When you have babies around, you'll find yourself in a sea of diapers and spit up rags. When toddlers keep you company, you're guaranteed to have a gate at every stairway and a security lock on every cupboard door. And when it's preschoolers you're spending all your time with, you find that more than ever, your child's mood is based entirely on your OWN mood, like a mirror. And when you look into that reflectionm, you may see somet things that surprise you. You may even catch a glimpse of the future in that silvery surface.
Today I learned that I am a drama queen. Surprised? So was I. It's not like I don't love a good bit of drama in my life. In fact, I like a little intrigue to keep things interesting. I'm not completely boring. Not yet. But...a drama queen? Mirrors don't lie, do they? (Unless they're the ones in fitting rooms, and in that case they do lie. And add 10 pounds and reduce muscle tone altogether.)
We had one of those rough days that started out good. The kind that hits you in your blindside and you don't see it coming until it's already upon you, leaving you no choice but to deal with it. I was in the middle of yet another mountain of laundry when my washing machine (the great technical marvel)decided to break. In it is a full load of drenched and sudsy clothing. Lovely. But I overcome this setback by quickly switching gears, tossing the rest of the unwashed laundry back into a closet (If I can't see it, it must not be a problem, right?), and moved on to a task I can control. Dinner. Tonight was going to be turkey. Firstly, I loathe turkey. Completely and utterly. The idea of it and the smell of a roasting one are fine. But the reality of it is sub par to me. But, nonetheless, it was dinner. It had been thawing in the fridge for 3 days but naturally was still frozen. So we'd put it in a cooler of water, covered with a wet towel, to thaw the rest of the way. This should have worked. However, when I got it out of the cooler and was ready to get it out of the bag, I stopped and noticed the curious amount of air inside it. The whole bird was wrapped within a cushion of air, and no matter how much I pushed on it, no air was escaping. No. This air came from inside the packaging, not from outside. And though I'm not a food safety expert, I do know that when a package that shouldn't be inflated with air is completely filled with it, and when that package is also a perishable item, said product is probably on the "No-No" list for safety. Sigh. So I had to chuck it. Ironically, to throw it away, I had to first open the kitchen trash can that had broken...today, of all days! What a lark!
So there I was. Surrounded by dirty laundry on one side, wet, sudsy laundry on another, and being laughed at by a gassy turkey hiding out in the broken trash can. Not a good moment for me. Enter Ashlyn and Caedance. All day they'd been bickering, edging closer and closer to full on squabbles. With me and with each other. I'd been able to keep it at bay. Until this moment in the kitchen.
First the phone rang and it was my dad talking to me about the washer. At the same time, Ashlyn came in complaining about what she viewed as a serious lack of pudding in her life. In one ear I was hearing "extended warranties and service calls"; in the other, "and if I just had some pudding, I know it would be fine. WHERE is the pudding? WHERE is it? WHY is it not right here? WHY isn't it on this shelf? Right here? WHY? Mama? Mama? MAMA??" I felt my brain exploding. Just a little. I looked at Ashlyn and said (a little sharply, I'll admit), "Ash! Stop with the pudding. I'm on the phone. Leave the kitchen." I finished the conversation, hung up, and heard the sobbing. I found her curled up on the couch, crying, pulling at her hair and alternatively throwing herself to the left and then to the right side of the couch, each time letting out a moaning sob. "Sweetie? What's wrong?", I ventured. "OH!", she wailed, looking less like 5 and more like 15 in that moment, "I'm just crying because.......because....you stopped LOVING me!" "Because I asked you to leave the kitchen?," I asked for clarification. "YES. You've stopped LOVING me! OH!!!!", she threw herself across the cushions again. I went to her and hugged her, reminding her that I do, in fact, love her. And that asking her to leave a room does not mean anything other than that. She smiled, instantly happy. She even giggled a little and said, "There! That's better, isn't it?", and hopped off my lap to continue on her way. I shook my head, confused at the on/off maneuver I'd just witnessed and went back to figuring out a new dinner plan.
Enter Caedance. She approached me with untied shoelaces, pointed to them and said, "Tie them." Just like that. I stared at her, saying nothing. Near us was a little pile of papers she'd torn up earlier, which I'd just noticed. She saw my eyes alight on the pile and she said, "Pick that up, Mommy." More stares from me. Next came the zipper on her jacket, which had come undone. Even though she knows how to zip, she came to me saying, "Zip it up." That's it. I'd had enough. I crouched to her level, looked her square in the eye and said, "You, miss, are being very disrespectful. You may not speak to a grown up that way. We do not speak to you that way, and you will not speak to me that way. I refuse to help you until I hear you ask me in a respectful way." I turned and walked away. She stood there, watching me. Still untied and with jacket unzipped. Then came the tears. Caedance, at the tender age of 4, learned how to regulate the WaterWorks factory and harness it for her own needs. She can turn them on in a blink, complete with quivering lips and a catch in her voice. She's good. Really good. I've seen many fall to her antics, but I've seen it too often to be fooled. As I walked into the kitchen I heard soft steps behind me. And an exaggerated sniffle. I turned. Ahh, yes. There it was. The tears, the sniffle, the quivering chin. Brava! I stared. She whimpered. My arms crossed in front of me, I said, "Yes, Caedance?" Her eyes flitted down, then back up, then down quickly. "I just needed.......", more eye shifting and sniffling. "Yes?" "To be loved!I'm all empty and I need love!" she wailed. And maybe this was the wrong moment to do this, but I laughed. I couldn't help it. I had been through the wringer today, and now both of my children were turned into thespians, and the one in front of me was going for an Oscar. And no matter how annoying all the breaking stuff was, it was just LITTLE compared to this. This precious, precious moment right now. Staring at my child, who was now both crying and trying to hide the smile that always comes near the end of these "performances". "You're laughing", she accused, now losing control over the smile, but still trying to hold onto the tears. "Yes, I am," I giggled, "But only because I think you DO need some love," and I gathered her up in a big hug and she began laughing too. She pulled away, tears gone, and said, "Mommy, you're a pretty good mommy." "Caedance", I said, tickling her, "You're a very good daughter."
And there it was. Drama ended. For the moment, anyway. They always say that kids repeat what they hear and act on what they see around them. So I'm very curious at these theatrical antics that have been playing a part in our days of late. I'd like to say something off-handed like, "OH! They get that from preschool!" But since they're with ME all day, I guess that wouldn't work, would it? Am I a drama queen? I dunno. Maybe. What I do know is this: even in my most top form, I will never be as articulate and convincing as these two little ladies. Never. Ever.Maybe there is a future in this for them? Hmmmmmmm, I can only imagine it now......