I’ve mentioned before that Claire is eight going on 18, as evidenced by a recent onset of emotional ups and downs and crabbiness. Lately I have found myself making her mad in the oddest ways. And while I have not done it yet, I feel I am days away from saying things like, “because I’m the mother, that’s why” or “my house, my rules.” It’s already SO MUCH attitude. I fear the next decade.
She’s gotten so touchy that I started keeping a list of all the “mean” things I do to her on a regular basis, if only to remind myself that I’m not so mean afterall.
1. Forced her to wear a clean shirt. Claire has two modes when it comes to clothing: she will either wear something for five minutes and then put it in the dirty clothes hamper (her way of not having to fold it and put it away) or she will try to wear something for days in a row. Both are annoying in their own way, but the latter has caused some trouble between us lately. As long as they’re clean, I’m pretty okay with multiple wearings of pants, but Claire will go through a rut of wearing the same two shirts all the time, and to suggest a different shirt is to suggest punching a kitten in the face judging by the looks she gives me. Even if said shirt has a stain on it, or smells like sour, sweaty kid, or has been slept in for a week. Joel has started avoiding the argument on this one, but I am steadfast, and Claire thinks she’s being sneaky when she hides dirty shirts under a cardigan or something. One of the things I learned from my own mother is that parents always know! Turns out, it’s true. I demand a clean shirt for school days, and am apparently a total jerk for it.
2. Require that she take a shower. Oh, man. Why do kids not like to be clean? Why is getting clean such a downer? I truly do not understand, but know from my parent friends that all kids go through this. Claire recently spent a day at an indoor pool and then came home with her hair hanging in strings and her skin so dry you could scratch the word “dry” right on it. Even her eyelids were dry from the chlorine. We were sitting at dinner when I suggested a shower, and it was like the whole world crashed down around her shoulders. Every suggestion of a shower these days is met with Extreme Pouting And Defiance and/or lies about the last time she showered. If you believe Claire, she always takes a shower the day before she comes to our house, without fail. And once she’s in the shower, there is the never-ending reminder to actually wash her hair, not just get the ends wet, and to use soap.
3. Made her put on lotion. Lotion is slightly less egregious than showering, but only just. No one’s skin is immune to the harsh, dry cold of the Minnesota winter, and sometimes Claire gets kind of lizardy. (After swimming that fateful day she looked like a snake about to shed its skin.) We’re not very harsh lotion police. I mean, it’s not like she needs to keep her skin looking young or anything. We just assume when it’s dry it’s itchy and that lotion would be nice. Lately whenever we suggest lotion she practically rolls her eyes and says, “I KNOW” in her most annoyed voice. To which I reply, “If you knew, you would have already done it,” which just makes her more mad. I’m sorry. Sometimes I also get to be a smartass, too.
4. Denied her a 5th donut. As it turns out, donut pans are totally worth the cabinet space they take up. Homemade baked donuts are DELICIOUS. So delicious that one time recently I came home from a barre class to find that Joel had let Claire have four of them for breakfast. It is worth noting that Joel himself had four the previous weekend and declared that he felt sick. But apparently it’s okay to eat that many if you’re eight? Joel almost allowed her to have a fifth, but I put my foot down. Because. Right? Claire went into the living room and buried her head in a couch pillow as if I had denied her Christmas. (We had a similar meltdown once at the movies when she wasn’t allowed to eat All The Sour Patch Kids AND All The Popcorn.)
5. Tried to get her to ice skate without holding my hand. We all got ice skates for Christmas, which is very exciting. I grew up roller skating, but have always wanted to be able to go outside in the winter in a cute skating outfit and skate on a pond. (Which we sort of did this weekend, and it was awesome.) Claire is a novice to both roller skating and ice skating, but she’s taken to the ice very quickly. If I even pretend to be holding on to her arm, she can skate like she’s been doing it forever. But if I even SUGGEST that she might want to try it herself, she pouts. And pouts. And asks to take a break. Or goes for one of those trainers the little kids push around the ice. The mere mention of her someday being able to skate alone ruins everything for at least 10 minutes. She refuses to even try, which is making me batty.
6. Told her that if she had room for dessert she had room for carrots. And it wasn’t even a lot of carrots. It was two baby carrots, the ones you get in nice restaurants, not the ones that are shaved down in a shredder and put in a plastic bag. She claimed to be too full after eating a kid-sized cheeseburger and only a handful of fries, thinking that I would have forgotten how I told her the carrots were non-negotiable. Mentioning the carrots again caused a full-on weepy poutfest because she “was eating the carrots and [I] got mad.” Wherein eating means holding the carrot in one hand and looking at it balefully. (We had a similar standoff after she refused to let us put roasted peppers on her plate at dinner one night, and after she mucked around and kept promising to do it herself for 20 minutes I added a few to her plate while she was in the bathroom.) My mother most assuredly used the same sort of line on me and I most assuredly got mad at her, too. Taste of my own medicine. Check.
7. Threw away a sock with a hole in it. To say Claire does not like changes in her wardrobe options is an understatement. Each season when we weed out the things that don’t fit her she will fight and fight to keep things. She will promise to only wear something as pajamas and then show up downstairs in the morning trying to wear a shirt that barely covers her navel or pants that would be perfect in a flood. So we’ve had to put our foot down about that sort of thing. Usually, when I find things with holes in them, I just throw them away and she never notices. This past week, though, Joel and I were folding laundry at the kitchen table while she sat at the kitchen island, so she was privvy to us throwing away a pair of socks, one of which had a giant hole in the toe. Not a little pinprick. Oh, no. Most certainly her entire big toe would have poked right through. The demise of those socks cause her to stomp up to her room and climb up into her bed and pout. And even after she came down she was mad at us for long uncomfortable minute while Joel tried to reason with her. Lesson: reasoning with an 8 year old is a fool’s errand, most of the time.