Needless to say, I spent a good deal of their formative years banging my head against walls.
My children are just literal children. They're not one for the imaginationy games, they don't make up stories or have friends no one but they can see. They read non-fiction books for the first seven years of their lives. They are dry.
And then the girl showed up with her fake make-ups and her basket full of her brother's old halloween costumes and she brought imagination into this house. Her best friend in the whole world, the one she spends hours a day on the phone with, is Sonic The Hedgehog. Her babies all have names and favorite foods. She insists on tea parties. She lives in this world that none of us know anything about, her head in the clouds and her feet in the mud, and oh my god, it's so fucking cute I could die.
Except you know I didn't dodge the reality-bullet with this one, oh no. It just showed up somewhere else.
I've never been one for giving my children many options in life, but I do allow them to dictate their own days to a degree. For example, if they're really, really misbehaving, I'll ask them if they are going to stop or if I am going to have to stop them, and then make them chose. If they stop, great; happy fun time can continue but if they chose to make me stop them, I do exactly that. And once I have, we talk about appropriate punishments. I ask them what they'd do, if they were me, and we come to an agreement. Maybe that makes me a shitty parent, but I think it makes more of a point if they have to come up with it. I think that's part of the punishment, that it drives the point home when they're the ones making the point. It also makes the whole thing less powerless for them, which is nice because I have no desire to be a dictator. They all have to grow weird, dark moustaches and wear polyester brown pants and, ewww.
I take for granted sometimes that my old tricks are going to work on the new kid, the one who hasn't been here for a decade and doesn't know the rules of engagement, and occasionally, in her big-eyed curly -haired cute ways, she reminds me.
Like the other day when I was out front, trying to get her to come inside while my neighbor was talking to me. I told her to come inside. I asked her to come inside. I bribed her to come inside. I demanded she come inside. She totally didn't come inside. I finally looked at her and said, "Dude, am I going to have to smack your bottom or not?" and she thought about it for a full minute before she said, "Um....not" and wheeled away on her tricycle.
Because that was a dumb question, that's why. Because she doesn't know that when mom says "smack your bottom", the situation has gone from mild annoyance to DefCon 4 and it's time to run, not walk, but run in the direction mom is asking you to. My neighbor looked at her, looked at me, and Fell. Over. Laughing. I joined him. All he could say was, "At least she answered your question, eh?" and all I could do was hang my head because yeah, I've totally seen this before. We have achieved Literal Speed, and it's going to be another bumpy ride.
Funny, but bumpy.