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04/20/2009: "Beautiful Bad Day"
Last Friday Dessa and I were having sort of a Bad Day. You know the kind. One of those days when your toddler's main utterance is, "I WAAAANT _______________". Fill in the blank and take your pick. At any given time it might have been any or all of the following list: Oatmeal, cookie, cracker, toast, raisin, Elmo, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, doggie, milk, zoo book, see Nana, ride Howard, balloon, Daddy, cheese, water plants, fruit & yogurt, Riley, blanket, up, down, remote, bath, nigh-night (but she lies. She doesn't really want to go nigh-night. It's all a cruel hoax), TV, go inside, go outside, this one, that one... god I can't even remember what all else. That's only a small sample of all the things she can and does demand. At will, and at all times.
Language explosion indeed.
More often than not, because I actually don't like her at all and enjoy hearing her cry, my answer had to be no. After one hunk of cheese, another is not OK. We cannot see Daddy now because he is busy making money to purchase more cheese. We saw Nana yesterday. Riley is not interested in seeing you, so leave his poor tail alone. We have read the zoo book nine times in the last 20 minutes and Mommy's brain is leaking out her ear so maybe we could try a different tome this time. We will have a bath later. Too much TV rots your fragile little brain. I know you are lying about wanting to go nigh-night, so don't even ask. I won't be fooled again.
It gets draining, this constant thwarting of the will. Finally I convinced her that she'd said she wanted to go outside, and I wanted to go outside, so let's just man up and go outside fer Chrissake.
Once there I was able to amuse her with extended Plant Watering Time. She's very helpful, this child of mine, so much so that possibly our plants will drown here in California. Difficult to imagine but true. She is adamant about which plants need what water. I do a lot of fake watering.
Afterwards I set a lounge chair in the shade and directed Art Time. This is my half-assed attempt to stimulate Dessa's drawing talents. Having no such talents of my own I have absolutely no idea what would encourage them in my daughter, so I simply hand over the recycled lunch meat container full of sidewalk chalk and let her at it.
On this particular day I was commanded to spell her name a few times in chalk, to draw the letter B ad infinitum ("Again! Again! Again!") and to inscribe several numbers out of sequence. Finally she took over. After a few lazy swipes at the ground with her chalk, Dessa looked for a new canvas. With a chunk of chalk in each fist she began wandering the yard scratching lines onto any surface that pleased her. Her Cozy Coupe was duly decorated, and her plastic kitchen. Then, logically, she turned to my plastic lounge chair.
A quick scratch on the armrest pleased her. A few more and she was hooked. She orbited my chair and scritch-scratched quietly on the plastic. At first I protested but then figured it was easy enough to wipe off, so what was the big deal?
Until she began to draw on me. My arms got a quick anointing and I quickly protested. "No, Dess. Mommy doesn't need chalk all over her."
More chalk lines on the arm.
"No honey. Please don't draw on Mommy."
"Dessa. No. I don't..."
And then I stopped myself. Somewhere I remembered that once, a long time before Dessa, I swore I would try very hard only to tell my kids "no" when it mattered, so that the word actually meant something. I was so damn sick of hearing myself say no that day that I could barely stand being around me. So I stopped. After all, I was going to shower anyway, right? And chalk isn't going to hurt me. And I sort of wanted to see where she'd go with this.
Quietly I watched her work. She was surprisingly focused. A swipe here but not there. Pink this time, then white. Then she'd switch arms. My legs got the treatment too. Once I got over my automatic "no", it was interesting to watch her.
Finally I quietly asked her, "Dessa? What are you doing?"
She lifted her head and looked right into my eyes. I wish I could convey just how sincere she sounded when she replied: "Make boo-ful".
And she does.
Replies: 1 Comment - Go read it!
on Thursday, April 23rd, Brat said
Oooo.... that brought tears to my eyes. What a little superstar! Miss you so much and wish I could cuddle that little sweetheart.