eat but she's just so overwhelmed by the noise, the activity, the craziness that is thirty or so first graders having lunch and socializing.

She wants to have friends, she wants to interact but her shyness and her social anxiety, which is very much thanks to 5p- syndrome, keep her from doing the things she wants to do.

It makes me so sad.

I don't want her to have to eat her lunch alone, even if it doesn't seem to bother her. In fact, she thinks of it as an adventure and I'm glad for that even as I'm sad for the fact that she can't just sit down at a table with her peers and eat her lunch without the stress that accompanies that kind of thing for her.

I know that I'm probably projecting my own feelings here and I'll get past that. I see my happy, sweet child, I see this girl who, right now in first grade, who has so many kids who are so excited when she actually speaks to them and I worry so much about the third grader she'll become, who is thought of as 'weird' by her classmates, when those classmates are older and meaner and see this girl who is different who sits alone in the cafeteria, who doesn't talk to them. I worry about that and I know I'm borrowing trouble, we don't know what any of those kids will be like in two years.

Olivia has already matured so much just this year alone. She's got so much potential, so much love and joy to share with the world. I need to have faith that the team we have working with her will continue to work with her and with us to unlock that potential, to bring her out of herself and make like a little easier.

I just wish it weren't so hard for her. She deserves to have friends and fun and interactions just like every other kid in her class. I want so much for her to be just another first grader.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Calling the Creeps on Being Creepy

Something I’ve learned from watching Quantum Leap with Alyssa these days is that I love the theory of women standing up for themselves but I, personally, am not so good at it.

And that bothers me, like a lot, because I want to model strength and confidence to my girls.

A few weeks ago, the girls and I were having lunch at Arby’s. A and O were sitting at a booth with their drinks while I waited for the food to be ready. The cashier put a few things on our tray as they became available. One of those things was a cherry turnover. The older man next in line looked at the turnover and said, “I just gained five pounds just looking at that thing.”

He was friendly enough that I said, “Yeah, I just got a cavity just looking at the icing on it.”

I filled my drink and waited for the curly fries to join the turnover on the tray.

Old Dude looked at the turnover again and said, “Definitely gaining five pounds just looking at it.”

I replied, “Well, it’s for my daughter, who weighs just over fifty pounds, so I think she can handle a few extra.”

Then…THEN, he said, “Yeah, sure. It’s for your daughter.”

What I should have said was, “Yes, it’s for my daughter but I am definitely getting your implication that you think my ass is too big for me to even consider eating the turnover on my tray and since I neither asked you to look at my butt nor for your opinion on the size of it, you can go fuck yourself.”

But I didn’t say that. I Midwestern-niced my way through what was now a creepy and awkward conversation by nodding and smiling and reassuring him that yes, it was in fact for my daughter.

I was saved from further conversation by the filling of the tray and escaping to the booth A and O occupied.

Alas, I had to go back to the counter to ask for a fork so Olivia could eat the offending turnover. Old Creepy Dude was still at the counter and made ANOTHER comment about my eating the turnover.

This time, I sort of narrowed my eyes at him like I didn’t understand why he was continuing with this obnoxious line of questioning and made my way back to the table.

I mentioned his asinine comments to Alyssa and said something about being glad my back was to the jerk as I cut the turnover into bite-sized pieces for Olivia, you know, just in case I wanted to take a bite if she didn’t eat the whole thing.

But the more I thought about it, the more the entire conversation pissed me off. Old white men think they have a right to comment on things that are none of their damned business. So what if I HAD been planning to eat that turnover? It was not his concern.

Olivia ate probably two-thirds of the turnover and I unapologetically ate the rest. I didn’t even try to hide my eating of the turnover because, well, I wanted the rest of it and I’d paid for it. I don’t care that some stranger thinks my butt is too big for me to be allowed to enjoy a third of a turnover.

What do I want my girls to take from these moments? I want them to see that just because we’re women we don’t have to be concerned with what others think of us. We don’t have to always be nice when someone is being obnoxious to us. We shouldn’t have to just smile and nod when someone is overstepping the bounds of polite society. The creep who said the thing about the turnover stopped being polite when he said what he said. I didn’t have to keep up the façade of polite conversation when he’d already stopped being polite himself.

It’s the insidious little things that get us. The little things that don’t seem worth fighting, don’t seem worth making a scene over. Those are the things that make it okay for strangers to comment on someone’s choice of food or clothes or even parenting.

I may not be able to change the whole world, but I can change mine a little at a time and I hope by doing so, I’ll change Alyssa’s and Olivia’s and make it okay for them to stop smiling and taking it when creeps get creepy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Almost Tantrum

I consider myself lucky that neither of my girls has ever really been the type to throw a temper tantrum. Even as toddlers, they were pretty easy going.

