Rory told me she “no like you” for the first time today. It was totally ok, because at that moment, I didn’t like her much, either. She’d thrown a massive, all out temper tantrum at the swimming pool–the kind people date from–remember that time the naked kid screamed in the grass for 20 minutes? Oh, yeah, that was the day they had adult swim…
Ah, adult swim. I mocked it at first–who wants to haul their kids out of the pool and entertain them for fifteen minutes? And then I realized–you don’t have to. They line up on the side of the pool, dangling their feet, and accept the fate the lifeguards have doled out to them. At least they do until you (the adult) decide to swim…
Adult swim was wonderful. So peaceful, so un-splashy, so free of little hands pulling down one’s swimsuit bottom. The first one went well. For the second one, Rory came trotting down to the deep end. and begging “I want swim you!” Well, she couldn’t, obviously, and I thought that would be ok, until she decided she’d go hang on the deep end ladder. Suddenly my adult swim was no longer relaxing, so I started to walk back to the shallow end. Rory, you need to go sit with the other kids. No! (Outraged). You need to sit with the other kids No! I no want to! If you dont go back to the shallow end and sit with the other kids by the time I count to three, no more swimming.
I questioned this. Would she really understand? One. Two. Are you going to go back to the shallow end? No NO NO NO! Three.
I got out of the pool, and that’s when I knew for sure she’d understood. “I go shallow end! I no want leave pool! I go SWIMMIN!”
I’ll be honest–it was five, and we were out of there in ten minutes, anyway. I love seizing these little opportunities to enforce a threat, especially when it comes at so little personal cost to me, and this was our second temper tantrum of the pool day. Nope. Sorry, kid, you’re out of here. “You made your choice. You chose to leave the pool, and now were going.”
Ooh, was she mad. She hit me. She kicked me. She threw punches as I carried her to our bags. I was a little mad, too, so I flipped her over, still carrying her. You can not hit me! I hissed, and went to swat her on the behind–ok, the sheer irony of that one made me laugh, even then. No, I didn’t spank her–sure was tempting, though!
I lay her down on the grass. She threw herself back. She kicked, she hollered, she gathered quite a crowd. I had two (big) kids besides my four, so we were a slow moving train. Everyone had to be gathered and dressed and shod. Rory would not be dressed–I had to physically drag the swimsuit off of her and put undies on the writhing, kicking, screeching kid. She kept trying to tear them off, too. I GO SWIMMING! I WAN GO SWIMMING!
I was flustered–but you know, I’m actually feeling pretty studly about the whole thing, because I was overall pretty calm. I did remind her a couple of times that this was her choice, and I added that she’d ruined swimming for everyone by choosing not to listen. Not surprisingly, this made her scream harder, but I took that as a gratifying sign that she’d understood.
This went on, into the car, yadda, on the way home, yadda–but once we got home, that was it. She recovered. She ate dinner with our friends. She had s’mores, her way, which is to wave the marshmellow in the general direction of the fire while shrieking “I TAN DO THAT MYSELF” and then eat it, and then ask for and eat the chocolate. She doesn’t like it as a s’more, which is frankly a lot less messy, anyway. And then everyone went (without Rob, who’s still out of town) to bed, reasonably peaceably.
I’m going to consider this a relapse–a reminder that we’re not out of the woods yet. The tantrum was just a tantrum; it’s my reactions that I have to watch. I know I’m a little harder on her, a little more ruthless, a little less tender, or maybe just less inclined to believe that she means well. First, because she’s just not totally mine yet. Second, because the irrational stuff makes me crazy no matter which of them it is. What difference does it make which of two identical bags of Doritos you get? Third, because–and this is awful–she follows me. If I’m making the bed, she’s under it. If I’m in the shower, her hands are on the glass door. If I’m getting the meat out of the freezer, she’s taking an ice cube. If I turn around suddenly, I fall on her. All of my kids did this–at two, generally–and it made me crazy with all of them. Don’t follow me into the basement to get the milk! It will take you fifty times as long to follow me as it would for me to go and get back. I’m just putting something in the hamper, I’m just letting the dog out, I’m just going to the bathroom–STOP ALREADY!
I know I know, just say Mommy needs privacy. I do, with the bathroom, but the other stuff–it seems churlish. But it makes me very irritable, just the same.
It’s funny, I’d planned on a “cute things Rory does” post tonight. I really am mostly getting quite fond of her, and you should absolutely hear her belt out “Snuggle Puppy.” She can’t carry a tune in a bucket, that girl, but she’s loud enough for two, and she knows we sent her that book while she was still in China. She calls it–like every present, like everything we give her–“my birthday.” “That my birthday!” It’s charming, and I am charmed– but not charmed enough to let her get away with murder!