Monday, November 30, 2009

Where Did I Go Wrong?

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with my older sister who has three teenage daughters and lives in England. I was tired and just jabbering away while simultaneously refereeing the kids and twice she told me she was in hysterics over something I wrote and that I needed to keep a record of the things the kids are doing so I could eventually write a book and publish it.

Funny thing is, I have a blog. I pretty much already do that. And as funny as she thought these stories were, she still has no interest in reading my blog.

The last 24 hours of conversations I've had with Avee have made me laugh out loud over and over. I forget how once your child starts school and is under the influence of other people, even for just a couple of hours a day, new things you haven't taught or sometimes heard of start showing up in their conversations. I remember when it happened with Bo, I felt a tinge of sadness that he was no longer all mine, just mine. With Avee, I'm feeling a lot of things, some relief that someone else could potentially be blamed for her quirkiness, some fear of what comes out of her mouth, and complete wonder that so much personality comes in such a little package.

So, this post is going to be just a smattering of conversations. For posterity's sake.

My sister wrote: They've JUST discovered that it is tough love parents who create the productive, well behaved children it is NOT a poverty/wealth thing. I thought of you when I read that because you were agonizing once about whether you had been too tough on your kids. NOPE, you'd been perfect. And it is most effective if done in the first five years. I think there was actually an article in both the Saturday Telegraph and the Sunday Times (I guess that would be London?) The test they do on small kids to see how much impulse control they have is give them a marshmallow and tell them if they can wait five minutes, they can have two. Some kids have it crammed in the mouth before they've even finished the instruction.

Immediately I start thinking about how my kids would respond to such a test. All of them would do beautifully if they knew it was a test. But if it was just something I did randomly....

I know how it will go at my house.
Bo will do it without batting an eye. Then he'll say something like, "If I clean the table while I wait the five minutes, can I have five marshmallows?"
Avee will eye me suspiciously like it's a trick and then either say, "I don't want your stupid marshmallows" or "Give me 10 and I'll wait five minutes. But if you make me wait five minutes, I will smash these two marshmallows into your carpet." Danyo is too young. He'll eat them or throw them and slap me for suggesting he wait.

Later I told her about a recent incident with Avee regarding her appearance.

Avee is exploring her emotions lately. Some of it makes me very sad, and some of it makes me laugh and be amazed at her ability to express herself. Something she did last week, concerned me and made my heart ache. She was really quiet and her expression seemed thoughtful and troubled. I caught her lost in thought and I said, "How are you Aves, are you okay?"
She said No.
So I asked, "What are you feeling?"
She answered, "Stupid".
That startled me a little bit, but not as much as it could have, because that is her word of choice right now.
I asked why she felt stupid and she said, "Because I'm ugly and I hate my freckles."
She and her little best friend talk about who's cuter and who is dressed prettier a lot. Recently I've gotten after them and told them that they can't do that anymore. So hopefully that will take.
But I really don't know how to respond to image issues in my FOUR YEAR OLD.

I told her a few months ago that her freckles were angel kisses and when she was leaving heaven to come live with us, the angels loved her so much they didn't want to let her go, so they were hugging her and kissing her over and over. She seemed to like that idea and I didn't hear much about it again. Then a few weeks after I told her that, I heard her muttering, "I hate my freckles, I just wish Jesus had kept his hands to himself."

This is probably one of my most favorite Avee stories of all time. It's so typical her and me. My Pollyanna-esque efforts fall flat with my little sass-pants.

Last night we had just gotten back from our visit to Kansas City for Thanksgiving and since we spent the better portion of the day packing or driving, I laid down with her at bedtime. She talks a mile a minute and it's completely uninhibited, which I love. Typically during the day, she is very aware of my responses and will clam up if I ask too many questions or laugh at something she says. At night, she doesn't pay attention.

She asks me, "Why do you have to shave under your arms? Why do you have hair there? I don't."

"Well, you don't get it until you are bigger."

"Does Erica have hair under her arms?"

I pause to consider this. Erica is my size zero, 16 year old niece who spends part of her summer with us each year. In my mind, she's still losing baby teeth, so I had to think for a second. For some reason, instead of just saying yes or no, (because REALLY!? she's four, what's she gonna do--verify next times she's in England with Erica?) I answer, "I don't know for sure. Maybe."

And Avee asks, "Do fat people have hair under their arms?"

This makes me laugh. "Yes, fat people do."

