Sometimes you have to break a few eggs

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Family, Personal

So last night at 11 pm I was picking a little egg-shell out of the pancake batter I was preparing for the next morning and feeling oh so clever.  I thought if I stay up a little later and get everything prepared for the next morning and then get up another 20 minutes earlier I would actually be able to feed my kids a real breakfast, get us all ready and out the door on time.  Silly, silly me.

Let me go back a little and explain something.  A couple of weeks ago I finally got to have my day in court regarding custody of my daughter.  This particular go around actually started last May, so it took almost a year to resolve (due to his intransigence, not mine).  And in actuality, this is a battle that goes back to our divorce almost 6 years ago.  I was never happy with how our divorce was settled and I had tried many times over the years to get the situation righted.  Unfortunately, a lack of money (I don’t need to remind you that lawyers are obscenely expensive, do I?) was a huge barrier that never allowed me to  do anything but beg my ex through unsuccessful mediation.  Without going into too much detail, I hired a lawyer last year and finally took my case to a judge.  I honestly didn’t think I would win at all but I did….I got 99% of what I wanted.

While it was a huge relief to me and my daughter (she wanted the changes in custody as much as I did), it still means that we have to make some pretty big adjustments.  The biggest one is my having to do the day-to-day grind of school, homework, extracurricular stuff, etc. that I got so little chance to do with her before.   And I went into this entire thing knowing that my daughter, who will be 10 next month, is much harder to take care of than my two-year old son.  She’s one of the most defiant children I have ever known.  Okay, so back to what I was saying about last night……

Knowing the challenge I face with Meghan, I thought that I could do some things to make the morning routine easier.  I pre-prepared breakfast knowing she would want pancakes.  I packed her lunch in the requisite plastic bag for the field trip to Lake Pleasant Park today–evidently they had to take something disposable.  I made sure her homework and her Soccer practice outfit was in her backpack.  I laid out several different outfits for the next day so she could choose one quickly instead of complaining about how she has nothing to wear. I prepared her shower by laying out a fresh towel, pulling down the spray nozzle (she’s too short to reach it so I take it down and let it dangle) and made sure her hair brush was in the bathroom since she leaves everywhere but where it should be.  And I prepared her morning medication–she has to drink a glass of water with some medication dissolved into it.

Ultimately, most of it ended up for naught.  The morning started out well. She got in the shower right away with little protest.  It was when she came out of the bathroom that things started to fall apart.  She is always complaining about how tangled her hair is and usually asks me to  brush it all while complaining about how much it hurts.  I have spent hundreds of dollars over the years in search of a conditioner that will help us keep her fine thin hair from tangling and have only had partial success.  Her hair is just a mess, always.  So this morning I was brushing her hair and she was bitching per usual.  Then I realized that the top front of it was still full of shampoo.  I tried rinsing just that part out in the sink and she wasn’t happy about it.  Then I lifted the hair near her ear and found that was also full of shampoo.  No wonder her hair was unbrushable, she didn’t rinse it out properly.  No sink rinsing was going to take care of this so I told her to get back into the shower and re-rinse her hair.  Well, she didn’t want to because she felt she had done a fine job of rinsing it and she was perfectly happy to go to school that way.  Thus began World War III.

I had to raise my voice to frightening levels just to get her back into the shower….who knows what my neighbors think of us.  It’s been three days of verbal combat and lots of frustrated tears.  Anyway, she refused to rinse her hair even when in the shower so I had to stand there and do it myself all while she cried and yelled at me that I was treating her like a baby.  Oh the irony!  The shower scene from Silkwood was running the back of mind the entire time.

She finally gets out of the shower, crying and throwing things around.  While getting dressed she grabs a shirt that I had not laid out for her, a dirty one she’d worn on Monday.  Again, I started with reasoning which turned to yelling because she refused to change out of the dirty shirt.  It wasn’t that she really wanted the dirty shirt, she just wanted to control what was going on.  And while I give her tons of choices and let her make a lot of decisions there are some that I won’t, like going to school with hair that is full of soap or wearing dirty clothes to school.

While we were arguing about her clothes, I tried to make the pancakes but the pan was too hot because it had been heating while I was rinsing her hair.  They came out a little overcooked and to make it worse, I had to rush and eat mine because now we were running behind schedule.  Then while we were eating she refused to drink her glass of medicated water–she’s very passive aggressive about this particular thing on the best of days.  She usually delays drinking it or draws it out by taking tiny little sips.  She almost always brings it in the car and on the way to school usually spills a little.  She complains the entire time…she’s not thirsty, it’s too much water, she can taste the medicine….this game drives me crazy.  Anyway, this morning she didn’t even bother to play this game…she spilled the entire thing on the living room floor when I was out of sight.  I didn’t have time to make her a new glass, so we just left without it.

By the time we walked out the door I was still pissed, had a raging headache, and I could not wait to drop her off at school.  She on the other hand was no longer mad and acted as if everything was hunky dory.  That’s why I know she’s testing her boundaries with me.  If she felt truly outraged by my making her do such things she would stay angry and stick by what she thinks is right.  I’ve seen her stay angry about something before, but that’s not what’s going on here.  She’s even doing it with her homework, which is always pretty easy for her.  She’s just seeing if she complains enough, cries enough, avoids enough, whether she can get away with not doing her homework, not properly washing, not taking her medicine, etc.

There’s not much I can do but keep trying different methods to get her to comply preferably without having to scream at her and keep preparing stuff ahead of time to help us be more efficient.  At least now I know I will have to stock up on Ibuprofen for the inevitable headaches that will follow the inevitable yelling when other methods fail as they always have with her.  And in six months time when the judge will ask me things like ‘are her grades still good, is she healthy, has she been taking her medicine, has she been going to counseling, is she still playing soccer’, etc I should at least be able to say that I gave it my best shot.   Isn’t that all any parent can do?

  1. Jazuz you need a respite! I’m glad to hear the court case is done, and in your favor. And yeah, I expect your daughter’s testing of her newly stable situation is going to go on a while. Don’t break down – you know what’s right!
    Or…maybe it’s the full moon 🙂

  2. sumofmanycrossroads says:

    OMG!! I have so been there with the morning meltdowns where i get drill sergeant on their little asses (7& 9yo)! And i ask, why oh why, am i given an ounce of patience when the situation calls for 5 gallons?
    Hang in there…..just started a book by becky bailey, “easy to love hard to discipline.” Was recommended by a social worker i work with.

  3. Of topic, but as I don’t have your email accessible at the moment, I thought you might be interested in this:

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