That Time When Buying Camping Equipment Forced Me Into Foreclosure

I’m sitting in a Freddy’s restaurant eating a hamburger and drinking liquid poison (Pepsi), after a solid workout where I burned at least 300 calories according to the machine I was on. My nose is red from crying and I am THAT guy. Sitting alone at a table, positioned where I can see all the doors to know who is coming and going. When I ordered, the peppy cashier who is currently singing along to the oldies, could not have rolled his eyes any louder at me when I responded to his “how ya doin?” with “I’ve been better.” Look at me, man. I clearly just walked in from the gym, sweaty and wearing spandex. How many of your customers make a beeline here after their workouts? Yeah. That’s what I thought.

This week has been HELL. Aside from the  world exploding around us, I have felt more crazy, sad and alone than I have in awhile. I am preparing for a camping trip with the kids and just spent more money on sleeping pads than my monthly car payment because the air bed I ordered online this week is defective. Or I can’t install batteries correctly, which wouldn’t surprise me.

I feel more socially and professionally awkward than ever. I’m thinking I might feel better if I invest in a nice, recycled brown paper bag and place it over my head when I go in public. Participating in a national training for work this week made me feel way out of my element. Totally humbled to work alongside such talented people in my field.

I engaged a parenting coach this week to help me manage my interactions with my daughter more effectively. I hope to preserve what’s left of my mind. Since I don’t seem to know anyone who encounters the same level of insanity with their daughter regularly, I may keep friends and strangers alike posted through blogging just to get stuff off my chest.

Thanks for listening, social media world. I know this post has not been uplifting or encouraging. Freddy’s Dirt and Worms sundae is looking damn fine about now. Let’s rally.

Chin Hairs, Chronic Pain, Stuffy Noses and Memory Loss, No Problem

I’ve been on this serious regimen of health improvement over the past month, ever since the visit to my doctor. At the prompting of some readers and friends, I opted to give a chiropractor a go. If you have mentioned to me over the past month that I need to try this, nice work, you have had a profound influence on my behavior. I have also been seeing an acupuncturist thanks to another friend of mine. All of this has been made possible by a healthy balance in my health flex savings account at work, which I need to drain by the end of the state’s fiscal year (June 30) with a couple months’ grace period. The balance in this flex account has been a huge source of angst for me, because as you may know, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Yes, I am switching to an HSA for next year to avoid this in the future.

I’m starting to see a big difference in my overall attitude and the way I feel physically. A lot of the nagging back and neck pain has been reduced and instead of experiencing big dips in my mood, the dips seemed to have lessened. Small dips. This has helped (to some small extent) to manage my reactions to my tiny trolls better.

My son has been tracking with me on this self-improvement mission. He is continually relaying valuable information that he acquires through watching commercials on TV.

When he sees me get the tweezers out:

“Momma. You know those black hairs on your chin? I saw on Grandma Sosa’s TV that there is a machine that can zap those and make them fall right off your face.”

When I was struggling with allergies:

“Momma. I saw on Grandma Sosa’s TV that they have medicine that can help your red, itchy nose feel better. Do you know that?”

This morning on the way to school:

“Momma. Did you know that over the summer kids can lose 400 things of learning because they are not in school? Kumon helps your children remember so they don’t lose all of those things.”

I almost died. “Did you see that on Grandma Sosa’s TV?” I asked him.

“No. Actually I saw that on your TV.”

Have I mentioned that my kids are brilliant? I know some of you who know them personally might have some knowledge that would give you room to debate this. Don’t.

I am also trying hard, so hard to get some time to myself. Literally this usually ends up being time WITH myself, which is not always very exciting, but maybe it is allowing me and the kids some space to appreciate each other more and to recharge. ❤️

40 is NOT the New 20

I’m typing this in the quiet shadows of my living room, afraid to breathe so as not to provoke any questions or commentary from the bedroom. My iPad screen is covered with unidentifiable sticky, smudgey, crispy material that has accumulated over the past couple weeks, left by the yucky, germy little fingers of tiny trolls who hijacked this device to play ABC Mouse, Tozzle puzzles or Lumosity (Yes, you read that right. Apparently my 6-year old is an avid user, however, it is debatable as to whether he will ever be a Mensa member, my LPI (Lumosity Performance Index) scores have dipped drastically).