I know, I’ve been incredibly lucky. I don’t know how I would have handled them if they have been tantrum throwers. Wait, I guess I do. My youngest brother is thirteen years younger than I am. I took care of him a lot when he was very young. Once I was driving, I often took him shopping with me. When he was four and I was seventeen, we were at our local K-Mart. He wanted a toy. I actually had the toy in the cart but we needed to shop for a few other things.

Little brother, once his toy was in the cart, wanted to leave so he could play with his new toy in the car.

I told him we’d leave when we had everything we needed. He insisted, loudly, that we needed to leave right then. I told him that if he didn’t calm down, we would leave right then but we’d leave our cart right where it was and not buy anything, not even his toy.

That made him flip his little four-year-old lid. He started crying, flung himself onto the floor and basically made a scene. I picked him up, left our cart right where it was, and left the store.

The minute I put him in the car, he calmed down and promised that he’d be good if we went back in the store.

I told him it was too late and we went home.

He never threw another tantrum while out with me again.

Ha! Big sister for the win. I don’t think he ever threw a tantrum with my mom either, I mean, where do you think I learned that little trick?

My girls, though, all I had to do was threaten them with leaving and they calmed down and we finished our shopping with no scenes necessary.

This weekend, though, Olivia was on the verge of a tantrum.

She’d eaten a bowl of Cheerios. She’d enjoyed that bowl of Cheerios and wanted more.

Tom poured some more Cheerios into the remaining milk in her bowl.

“I need more milk too,” she told him.

He told her she had plenty of milk in there for the amount of Cheerios he’d put in the bowl.

She told him she did NOT have enough milk and ordered him to put some more on top of the Cheerios.

He insisted that she did have enough milk and told her to eat her cereal.

Olivia’s eyes bulged a little. She sat straight in her chair and thrust her arms straight down at her sides with her hands fisted in fury. She looked her dad straight in the eye and said, “IT. NEEDS. MORE. MILK.”

I turned away because, dude, that was some funny shit going down at the table. Tom looked in her bowl, stirred the milk and cereal and decided it wasn’t worth the fight. He got her more milk.

He averted the tantrum…by giving her what she was demanding.

Eh, whatever. She ate the Cheerios happily and when she was finished with the second bowl asked for more again.

This time, I was in charge of the Cheerios and milk. I poured a small amount into her bowl and topped it off with milk.

She looked into the bowl and asked, “Why that much?”

I knew where this was going. She wanted to know why I hadn’t filled the bowl the way it had been filled the two times before.

I told her, “Because this is your third helping, you don’t need a full bowl. If you finished what I just put in there, you can have more.”

“But I want more now,” she informed me calmly.

“If you eat what I just put in there, you can have more,” I repeated.

She refused to eat what I’d poured. “I need you to put more in the bowl,” she insisted.

I insisted right back, “I need you to eat what is in there and if you finish it, I’ll give you more. You have already had two bowls full, you can’t possibly want another full bowl.”

“But I do!” she said.

“So eat what is in that bowl and I’ll give you more.”

“No! You need to give me more now.”

No, I didn’t need to give her more. I knew at this point that she was arguing for the sake of arguing. She wasn’t even hungry anymore and I knew we were going to throw out at least part of what I’d already put in the bowl. There was no reason to fill it up and have to toss even more perfectly good food.

So, I refused to fill her bowl and she refused to take even one bite out of a partially filled bowl.

I’m pretty sure no one won that argument but neither of us cared enough to battle it out. Once I told her to eat what was in the bowl, I walked away, refusing to engage in the argument anymore.

She decided that if I wasn’t going to argue with her anymore, she was done eating anyway.

I hope this isn’t a sign of thing to come with this child, this sweet child who used to be so easy going, so mild mannered, so even tempered.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Saturday Outfits

The last three Saturdays when we head upstairs to get dressed for our day out, Olivia has declared that she needs a “Saturday Outfit.”

By Saturday Outfit, she means she does not want to wear something she’d wear to school. Oh no. Instead she wants to go to the toy room where all her ‘dress up’ clothes are hanging.

Three weeks ago she chose to wear her Elsa dress to town. She got all kinds of compliments. She is a beautiful Elsa, after all.

Then, two weeks ago, she chose her Tinkerbell costume. I made her wear a long sleeved white shirt under the Tinkerbell top and tights under the skirt but she was still a delightful fairy all day long, though wings were nixed because they annoyed her while she was in her car seat.

This past Saturday, she rocked a majorette costume. It was purple with gold sequins. Because it is February and we live far above the equator, she agreed (because she had not choice) to wear a lavender turtle neck and tights under the outfit.

Again, she was complimented on her choice of attire everywhere we went. Alyssa begged Olivia to keep her coat on, alas, her pleas fell on deaf ears. Olivia couldn’t wait to show off her fashion sense.

