We waited for months for our daughter to join our family. By the time she did, our sons were 4 and 2, and we felt like we'd earned an easy child. Our first son was a difficult baby. He cried a lot. A lot. Our second cried much less. But still. This was our third child.
And when she arrived, she was everything we'd hoped for. She was healthy. She WAS easy. She had a full head of black hair, beautiful pouty lips, and a dreamy caramel complexion. She slept. All. The Time. She never cried. I carried her around in the front pack for months and she rarely made a peep. Except for an adorable growling noise.
"Is she a good baby?"
"Yes," I would answer. Smugly. Oh, yeah. I would answer SMUGLY. She IS a good baby, I would think. We EARNED this easy child.
Then she became a toddler.
Now I say, wholeheartedly, Please forgive me for being smug. Please forgive me for thanking GOODNESS that my baby wasn't a screamer whenever I'd hear a baby screaming in the grocery store. Please forgive me for toting my perfect infant around, pleased with myself for having lucked out in the baby department (don't worry, I never gave MYSELF credit - I just thought we lucked out - I wasn't THAT smug!).
This beautiful child is my challenge. The older 2 had some sense of self-preservation. They listened to me when I said not to run into the parking lot or not to touch a hot stove. They stayed out of drawers I told them to stay out of. They went to sleep at nap time.
Here is what our daughter does:
The boys always stack their shoes neatly by the door. Here is what our girl does:
(You can probably guess the shoes are supposed to go in the basket.)
Oh, wait - I digress.
About a week ago, I found myself licking the inside of my empty wine bottle. Why?
Because my daughter had driven me crazy all afternoon, and by the evening I was desperate for some wine.
First, my husband got called in to work and I had to take all 3 kids to gymnastics. My son has just moved up to the next level so the class is 1.5 hours long. I brought snacks.
My daughter devoured her snacks in about 15 minutes (so I had precisely 15 minutes of peace).
Then, she went into the play room, which is upstairs at the gym. I don't know why, but the play room is empty. Absolutely empty - or so I thought. They used to have toys in there. But not now.
Anyway, parents sit on this balcony overlooking the gym, and the play room is behind where the parents sit. Suddenly, a wooden block comes flying out of the room, and over the balcony onto the gym floor below where kids are gymnasticking. My oldest son ran down to retrieve it.
I run in the room and ask an older boy - did you throw that block, or did she?
He points at my darling daughter. So I take the blocks away.
She says she's thirsty so I offer her a drink out of my water bottle. She hurls the water bottle - which is FULL - over the balcony.
My son goes down to get it.
A few minutes later she has a massive poopy diaper. As I'm carrying her across the balcony (in front of a dozen parents), to take her to the car to change her, she is leaning over my shoulder, pulling stuff like tampons and lip gloss out of my purse announcing, "Mommy's purse!" over and over.
We come back inside and she runs over to another mom and climbs up on the chair next to her. She puts her hands on the mom's shoulder and chatters away. I retrieve her. This happens 2 more times.
Finally, the class is over.
I go down to help my son get his shoes out of the cubby, and find that someone else has put their stuff in my son's cubby. It's totally not a big deal. To me.
But the OTHER kid, who arrived AFTER us, starts saying to my son, "HEY! YOU PUT YOUR STUFF IN MY CUBBY!"
Now, I've spent the past hour and a half, when I am not corralling my daughter, watching this kid poke my son, make mean faces at him, and cut in front of him in line. This is not a nice kid.
So I stoop to his level. You bet I do. He's 5.
I say, "Actually, we were here before you. So you put your stuff in HIS cubby."
He looks up at me, kind of stunned.
"This is MY cubby," he says.
"No. It's not. It's not anyone's cubby. But my son was here before you and he was using this cubby before you. We can share the cubby. There are not enough cubbies for each person to have his one cubby."
"This is MY cubby."
"No it's not," I say to him. Then, to my son, "Get your shoes."
I realize my daughter is nowhere to be seen. There are millions of children milling around and I can't see her. She may have escaped to the parking lot for all I know. I doubt anyone kidnapped her, they've all seen and heard her antics all evening. But she is missing.
Suddenly I hear someone yell, "WHOSE KID IS THIS?!"
"She's mine," I say, meekly.
Yes, she has made her way onto the gym floor, directly below the vault, where a bunch of 12-year-old girls are vaulting.
"She almost got clobbered," the coach says to me.
I feel horrible. Embarrassed. Mortified. I want to duck out and never come back.
We leave. Here is how my daughter reacts to the dinner I cook:
Finally, I get all 3 of my little people to bed. I want a glass of wine. But the bottle is empty. So I am licking the inside of the empty bottle when I come to a realization.
The reason she does things like hurling blocks off the balcony (and water bottles), and disappearing at the gym, endangering her own life), and things like this:
(coloring in lipstick all over the inside of our bedroom window - I thought an animal had died)
(picking her nose til it bled all over the place)
(stealing someone else's birthday cake)
(crying because I can't make her cape do what the boys' capes are doing) ...
Is because I have been failing her.
I have not been paying enough attention to her. I have not patiently disciplined her the way I did the boys. She was SO easy as an infant that I think I forgot to give her the guidance she needs!
So I resolved right then and there, as I plunked the empty wine bottle down on the counter, that I need to make a change.
Coming up: how that's going. Watch out for Part 2.
Meanwhile, I want to hear about YOUR most embarrassing parenting moments!