Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Daddy I'm really sorry"

These are words I was not expecting to hear for a very long time...
I wasn't.
So you could have knocked me over when Louise said them to me this afternoon.  And the look on her face was just so adorable.

The backstory...
Halloween approaches.
It does!
Last year when we were visiting the states - we unfortunately missed Halloween but we did get a little bit caught up in the hype (it's hard not too really!).  The girls were a little bit sad that they got to miss trick or treating and the rest of the fun that seems to come with Halloween (ok... ok... it's not just the girls... it may also be me).  So Halloween is coming around again (as it seems to every year) and we're all getting a little bit excited (Larry maybe not as much as the rest of us).  I went off to the grocery store after the gym to get some stuff for dinner - I missed a night when I did my shopping on Monday.  I went to the grocery store near the gym rather than home and they had *gasp* candy corn for sale.  So I got some.

Now I thought it would be nice if I got the candy corn and put it in a nice container on the table.  I didn't tell Louise and Olivia that I had bought the candy corn because I didn't think of it - I figured also they'd see it soon enough.

Louise did.
She grabbed the jar and raced into the living room to show Olivia.  Now again my parental ESP should have kicked in.  Anyway the next thing you know *crash* glass and candy corn all over the family room floor.  Cue freak out about broken glass and a puppy trying to eat candy corn.  Now this is where Louise surprised me - she said "daddy I'm really sorry" and bless her heart she looked absolutely crestfallen.  At the end of the day it was just some candy corn and a broken jar - although the funny thing is both her and Olivia were upset at the idea of no candy corn until the next time I went grocery shopping... again maybe it's parental ESP... nah... it was 3 bags for $5 and the third bag wouldn't fit in the jar.  So I had an extra bag and they got to have a piece of candy corn.  When I was putting Louise to bed she apologized again.  It really was very sweet.

Although the loss of the jar was a bit of a downer - it was one of the very remaining remnants of my life as a single person (mind you I haven't been single for a very long time but I suppose we get sentimental about silly things).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The "hitting" incident

It’s rare that I have to come down really hard on the girls.  It is.  I know I come across as the cranky, mean parent.  I kind of am cranky.  I’m not a completely freaking ray of sunshine most of the time.  I do get frustrated easily… anyway… Over the course of the past 6 years we haven’t had many “big” trouble incidents.  Last night was one of them.

Larry’s in Chicago for the day with work and he expected to come back late which is fine.  Funny though how most things like this tend to happen when Larry’s not around.  Maybe it’s some form of parenting kismet.  The afternoon had cruised along pretty easily, the girls were tired from camp so they were just chilling on the couch after dinner.  Olivia and I had our usual run-in over food.  I know common parenting logic says that you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it because you will create eating disorders later in life.  My logic says that my child not eating is indicative of something deeper.  So I push, and I push, and I push.  Olivia feels that’s she not getting enough attention and that one way to retaliate is to by ignoring something I put a lot of effort into.  She’s a smart cookie.

So we’re all on the couch on iDevices.  I realize it’s almost 8pm - give them the quick heads-up that they need a bath.  So I go start the bath.  Olivia comes up and joins me - which is cool.  Then Louise follows.  Now the girls don’t generally bathe at the same time.  It seems to be coming a bit more common so I’m not really sure what’s going on there.  Again I am not really rock the boat though - saves me time sitting on the bathroom floor keeping them company.  They also both decided to wash their hair.  Now the funny thing here is that Olivia particularly doesn’t like washing her hair… I normally have to force that issue.  Recently nope - she’s washing her hair every couple of days.  So Louise and Olivia are in the bath.  Now it’s a normal sized bathtub and I should have foreseen something was going to happen.  Parental ESP and all that.

So something did happen.  The bathtub is getting to be a bit too small for two kids to lay side by side.  So the next thing is the argy-bargy, the she touched me, no she touched me, she got water in my face and whammo - Olivia hit Louise.  So Olivia gets hoisted out of the bath given a towel and marching orders to brush her teeth, hair and get straight into bed.  Now for the first time in her life she complained that she hadn’t washed herself… seriously! 

So Olivia has her pajamas on and has brushed her hair and teeth, is in bed and she cops the lecture.  Now we have a couple of golden rules in this house - one is no hitting.  So it’s not a small lecture, it’s not the I’m upset that you hit you sister.  It’s the I’m disappointed in you.  Now I get to a 5 (nearly 6 year old) the gravity of things isn’t quite apparent.  We got there eventually.  The clanger though was when I did the channelling my own parents - the “I thought I was raising you better than this.”

Now ordinarily this probably wouldn’t be so much of a problem.  However the girls share a bathroom that separates their bedrooms so Louise overheard me saying “I thought I was raising you better than this” and she took that to mean that I was raising Olivia better than her.  Cue favoritism drama - so I have one child upset because she’s gotten the lecture and didn’t get a kiss and a hug good night (I’ll come back to this) and the other one is upset because she thinks I favor her sister.

So I have to put that little fire out.  One of the things I really love about the English language is the diversity and breadth of expressions.  There are just so many cute and interesting sayings.  One of the things I dislike about the English language is that you have to try to explain to children who don’t quite have the same understanding of the language you do what these expressions and sayings mean.  So I spent the time explaining to Louise that I was disappointed in Olivia and I thought I was doing my best to raise kids that don’t hit.  So that was sorted out.  

Meanwhile Olivia is having a meltdown in her room because she didn’t get the hug or the kiss.  That was hard for me.  When I was having the talk to Olivia about what punishment she felt was suitable - none really felt that they would lend themselves to the gravity of the offense.  Taking her iPad away for a day is pointless because she still has the TV… so I thought if I just tucked her in and said good night and walked out that would do it.  Now I am not a complete monster - there is one thing that I have always tried do to with Louise and Olivia and that is leave with them a smile or a laugh when they go to bed.  So I went back in and had a quick chat to Olivia and told her that I forgave her and explained that I get angry too, I react to things without thinking them through - it’s human nature, I don’t hit people though.  I tend to say TV words - the really bad ones!  That gave her a bit of a laugh.   I gave her a kiss and a hug, told her I loved her and said good night.

There’s lots of things about parenting that I find hard.  I’ve spoken to people before about the fact that I try to be the perfect parent (which I know isn’t possible).  With situations like this I worry if I have done the right thing.  It was all a bit stressful for me… now in the past I’d unwind with a few drinks (probably a few too many) - these days I unwind by folding laundry and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  The ultimate outcomes are that my kids know that I love them, the boundaries were enforced and my sanity prevailed.