I let her wear these things on Saturdays because, well, who cares? We see strangers all day long. These strangers either think I’m a ditzy mom who is a pushover or they think I’m a fun mom who lets her child make creative choices in the name of fun and whimsy.

Honestly, I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks of O’s Saturday outfits. She loves them, she loves the smiles and comments she gets. She loves feeling pretty and being creative. It makes me happy to see her happy.

During the week I make her wear school-approved clothes. Pants and tunics and shoes and socks. The weekends are her chance to rock out, fairy out, princess out. I’m all for her having fun with it.

And I remind Alyssa all day long that once upon a time, like when she was eight, she chose to wear footie pajamas to town most weekends. I never stomped over her freedom of expression, so she can just shut it when it comes to her sister’s.

Friday, February 6, 2015

It Got Better

When Olivia was an infant, we lived minute by minute. She cried pretty much all the time so we were all just trying to get through each minute to the next.

I remember making the 80 mile drive to my mom’s house many times during my twelve weeks of maternity leave just because we (Alyssa and I) needed a change of scenery. Of course we took screamy Olivia with us. I think Tom needed a break from her as much as I needed a break from the four walls of our house. Yes, O screamed at my mom’s just as loudly as she did at home but it helped to get out, get away, even if I was taking the source of the stress with me.

I remember telling people that it was going to get better. I’d say it while holding a squalling Olivia on my arm, her tummy against my fore arm, her legs on either side of my elbow, my arm bouncing up and down. It had to get better, I insisted.

Olivia’s first Easter, she would have been about four and a half months old, was spent at my aunt E’s house. Her husband loves kids and babies. J went out of his way to seek out the babies in the family. Babies and kids love him too.

But Olivia, well, she was miserable and hated everyone and everything. I thought at the time that she even sort of hated me because I couldn’t fix her pain. But she tolerated me better than she did anyone else. Uncle J tried to take her a few times, thinking that if she was going to scream even while I was holding her, what difference did it make who was holding her.

But each time he tried, he’d give her back to me after five minutes or so, with a sad look on his face. Finally, one time when he was giving her back to me, he said, “You poor thing.”

I looked down at my screaming daughter and then back up at my uncle and said serenely, “It’ll get better.”

And I meant it. I mean, what can you do? You just get through it.

About a month later, we started Olivia on Zantac because her doctor (at the time, ugh!) finally believed me that something was wrong. The doctor finally heard Olivia cough a dry cough that could have meant she had reflux that was irritating her throat and making her stomach hurt constantly and the Zantac kicked in a few weeks later and it was better.

Last weekend my dad was visiting. He asked me if Olivia ever had any happy days as an infant. He was thinking about my giant eight month old nephew (seriously, this kid is HUGE, he weighs 24 pounds at eight months old!) and how happy that boy is. He grins all the time, he belly laughs at his big brother. He’s pulling to a stand and climbing into boxes. He’s awesome.

I grinned down at my beautiful eight year old girl who was lying across my lap, gigging hysterically at something and I said, “Eh, she was pretty miserable as a baby, but she’s really happy these days.”

I tend to forget how hard those early months were. These days of laughter and joy and yes, even IEP meetings make it easy to forget the rough start Olivia had.

But others remember for me and maybe I should be grateful. They help me remember how far we’ve come, how great things really are and how bad they once were.

One day last summer we were all visiting another aunt’s house (I have a lot of aunts and uncles) and my uncle J was sitting next to me watching the kids play. His granddaughter was playing with A and O. J watched O run after A and laugh when A fell to the ground dramatically.

J turned to me and said, “You were right, it got better.”

I didn’t take my eyes off the kids as I smiled and replied, “I always knew it would.”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Getting Punchy

The other night Olivia and I were standing at our front window, watching the snow fall and being silly. I said something and she responded, “If you don’t stop it, I’ll punch you!”

I laughed and said, “I’ll punch you first and then you will be so busy rolling on the floor in pain you won’t be able to punch me.”

She made a fist and said, “I’m a fast puncher, I’ll punch you before you even make a fist.”

Tom, sitting in the recliner two feet away, had obviously been watching/listening to our silliness. He raised his brows and said, “What’s with all the punching around here?”

I think he was kind of serious. I think he wondered why we’d even joke about such violence.

But the thing is, we don’t hit at all in our house. We’ve never had reason to spank either of our girls and they don’t ever hit each other. It just doesn’t happen. So to Olivia, punching is more of a harmless threat than something that could actually happen.

I get why he was surprised by the word punch but I hoped he realized it was all in fun and not a prelude to me and Olivia knocking each other’s lights out.

Olivia is quite the character at home but in public, when others are watching, it’s a very different story.

