Thursday, April 12, 2012
Cherry Chalkfoot, leaving her bright blue trail behind her everywhere she goes. The image made me smile, disarming me at just the moment that my blood was beginning to boil and send steam seeping from my ears. Oh, my children! When they pick and bait at each other in a compulsive way, unable to let the bickering cycle cease, they drive me batty.
This seems to be the fallout from Frances's exclusive trip to her Grammy and Poppy's house: heightened sibling jealously and competition. Gabriel found it unbearable that she got to go and he didn't; Frances found it unbearable that we did anything fun at all while she was gone. Whenever one reports a small pleasure from earlier in the week, the other begins to moan in agony. I outlawed the word "fair" long ago, but nevertheless I have heard it whined and groaned and wailed countless times over the past day. You went out for bagels?!? Mama! That's not fair!!
After the seventh or eighth time I asked Frances to stop tormenting her brother on the drive home from Delaware this afternoon, she started to giggle. I looked at her in the rear view mirror, livid.
What, Frances. What.
I'm sorry I'm being mean to Gabriel. But, I'm almost seven, Mama. I think I'm starting to be at a ...(more giggles)... difficult age!!
Peals of laughter from the backseat. She was undoubtedly thinking of Ramona and Beezus, who each go through difficult ages. She was serious, but using the phrase on herself and identifying with the Quimby siblings in that way was so hilarious, and her laughter so infectious, she had us all guffawing. Difficult age, indeed.
That was how the whole day was. Me separating the children, sending them to their rooms, and generally exercising heroic self-restraint to prevent myself from strangling Frances in particular, punctuated by surprising moments of being subjected to my daughter's at times irresistible charms. Staying mad at that kid is impossible. She can be tough, but she can also sweep me off my leaden feet, and when I least expect it too.
Like the moment in the car that she looked up from her new biography after a long stretch of reading and said, Mama, Eleanor Roosevelt had such a hard childhood... but can you believe her name was Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt? Isn't that cool?
Or last night, when I put her to bed and she volunteered that she had been behaving badly since Gabriel and I arrived because she was mad at her brother for ruining her peaceful idyll with her grandparents. And I guess, she said, even though I was mad at him, I poured it out all over you. (Don't you love imagining anger and resentment as pour-able liquids? That you could drench another person in?)
Or when I enlisted her help with the dishes tonight. As she ran the dishtowel in circles around a dinner plate, she told us that if she writes a memoir about her childhood, she'll write about how when the dishwasher would break, Gabriel would clear, Papa would wash, she would dry, and Mama would put the dishes away.
Those golden happy times when the dishwasher would break! She looked so wistful, drying absentmindedly, anticipating the memory of our shining moment of collaborative domestic endeavor.
Oh, I'll keep her. I'll keep them both, I guess. But still, I wouldn't say no to a martini just now.
Does anyone want to bring me a martini?