So I was rear-ended on my morning commute today. Seemingly by the President and CEO of a local non-profit that I admire, according to the contact information on the business card she gave me. However I was too stunned and my skeleton was too out of whack from the jolt I had just received to appreciate this at the time. No real visible damage to the car but the pain-free morning I was enjoying until that time disappeared. After I got back in my car, I burst into tears for no real reason. Well, other than the fact that it was Monday and I was going to work and my back hurt.

At the end of last week, I took this weird survey as part of trying to save money on my monthly insurance premium that, based on my lifestyle, my physical and emotional health, it would take my real age and calculate my “rally age.” Supposedly this is just the name of the program but unless your “rally age” is younger than you really are, I see no reason to call it a “rally age.” Case in point, my “rally age” was 5 years older than I really am. 

Yay! Let’s rally to be older than we really are! My age is not the actual number of years I’ve spent on this earth, it’s older! Kids, stress, failed relationships, work drama, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle have aged me even faster! Let’s rally!!! So, says the program, where do you want to start? We recommend meditating for 20 minutes every day and eating more fruits and vegetables! We’ll even send you email reminders on the days you choose. Can you handle that? Because if you can’t, we can meet you where you are at. Let’s scale back. Let’s rally!!!

This encouraging survey comes on the heels of my annual physical last week.

Doctor: How often do you exercise?

Me: Once a week.

Doctor: That’s not enough. 

Me: It’s hard to find the time, with my job, with the kids…(drifting off)

Doctor: Incorporate your kids into your exercise. Go for a walk with them. Take them on a hike. There is something energizing about being out in the fresh air, sun, you know.

Me: Sure, Einstein. What a great idea! No one has ever suggested that to me before! (Ok, I didn’t really say that).

Me actually: Sure. I could try that.

Doctor: How much sleep are you getting every night?

Me: Well, maybe 6 hours? I wake up a lot during the night.

Doctor: That’s not enough.

And so my strengths-based appointment went on like that for another 30 minutes until tears started seeping slowly out of my eyes, again for no real reason. Hey Doctor, at least my vitals are good, my blood work is normal and I’m 5 pounds less than I was last year at this time! Let’s rally!

I’m sure I’m not alone with these random physical pains, unexpected eye leaking, and being a recipient of lectures about self care. I am not that girl who will show up to her 30-year high school reunion (God, is that really the next one?) and people say “Wow! Look who got hot!” For the love of God, PMS drove me to roast marshmallows on my kitchen stove this evening and set off my smoke alarm. The best possible outcome would have been an engineful of firefighters arriving at my house to save me from myself as I was engulfed in graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate bars, dressed in plaid flannel pajamas and a misshapen shirt, no bra, and two small children with chocolate smeared across their faces clinging to my legs. Truly, a rallying moment.

Currently, my daughter is yelling at me from the bedroom saying that her face is cold and why am I not coming to bed. Excuse me, but I need to sign off so I can enjoy these moments. They grow up so fast…and so do I!

Whippets and Subarus: The Challenges of Fragility

This week was an intense week for every thing with moving parts in our family. It started with our dog, Smoke. Smoke is a Whippet. This makes her possibly the most nervous and fragile being I have ever come across. I mean, it couldn’t be that she lives in a home with two rambunctious tiny trolls who are continually fascinated by her. One tiny troll draws her pictures and tapes them to her crate, while the other uses a toy stethoscope to listen to her delicate heart regularly.

Smokes spends the greater part of her days trembling in the furthest corner of her crate, with a permanently worried countenance as she surveys every move in our laundry room (unfortunately she “missed” the burglar who spent some time with her in the laundry room two summers ago as he emptied my laundry basket so he could fill it up with household goodies). Smoke has been a little under the weather lately. She spends about 23 hours, rather than her normal 22 hours, curled up or stretched out in deep sleep (with one eye open, trembling) either in her crate or in the back yard. She has been pooping in the house during the night, and now has even taken to pooping in her crate during the day while I’m at work. Needless to say, I was concerned and took her to the vet last weekend. I learned that she had a serious bacterial infection which had pretty much taken over her fragile body and she required antibiotics and probiotics (looking at these words spelled out, I feel as if they must cancel each other out). The vet was able to prescribe perhaps the most horrible tasting antibiotics known and as usual, in a friendly, confident voice, advised me to wrap them in something Smoke likes to eat. Yeah. Roger that. That is a no-go, Ms. Veterinarian.

I spent the first four days of this regimen, twice a day, getting my hands bit up by razor-sharp Whippet teeth as I tried to place the pill in the back of her throat. Fortunately, my co-worker rescued me with a pill popper that he used on his cats. Coincidentally, this is the same co-worker that almost lost his sh*t listening to my tirade about reserving cars last week. I’m pretty sure he was trying to prevent me from having a psychotic break with his pill popper offering. After a trial run, the popper worked like a charm.

