April 24, 2010

On the cooling rack: Burnt soup. Yup. I'll tell you allll about it.

I don't remember all the reasons why Alexander's day was terrible, horrible, no good, and/or very bad. But just considering the title alone, I hear ya, bro.

It began with a lack of sleep last night - all of which was my fault. I'm a night owl, it's my reading time, so before lights out I read and read and read. Multiple books even. But then Tessa woke up earlier than I had planned (you can laugh). Usually, when she wakes up from the night or from a nap, she'll talk to herself, play with her animals, perhaps sing, maybe whine a little, but when one of us goes into her room to get her out of bed, she stops everything, breaks out into a huge grin, and says, "Hiiiiiii!!!!!" Not today. Full on whining from the get-go. Through the pick-up, through the morning kisses, through the diaper change, bath, and clothes. And the whining didn't stop ALL DAY LONG. In fact, as I'm writing this, I can hear her upstairs in her crib, trying to fall asleep, and whining.

Before I go any further, let me just say that God sent us an angel in giving us Tessa. She is always cheery, friendly, sweet, hungry, and very kissable. I have no problem loving this girl, I adore being with her and watching her grow, and her natural sweet temper makes me look like I'm a great mom.

Let me put in another aside. I can't stand whining. I know there are moms out there who are nodding their heads like "yeah" (can't get THAT song out of my head to save my life) but this is to a debilitating degree. I hear whining, even from a kid I don't know - say, in Target or something - and I just want to march right over there and give her something to whine ABOUT! As soon as the pitch goes up in the voice, I go into bristle mode. If I were a porcupine, this is where quills would shoot out of my body quite forcibly. When I was a teacher, I would often hear students whine. Granted, I didn't hear it as much in my classroom as elsewhere in the school, for I was somewhat known as the Anti-Whine. When a student sent me into bristle mode, and before I got into full attack mode, I countered whatever they were saying in their whiny voice in a MUCH more whiny voice, then took it to the next level, just to show them how childish and dumb they sounded because I'm really mature like that. The following conversation is an example of how a typical whining interaction would have taken place:

me: ...so with each level, or "orbital", the energy of the atom's electrons actually increases. Let me draw what it might-
student: (without raising hand or otherwise asking for help) But miiissss... I don't geeeeett iiiiitt..
other students: hahahahahahaha. She told you!
me: (haven't yet cracked a smile because, well, it's just not funny to me) Would you like to get my attention in a manner more fitting to an 8th grader and not a 2-yr old?
student: Sorry, miss. (student never whines again in my class, but I can't speak for his others)

And that's how the whining issues in my classroom were usually solved. Can't do that with a 14-month old, I've learned.

I have tolerated kids' whining before - it's just a natural occurrence as they develop because they can't form words or signs and can't always walk over and show you what they want (esp if it's our kid). Thus the whine begins before toddling, but the sin of it gets washed away at baptism when they're 8, thank goodness, and then they're supposed to stop whining altogether. Unfortunately, I've known many an adult who's got some repenting to do. Tessa has done her fair share of whining, and I have taken it in stride - I realize she's hungry or tired or in need of a change of pace. I've almost always been able to take care of any particular need relatively easily. As I mentioned before, she's an angel, and we know we got lucky.

But today.... Today, no amount of sweet-talking, cajoling, flattery, enticements, empty promises, or animal crackers could satisfy her any longer than a few minutes. And then it was right back where we started. I knew she was tired, but the girl refused to sleep. So I let her stay up and get under the table where I was sewing (something for her, ungrateful thing). That was a mistake. I then let her play by herself in her room with her new hand-me-down (thanks, Debbi!) blocks. She loves the things, and she loves throwing them, crawling toward them, and then destroying any order whatsoever in her toys, books, and clothing just to get to them. I found her in the closet, banging pieces of my music stand together. I'll chalk that up to another mistake on my part. By the time I'd gotten fed up with that (and after I finished the small sewing project and hairclip I'd done in the meantime), it was - surprise! - time to eat again. So....she was whining. Okay, so, lunch. No prob. Do it every day. Mind you, I'm still not out of my underwear by this time, I'm starting to sweat a little hefting a 30-lb child who can't walk yet while 24 weeks pregnant, and the only thing I can be grateful for at this point is that I remembered to close the blinds the night before.

