Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Being the Not-Fun Parent

We are driving to the pool yesterday afternoon, just the girls and I because Jason's staying home to get some work done, and the two of them are bickering in the car as usual. Lately, unless they are eating something or watching something (only allowed on long car trips, like up north), they are fighting and arguing when we're in the car.

They fight and they argue and they go back and forth with "Annie looked at me mean!" and "You're not saying 'sunscreen' right; you're saying 'skunscreen' and that's not even a word" and "I want my window down!" and "I need a drink and she took my water bottle!" I ignore it as long as I can, and then I say as calmly as possible, "Girls, please stop using your energy to bother each other. Please just be kind." But it continues, the ridiculous bickering, and so I say, maybe a little less calmly, "No THANK you!" the next time somebody says something rude, and immediately Jemma says, "I wish DADDY was here."


This morning, I went in Jemma's room and tried to cuddle with her before I left for my run and she started kicking at my torso. Jason came in to see what was going on, and she looked right at him and said, "I don't LIKE Mommy!"


At the pool this afternoon, after we had gone down the water slide together, another little girl accidentally jumped into the pool and practically landed on Annie. She climbed from the water, unhurt but badly scared, and I scooped her up and sat down in a chair, cuddling her with a towel and soothing her. I felt bad for her at first. The crying, though. Ten minutes later - unhurt, remember? - she's still sobbing in my arms, and I can see that she's essentially trying to cry as loudly as possible and resisting any attempts to calm her down. "She didn't even say SORRY!" she yells, even though the little girl did, and so did her dad, and still I sit and I try to reason with her softly and dry her face off and salvage the afternoon but she doesn't stop. So we pack up and leave the pool, Annie trailing loudly behind us, and when I try to hold her hand and kiss her head as we cross the parking lot, she jerks her hand away and runs ahead to Jason.


We tumble into the house, damp and grumpy, and I ask the girls to take off their wet bathing suits and get in dry clothes for dinner. Annie drops her wet suit on the wood floor, then runs away when I ask her to pick it up. Runs away again when I ask her to get some clothes on and wash up for dinner. I follow her as she yells "Mommy's always mean!" and Jason shrugs at me and turns to plate the salmon.

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