Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Think I Need a Calming Mantra

Late this afternoon the girls and I were readying to play outside. Because Genevieve was out on the patio yesterday (a much warmer day) in barefeet, she decided she should be able to go out with barefeet again today. When I informed her that she needed to wear shoes to go outside this time, she began screaming. We were in no hurry--Julia wasn't ready yet and we were sort of waiting for Christopher to get home from work to take them out, because Julia had already decreed that she wanted to go out with DADDY--so I puttered around, picking up toys and finding socks and sunglasses, while Genevieve continued to rage. She first screamed nonstop for 20 minutes (I checked the clock). Then she decided fine, she would wear her shoes, but only if SHE COULD PUT THEM ON HERSELF. Only, naturally, she is not yet able to successfully put tennis shoes on her little 20-month-old feet, not even cute toddler sneakers with funky stretchy laces and Velcro. Therefore, the screaming shifted from being about NO SHOES to being about CAN'T DO THE SHOES. Of course I tried repeatedly to assist her, but this threw her into even more of a rage (DON'T HELP ME WITH THE SHOES).

So there we were: Julia lolling on the floor, sighing; Genevieve with tears and snot pouring down her sweaty, red face, screaming those clogged, wailing baby sobs at the top of her lungs as she tried repeatedly to step into her little baby sneaks and each time failed; me, shrugging at her helplessly and shaking my head with exasperation and disbelief, saying, "Vivi, just let me HELP YOU WITH YOUR SHOES!"; Genevieve, shrieking, "BEE-BEE! BEE-BEEEEEEE!" (roughly translated: "VIVI! VIVI!", or: "Let me do it MYSELF OR MY WORLD WILL END DESPITE THE FACT THAT ACTUALLY IT'S ALREADY ENDING SINCE I CAN'T SEEM TO DO IT MYSELF!"), shaking her head violently at me, and trying once again to stuff her feet into her confounding shoes. This went on for 25 additional minutes. I felt like I was in the eighth circle of hell. At some point I'm pretty sure I had an out-of-body experience wherein I was floating above myself, watching the whole theatre-of-the-absurd scenario with competing reactions of amusement and an intense desire to poke my own eye out with a stick.

At 4:30, we finally got outside, at which point Genevieve resumed screaming because the ball she wished to play with kept blowing away, thus requiring me to toss it inside and replace it with a heavier ball more appropriate for our windy, unfenced backyard. After ten minutes of that screaming, we heard Christopher arrive home.

At which point I shrieked hysterically through the patio screen door, "SAVE ME! SAVE ME!", and Julia yelled, "DADDYYYYYYY! HELP MAMA! HURRYYYYY!"

I can only imagine what our poor, very near neighbors must think.


Mnmom said...

You WERE in Hell. I can remember those days so vividly that I had a strong visceral reaction to your description. I have a friend who teaches evol. biology. I asked "Why would nature design a little being that is destroying the big being on whom they depend for their very survival?". She replied that we weren't meant to live in such nuclear family arrangements - we are tribal by nature and should be surrounded by other women . . . on a daily basis! So yes, it's very very hard and you're working against our nature.

Shan said...

Ahhhhhh. Validation of everything I already suspected was true. I feel better now.

donna said...

My daughter is going through the same thing, too. She's gotten to the point where she will actually let me touch the pants she's trying to put on - but only once - or she'll have a similar meltdown.

Gail said...

I found your blog b/c I was actually searching for a Mantra myself. I had the exact same experience today rounding up shoes, socks, coats and children to spend 10 minutes outside. It SHOULD be a simple task, don't you think?