The Hess Report

Thursday, October 23, 2003

All kinds of (normal) stuff going on here...


Maddie and Lucy are sharing a bedroom now. They seem to like it. Maddie put it best when she said "It isn't fair that you and Mom get to share a room, but I have to be by myself all night and so does Lucy." Good point.

So, after only a two month stint with her "blue bed" and big-girl mattress/box springs combo, Lucy's sleeping arrangements are changed again. Her old bedroom is now a dedicated playroom. Her mattress and box springs are under Maddie's loft, converting it into a bunk bed. All toys have been removed from Maddie's room. At first, I was concerned that Lucy would feel displaced, as the room that was formerly hers was now completely different, and there were very few visual modifications to Maddie's room. But she only carped about missing her blue bed, etc., for a couple of days. Now, I don't think I could get her to go to sleep in a room by herself. She really loves it.

Maddie loves being the big sister, too. After we tuck them in for the night, there are the inevitable whispered conferences. We barely hear Maddie hiss "Stay in bed. No. I'll take care of it." Then feet scampering over to the bathroom... running water... scampering... "Here Lucy." "Thanks." Very cute.

Maddie (almost) Misses the Bus

I was very proud of Maddie a couple of weeks ago. Monday, Wednesday and Friday she rides the bus home from school. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Joy picks her up. You're supposed to send a note EVERY TIME your kid is changing from the their default transportation mode (i.e., every Tuesday/Thursday in our case), which is a little silly, but that's what the bureaucracy asks for, and that's what we have to do. Except that her teacher informed Joy that we didn't really need to do that -- they knew the pattern. Uh huh.

First time without a note, and what do they do? Try to put her on the bus. If it was me, I would have always sent a note, because I don't trust people to honor their offers of exceptional treatment. But oh well. But she knew today was a pickup day. And so she told her teacher that she was not supposed to ride the bus. Her teacher (a maternity leave substitute) knew that Maddie's got her head on straight and asked the office. They said that they didn't have a note, so she had to ride the bus. Now, that would not have been a disaster. She knows how to get home from the bus stop by herself. And I'm home by the time the bus arrives anyways. But that wasn't the point.

The point is this: even then, she refused. She knew she was right and stuck to her guns. And she is such an authority-centric kid (first kid/likes/follows authority figures, etc.), the it must have been tough for her to do. The office left a message for us that she was waiting to be picked up and was upset. I got the impression that they were calling her an upset, panicked kid who was afraid they wouldn't get home. When I talked to her later, I asked why she had been upset. She said it was because she had known what she needed to do, but they wouldn't let her.

I wonder if she had a Huck Finn moment where she said to herself, "All right, then, Iíll go to hell " and told the office she wouldn't be getting on the bus. The school was annoyed with her, but I was quite proud. Now if she can just keep that going for another ninety years...

Lucy and her demonic narrative powers
We're driving home from the mall the other night, and I decided we would all make up spooky Halloween songs. I started off with the Teddy Bears' Picnic, but changed things around so it was under a full moon, with ghosts. The girls liked it. Maddie made up a song about dressing up for tricks or treats and hiding under your blankets because there are bats in the air. In typical Maddie fashion, she included a themed melodic line and a few end-rhymes. Pretty good. So it's Lucy's turn.

I can tell by her voice that she's all excited. "Okay okay," she says, "here's mine."

And then this demonic hiss of a voice starts... a only whisper a first... rhythmic emphasis on the slow offbeats... "i'm a MONster and i'm COMing to GET you," and then louder, with some growl at the back of the throat "and WHEN you're asLEEP all the GHOSTS will BITE you ON your HEAD," and faster and up into a shriek that's halfway between a velociraptor and someone having the nerves pulled out of their forearm "and I am a MONster and YOU ARE NOT!"

Holy freaking crap. I'm thirty-two. You all know me. I was freaked out. Maddie was too. I said, "Wow, Lucy. That was really good." And it was. Wow. The kid apparently has some kind of nasty in there somewhere. I wonder where that came from?

Lucy and the laws of the universe
Oftentimes, kids will not acknowledge that the laws of the universe apply to them. It is our job as parents to demonstrate that in fact, the laws do apply to them. One of the things you learn early on in biology are the basics things that need to be in place for us to declare something "alive." Well, two of those are the consumption of fuel and the production of waste. Lucy had no problem with the fuel bit. It was the waste part that she thought she could skip.

Due to good sisterly examples and, no doubt, superb parenting, Lucy spontaneously potty-trained herself shortly after she turned two. One day she said she had to go pee, ran to the bathroom, and that was that forever more. She has never had an accident in her bed. Going number two took a bit more coaxing, as it takes a bit more work, but within a couple of months, we were a completely diaper-free household. Whew.

But a short while ago, Lucy decided that while all other living things produce waste, that she, in fact, did not. She went on a poop strike. Even though she was regularly striping her pants, she refused to admit that "poopy had to come out." Oh, but it does, little girl. And it will. Whether you like it or not.

We're at the dinner table. She doesn't use a booster seat anymore, and usually raises herself to a good eating level by sitting on her knees. I see her kind of leaning back, a faraway look on her face. I can tell she's fighting it.

"Are you trying to make the poop go away?" I ask her.

Her face, a mask of concentration, dips a brief affirmation.

"You can't make it go away forever."

Another moment of silence. Then, relaxation, and a broad grin. She stretches out her arms like a David Copperfield at the end of his show.

"Ta-Da!" she shouts triumphantly. Oh yes I can, Dad. I'm the world's greatest poopstidigitator.

The whole thing didn't last long, though. Nature took it's course, with the threat of a doctor visit and the gentle age-appropriate explanation of what exactly an enema was. And let me tell you, we really didn't want to go down that road.

Punishing the kids so far hasn't left me feeling guilty. None of that "this hurts me more than it hurts you" crap. They've deserved everything they've ever received on that account. But Lucy has such an independent, iron-bound will that I dreaded even the thought of having to submit her to that. I'll punish the kid when she needs it, but I won't humiliate her. And that's what it would have been to her. I'm really glad I didn't have to.

So she's pooping fine now, and thanks for wondering.

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