Sunday, April 27, 2008

Good and bad at Church and school

It is such a shame that I don’t write things down when I’m thinking of them. The girls are always popping off with the funniest, cutest things, and I don’t remember later. Dang it.
They have been so sweet lately, lovely, loving little girls. Very few issues.

There is a little girl at Thing 2’s preschool whom I do not like. It started when Thing 2 started school last year in the younger of the two preschool classes taught by a woman named Sandra. On the first day, as I watched my sweet 3 year old in her first moments of preschool through the two way mirror in the observation room, I saw this little girl (named Anna) reach forward and pinch Thing 2’s bum. Hard enough to make Thing 2 jump. Unprovoked. The naughty little tart! Thing 2 took it well, and just turned back around. But Anna earned a place on my black list.
She continued through the year playing favorites – “you’re my friend, you’re NOT my friend!” which would send all the other little girls into tailspins of despair that Anna didn’t like them. I thought this sort of crap didn't start until they were in the 2nd or 3rd grade! I looked forward to not having to worry about that the next year of preschool when I moved Thing 2 across the hall to the other preschool class, Mary’s class. I was quite unhappy to see Anna’s mother at Mary’s beginning-of-the-year-meeting the following fall.
Anna continued to be a problem, for me anyway. Thing 2 was alternately best friends, and desperately unhappy to be on the outs with Anna. I saw her doing things on the playground that I would have had serious words with my girls over – throwing a toy down the slide, then when someone walked by and picked it up extending it to her – “Here, you dropped this,” she'd come screaming down the slide at them “you give that back! That’s MINE!” One afternoon Anna was following another little girl named Lexi, who I think is a hoot, around the playground. They each had a stack of plastic bowls. Lexi gave me one as I was standing there, saying with a cute little smile that I could have my cereal in it. Anna, coming along behind, snatched it out of my hands and chastised me profoundly for playing with their toys. Lexi watched this sadly, then shrugged at me and followed Anna off.

At the first Parent teacher conference Mary asked if I minded if she started separating Thing 2 and Anna, as when they were together Thing 2 got really catty and sassy, and neither one of them behaved very well. OF COURSE you can separate them!!! Please move Anna to the other class! No? Well, keep my sweet little muffin away from that emotional rollercoaster!

Thing 2 has asked for playdates with Anna, and I have always put her off. I try to be discouraging in a vague way, but apparently at one point or another she heard me express my dislike of Anna. The next time I co-oped, sitting at their snack table Anna informed me that Thing 2 said I didn’t like her. It's kind of tough to face down anyone confronts you with that sort of remark, and I kind of stammered that I don’t like some of the things she does.

The next time I co-oped, the kids were drawing what they liked about school. Of course they’re at an age and drawing level that usually without some explanation it is impossible to tell what they’ve drawn. The great thing about Thing 2’s drawings is when she explains it, suddenly it becomes blaringly obvious. The box with eight legs becomes the wheeled whiteboard they put the daily calendar on and stuff like that. Anna was in Thing 2’s group, and had drawn a purple box on her paper. I asked her what she’d drawn. She pushed it forward so I could see it better but didn’t say anything. I said “can you tell me what it is?” she barked back “HELLLLOOOO!!!” If Thing 2 would have said that…. Sheesh. But she’s not my kid, and I have never been spoken to with such disrespect before, by anyone of any age. It caught me off guard, and I stammered out something about she needs to tell me, and she stalks off. Why I oughtta....

Luckily at some point, Thing 2 was hurt and insulted enough and maybe she overheard me relating Anna's impudence enough for her to understand that Anna was bad news, and we were better off with as little contact with her as we could get.

Thing 2 still talks about "Mean Anna," reliving slights and bad behavior.

In other arenas, Church is usually something we all endure. The girls like the big congregational meeting the best, because we sit on the back row where I feel we're not under as much scrutiny, and I let them do whatever they want as long as it's quiet. I pack more in my church bag than my husband does for a week away, nearly, but I need to be able to keep those kids quiet for 70 minutes. We live where there aren't many kids, so any noise my two make doesn't get lost in the crowd, it punctuates the medative silence.

