Monday, May 5, 2008

Adventures in the 'hood

Snapshot: the end of a fatherless weekend, and the girls and I are feeling it on a Sunday evening. I have the idea of taking them to a shoe store, so that my eldest daughter can choose the shoes she wants to wear and therefore Be Happy about them every day when I ask her to put them on.

But she is not in a cooperative mood. I add the suggestion of dinner in a restaurant, and she appears interested for a moment...and then resumes Driving Me Nuts, alternately diving off the couch and composing chorales of giddy shrieks with her little sister. Even the dog looks plaintive and in need of a break.

An hour later I announce We Are Getting Out Of The House. We Are Taking The Dog For A Walk. My daughters rally, despite themselves. But at some point while slipping on her second shoe, it occurs to my four-year-old to want to execute Plan A: Shoe Store and Restaurant.

She begins whining. She begins crying. She begins repetitive chanting:

"PLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAASE, Mommy!!! I want to goooooooooooooooooo..."

I am in a zen parenting place so I calmly lock the door behind us, leash in one hand, little sister's in the other, and begin the march around the block while firmly shaking my head and reiterating that That Option Is No Longer On The Table.

The four-year-old trails behind us, alternately sobbing indignantly and screaming at me. I nod at neighbors we pass, explaining that "Seventy-five percent of us are feeling GREAT!"

We circle to our house. Little Sister looks disappointed and heads to the curb, prepared to cross the street again.

"Want adventure, Mommy!" she declares.

Warding off another round of rebellion, I lead her to the door, promising, "We can have an adventure in our own house, sweetie."

Big Sister, done crying for now but brimming over with Resentment and Cold Malice and a firm desire to encamp me on the opposing side in the Mommy-Daughter Wars, turns to her and hisses, "NO, Sister. NO! There are NO adventures in THIS HOUSE!"

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