My children were driving me crazy today.
What’s so wonderful about parenting more than one child is that each child has her own unique personality with her own, special ways to make me nuts.
M will argue over the most ridiculous, ridiculous things. She is Orwellian. In fact, I often have conversations with her and then tell myself that I have to read 1984 again so that I can adequately describe how freaky having a conversation with her can be. She’ll deny the most obvious and undeniable facts in such a complete composed and straight-faced manner that it can make me doubt my own sanity. She’ll argue about something with such a sincere sense of moral outrage that I feel like I’m being unreasonable. A recent example is when we arrived home at 11 pm and she started to watch a movie. Because I said that we could watch a particular movie another time, when we were home. “And we’re home now,” she says with big brown eyes and sweet smile. I mean, it’s nuts. She’ll plunge into many conversations where I just end up saying, “If we talk about this more, my answer will still be ‘no,’ and the only difference is that you and I will both be angrier and we’ll both have wasted precious moments of our lives that could be spent doing something more pleasant.” I mean, seriously.
J, on the other hand, can act so earnest and self-critical and timid that I want to cuddle and shake her simultaneously. A frequent crazy-making tactic is for her to begin to ask if she can do something, and then trail off or stop and say, “Never mind, I can’t,” and next thing I know, I’m begging her to ask to do something that I don’t want her to do, anyway. Or I’m lecturing her on how she has to stick up for herself and ask for what she wants. M will boss her about something and J will just let M walk all over her and I launch into a schpiel about how if she doesn’t change her ways, any raise or promotion she ever wants will go to her her pushy co-workers. Or she’ll allow herself to be pushed around by M and then snap and shove her or something. And then she’s so overcome with remorse and sorrow and M is so cold and not gracious about the apology that I totally want to slap them both myself.
I was thinking of a hypothetical situation to illustrate their crazy-pants reactions. Imagine, just imagine, that one of my children has a big bowl full of popcorn and decides to throw it up in the air and catch it and, in doing so, makes the popcorn spill all over the floor (for the record, neither of them has actually done this, but it’s the sort of careless/reckless thing that either might do at any moment).
- If this were M: she’d do something like say, “Oh my gosh, Mom, why did you spill that popcorn? Jeez.” She’d offer to help me clean up, but never, ever admit that she’d actually spilled it herself.
- If this were J: she’d wail that she was sorry, sob profusely, and try to help clean up, but she’d be so consumed by her emotions that her actual help would be negligible, and the entire episode, including calming her down, cleaning up, and trying to get her to participate in the clean-up, would take way too much time.
Neither reaction horrible, fundamentally good kids, but both times: really irritating.
I went to write this post and noticed that I had a draft with the title “Damn Kids” that I’d never gotten around to publishing, so I opened it to see what I’d started to say before. Turns out it was just a couple of random photos from scenes I’d encountered around the house. But they go along with the general mood. So here they are:
How hard is it to close the bottle of glue? Come on!
Shoes are supposed to go in the closet or in their rooms. Shoes is a corner or against the wall are annoying but not terrible. But shoes placed in a centrally-located, high-traffic area? What the hell? This is one of those situations where I just pick up the shoes and throw them in the trash can. But not the nasty, slimy kitchen trash, because I know the kids will fish them out. Or at least I hope they’ll fish them out. Because I don’t want to buy them new shoes and if they show up at gym or camp without sneakers than I’m the bad mother and they are the tragically deprived children. And the worst part is, they totally know it.