Girlchild and I were cosy on her bed looking through books tonight when it occurred to me today was a good day.
Me: "Hey! Girlchild! I just thought of something!"
Me: "You were a very good girl today! There was no crying or screaming. Thank you very much for being such a good girl."
Girlchild, usually quite gracious with compliments, contemplates this: "I don't like being a good girl. I like crying and screaming." She grins a little.
Me, not overly surprised: "Oh, but Mommy doesn't like the crying and screaming. It makes Mommy cross." Going again for the positive reinforcement: "You were a good girl today. Thank you!"
Girlchild, grinning and (I'm not kidding) tossing her blond locks: "But I like crying and screaming." Three going on 13.
Me, vying for the Mother-of-the-Year prize: "Oh, well, if you're going to cry and scream then maybe I should just go and stay somewhere else where it's quieter."
Girlchild, without missing a beat: "Okay."
Me, feeling the love: "But who would cook you supper?" (Perhaps not the best motivator to use, since it's the meal least likely to be eaten on any given day.)
Girlchild, thinking for a moment: "Um, Daddy."
Me: "Well, who would read you bedtime stories?" (Again, not a great motivator since Girlchild prefers to read stories to me lately.)
Me: "Well, I think I would like to stay here with you if there's no crying and screaming."
Girlchild: "If it makes you cross, then maybe we should make a tent for you and you can go there when there's crying and screaming so you don't hear it."
Me, thinking this might not be a bad idea if it weren't the middle of winter: "Maybe we should put you in the tent if you're going to cry and scream."
Girlchild: "No, we will make the tent for you and it will be quiet. You can go there and not hear it."
Me, laughing: "I think I'd like to stay here with you."
Girlchild is prepared to run the household, actually. The other day she was pitching a fit moments before it was time to go and pick up her brother from school. I had my winter gear on and was ready to go, but Mars and Saturn were not aligned so she was having no part of the daily journey with the snowpants.
So I said, "Okay. You stay here by yourself. I'll be back later." (Yes yes yes...Mother of the Year.) I went out into the sunporch, closed the inside door and rattled the back door to make it sound as if I had left. Then I stood in the quiet and waited for the wail. Her brother would have lasted about 10 seconds before bursting into the sunporch to catch up to me.
But there wasn't a sound. Was she quietly weeping into her blankie? Sobbing by the window, watching for my retreating form? I went back inside. No, she was quite fine. She had turned on the television and was searching through her videos, preparing to kick back and watch a kiddie flick while I was gone.
I almost laughed. I'm sure I was smiling. I didn't tell her I was impressed with her courage - as a child I would have been the one screaming into the sunporch like her brother. Instead, I gathered her up and we proceeded, albeit unwillingly, with Plan A.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go look for my tent.