Meanwhile, my lame Subaru (I worship it in the winter months, and curse it the rest of the year), incurred another $300 of repairs after having its dumb engine rebuilt (for $7000) last summer. I argued with a feisty service person over the phone all day Monday. His name was Fred. I encountered Fred in my dealings at the shop last summer but didn’t have to work with him. This time I did. He was loud, arrogant, argumentative and talked really fast. When I asked him to repeat things, he would slow down and talk louder, enunciating every syllable as if I was hard of hearing. He “graciously” “warrantied out” a few items that needed to be replaced after I pressed him about what did I really spend $7000 on last summer. He shocked and awed me with fancy car terminology, trying to make me think that engine coils, engine wires and spark plugs were not part of the engine in the car and therefore should not be covered under the warranty for the rebuilt engine. I don’t know a thing about cars (my brother Erik was on speed dial that day) but I was willing to bet that these parts were involved with the engine somehow so I went all in on the argument. The car is running now, but I’m looking at Ford, Chevy and Jeep for my next car. And doing my best to avoid Fred until that happens.

Wow. I’ve just used nearly 700 words reliving my broken dog and car experiences. I haven’t even gotten to the doctor appointments for the humans in the family. These incidents will have to wait until the next time, but mark my words, the entertainment continues.

SmokeySmokey snoozing in the backyard, with one ear up to monitor troll activity

a mindful life

The other night, after returning home from a family visit which left my kids knocked out in the car, I seized the opportunity to watch a Redbox movie that was already a night late. After transferring the tiny trolls to my bed, fully clothed and peacefully sleeping, I turned on The Intern, which featured Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. I had intended to just watch the first half and then call it a night, but I found I couldn’t turn it off. I was entranced by the main character, Ben Whittaker, played by DeNiro, who had signed up as an intern for a senior intern program at an e-commerce company owned and operated by Hathaway’s character.

A widower, Whittaker is 70 years old, lives in Brooklyn, is disenchanted by retirement and looking for a way to feel needed, a reason to wake up every morning and a place to be. What struck me about DeNiro’s character was the peace, the generosity, and wisdom he brought to each life he touched. Throughout the movie, scenes showed him quietly observing the people and activities around him, listening patiently, enjoying moments wherever and with whomever he was sharing them. Doing Tai Chi in the park with his senior counterparts, taking his boss’ daughter to a birthday party, and delivering powerful snippets to snarky stay-at-home moms or Hathaway’s unfaithful husband, DeNiro never wasted a word or an opportunity to demonstrate love to the people he cared about, all the while setting and maintaining beautiful, healthy boundaries.

It was definitely a scripted life, but it left me feeling inspired. Setting boundaries and living in the moment. Little did I know, seeing this movie would totally set me up for sessions at a work conference that started for me this week. Today, I attended a session on mindfulness. It was fascinating because it was all about being present in the moment, and in part, being able to protect oneself (setting emotional boundaries) from events and people that we encounter throughout the day that could harm us or cause destructive emotions or responses in us. I probably could have used mindfulness first thing this morning during an episode with my daughter.

Daughter: “Momma, I want to wear my unicorn pants. Where are they?”

Me: “They are in the laundry.”

Daughter: “Ugh. You are so rude.” (I have no idea where she learned this phrase but she is using it constantly lately and often out of context). “I don’t love you anymore.”

Son pipes in from a far corner of the house: “I like you.”

Me: “Thanks buddy.”

Soon after, my daughter, for the second time in the past week, emerged from her room wearing all stripes. Not a single color on her matched or went with one another. Must be nice to be able to wear horizontal stripes all over your body in wild, mismatched colors and still look adorable. With hot pink cowboy boots and giant, dark sunglasses.

Unbeknownst to me, I was about to spend half my day learning about mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy and the other half of my day learning about how to attend to my vicarious trauma at work. Who would have known that a career in corrections would come in handy when dealing with 4-year old girls?