"Oh, so skinny people don't have hair, but fat people do."

"What the?!"

"Well, you have to shave, and me and Erica don't. You're as big as this room, and me and Erica are skinny."

And theeeeeeeeeeeeeere goes my self-esteem.

Then today my friend picked her up from preschool and gave her lunch while I was running errands. When I came to get her my friend informed me, "So, Avee not only cooked the turkey for Thanksgiving, she also caught it for you as well."

I have NO idea where she came up with this. I wasn't even sure she had made the connection between animals we see or read about, being the same ones we eat. So I was certainly surprised by this recent fabrication. When Kim pressed Avee to tell the truth, Avee confessed that she didn't cook it after all. But she did still catch it.

When I asked her where she caught it she answered matter-of-factly and without missing a beat, "In a field."

Tonight I laid with her again in an effort to get her to fall asleep faster. It was a total bust. But I did get a couple of good laughs.

The evening started with her trying to kiss me like Cinderella. Ay yi yi. I put up with a lot (the armpit sniffing, etc) but I think I have to draw the line at open mouth kisses from my almost 5 year old daughter. Even as insistent as she was.

Then I started to sing, in an effort to just mellow her out. Two sentences into the song she sighs, "WHATever".

But I kept singing. About 30 seconds later she said, "Dude. Singing does not work Mom. Are you trying to sing me to sleep? Because it doesn't work. I don't even like how you sing."

It's a good thing I spent 27 years padding my self esteem before I started having kids because this girl would have shot it all to hell otherwise.

And it's a good thing she's so dang cute.


Mrs. Organic said...

I just busted a gut. I love this age, they are so darn cute which saves them from getting killed when they are being little tyrants.

Kim said...

oh man i wanted to be first! dang it! i cannot stop laughing over the turkey incident today...she is literally too funny! this whole post has me in tears of laughter.

Carrot Jello said...

I would like to commend you for the work you have put into your website and offer you the possibility of being included as a Featured Resource oinkle doinkle .
Because you are so funny, of course.

Robert and Natalie said...

Oh Nobody... your daughter is awesome and I have always hated my freckles too. My mom lied to me and told me I would grow out of them.. it worked for years I would hope that soon I would wake up and they would be gone.. I am not surprised that she is funny and smart and creative just like her mother

MommyJ said...

It's been a while since I've laughed out loud at a post. This one totally did it for me. I have no idea what I would do if Avee were mine... she's hilarious.

Sarah Tilley said...

kids are so good at shooting you down and they're so cute doing it that it doesn't crush your self-esteem as much as you'd think. thanks for the post, it made my day. :)

Mikelene said...

Oh man. I'm so glad you're writing these things down--for posterity's sake, of course. I saw a couple of turkeys in a field the week before Thanksgiving. No lie. Caught me completely off-guard when I realized what they were. They were gone a few days later, though. Has Avee been to SC?

Cindy said...

I think I am crying because I am laughing so hard. You are funny!!
I don't spend a lot of time with Avee, but when I do she cracks me up. She is too cute!!

Rebecca said...

hysterical.. she is too funny.. and clearly gets it from you!!! Love that you remember to write it all down.. thanks for the freckles!!

Adolescent Family said...

Seriously!...I love Avee...There is a bright spot in the day when there is a post by Nobody :D I LOL every time!

Anonymous said...

LOL love it love it!!
About a year and a half ago when I was preg w/Sawyer, the older two were arguing about getting "big" in the backseat. Keifer said, see im getting the biggest, Im going to be bigger than daddy. Tanner said yeah but you can never be biggerest than mama.


Code Yellow Mom said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! She is the perfect combo of irreverent and profound. I love it.

There truly is no saving face once you have kids, is there?

And be skinny AND hairless. What would it be like?

Yvonne said...

I am sitting here laughing--don't know what is funnier whether you only have hair under your arms when you're fat, or her cooking and CATCHING the turkey ; )

Love the freckles being kisses from angels--very sweet.

Gypsy Girl said...

And this right here is why I blog stalk... Too funny!

No Cool Story said...

Ooh, field turkeys beware!

Sister Pottymouth said...

So THAT's why I have hairy armpits!

That was AWESOME! She is one sassy, funny kid. I wish I'd have met her when you were here. (sigh)

EarthBint said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! MAN i'm glad she still thinks of me, even if it is in profoundly bizarre contexts :)