Monday, September 04, 2006


I don’t know, and those who know me well know that I spend less than any time worrying about it either, but I’m using the template to guide my reactions to Nora’s behavior. But instead of pondering the imponderable, I ask myself this: “how would you be reacting to this if you loved her?” and who knows, that’s kind of on the imponderable spectrum too, isn’t it. I have to stop and do this because I’m not fair to her. To those I’m about to offend, forgive me, but forget astrology, it has to be bunk because the chart next to the comics in the Tribune says that I’m a Libra, but how can I be a Libra because I’m not fair, I play favorites like a demon: the scales they need adjusting.

I was embarrassed a few weeks ago because I started to go off on Nora because she had taken one of those slick little single serve Crystal Light tubes that turn your little bottle of store-bought water into a soft drink in a jiffy into the bathroom and from appearances, kind of didn’t get much of the contents of the spammy little tube into the smallish neck of the little bottle and there was too much cleaning up of raspberry delight going on for my lazy-would-rather-not-be-cleaning-the-bathroom-again-this-month sensibilities. I was reading her the riot act about asking permission, food is NOT prepared in the bathroom, ewwww, germs, ewww (and for those that know me, that’s a little bit hypocritical, what’s the opposite of germophobe? Oh yeah, slob), don’t do it again, ever. I took away one of her three wrist bands (ponytail holders) which meant she did not earn back her Barbie battery-operated toothbrush and her heart heaved itself into two pieces and she was bereft, bereft, and I left her to cry/think/feel bad for a minute. During Nora’s “quiet contemplation time,” I went downstairs and noticed that the light was on in the downstairs bathroom where I discovered that YuYu had done the same thing to that bathroom except that she had chosen the lemonade palette, umm, pretty. It looked like I had sons instead of daughters, if you know what I mean.

So, I called YuYu down, helped her clean up, did not rant, did not take away a privilege, made her promise not to make drinks in the bathroom and it was over. It did not even occur to me at the time how embarrassingly different I had treated them for the same crime discovered within 15 minutes and even worse, YuYu was aware that I was coming down on Nora for the spilling and the spreading about of much color and she did not say anything, didn’t even try to go cover her tracks. She was clueless at best and deceitful at worst and with YuYu, you can always go with clueless as the safe bet (the girl who brought home an open cup of chili in her backpack because she was saving it for later).

So as I was dropping off to sleep that night, it finally registered what I had done to Nora and how unfair I had been to her, what a schmuck I can be at times. And I don’t think it’s because I wore out my anger by the time I found YuYu’s mess, it’s just because I love YuYu, I have patience and forgiveness for YuYu and I don’t have those baseline feelings for Nora yet.

Now I am trying to make myself sloooooow down before I tee off on Nora when she pushes my buttons. The other three are not angels all day all the time, they need correction too, and it’s just that their misbehaviors don’t send me into orbit the way Nora’s can. Like today, when Ellie noticed on the calendar that she starts Girl Scouts on Wednesday afternoon, and Nora started the stamping and complaining that “I want go girl scout too,” even though she has no earthly idea what that means, she just knows that it is something she is not going to get to do, my first reaction was to tell her to “please Nora, please stop complaining all the time.” And truth be told, yeah, that’s what I did say, at first. But then I stopped, thought better, engaged her in a little conversation about why Ellie was a big girl and could scout and Nora will too someday, and I know it feels bad when Ellie can do more things because she is older and I gave her the attention that she needed/wanted and stopped grossly over-generalizing, because, yes, she does complain, but not “all the time” and her complaint this time was valid. But, sheesh, can I tell you, this gets tiring and tiresome to put this much thought into so much of my interaction with this child. I want it to be a cinch, it’s not. Come on cupid or cupid equivalent because I’m not looking for romantic love here, just good old mother love, please, please, sting me. My girl needs me to love her before I really cause some damage here. In the meantime, I step back several times a day and try to visualize how I would react if I were coming from love and hope for the day I don’t need to take any additional steps.

P.S. that's the sulking face that sets me off so badly, almost, a partial sulk, not fully developed, she was unhappy about the size of the box she was given to play with, so in between having fun, she was being petulant, so the sulk look didn't get the full lip thrust that day.


Anonymous said...


Insightful post.

I've felt that sickening sting of parental opportunties blown/missed/misused, myself.

The good news seems to be, for me anyway, that remorse is a powerful reminder and motivator for helping to clutivate new habits and discard old ones.

I usually pray that I never be *allowed* to let the remembrance of a really big mess up (usually means I've hurt their feelings with my tone or careless words) be too far from me.

Not to wallow in un-necessary guilt, but just to deter new behavioral/emotional train-wrecks in the family.

Keep it up, Marji. You and Nora will arrive. My hope is for an enjoyable journey.

Anonymous said...


Nosy, bossy-cow post from Anonymous is me again, Marji...

Forgot to sign...

(From Iowa)

Anonymous said...

Marji, I have reacted in inconsistent ways like this before, too. It was a shock to me to realize how transparent I was. I thought I was really keeping my true feelings under wraps! It is definitely a LEARNING experience. Being fair is so important in this situation. Hang in there, Marji, I know it is so hard....this advice goes to me, too.

Anonymous said...

Marji - Would you believe that I'd *prefer* one with that kind of grit? Man, that little girl is not taking anything lying down, is she? Oh, unless she's kicking and screaming down there, yes? BTW, IMHO, the best thing to do with sulkers is ignore them. Man, do they hate that. (Is that easy to do? Um, NOT.) I once ignored a child sitting in the middle of the stairs for two hours. Just kept stepping over her. She eventually got bored...

Jean (aka Sarah and Gen's gamma)