This week Thing 1 made a fabulous paper house during the big meeting using card stock paper and tape around a framework of hymn books, and decorated it with markers. She was really proud of it and insisted on carrying the paper construction out to the car herself. On the way out we got held up by traffic in the aisle between the pews and she turned to a tall man standing behind her, and looking way up at his face announced to him “I built a house for my frog. I used the books. It has flowers under the window, and is fabulous.” He was appropriately appreciative, bless his heart.

In Thing 2's sunday school class they must have been talking about baptism. Thing 2 drew a picture of a baptism scene, with her in the water and another big person in the water… and just behind the big person in the water were pirates sailing into view. Those darn baptism-crashing pirates.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Back from Italy

Thing 1 is precious and delicate and charming. She is usually my compliant child, but she has her moments. Last night she didn't help Hubby clean up the mess in the kids' room despite his repeatedly asking for her help. The last straw was when she wouldn't relinquish the container that Thing 2 was trying to put blocks into, and Hubby barked at her that there would be no stories for her that night.

She completely dissolved. She cried. It's hard to diffuse this sort of situation without undermining the disciplining parent, and I was proud of Hubby for exerting some discipline because I think he often doesn’t want to discipline them much because they don’t see him as much as anyone would like. Her tears hit me like no other, and it's hard for me to not do anything in my power to get her to stop. But I kept out of it, and she eventually, grudgingly and angrily, went quietly to bed.
Right after we turned out the light and came downstairs, after she was too angry at either one of us to come out from under her covers to be kissed goodnight, we heard her pleading cry to us to come upstairs. She was sobbing again. I went first and gathered her up in my arms and she curled in a ball and cried into my shoulder how she was so sorry and was worried she wouldn't be able to say goodbye to daddy (we had told her he was catching the red-eye to New York) and she was thinking of how much she loved us. He was standing in the doorway and came in, I passed Thing 1 to him and he stood there holding her and she cried and clung to him, and he cried and held her tight and kissed her head, and I stood there in the moonlight watching them and cried myself.

Hubby and I just got back on Saturday from 10 days in Florence, Italy.
I need to write more about that, but first I need to write a couple of things that my mother reported that the girls said.
Once after brushing her teeth Thing 2 was looking for her cup to take a drink out of and couldn’t find it. Mom suggested she just drink out of Thing 1’s. Thing 1 is a confirmed germaphobe, especially Thing 2’s germs. Thing 2 protested “But then Thing 1 will get my germs.” Grandma assured her it would be okay, Thing 1 wouldn’t know and it’s really okay… Thing 2’s eyes got big and she said, “But I’ll get HER germs!”

They got sick just a couple of days before we got back. Mom and Dad had both been really sick Wednesday and Thursday, Dad was vomiting a lot, but they were better by Friday when they had tickets to an opera or symphony 80 miles away. So they left them with my sister, who received the full brunt of their sickness. Thing 1 seemed to be coming down with it when they left, but Kristin assured them she would be okay. Right after they left Thing 1 did get sick and started vomiting. Kristin was holding Thing 2, who seemed a little peaked and told Kristin she didn’t feel good. Kristin thought she was just milking it, as she has done sometimes in the past, until Thing 2 promptly vomited all over Kristin and the love seat they were sitting on. I found a lot of this out when I called from Italy as we were catching the cab in the morning for our flight back. Kristin said between the two of them they vomited 11 times while in her care. She told me that Thing 2 said “Will anyone know?” I thought she meant that they’ll be there suffering with no one to help them, but Kristin told me she was worried that she’d be in trouble for throwing up. Of course she assured Thing 2 repeatedly that she wasn’t in trouble, people understand when you’re sick. Dad told me later that he’d been rather firm with her about not whining and crying over nothing, and he figured she was a little afraid of him. I suspect she was worried he’d get mad at her.

In her breakfast food blessing yesterday Thing 2 prayed that Jesus would let her know in advance when she was going to be sick so she’d make it to the toilet.