Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Past Deadline: DivaWorld: Where Is the Exit?

The latest instalment from the home front published in The Perth Courier on Wednesday, Jan. 14/09.

DivaWorld: Where is the exit?

On Sunday I took a late afternoon walk with my sweet daughter in pink. You probably heard. Yes, even you folks in Lanark Highlands. And Vancouver.

It was meant to be a nice way to relax and get a bit of exercise after an eventful day that featured the hosting of a houseful of sugar-filled lads for Boychild’s birthday party. The party began at Conlon Farm with some sledding for the boys. Girlchild and I stayed home to finish decorating and chopping fruit and veggies (which later made for a lovely display that was mostly ignored, but at least we tried). After the party we needed milk, so I figured a nice walk to the store would give us girls some fresh air and exercise, too.

Girlchild is three, which means the world revolves around her. I call it DivaWorld. It’s mostly pink.

She’s my second child, so I had the general baby care thing down pretty well, but she is teaching me a whole lot more about behaviour. For example, if your child goes through the Terrible Twos and is, actually, sometimes terrible, don’t expect things to clear up and be rosy when she turns three.

This is new to me. Boychild was a complacent fellow. Tantrums were so rare that when they happened Groom-Boy and I would scratch our chins and wonder what the heck to do. Boychild didn’t do the Terrible Twos. He had some sort of Occasionally Ornery Threes (OOT), but that was about it.

Girlchild? I believe I’ve written a column or two that affectionately referred to her as a banshee when she was in the throes of the Terrible Twos. I love her dearly, of course, but sometimes she hurts my ears.

Sunday was such a day.

My proposed walk was greeted with enthusiasm and we set off cheerily enough. Halfway through, she announced she wanted to go home. I explained we were getting there, but would have to get milk first.

This. Would. Not. Do.

Girlchild is at that magical stage when she will listen and respond to reason. Thing is, it only goes well if the reasoning is in her favour. She wanted to turn around and retrace our steps. I explained the plan – continue this way, get milk, almost home.

So then the screaming started. Her, not me. We stomped – and I sometimes carried her – along Foster Street (you know, where there’s lots of traffic, several pedestrians and a real good echo off the stone buildings). People in cars stared at us, and I don’t think it was because we’re pretty.
She screamed bloody murder for a thousand miles – okay, it was only about two and a half blocks – and I wanted to dive into a snowbank. Instead, I gritted my teeth and made snarly threats about taking away certain privileges.

That hit home and she settled down in time for us to go into the store to get milk. Then, as we were leaving, she announced she didn’t want to go home, she wanted to go back into the store and “get something.”

I don’t think so, kid.

More screaming. More gritting. More growling. All. The. Way. Home.

Holy mood swings, Batman! Do you suppose that two-hour period she spent awake in the middle of the night might have caught up with her? That “relaxing” walk left me not only with a bunch of ground down stubs for teeth, but it made hosting a houseful of rambunctious boys look like a bubble bath with candlelight and soft music.

For a while I thought we had turned the corner with tantrums, entering wonderful new placid territory. I think part of our recent woes relate to the hubbub of the holidays. I hope (gulp!) that as we return to normal routines things will improve.

What frightens me, though, is that when I ask other moms of girls when the “terribles” will go away, many of them just laugh. Or they stare blankly at me. “Go away?”

The ones with older girls mutter sinister things about the teenage years. “Yes,” I say to them, “I remember what I was like as a teenager, but surely there’s a break before then?” Laughter. Blank stares. One raised eyebrow.

DivaWorld. The rides are something else.


momma's heart said...

Brilliantly written! I felt your angst, you described it so well. She sure is beautiful, though. I'm sure her determination will help her accomplish great things.

Steph said...

Thanks, Pam! Let's hope her determination is her way of training for a brilliant future rather than her way of fraying every nerve I have! ;)

Tara Lee said...

Hey Stephanie!
We are in this together..Tovey can give em good just like Isobel! Her favourite thing to say now is, "I don't like Mommy" (over and over and over)and I really don't have to do anything in order for her to say it! Lovely, girl world, isn't it?