Several events this evening, moments that would have sent me over the edge even yesterday, offered me the opportunity to practice a different approach with the kids. I probably didn’t handle the situations perfectly, however, the movie and the conference sessions put me in a different space. I actually “observed” my thoughts, rather than letting them serve as fuel for emotion, as I experienced my impatience and exhaustion with the kids and their antics. This process churned out some different behaviors and responses for me. Far from perfect, but maybe I’m making progress.❤️

 

Waiting to Evolve…

That’s a passive title, isn’t it? Written by an author who is waiting for life to happen to her, rather than making life happen. It’s the place I tend to go to when life feels overwhelming. A life-sized Eeyore. It seems that it has been ages since I last wrote a blog. Writing usually brings me joy, it is my current form of artistic expression. I love telling stories about the kids, capturing them here, as my feeble mind will only hold these memories for a short time. Life seems to have changed dramatically over the past few months and I find myself spinning stories of optimism to counteract some of the pain that comes with change. Sometimes it is not enough optimism as I find myself in ridiculous conversations focused on minute, meaningless details. Like arguing for nearly 30 minutes with a person in my office about how I would like to handle reserving myself a car when I have to travel for work. Really? If nothing else has screamed “life is feeling out of control right now and I need to regain it” yet, now it has, loud and clear, through the car reservation conversation.

I’m going to church. Like more than just on Sunday. I’m inviting God to bring on a revolution in my life. Tear it apart and put something back in there that is more positive, hopeful, healthy, sane, strong, and less fragile, impulsive, confused, needy. I imagine tiny people with picket signs marching between my head and my heart: “We want change!” I don’t have any inspiring verses to share, although my kids can spout encouraging verses to fit most situations.

Me: “Baby, life is hard. Momma’s not feeling so good today.”

Son: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and he will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5 through 6.”

Me: “Thank you baby.”

Thank goodness for their school. Not sure if I am ready for public school next year.

I’m planting plants and obsessing over my yard.

I’m sitting at the table with the kids at night doing homework with them and listening to them discuss random topics like baby bottles, what carnivores eat, the days of the week and their favorite flavor of go-gurt.

I am sitting awkwardly in a recovery group, trying to get used to listening to people talk, and not jumping in with words of empathy, reassurance, encouragement. Just really listening. And thanking them when they are done. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what I am recovering from. I just need to be better at life. ❤️

5 Foods Every American Child Loves – Except Mine – and How I Cope

I have a serious issue. Some might call it a first-world problem. It is probably some form of Karma. It makes play dates pretty awkward.

Friend: “We are so looking forward to having Caleb over for a play date. Does he like pizza?”

Of course this question is just a courtesy. Every kid loves pizza, right? This guy looks pretty average in my book.

Noah sun

Wrong. In my experience, there are five meals that are no-brainers for the 10 years and younger crowd, hands down. Pizza, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, spaghetti (pasta), and grilled cheese. Not the case for my son. I might be partially to blame for the hot dog and pizza thing. After my daughter started walking, I was so strapped for time and energy, we probably had hot dogs five out of seven days a week. I wasn’t creative in how I served them, but to my credit, I did serve my kids all-beef, Kosher, grain-fed, cage-free, and very expensive hot dogs. At probably about 2 months in, my son gagged and threw up on a hot dog, but he was already sick (probably malnutrition or sodium overdose). Since that day (about three years ago), he insists that hot dogs make him throw up and will not touch anything resembling a hot dog. This makes serving sausage and other hot dog-like items tricky, which has severely limited my choices in freezer-to-table dinners. During that same time period, on the other two days of the week, I served the kids pizza. From the start, my son was skeptical. He would pick off the cheese, lick the crust and then eat the edges only. We even experimented with fruit pizza.

fruit pizza

As for the other kid foods, he won’t even sit in the same room as a grilled cheese and the sight of pasta sends him into a whining fit. As an aside, he hates eggs too. They get caught in the back of his throat and end up back on the table in a gooey glob. Gross.

What do you do, then, as a parent of this kind of child? No quick tricks up my sleeve. I’m not that mom in the commercials who can come home from a long day at work, pop some pizza rolls in the oven, and serve her children a quick and healthy (?) meal that make her children smile and dance. I can’t bring home the freezer pasta-in-a-bag-just-add-water on my way home from work. I can’t even pick up a tub of KFC and deliver it to my table while my kids bounce up and down in joy, barely containing themselves from jumping into the bucket of finger-licking-good (Caleb has placed a moratorium on chicken in all forms-fingers, nuggets, tenders, etc.). What good is being a working, single mother of two if I can’t live a life that resembles daytime TV food commercials??? At least my other child eats like a normal kid – I think?

neelah eat plate

Here is a brief list of what my son WILL eat: spinach, hummus, any kind of fruit including gross fruit like cantaloupe, tofu, plain hamburgers, red peppers, carrots, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, pancakes and muffins with strategically hidden vegetables, and ice cream sandwiches. On a recent play date, he boldly told his friend’s mother that he did not like the hot dogs she was serving and asked if he could find something else to eat for dinner. She said sure and gave him free rein to her refrigerator (which he doesn’t even have at my house), where he proceeded to make himself a dinner of peaches and ice cream sandwiches. He did check with her for peanut butter as well, but she was out. She relayed this story to me when I picked him up. She was extremely amused. I wanted to disappear through her floor.

