If there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting (and I’m only three and a half years into it, so one thing is pretty much all I’ve got) it’s that it will sometimes make you feel crazy (also that it will make you feel guilty, but that’s two things and a whole other topic). I tend to be an over analyzer by nature so at first I thought I was the only one who felt this way, but extensive scientific research (yeah right, like who has time for that?) has indicated that 97.5% of other mothers feel this way too (or at least the other mom volunteering with me at the preschool nodded understandingly, which is pretty much the same thing, right?).
I have suspected that my children were making m
e crazy for quite some time now. I’m not saying they’re doing it on purpose (although I’m not saying they aren’t) but they have a way of making me say and do things that I normally would never say and do. For example, I am probably the last person in the world who does anything because someone else does it. You wouldn’t necessarily know it to look at me, because I’m not especially alternative-looking and I don’t mean to be subversive on purpose (anymore), it’s just that I’m generally a self-absorbed introvert who is more scared of the herd than actively wanting to be part of it. All that to say “everyone else is doing…” anything is more likely to make me avoid said thing than want to be part of it.
I’ve noticed that Bisky is similarly independent, although perhaps more so. She doesn’t just march to the beat of a different drummer, she commandeered the string section and is making off down the street, drummer be damned. I didn’t realize quite what an independent thinker she was until school started. Everything was fine the first week, other than her insisting I not join her in class which is an issue, because it’s co-op and I have to volunteer. The second week, she came downstairs in her princess dress and tiara, with her backpack on. The thing with the princess dress is, it’s actually a nightgown but it’s also, hello, a princess dress. I informed her she couldn’t wear it and she informed me that if that was the case, she would be cordially sending her regrets (in so many words). I explained that there was a time and place for princess dresses and she respectfully disagreed (again, in so many words). I then explained that no one else would be wearing a princess dress and she stared at me blankly.
So, I loaded her up, tiara and all. As we were driving, that guilt came. Here was my awesome little independent thinker and I was trying to put her in a box of normal. Never mind that she won’t get in the box; what a betrayal that I was the one trying to do it. Then I started thinking about how shitty other kids can be and what if they made fun of her? Now, knowing Grace, I don’t think she’d care but still. I looked back at her and gave her the best advice I could. “You know what, honey? If you want to be a princess, you BE a princess. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not a princess. Not even Mommy.” She thanked me for supporting her creative spirit (actually, ignored me, but still).
So fast forward to yesterday – costume day! G and I have been SO excited about her bumblebee costume. She even has bumblebee earrings and I got face paint and she was going to look SO CUTE. I actually got her into the costume…for 2 minutes. Then she started crying. “I don’t want to be a bumblebee. I want to wear my princess Sophia shirt.” “You can’t. That’s not a costume and it’s costume day. You’re going to be a bumblebee.” “NOOOOOOO” “Yes” SHRIEK, WEEP GNASH.
Then I swear, I opened my mouth to tell her “All the other kids will be wearing costumes. Don’t you want to be like all the other kids?” Holy crap! I have finally gone completely mad! For one, I know full well that she could care less and for two WHY would I want to purposely put in her head that it matters what ‘everyone else’ is doing when in God knows how many years (days?) she’ll tearfully inform me she needs to do this, that or the other and I’ll say “It doesn’t matter what everyone else does…” See? Crazy-making.
So I took a deep breath and said “ok”. We removed the adorable costume and I let her get dressed in her boring old non-costume. (I did, however, bring the bee costume, because I’m crazy but I’m no dummy). We got to school and guess who wanted to be a bee when she realized that the whole dress up thing was not just a notion dreamed up by ol’ crazy brain to torment her?
Over the last almost four years, I’ve been challenged in ways I never dreamed I’d be challenged and experienced joy (and frustration) I also never dreamed existed. Sometimes, I’ve wished that I had my kids twenty years ago when everyone else did so I’d have had more energy but most of the time it’s glaringly apparent that I will need every ounce of survival skills and wisdom I’ve gleaned in the last forty-two years to keep one step ahead of my daughter. I can’t even imagine what will happen when Adam and Ben start talking!