Monday, February 20, 2006

More on the kid front

We've been having a small kid honeymoon here at Chez Booland. Our girl seems to be turning the corner from the tantrum-prone end-of-toddlerhood evident in most four-year-olds (and *cough* some extremely volatile five-year-olds) to the beginning of the self-controlled Big-Kidness of six. It's...well, for lack of any more elegant turn of phrase, it's been REALLY NICE.

Case in point: every week for literally YEARS now, Mermaid Girl has had some kind of tantrum or meltdown on Friday night, often right as it's time to light Shabbat candles. Is it the accumulated stresses and strains of the week? Rebellion at the unaccustomed requirement that she be quiet and respectful for an adult-initiated ritual for two freakin' minutes? Or, at this point, is it just habit? (If Mommy says, "C'mon, MG, it's time to light the candles," it's the reminder to fall on the floor in a screaming fit! Cause, you know, that's so Shabbosdich*.)

Whatever. Since she's been about two, we've been able to count on the meltdown. As well as many, many other meltdowns, at many, many other transition points throughout the day and week.

But... not this past Friday. Even though it was the Hundredth Day at her school and she was worn out from the excitement of counting all day. (Man the things these kids get up to!) Even though I was at a conference so I couldn't meet her bus, and by pre-arrangement she spent most of the afternoon with our next-door-neighbor and her toddler, who is adorable but incognizant of the finer points of possession. Even though Grandpa was coming on the plane that night and she was going to get to stay up late and go to the airport to meet him.

I came to pick her up from the neighbor's, and she went without fussing, even though I could see she didn't want to. She asked if she could make a late valentine for the toddler neighbor, then ran back over gleefully to deliver it. Then she asked politely if she could watch television. When it was time to stop, she turned off the TV and came downstairs: no stalling, no whining.

She didn't try to interrupt when we did the candle blessing. She didn't peevishly remind us not to drink all the juice when we passed around the kiddush cup. She didn't put her hands all over the challah, nor brush our hands away from the spot where she wanted to be. She didn't scream at me because I wouldn't make her a grilled-cheese sandwich. She helped out. She made pleasant conversation.

When I broke the news that Grandpa's plane was going to be late, much later than her bedtime, her face clouded, but she kept herself from wailing long enough for me to explain that she could still come along if she got entirely ready for bed first and got up for shul the next morning with no crabbiness. Then she brightened right up and agreed readily. (And she really did get up with no problem the next day, too.) And then she went through all the bedtime routine stuff with almost no nagging or chivvying required.

While we were waiting for my dad to emerge from the Arrivals gate, hovering by the curb with all the other cars, she allowed that she was maybe feeling a little tired. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep, and didn't wake up even when we got home and I rolled her into bed.

The next afternoon, I complimented her on keeping it together for the last few days, even at times when it hadn't been easy. I said I could see she'd been making a big effort to control herself. "I have," she agreed. "It's really hard." She didn't sound peevish about it, though; more quietly proud.

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Yesterday I was reading the paper when I heard a huge wail from MG's room, followed by Renaissance Woman's voice, followed by more wailing and stomping.

A couple minutes later, RW appeared.

"Well, I made MG cry," she announced, rolling her eyes.

"What'd you do?" I asked. This is more the usual run of things: we ask MG to do something or stop doing something, she bursts into tears with no ramp-up, and things go downhill from there.

"I offered her a cookie. It was the wrong kind."

Yup. Back to normal.

*Shabbosdich= Yiddish for "Shabbat-like." By implication: peaceful, loving, spiritually grounding, the embodiment of all the things Shabbat should ideally be. Not that toddlers care about that.


Blogger Rosie Bonner said...

Wow. It sounds like Shabbas-tide breakdowns are some kind of thing! Who knew? Uncovering secret truths of the universe through blogging.

Around here, recent wail-inducing tragedies have included the Very Berry chapstick running out, the naive suggestion that stuffed animals Daniel Henry and Kim were domesticated cats (rather than wild ones), and my own stubborn insistence on turning on a burner on the stove to make tea.

6:29 AM  
Blogger bihari said...

Whoah, what a girl! I am encouraged and impressed. Does this mean I can hope that someday my guys will put on their coats and shoes and get into the car without a re-enactment of one of the bloodier Civil War engagements?

At the same time, it's so good to be reminded that my children are not the only ones who melt down over the wrong colored Goldfish crackers (did you know they come in purple, green, blue and pink now?, the wrong cookie presentation (on a napkin instead of a plate), and my unreasonable requests for daily baths and toothbrushing. Ha! Other children must suffer similar indignities!

1:40 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Oh, you guys, you are *so* not alone! I didn't even write about the showdown a week or two ago wherein MG stormed out of the room over my refusal to put her dinner in a bowl, instead of a plate. Actually, I was willing to dump it in a bowl; I just told her she had to get the bowl out of the cupboard herself. She screamed, sobbed, stomped around, and retreated to her room for about half an hour before emerging and muttereing "All right, I'll get the stupid bowl!"

So, we're not exactly out of the woods. But I'm here to tell you: there is hope.

10:12 PM  

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