Friday, November 20
all wrapped up in sugar and sweetness
It's a little after 5 am, and I'm up because Tyler was cold. Then I couldn't fall back asleep because I had a bone to pick with someone. And then I tried to take my mind off that so I started thinking about an incident we had with Alexis right before bed, which I also tried to put out of my mind, but then a blog post began to form. I continued to try and ignore it, until the snoring began. That was my cue to get up.
**Disclaimer: This was not the normal kind of "incident" we used to have Alexis. Have I mentioned that since kindergarten began life has been so much easier? I think she was just bored before, and would act out of boredom, but now school gives her so many things to occupy her mind with there's little room left to find ways to act out and generally be impossible. Also, I'm going to try and write this as delicately as possible so you don't think badly of Alexis. I love my daughter, she is my world, and I think she is one of the most marvelous creatures to ever grace this world.**
Let me tell you something about Alexis that will make it easier to understand why I keep thinking about what happened last night. Alexis is manipulative-which is such an ugly word, but it's not an ugly thing in a 5 year old. She is intelligent, shrewd (both synonyms of manipulative), determined, and relentless. My goodness is she relentless. The child has the ability to talk you out of the pants you are wearing if she wants them bad enough (so maybe don't wear pink pants with rainbows on them when around her). While some days it wears on me, I don't consider any of this to be a bad thing. I think it has the potential to be bad years down the road, but fortunately, coupled with her strong abilities is a kind heart. That kind heart will make all the difference in how she uses her super powers. (And hopefully Jeremy and I will do our jobs right in teaching her honest and correct principles that will help as well.) But for now, because Alexis is so persistent and persuasive (there, that's a better word!), she is used to getting what she wants (from other people--not from me). Which leads me to last night:
Since it's been cold lately the kids have been sleeping with extra blankets. The first night this happened Alexis slept with a fleece blanket with a Bronco's print on it that Tyler got for Christmas. The second night Tyler wanted to sleep with it, I think mostly because Alexis did. Since it is his, we made her give it to him. Every night since then there is a dispute over it. Alexis tries to sneak it up to her bed hoping Tyler won't notice, but Tyler always asks for it. We always make her give it to him (it is his!), and she always tries to find a way out of it. Last night I told her to look in the linen closet for another fleece blanket--one that is just as soft. She finally went to the closet, spent several minutes comparing the softness of a few different blankets and then pulled down a blue one with yellow flowers. I commended her on her choice to which she replied, "Oh, it's not for me. It's for Tyler". The she marched back to her room and tried and tried, with all her special ways, to convince Tyler that he'd rather sleep with the flowery blanket.
Tyler, like Jeremy and I, has become immune to her ways.
After that a crying fit ensued, the likes of which I have not seen in a very long time. Which is when my mothering heart broke. I sat there watching this little girl who so badly wanted a blanket, who is so accustomed to getting what she wants, cry her little heart out. It took all the restraint I had to not go take it from Tyler and give it to her.
I knew Tyler only wanted it because Alexis did, and I knew he wouldn't cry as much as she was. But I also knew that was wrong. I knew that it was his, and she needed to learn that. I knew that if I gave in last night, I'd give in more often, and more often would turn to always. I knew that if she didn't learn now that she can't always have what she wants, her life would be very, very hard. And I knew that if I set her up for that kind of life, I would be a failure as a parent.
So I sat there and watched her cry, and determined that one of the hardest parts of being a parent is not being able to always give them what they want. Sure she was crying over something silly today, but in 10 years she'll be crying over not getting the part in the play, or not making the team she tried out for, or something more serious and more ego inflicting. And just like last night, I'll only be able to watch her as she cries, cry a little myself, and do my best to help her pick up and carry on. Oy, the job of a parent. Is there anything harder?
P.S. If you are a relatively new reader and want to know why tomorrow, November 21st, is a special day, read what I wrote in 2007 here, and in 2008 here. At present I don't feel the need to write about it again, but I do never know when the mood will strike me.