At her school’s Christmas program, the music teacher was brilliant when she decided to put Olivia at the very end of the first grade group, with a first grader to O’s right and a second grader to her left. When Olivia didn’t sing (she NEVER sang, nor did she make any of the motions the rest of the groups were making) it wasn’t obvious because the kid on either side of her wasn’t singing or doing motions either.

Last night a dear friend of mine suggested I put Olivia in Sparkle Cheerleading. It’s a program that takes special needs kids, pairs them with a local cheerleading squad, the cheerleaders teach the kids a routine and the entire group performs the routine at a ball game.

It sounds great. And it is great…for the right kids.

Olivia is not that kid.

I asked her last night, “Liv, would you do a cheer routine at a basketball game in front of a bunch of people?”

She didn’t even stop chasing Alyssa as she yelled, “No!”

So that’s that. She’ll be a nut, a performing princess who wants to punch her mom and chase her sister and sit with her dad in the snack chair eating grapes and laughing about farts. But out in public? She’ll be still, she’ll be silent, she’ll watch others and I wonder…will she long to join in or will she secretly think those other kids are just performing monkeys, doing what they’re told and getting a cookie after for a job well done?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Didn't Mean To

Olivia seems to think that the response, “I didn’t mean to.” Will get her out of trouble if she uses it after an something happens.

Example from this morning: Olivia loves water. She loves to bathe in it, she loves to swim in it, she loves to play in it and she even loves to drink it.

This morning I was upstairs getting ready for work. Olivia was ‘keeping my company.’ Yeah. The girls had a two-hour delay this morning and weirdos that they are, they both got up at 6. So strange!

She announced she was thirsty at one point and went down the hall to get herself a cup from which to drink.

After a couple of near misses, I ordered her to go downstairs and get her cup with a lid so she wouldn’t make a mess.

She left only to return with a bottle of water. One that has a lid that needs to be removed if one wants to drink from it.

That was a HUGE improvement.

She drank from the bottle, refilled it and drank again at least three times, each time leaving just a little bit of water on the counter.

And upon her fourth or fifth refilling of the water bottle, she managed to drop the entire thing, fully filled, onto the bathroom floor.

I might have groaned at her or perhaps I snapped. Whatever my response, she came back with, “I didn’t mean to!”

I replied, “Maybe not, but there’s still a mess to be cleaned up.”

I told her to get the towel behind her and help me sop up the water. She stood there as if she didn’t understand the instructions. She understood them, she just didn’t want to help clean up her mess. She’s like that sometimes (read: most of the time.)

I repeated my instructions to her and she finally complied. Sometimes, she realizes I’m like the Borg and that resistance is futile. Other time, she’s tries to Captain Janeway her way out of compliance.

After we’d cleaned up the water and put the wet towels in the hamper I ordered her to go downstairs to bother Alyssa. “I’m getting ready plug some things into the wall and I don’t need you around here with water to electrocute us both.”

She laughed, as if I were joking and then meandered down the stairs.

I wish I were more patient, that I didn’t snap as quickly as I do but damn, that child is a lot of work sometimes. And let me state right here that a lot of the work she creates has nothing to do with 5p- syndrome and everything to do with Olivia being Olivia.

I love her with every fiber of my being but yeah, she’s a lot of work.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Snow Adventure

So we got a little snow this weekend. I think the last count came in at ten and a half inches. It started snowing at about 11pm on Saturday night and it continued to snow and blow into Sunday evening.

Tom was outside shoveling pretty much all day Sunday. He knew he couldn’t get ahead of the snow, he just wanted to keep up with it as much as he could.

Each time he’d go out, Olivia would ask if she could go out too.

Tom and I would tell her how cold it was and that it was better to wait until today to go out and play in the drifts.

She was persistent, though and we finally agreed to bundle her up and send her out with Tom.

She lasted ten whole minutes before declaring that her face (the only part of her that was exposed) was freezing.

Tom brought her inside where I de-bundled her and then made her some hot chocolate to warm her up. She asked if she could pretend her hot chocolate was coffee and invited her dad to sit with her at the table with his own coffee.

He was happy to have coffee with his youngest child and they spent a good twenty minutes conversing over ‘coffee.’

She thanked him for taking her on a snow adventure and he thanked her for having coffee with him. At the end of their coffee date, they both had a breath mint; you know, because of the ‘coffee’ breath they both had.

What was I doing during their snow adventure? I was baking. I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen. I made a strawberry pie (requested by Tom), a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies (requested by Olivia) and a cake (requested by Alyssa.) I also made a batch of triple chocolate chip cookies because, well, everyone likes those.

I didn’t feel even an ounce of guilt over not going out and taking a turn at shoveling. Baking is hard work too…at least, that’s what I told Tom. He didn’t bother to contradict me as he ate a piece of pie.