I have morphed into this weird mom, who is surprised when people say to her, “wow! I can’t believe you serve your children spinach.” I think to myself, doesn’t every kid LOVE spinach? I think the answer is clear when my children’s friend’s parents insist on having my kids over to THEIR house for play dates…

Walking With Spiders

“I’m going to go to Colorado where the spiders live. I’m going to take them for a walk. I am going to take them to people’s homes who don’t have spiders as pets. And you are going to miss me. And be really, really, really sad.”

                                                                                                                                              —-Callie S., Age 3

Really? Here’s your backpack. Take your time.

There is a war going on in my home. I’ve got 40 years on my opponent, but experience doesn’t seem to give me an edge in this case. 

Do you ever share a tale of terror with a friend who also has children, expecting some empathy, or maybe even that knowing nod, and it doesn’t ever come? Instead, they shrink back in horror a little bit, their mouth forming a surprised “O”, and they shake their head. “No. No, in fact I never experienced that with Joey. I guess I was lucky.” Damn right you were lucky. Or you were passed out from medication and alcohol as you tried to escape your new reality…toddlerhood…girl style. 

“You’ve got a baby genius at your house. She’s brilliant, and so so sweet. So creative that one. I am just amazed by her artistic talent. I’m amazed at what she says.”

                                                                                                                                        —-Compilation, Callie’s Teachers

This week, I witnessed the most horrifying tantrum ever. It happened late at night, and it lasted for 2 full hours. No let up. I thought the police might be called because of the noise that Callie was making, but then I remembered I don’t live in a neighborhood where people call the police. Because domestic violence incidents are not few and far between. I was secretly hoping someone might get concerned and call the police. I needed an out because I was pushed to the far end of my rope. I needed someone to come in and break the cycle of the one-parent household where child and parent battle and there is no other parent to call in to break things up. 

For two hours, Callie stormed. Caleb slept through the whole thing. I tried everything. The comforting, gentle parent “oh honey. Momma loves you.” The wrestling hold “it seems like you have 30 limbs, you are a Hindu goddess!” The stern “calm yourself down.” The explosive “what do you think you are doing?” The counselor “you seem angry.” Finally, I pulled the door to her room securely shut and sat outside while the storm raged. Toys flew, crashing against the walls and the door. Screaming, crying. Shouting, “Momma! Tell the truth!” (That was random. I had no idea what she was asking for with that one). This event resulted in two broken toys and some door dents. 

This stuff happens. I know some of you can relate. The question is, do we have the courage to share, support, comfort and advise each other?

After checking every 10 minutes for about an hour (“are you ready to come out yet?), I finally confronted her with “Callie, this behavior is unacceptable. I am taking you to Grandma Sosa’s house, right now.” It was midnight. I grabbed her hand, my keys, and unlocked the house and the car. I forgot I had another child sleeping in the house. I was drained. Callie dragged back, hard, on my arm. 

“No, momma. I’ll listen. I’ll stop. I don’t want to go to Grandma Sosa’s right now. I want to stay with you.”

I took her back inside, put her in bed, and didn’t hear another word from her the rest of the night. 

Good Night, Moon.

Beware…the Weekend is Here.

It is Saturday morning at 10. Every Saturday morning I drop my kids off with our beloved Grandma Sosa. Grandma Sosa might have been a saint in her previous life, I’m not sure. I’ve been dropping them off there for about 3 years. It is my time, for a precious 4 hours, to do stuff that is easier to do without the kids around. Clean my house, go grocery shopping, catch up on work, lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling fan. While I’ve never asked her to, I learned from Caleb that Grandma Sosa makes them huge pancake breakfasts on Saturday mornings, complete with tall glasses of chocolate milk. This has made me lazy. Most Saturday mornings I don’t even feed them anymore.

This morning as we jumped in the car I said to the kids, “Hey, I forgot to feed you guys anything.” Caleb replied, “That’s ok Momma, Grandma Sosa always has food for us.” Callie piped up, “Momma, Grandma Sosa has brushes at her house.” I asked, “For your hair?” Callie: “Yes, she brushes my hair every week.”

