Once in a while when I sit down to introspect, when I have the time for it that is, I really think deep – till there’s a need for caffeine or a long bath to fight the brain strain. Today was one such day. And like Mr Archimedes, I had my ‘Eureka’ moment in the bath too, although I did not jump out of the tub like the old man. And it’s not because I am a mature parent completely in control of her feelings and aware of her surroundings. I wish. It’s just because there was an incessant knock on the door just as I was about to step out the tub, harshly reminding me of the fact that Archimedes did not have little packages banging on his door. Not that we know of, anyway. My 4 year old dynamite brought me back to my ‘Moment of Truth’.
I may not have had the time for a complete dramatic declaration of my ‘aaha’ moment, thanks to DD for keeping me grounded, but I did realize something too.
My realization may not change humanity for ever – it’s not a dripping discovery of buoyancy or anything. But it would perhaps help me and many parents like me understand why we are the way we are.
You see, every day, (day defined as the period after the urchin(s) are up to the time you force them into bed) we turn into Mr and Ms Hydes. The clock works reverse for us when compared to the real Dr Jekyll in Robert Louis Stevenson classic. But the amazing writer left us ample literature indicating that we are the victims of our own creation. Not playing God, but that thing that runs at the ground level, is our own creation, and the reason for our own torture. Who’s to blame but that one scientific process that led to this?
Anyway, thanks to that process, now my husband and I (read: mostly I. He somehow is able to maintain his cool and stay unperturbed to the disruptions caused by the 3 footer) have ended up with a 4 year old smarty pants.
And from my interactions with her, I’ve realized that as apparent, I seem to have two different personalities. Here, sample typical conversations in our little world. You’ll know what I mean.
“D, please brush your teeth or you’ll end up with cavities”
“Because you need to fight the germs with the paste to avoid cavities”
“But you said fighting is not good”
“Yeah, but these germs are the little bad guys in your mouth and..”
“Very little. You can’t see them”
“If I can’t see them, how do I know they’re there?”
And a ton of questions later, I declare: “You will brush your teeth, because I told you so”
“Why are you saying that? Are you my step mother?”
“D, if you don’t go brush your teeth this minute, you will get a time-out for the next 45 years”
You would think it ends there. No. She wants to know if I am forty five, how many years before I turn 45? Why am I grounding her to forty five, when I am not forty five yet? When am I going to die?
Oh my God…I can actually see my hair turning grey as she asks me all those questions, still trying to avoid the brushing exercise.
Food – that’s another drama. The dessertarian apparently is terribly allergic to vegetables. She doesn’t even know what allergy means and will just about use any weapon in her little brain to get out of eating!
“If you don’t eat food, you’ll have no strength. Your hair will not grow like Rapunzel, your cheeks won’t be pink like Cinderella and your wings won’t grow like Tinkerbell”
Well atleast that does it. She has half of half a plate and no milk – she apparently knows that she’s brown and does not want to be white. Pink is her favorite color, so she’ll eat up the strawberries declaring herself a Fruitarian.
Once the food’s down, the next big deal is clothing. Basic necessities turn into a power struggle at home. I’ve never hated Disney so much. It’s freezing cold outside and she wants to wear a frock, a tiara and fancy shoes. What am I going to do with the princess when she freezes over. Thanks 'Frozen'!
I’ve learnt to choose my battles and this is not one of them. But when the clock’s ticking, you need to do what you need to do.
“If you don’t decide what to wear in the next two minutes, I get to choose for you”
“Mamma, can you search for my pink polka dot frock, tiara, wand, and pink tights?”
She settles for a plain pink frock. We aren’t able to find the polka dots and the two minutes are up.
And that’s just getting dressed.
All our interactions are a struggle with warnings and ultimatums. I feel like Ms Hyde. But the moment she goes to sleep, my world changes completely. There’s something about the deafening silence that makes you realize and even miss the moments of struggle that test your patience.
Everyday, before I go to bed, I have this urge to walk into her room, and look wistfully at that peaceful face. It makes me forget all the energy drain. And I feel guilty about giving her all those ultimatums. My Dr Jekyll phase. But after 5 mins, the guilt is replaced by reality and I remember a saying in Hindi, which translated means “After gobbling up a thousand mice, the cat’s gone on a pilgrimage”. After creating all that havoc in my life, she’s sleeping in absolute calm. I need to, too if I need to figure out a thousand ways to cover for the thousand mice.