So Mike and I were laughing about our kiddos tonight (sometimes that's all the "alone" time you get - sharing together like a couple of 12-steppers trying to survive) and I said something about wondering if the kids were asleep. When he pointed out they must be because the monitor was silent and our kids are only quiet when asleep, I replied innocently, "what? Mini-Me and the Super Villain?". Another round of uproarious laughter, but later I thought about it... which is which? The answer is - both. Depending on the day, the hour, the parent currently in charge... they have each owned each nick name. They're making us crazy I tell you. Building our insane asylum one devious act at a time. I swear that's why they're sleeping together these days, they're plotting their take over.
Bait and Switch: The method most employed by our "innocent" little kids, this is the method wherein THEY are the miscreants, but WE take the blame. It's genius really. I believe this is the one turning my road to the funny farm into a steep, downhill slide rather than a gradual winding road. I realized it tonight as Mike and I both talked about moments this week where we (in the words of a fellow-parent) "lost our shit." You know - yelled, turned red, frothed at the mouth until noticing our children were wearing expressions of utter fear and confusion. We laughed and said that we'll just label those moments as "future therapy sessions" and make sure to apologize to our kids. For example... Elizabeth (who in this case is my mini-me) eating. Eating with her is torture now. TORTURE. She's a space cadet. (My mother is enjoying this right now). It takes her, like, 5 hours to complete a meal because she's staring off, singing, jumping from thought to thought fast enough to make a schizophrenic whistle in admiration and decorating her chair and the surrounding floor with enough food to feed a family of 5. IT'S KILLING ME. I could tie her to the table and she would still manage to NOT eat over her plate (shut up Ma). I say at least 10 times per meal, "USE YOUR FORK OR SPOON! NO HANDS!" and at least 20 times "TWO HANDS ON YOUR CUP!". And then, I lose it. I take her plate away... yelling, swearing, inching closer to that fatal heart-attack and she begins crying. She's saying sorry and bawling and I feel bad. So I apologize. I APOLOGIZE. What? I have been training this girl on table manners since she was 15 months old. SHE'S THREE!!! But there it is. Parenting fail, future therapy bill, I'm sorry Elizabeth. And, being mini-me, she decides to make me feel even more insane by instantly drying her tears, looking at me like she can't believe I'm hanging on to this moment and uttering some total non sequitur like "smell my feet, they're stinky."
Divide and Conquer: A new and rather effective tactic, our children have now figured out how to use their 2.75 year age difference to their advantage. They often ask for "boy time" and "girl time" since Elizabeth has yet to attain the fine-motor skill to play video games and William now realizes that playing with dolls is "girl stuff." Ever seeking to be the best parents, Mike and I divvy up the monsters so they can each have some time alone with us.
But I see now... THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT. This gives William (Mike's Mini-Me in this case) the chance to "buddy up" with Dad, lull him into a false sense of security and then ask him something about which Mommy has already said, "no." You see, they're counting on us being so burned out by the end of the day that we won't have the energy to compare stories. They're thinking (often correctly) that we'll be floppy, drooling messes sitting on the couch laughing to The Daily Show or defusing our anger by imagining that we're Raylan Givens on Justified. Tonight, however, Mike and I made time for each other and uncovered what devious little gremlins we've produced. Mike was telling me about how William actually had the gall to say to Mike, "You're my favorite" because he was trying to A) get more video game time and B) get Mike to say yes to watching a movie during dinner when I had already said no.
Meanwhile, Super Villain aka Dizzy aka Elizabeth is upstairs with me playing Strawberry Shortcake and working on me to get more playtime and/or a later bed time. She's plying me with lots of hugs and "I love you too's". And I realize, that little Super Villain, isn't being loving when she says it. It's a ploy with her. She says it either A) to distract me or B) as her way of saying, "now mommy, calm down. you're about to lose your shit again". I'm not kidding. For as she sees me preparing to head downstairs to make dinner, she tackles me and says "I love you too". I say, "Elizabeth, let's grab your dolls and play downstairs while I cook". She's suddenly deaf and continues to play as though I had never spoken. Two more times and I lose it... "E-LIZ-A-BETH!" I shout, "Take your dolls downstairs so I can start dinner!!!!" She puts her hand on my arm, looks me in the eye and says "I love you too". I play the trump card, say goodbye over my shoulder and begin heading downstairs. 'WAAAAIT!!" she panics and begins following me. "I've won" I think. But at the bottom of the stairs she mutters, "I'll go in the car with you." Huh? I turn to her, "Elizabeth, I'm not going anywhere, I'm making dinner". She smiles innocently, "I thought we were grabbing dinner and watching a movie".
HOLY CRAP! They're in it together! Because THEN, Super Villain walks over to Daddy and starts cute-ing it up with I love you too's and hugs, etc. and after their video game, William aka Mike's Mini-Me puts on his best charm act and begins with the "ooohhh what is that? dinner smells good. can I help set the table?" I think he's making up for being a turd earlier and tell him he can put out the napkins and forks. He's doing it and giving me hugs in the meantime and just as I'm about to congratulate myself on my sweet son, he says it - "soooo, I was talking to Dad about watching a movie during dinner..."