Monday, September 16, 2013

Best I Can Do

7:46 a.m. this morning, I was carrying my screaming and kicking 7-year-old in her underwear out the front door of our home, with neighbors watching on. It was the second time I carried her to the car this morning; the first time she still had pants on. Very unsatisfactory pants if you believe all the yelling and grunting. The second time, I was able to throw a brush, conditioning spray, a toothbrush, clothes, socks, and shoes after her while she was turned to beat on her sister sitting next to her in the car.

It’s back to the morning struggles with the kids, or more specifically, kid. Violet resists the morning routine until the point of no return, when her older sister will surely be late to school and her mama will be yelling her head off. Violet blames her horrible morning persona on anxiety – and I doubt there are two things I understand more than morning crankiness and anxiety – but Violet’s ability to obliterate a morning is beyond compare in my 42 years.

You better believe the kids set clothes out the night before. We even have a plan that I bring them cups of hot cocoa when my alarm goes off, so they can have time to adjust their young minds to the new day. That’s the plan at night anyway; all bets are off by morning. Violet refuses the hot cocoa and sits in her underwear for 45 minutes while complaining the only clothes she could possibly wear are the ones wet on the drying rack that morning.

Then things really go downhill. We told the kids' therapist all about it today at the beginning of Daisy's appointment after school, just before I shuttled Violet to ballet. Without warning, I started sobbing in the therapist's office. I'm definitely feeling the pressures these days.

And the last thing I want to do is struggle with my kids. We’re on the same team. What the hell. And I don’t mean WTH as in what is this all about, crazy? I mean, what the hell, this is hurting and worrying all of us, and I haven’t figured out how to solve it. It might be one of those things that you just have to outlast.

Coincidentally, Violet’s homework tonight was to talk to me about kindness and respect, making a list of specific examples of her good acts from today. She came up with a couple examples from school then sat and stared at the handout, not sure how to proceed.

When Violet asked me for examples, I reminded her I hadn’t seen much kindness and respect from her today at home – it was the worst morning we’ve had since I can remember – so I quizzed her with more possibilities she could record from school. As Violet continued to shake her head No, her sister looked up smiling from her book on the other side of the room, and I advised gently, “Well, honey, maybe you can write something like . . . I’m just not really a nice person?”

We all fell into laughter. Even as Violet ran out of the living room in protest, she was laughing. I found her a couple minutes later to channel something my mother used to say to me that I always thought was suspect, “I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at the situation. It’s good to laugh with your family. You have to laugh – it’s the best thing for anxiety.”

Violet sheepishly returned to her homework. She even began to make fun of herself, only running out of the room a few more times when we laughed a little too hard for her taste, but the girl was doing her own SNL skits. In her best TV actor voice, she raised her hand to pretend tell her teacher, “Ms. Fish, I learned something last night when I was doing my homework. I learned that . . .  I’m just not a very nice person.”

It took Violet a long time to come up with 5 good examples. While she was working it out, she asked for a snack. As I set bowls on the desk next to her work, I did a doubletake when Violet said Thank You. That’s it! Your next example should be “I was nice when I thanked my mom for bringing me a bowl of guacamole.”

More laughter. Violet thought the sentence was too weird to use but repeated it several times for comedic effect.

Those kids are in bed now, and I didn’t do half the things I meant to, before or after they went to bed. My mattress is still on the floor downstairs. The tool in the garage to fix my garbage disposal is still unfound. The balsamic vinegar spill in my fridge remains as gory as it was a few days ago. The mostly empty bowl of leftover chips sits next to Violet's homework. It’s the best I can do today.


  1. I say that because I don't know what else to say besides I love uniforms.

  2. uniforms do sound good but in the morning this kid could find fault w a uniform she wore everyday.

    nice to hear from you! hi back. hope all is well.