overheard and observed

Observed this evening (and most nights) in the play area of the family room, a "mommy" chatting away on her phone (carefully tucked between her ear and shoulder), mixing spoon in one hand, pan of cut up veggies in the other, frantically stirring and adding water and slamming cabinets because she is just.so.busy.
Overheard this evening:

"Hi, I'm just taking care of my babies and making muffins. My baby loves muffins."
"My baby is just sleeping, she's a good baby, but sometimes she screams."

She often makes me pick up my phone and "talk" with her as the caller on the other end of the phone. She asks me about my babies and insists I call her Mommy. We chat about the weather, our kids, the stresses of caring for a family, working, and making a healthy meal. She's trying to teach me about work life balance. She's got some good ideas on the subject.

Yesterday Caroline was tip tapping away on the Elmo remote control pretending it was a phone. When we asked what she was doing: "I'm just checking my email." I am equal parts proud and horrified.
She also got the stalling techniques at bedtime beyond mastered these days. She blends in with her surroundings all snuggled up on the couch as quiet as a mouse hoping that if she can just hold her breath so no one hears her breathing we will forget she is there altogether and she can see ALL the American Idol contestants. When we bring her up to bed there are smiles to be decided on her responsibility chart, teeth to be brushed of course, but the actual act of bedtime she drags out with a flurry of "um, um, um, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I, I, I just love you." Recently she told me a story that melted me in exactly the way she had hoped because I laid down on that comfy bed with her and stroked her hair and smelled her preschooler goodness for awhile longer.

"Mommy, remember a long time ago when we lived really, really far away and we moved to Kiki and Papa's house? and then we went to the purple house, but it was broken so we found the white house (it's actually yellow, but whatevs!) and another family was living there, but now we live here? remember?"

At dinner tonight the master of the house (that's Connor) was unhappy that his chicken was not yet sufficiently cool and could I please HURRY. When I finally put the plate down with a harried "go to town" my little mimic insisted that he "go to town, Con, go to town."

You guys, she is seriously growing up and while there have been more than a fair amount of meltdowns and timeouts and ohhh the screaming (from both of us I am sad to admit), she can hold a whole conversation, tell you her opinion on a variety of topics and my god the things she says sometimes just absolutely blow my mind. She makes me laugh when I need it most. She pushes me over to the edge of insanity. She loves me fiercely and then hates me with the heat of a thousand suns.

I met a woman at a local park once. She was British and her child was so well-behaved. She spoke in such a quiet voice that I could barely hear her myself and yet there was her child LISTENING without an ounce of sass. "Now darling, wouldn't you like to go home and have an apple now, c'mon now, let's be going." AND SHE WENT, WILLINGLY, WITHOUT EVEN A SMIDGE OF DISCONTENT. Is there truly something to that? If you speak quietly will they listen more?

I tried it tonight when I was on the phone with a colleague and I watched her beat her brother's head several times with the pointy end of a large paintbrush. She denied it of course, she always denies it, because she knows I am going to be angry. She went right to her room where she stayed for two time outs because the first one didn't quite take. At bathtime she threw an absolute fit and was sentenced to bed directly following the bath, except that I knew she would be up there in her bed screaming and whining and didn't she wake up this morning before 6AM? I know we need to stand together as parents, but I took her little towel wrapped body close to me and told her quietly (without a british accent) that her behavior at bathtime really had been terrible and that she could not react that way to something she does nearly everyday, something she complains about ending when the water whooshes down the drain. I told her she needed to stick to me like glue and that at the first sign of sass she was going to bed. She was my shadow upstairs as I finished helping get Connor down for the night (thank you blasted eye teeth for that business). She played with Katie and at times joined in for Night 1 of the 30 Day Shred. She sat like a statue on the sofa watching the beginning of Glee with and when Gwyneth whipped out that condom it was off to bed without so much as a peep and zzzzzzz.

Take home: When losing your temper with the child that makes you want to poke your eye with a dull pencil, don't count to ten, pretend to be British. It works.


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