distraction to a fault

Be British I said. Speak quietly I said. That’s all well and good until Thursday morning rolls around and for the fourth day in a row I am chasing down Caroline to put on her shoes and sit at the table to have her beautiful but wild hair tamed. The fourth day in a row that she smiles and laughs as she escapes my grip, something I just am not willing to do anymore. No matter what I do to avoid becoming her shrill mother in the morning, I just cannot seem to escape the house without raising my voice to command her fleeting attention.

I know this is all a game to her, a game she is beating me badly at, but I am really done playing this foolish game with her at all hours of the day. For the most part it is trivial things like shoes and coats, but sometimes it is about hitting her brother, letting him play with her at the kitchen sink, and lately the bane of our existence; not putting down 25 blankets, pillows and dolls on the ground for naptime. It’s endearing to see her do this or to gather them all up for circle time, plastic eyes alarmingly staring straight ahead while she holds a book up for them to see. It’s endearing and incredibly frustrating because she is so overwhelmed at the task of cleaning all that up that it results in a symphony of “I don’t know HOW!”s and putting her hands to her face in the most Oscar worthy cry you have ever seen when we ask her clean up the mess/nap. We often tell her that “mats are closed,” when we walk downstairs for after dinner play. It’s a school term that really works; we tell her what is open – coloring, puzzles, a bin from the Expedit of her choosing, the kitchen, a game and she goes with it, but those blasted “mats.” It creates a huge issue because not only is it overwhelming to look at, but try to keep a 13 month-old from trudging through like Godzilla waking all those nappers up while she screams in protest. Mats are not for sibling playtime.

What a tangent!

When I have time I can come with a creative way to get her to do my bidding. Caroline is not happy about being asked to put on her pajamas? Simple, make the pajamas come alive in your hands and race all over, even have them pull you to the ground and she is giggling and sticking her legs out to get eaten by the crazy pajamas. Caroline won’t willingly go upstairs for a bath? Easy, remind her that she can run around naked before she hops into the tub. Problem is I don’t have the energy or time to come up with creative ways to get her to do EVERYTHING and honestly, I want her to just listen out of respect not because it is some fun thing I have created to distract her. What is she really learning if I never force this issue? I want her to show respect, to be a good listener and to be kind, but I don’t want her spending most of the time I see her each day sitting in a chair in the corner of her room.

I’m sure this is just an ebb in the constant ebb and flow of parenthood, but this one seems to feel like a defining moment in how we plan to achieve the coveted parents of well-behaved children status. Any hints?


  1. I am there with you. Aimee was not this tough as a 4 year old but Nicole pushes my every button, tests my last nerve and causes me to raise my voice to levels I did not know I could reach. Then she tenderly asks me if I am mad at her and tells me she loves me "the whole size of the world" and I melt. i wish I could offer you something other than...I am with you.

  2. Oh my god we are so right here with you. Except Anna doesn't even attempt to clean up the drawers full of pajamas, saved baby clothes, linens, shoes etc. she tears out.