Thursday, November 6, 2008

Morning battles

The push to get out the door in the morning is killing me.

I pause for one moment, to gather clothes, to start breakfast, whatever, and the girls slip away and turn on the TV. And once they do that, the battle lines are drawn. I can’t get them out from in front of it. I call cheerily. Nothing. I call louder, still cheery. Nothing. I start to bark. I bark more. I become a rabid seething pit bull. Finally they trudge in and sit down to breakfast. But they’re surly. They’re angry at me for interrupting their lives.

We eat. If I’m not sitting right on top of them, they slink back to the TV, usually. And we go through the same routine, minus two or three of the cheery calls and go straight to a sort of bark.
This morning, Thing 1 became upset during her breakfast when a package of plastic and cardboard encased magnets I had left on the table dropped into her cereal. She determined her cereal contaminated and was unable to finish. Since we’d already had an argument that she takes too much milk (I can tell by the two inches of it left in her cereal bowl each morning) I got my back up and put my foot down and refused to start over with more milk and cereal. She asked for some applesauce, which is what Thing 2 had for breakfast. About this time, I intercepted Thing 2 after her breakfast and got her dressed while Thing 1 was eating applesauce.
I took Thing 2 into the bathroom to brush her teeth and comb her hair, and heard a strange noise… I poked my head out and sure enough, Thing 1 is not getting dressed. She’s in the toy room playing with a helium balloon that was left over from Halloween. Being careful to not be too frantic – because me being frantic turns her into cold tar… I put my hands on her back and tummy and said softly “Can you please go get yourself dressed?”
I went back to Thing 2’s hair and teeth. I came out a few minutes later to find Thing 1 now playing with the balloon in the kitchen, standing next to her clothes. I grab her clothes, grab her, and she immediately resists and starts howling that she WAS going to do it, she was JUST ABOUT TO START when I INTERRUPTED HER. I hurry to get her dressed and she starts whining that she’s cold. She INSISTS she needs a sweatshirt. She goes to the coat area, and can’t find one. I say “Can you put on a sweater?” I’m standing next to the baskets full of sweaters. No. She goes upstairs to get a sweatshirt.

Thing 2 puts on her shoes, we get her some gloves, and she’s ready to go. I grab some gloves for Thing 1, get her coat, backpack, and lunchbox… We’re waiting at the bottom of the stairs, when Thing 1 comes to the top. She has the green, yellow, and orange sweater my mother made her wrapped around her waist. She starts down the stairs one… at… a… time. When I can reach her I lift her off the stairs. She is wearing blue pants, a short sleeved white shirt with a blue and brown striped long sleeved shirt on top. I say let’s take off the striped shirt, and just wear the sweater. She ignores me and pulls on the sweater. With the mismatched collars showing she looks like a homeless person who is wearing all their clothes at once to keep warm. I say we have GOT to take off that shirt… and we do… I hurry and comb her hair, ask her to brush her teeth…

Then she comes to the door with us. I see she isn’t wearing any shoes. Thing 2 and I are in our coats… “Shoes, honey! Run get some shoes!” She starts wandering, I goad her into a bit of a run, during which she is yelling at me, chastising me for encouraging her to run. “OKAY! I UNDERSTAND! PLEASE JUST GET SOME SHOES!!”
She informs me “YOU’RE MAKING ME ANGRY!!!”

Finally she comes, we put on her coat. And gloves. She starts whining that the gloves are too small. I sort of pull her out the door and lock it. “Please can’t you wear them just this ONE day? We are so late!” She whimpers most of the way to school that her gloves are “squishy.” Okay, tomorrow you can wear your good ones (that I was hoping to not be sending to school with her on the expectation that it’s just a matter of time before she loses one or both…)
Time to buy her a new pair of “good” gloves.

There are days when I just want to come home and cry.
Instead, I need to come home and clean. I have a new babysitter coming tonight, and the house is a mess. I want to be one of those clean, Spartan people that don’t have crap piled in every corner. I am so not that way, and I seem to be more that way than anyone else under my roof. I feel like I’m rowing against the current… I can work and work but I look up and nothing has really changed. One room looks good for about 6 hours. Then, like snow… I turn my back only to turn around again to find it’s cluttered up.

Sigh. Not my best day at being a parent/housekeeper, I suppose.

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