Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making People

A very sweet young man who has never been around children (and has been over-exposed to mine since our arrival in the country) has seemed disturbed and confused by the fact that Thing 1 continues to do bad things even after I have told her not to.  
For example, Old Kitty is sadly now Very-Frail-Not-Long-for-This-World-Please-Don't-Touch-Him-Or-Else-He-Might-Break Kitty. Which means that her favorite kitty is suddenly off limits and not to be bothered. Or hugged. Or picked up. Or pushed. Or scared. Or spoken loudly around. This is hard for a small Tyrant to understand, and as a result she hears, 
"Be gentle to kitty! Gentle! Leave him alone! Don't touch the kitty!" around a million times a day. 
After the ten thousandth time, this young man just shook his head and looked at me, 
"Why does she do that? I mean, what's the point? You've told her not to. She knows she'll get in trouble. WHY does she keep doing it?"
This got me thinking about the intensive training it takes to make babies into fully functioning human beings.  I have come to the conclusion that repetition is the main tool. 
For example, when  my toddler sweetly states, "Thank YOU!" when you hand her her juice, that is the result of being prompted a hundred times a day for several years before her first voluntary response. 
Do you see how she is resisting pulling everything off of all the shelves in her reach? We worked on that for probably a year straight, starting when she first became mobile. Every day all the DVD's and books were on the floor dozens of times. Then we would pick them up. And I would say, "Don't pull the DVD's down. NO." She would nod solemnly - and then do it again a half an hour later just incase maybe the rules had changes.
Not all children are quite as stubborn as mine. Some babies hear, "NO!" and their world ends and they never EVER want to hear it again so they behave like little angels.
( I have only heard rumors of these children, please, if you see one, send me a pictures so I know they are real.)
Children like mine push boundaries constantly because they want to do and know and experience EVERYTHING. RIGHT NOW. Which is wonderful and exhausting and challenging and means that I will be telling her the same things OVER and OVER and OVER again for many years.
I guess as a mommy I have to look at the long term results of this training, and not focus on the short term repeated offenses.    

As to why does she do the bad things she does? Best I can guess it's because becoming a person is fucking hard work. Similar to the time commitment needed to learn a foreign language while training for the olympics and preparing for life on a space station. 
It is good to remember how hard it all is when a little person is behaving badly.  
It's probably not just because they are evil little minions.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Favorite Things Friday!

Just to prove that I am not always sarcastic and cynical, with a hint of dry humor, I am going to start posting some of my random FAVORITE THINGS! Which could be anything.  Maybe pictures of my kids. Maybe pictures of unicorns. Maybe baby stuff. Maybe grown up stuff. Who knows! It's a magical surprise!  Wooohoooo!!
This week I discovered the amazing music videos for "They Might Be Giants" songs such as Meet the Elements:

Thanks to them Thing 1 routinely will ask me to sing about helium, planets, and spectrums before bed. 

So if you are a parent who wants your kid to be smarter, or know a kid who should be smarter, or are a grown up who drew pictures and spaced out during chemistry class, these  guys are for YOU!  HAPPY FRIDAY!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Red Alert

If at some point in your life your diabolical children are sitting quietly, playing together like little angels, while educational television hums soothingly in the background,  you may think: 
Hey! I bet I could sit down for a minute and check my email for the first time today and maybe just let my high red alert simmer to a pleasant yellow.
When this happens, don't do it. Just. Don't. 
Because as soon as your back is turned someone (Thing 1, I'm looking at you...)  is going to find the one colored pencil you missed when you grabbed them from Thing 2's grasp earlier before she could shove them down her throat. (It will be the red one.  It's always the red one.)  Then they will systematically cover as many square inches of your parent's new plasma flat screen TV with intricate scribbles and designs. Even if it means scaling the wall of toy pianos, lego wagons, small stools, and rocking horses you have carefully constructed around it.
Yeah, it's not worth those five minutes of semi-relaxation that you desperately needed.  The time-out and scolding are going to be at least 15 minutes total. The cleanup from Thing 2 dumping the last dredges of your coffee cup all over the table while you were disciplining her sister will cost you another 10. Not to mention the frantic wiping off of the TV before your mom sees it so that you can at least pretend to be a good parent.  
Don't get lulled into a false sense of security. 
They are waiting for you to show weakness.
Don't let your guard down.
Be vigilant. 
Be ready. 

Luckily they are also amazingly cute. 
Look how cute this kid is. Seriously. 
(Don't fall for it.  She's up to something...)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thy Mother's Name in Vain

For the last few days I have been waking up to a tiny hand patting my face as a new little voice lisps sleepily, "MaMA mama MAma MAMA Mamamamamama!"  
Thing 2 has spoken her first words! They make me smile before my eyes have even opened. No matter how brutal the night, no matter how many marathon hours of teething-baby-nursing I have sat awake for, nope, doesn't matter. She said my name sweetly therefore I love her.

It has made me think of that old quote, 
"Mother is the name for god in the lips and hearts of little children." 
-William Makepeace Thackeray Vanity Fair

(When I first read this I was young and single and thought, "Whoa, that is so deep and beautiful.  Mothers are so powerful and strong and worship-deserving." This was before I realized that while Mothers are indeed powerful and strong and worship-deserving, they are also fucking tired burnt out exhausted needing of showers and drinks.  Still. It's a nice quote.) 

However, being the "god" of children has it's downside. Thing 2 is in that new convert stage of awe and devotion. I provide her with the miraculous booby-juice and 24 hour care. I wipe her little bum, I bounce her to sleep. I am, if I do say so myself, fairly awesome. And since she is doing very little wrong just yet, I am also very benevolent. 
Thing 1, on the other hand, is in that disillusioned stage of a devotee. She wants more from her god than just cuddles. She wants Popsicles. And ponies. And sometimes hot air balloon rides. When god doesn't answer the way she wants, she is not very happy. Apparently her god has some rules and requirements for all this bounty. When she disobeys, well, she gets a little fire and brimstone action. 
She is also realizing that she has options. She can make choices about obeying or disobeying. Maybe she doesn't need a god. After all, she can reach high shelves and climb on chairs and open doors and count to twenty and tell you all about 4 out of 7 planets. She is reaching demi-god status herself.  As a result, she has started using the name of her god with a little less reverence than before:
 It can be like sandpaper on my eardrums. There are days, I have to admit, that I absolutely hate that word.
But then after a really rough day, Thing 1 will find me, crawl into my lap, frame my face so gently with her tiny hands and whisper, "Mamma. I love you. I love my Mama."
My heart will melt, and just like that she is a tiny baby again lisping my name for the first time.  I play my role of long suffering parent to my prodigal daughter, and hug her, and kiss her, and tell her I love her too.
And forgive her for all the times she has taken my name in vain.