09 January 2008

"Smart" sure can backfire.

Okay, enough with this whole my-daughter-is-so-great thing already.

Yesterday, dinner-time.

I think I may be coming down with some kind of plague or something, at least that's what my aching head and back are telling me. For the first time in a while I am seriously considering serving the children cherrios sans-milk for dinner.

"Girls," I yell, "time to clean up."

Matilda pokes her head down the stairwell, "I'm starving."

"I'm getting dinner ready right now."

"I can't wait. I need an appetizer."

She can't just beg for food with over-the-top drama like normal five-year-olds, she has to throw big words in my face, using them against me. Isn't that cute? My five-year-old knows all about dining etiquette. The little terror.

I appease the children with bread and butter and send them into the living room to clean the blocks. Cherrios have been abandoned in favor of pasta and brussel sprouts, Matilda's new favorite vegetable. Honestly, what kind of mother would I be if my child actually asked for brussel sprouts and I laughed in her face and gave her dry cherrios instead? Well anyway, I wasn't ready to cross that line. Not yet.

Five minutes pass in silence. (i.e.: I do not hear the gentle clunk of blocks being put away.)

"Girls," I yell from the kitchen, "you're not cleaning!"

"How do you know?" Matilda yells back. "You can't see us!"

"I know everything," I retort.

Huddling together against the power of my omnipotence, Matilda comforts her little sister, whispering, "Don't worry Freya, that's not true, she doesn't really know everything."

Fifteen minutes later the blocks are still strewn about the room.

Hands on hips, I put on my serious voice. "Ladies, you need to get a move on. I want these blocks cleaned up right now, or you won't have time to clean your playroom and you'll have to go straight to bed with lights out after dinner." The impending plague has done nothing for my already thin, end-of-the-day patience.

Matilda, using two fists for emphasis, yells, "You're not treating me with respect! I want to be treated with respect!"

I have to leave the room. I do not feel at that moment as though I am capable of treating her with respect.

But she follows me.

"You have to be kind to me! No one ever treats me with respect! It's not fair to treat a child with no respect and that would be me!"

How am I supposed to have an irrational argument with someone who sounds so freaking sensible?

Matilda, that's not a nice thing to say.
- Um, no.

I am treating you with respect, God damn it!
- No.

Shut up and clean!

This isn't going well. A little help?

No-good, smart kid. Why? Why does she have to be smart and rational? Traits, which until recently, didn't seem to have a down side.

Seriously, when I am not feeling like a good mother, and my daughter calls me out on it, is it wrong to think about making her sleep in the garage, just for the one night? I'd send her out with plenty of blankets and brussel sprouts, and it has been unseasonably warm lately...


Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

When my daughter sasses me like that, even when its reasonable on her part, I tell her that her tone is too fresh and its not okay to talk to mommy that way. And then I bang my head against a wall. Good luck!

Amy said...

Oh my gosh! I wish I could hug you right now! She is my daughter reincarnated!!!

"I want an appetizer!" I choked on my coffee that's so damn funny and so like Sugarplum!

And she wants respect huh? Tell her she must give it to get it. Respecting Mommy's directives is step one. There's logic in that.

Boy, you are in for it and I speak from 18.5 years of experience with a girl like that. My advice is two-pronged. Find a good therapist. You'll need it from now on, and start saving because you'll be sending her too once she's 15. And vodka. Tangueray or Grey Goose. With tonic or cranberry juice. A little splash Cointreau... :)

Lilacspecs said...

Heh, ok, as a seasoned daycare worker (see also: wrangler of 25 bundles of preschooler evil)my response might have been somewhere along the lines of, "You know, you're right, every person needs to be respected. I should respect you. But when you don't listen to what I ask you to do, then you aren't respecting me either. Let's try to respect each other next time."

I know that sounds scripted, but honestly, it's worked for me before. Use her logic for your own mothering purposes. It's maniacal, but in a wholesome way.

Good Luck!

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Don't you just llloooovvvvve raising a kid who's smarter than you?

It's so fun! As long as there is plenty of wine.


Krista said...

Yeah, I would have to agree! I was reading that and going "hey girl, you're not respecting your mama, you gotta earn the right to be respected by being respectful yourself". Of course that's not 100% true as everyone deserves to be respected, but she has to do it herself too!

Cathy said...

OK, cracking up over the appetizer moment!

I can't laugh too much, however, because my daughter will likely be saying the same things in the next year or so.

I blame my genes.

And there's the little matter of karma.

mrs. mustard said...

She's HOW OLD??
Man, she is a bright girl!

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

I'm only laughing because it didn't happen to me!

She is SO smart!

Maureen said...

And here I thought you left the room so she wouldn't see you laugh... which is what I would have done.

I can remember many a time when my daughter got that all-serious face, and for the life of me, I couldn't help but crack up!

Bad-mother me....

Anonymous said...

I love Matilda's classic lines. An appetizer? Respect? It shows she's listening to her smart mama - I guess there are worse things she could be saying...


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