Monday, August 16, 2010

I Drink Wine Because They Whine

Really. I do. I have suddenly begun to enjoy cooking because it means I'm in the kitchen at 5 o'clock, and can start to sip a glass of Rosé, or open up a beer, and it's still within the realm of appearing civilized. Breastfeeding be damned. (And damn it, I'm still breastfeeding my 2 1/2 year old and am just too chicken, or tired, or something, to wean her.) I used to think when your child was old enough to ask for it, they were too old to be imbibing. That -and many other notions I had - was B.C.

I love my kids. I think I loved them more before they could talk, though. When I had babies, I felt like I was born to be a mother. A natural mother. Their crying was legitimate and I could always fix it. Now that they are 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, I am naturally and legitimately annoyed 90% of the day. It starts at 5:43 in the morning with thump, thump, thump, thump thump..."Mama, can I sleep with you?" Then the pawing and kicking begins. If I attempt to exit the bed to get some work done on the computer, the alarm goes off. The screaming child alarm. "Don't leeeaaaave meeeee!" Two hours later, when Little Sister deems it appropriate for Big Sister to join the functionally-awake family, it really gets going. Hisses, screams, cries, doors slamming. "You're not being nice to me!" Hissssss. "I'm gonna pinch you and eat you up." Hissssss. "Stop iiiiiiittttttt!" Hissss. And no, we don't have a reptile living with us. Those are the sounds of our beautiful, well-behaved, quiet little girls. The ones I planned to have - B.C.

Don't get me wrong. There are moments of beauty when they are playing side-by-side, immersed in a project at the dining room table or baking mud pies in the sandbox. I have picture-perfect images in my head of Big Sister holding out her hand to a shy Little Sister, inviting her to come into Children's Church with her and Little Sister taking it without a look back at mom and dad. There are sometimes shared giggles...but those are mostly at my expense when they gang up to stick their fingers between my toes.

I know I need to be more patient. After all, we've put them through two moves in one year, and so many other huge transitions. Saying we're having a hard time with it ourselves would be an understatement. Regardless, I just didn't expect a teenager at 4 1/2. Or a banshee at 2 1/2. Mike and I are so calm, so quiet. Shouldn't our kids be, too?

We feed them - really good food, actually. I don't know many other kids under five who eat croissant and crepes for breakfast every weekend, or who enjoy Tuscan-style lunches 5 days a week, and internationally themed, organic dinners each night. So why do they start begging to be fed the moment we clear the breakfast table? They don't stop. Even during meals Avi is reaching across the table for more of what she already has on her plate.

I admit, I am uncertain how to discipline anymore. Spanking, duct tape, and leaving them by the side of the road are out. We've always used 'natural consequences.' But some things don't have one of those. What's a natural consequence to Stink Face? Hitting them on the back so it sticks that way? That'll teach 'em. How do I get Avi to sit still for half a second without squashing her...natural exuberance? And seriously, how does one give natural consequences when you are in the car? There are only so many hours you can promise the "time-out when we get home in three days". After the first 5 minutes they know you can't do a darn thing and they get a sick sense of fun out of making their sibling cry. Then laugh. Then cry again.

So there it is. Maybe I should replace my nightly glass of wine with some yoga and see if that does the trick. If I'm more zen-like, will that make my kids behave? Or maybe I'll just be able to tune out the whining by chanting "OMMMMMMMMMM. Nah, Nah, Nah, I can't heeeeaaar you!!!"