Well, thank goodness, that is more often than I do, I think, cringing inside.

“Grandma Sosa must think I’m a pretty bad Momma.”

Callie: “Yeah.”

Yeah. Yesterday at work, I had a fabulous day. Part of my job includes training people who work in the criminal justice system. After my training, which was a class on coaching, people actually applauded. That was a first, but normally my trainings do go pretty well. I came home pleased and exhausted. Then I yelled at the kids at bedtime because they were jumping on my bed. They wouldn’t stay in bed, wouldn’t be quiet. I dragged Callie back to her bed 3 times while she protested, scratching and pinching and yelling at me. Caleb kept asking me, “Momma, are you going to give us away? Are you?” To which I responded by half screaming at him, “OF COURSE NOT! ARE YOU CRAZY? MOMMA LOVES YOU! I WOULD NEVER GIVE YOU AWAY!” Brilliant. Gotta love that warm, heartfelt response.

No doubt if my class would have followed me home last night, instead of applauding, they might have been poised with their cell phones, ready to dial 911 to report a domestic disturbance. By the time I lay down in my bed, my head was pounding, my blood pressure was probably at dangerous levels and I felt horrible about myself. I can’t even fathom any other mother I know acting like this. Not a single one. Maybe some of the clients I’ve seen or met with. The ones who are also living in poverty, being beat up by their boyfriends, taking drugs and working in minimum wage jobs. The ones who have not a good, but definitely plausible, reason for snapping one day.

So now I’m regrouping, and getting ready to go out and purchase hundreds of dollars in school supplies. I’m writing this blog, which I’ve realized is kind of an accountability tool for me. I will pick up the kids in a few hours, and I will hope to have gained back a sliver of my slowly deterioriating mind to face whatever comes, calmly and cheerfully, the rest of the weekend. Hurray!

If Bedtime Sucks One More Time, I Will Eat Your Ears

I am a sucker for second chances, third chances, fourth chances… In every aspect of my life. Naturally, my kids had this figured out in the first 48 hours of life. And instead of decreasing my tolerance for chance giving, I choose to stress out and create more ridiculous consequences in my mind, hoping one will resonate with them. This has resulted in the generation of outlandish and creative consequences by my children as well, particularly Callie. Recently, our conversation went like this while returning home from school.

From the backseat, Callie: “Momma, I want chocolate milk.”

“Callie, I don’t have any chocolate milk with me. You will have to wait until we get home.”

“Momma, if you don’t give me chocolate milk right now, I will chew off your face and poop in your eye.”

Our conversations often go like this. She makes her request. I decline the request. Some possible responses I will hear:

“If I don’t have my bapu (pacifier) right now, I will throw up.”

“If you don’t let me go outside right now, I will eat your ears and then leave you forever.”

“If I can’t have candy right now, I will freak out and you will be sad.”

I have begun to realize that she is randomly compiling the stuff she hears from me when I am at my wit’s end, and she is rearranging it, adding her own flair. As I get more tired, more exasperated, my responses to bad behavior start to deflate, and resort to primal, animal-like responses. I don’t recall threatening to chew off her face, but I might have used some combination of these words? My chances go on, I don’t nip things in the bud, and now I’ve created a little girl who will threaten to poop in your eye if you don’t give her what she wants. 

As I write this, I look over at her lying on the bed, laying there, watching me, sucking intently on her bapu, with a calculated look in her eyes. If I give her more than a furtive glance, she will try to woo me like a siren at sea, breaking into “You are My Sunshine.” We are at the close of an extremely long bedtime saga this evening. Lots of stuff has gone down. Caleb brushed the dog with his toothbrush. Callie announced and cheerfully made two trips to the bathroom where she made faces at herself in the mirror, lifted the toilet seat cover up and down several times and flushed, all without actually going potty. There were several incidents of pinching. Caleb practiced counting up to 100 and backwards to 1 while Callie belted out “Jesus Loves Me.”

I issued several verbal warnings. The warnings started out promising. “I will separate you.” “You will lose TV in the morning.” But the kids’ violations just didn’t seem that serious, not serious enough to follow through on with real consequences, and so I just kept throwing more stuff out there and I got more tired of reminding them to quiet down and go to sleep. I figured that I might outlast them and they might tire themselves out. And they finally did. There is probably a better way. I keep telling myself I have to choose my battles and their bedtime behavior isn’t really that bad. *Sigh.* There will probably come a day when there is a showdown, and the one who leaves with his or her face intact will be the winner.