She whines for more food. Then throws it on the floor. Drinks water. Whines. Throws it on the floor - and thinks it's quite funny. Time to get out of the high chair. Crawls to the bathroom and whines when I don't let her pull up on the toilet seat. Whines when I don't let her break a frame. Whines when I pull her away from the carbon monoxide detector that has that deafening test button (why did they install that huge enticing thing in the hallway outlet???). Gets scissors taken away. More whining. Mama closes the laptop so she'll stop deleting my stuff. More whining. New soccer ball occupies her for about 4 minutes, then it's back to the whining. And I'm approaching bristle mode...

She FINALLY falls asleep and I think this is the end of the satanic drama and I can put my quills away. I get a shower in - yay me - and take 20 min for myself to crochet a flower. But I didn't finish. Because I hear it - and it's not a sweet pitter patter of anything tiny or feety. At this point I'm feeling like the Grinch when he grumbles, "all the noise, noise, NOISE, NOOISE!!!!"

Okay, I have to stop the story here and also say, I know there are moms out there who deal with this on a daily basis. This is nothing to them. In fact, this is a GOOD day! To you moms, I applaud you and have never judged you for keeping it to just one kid. I get it.

Back to the noise. Too short a nap - whiny. Third poop diaper. Whiny. Wants to crawl right off the changing table and I won't let her - whiny. To get back at me, she throws anything within reach off the table, including the large bottle of baby powder. Whines. Yanks brand new handmade-with-whatever-love-and-affection-I-was-feeling-toward-my-sweet-pea hairclip out of hair and throws that across the room, too. Grrr.

Time to fold laundry. She wants to be near whatever I'm doing. I let her. For every item I fold, she has unfolded two (well, until the math doesn't work out anymore), and has strewn them around the hallway. I'm getting serious bouts of heartburn with all the bending over and retrieving I'm doing. Laundry load gets folded in only three times as long as normal. I go take it upstairs to put away, and you can guess what I hear. I give her my phone to play with. She calls Europe. I take it away. Whine. I sequester her in the pack n play with her favorite toys while I fold same load and put it away. Two minutes......and there it is. I know! Let's feed her! That always solves everything!

Only temporarily today.

While she's somewhat occupied and in one spot, I take the time to get tonight's dinner ready. I've got my ham hock all ready (and hocked), even thought ahead and bought celery yesterday for today, got the split peas a-soakin', onions peeled and ready to chop, carrots - check. Sweet! Wait, whine. Ohhh, poop diaper. The fourth today (total for today = 6). I decide we need to take our frazzled selves outside for a little stroll and get some air and look at some pretty green trees. Half a minute in, and, yup, there's the drizzle. Going anyway. To the recycling bin on one side of the complex, mailboxes on the other side, while getting our mail Tessa and I notice a teenager who's walking his dog near the fowl/foul lake (both apply right now) and then watch him KICK THE GEESE! Repeatedly! They weren't even doing anything, but getting kicked sure pissed them off, so flap their wings they did, only to get kicked again. Made me so mad. On the way back, I then notice two more teenagers sneaking between our townhome and the next one, smoking pot (great), which they try to hide when they see I see them. Had a small debate in my head over whether I should call cops or not. Normally I wouldn't bother, but it's right next to our place, they're underage, and we have a little girl who will, (one day) be walking around the premises and considering her knack of finding and eating things I can't even see, well, you can understand my concern.

I decided to let it go for today. But I so badly wanted to be that responsible adult who gets on kids' cases and ends up saving the world. One day.

Walk in the house, time to boil the peas and ham hock, so I turn on the heat, and....whine. At this point, I completely lost it. I got on the floor where she was and had her face me. I told her to stop it in a very loud voice - something I've never done. In fact, I have since tried to recall any other time I've raised my voice at her other than fake laughing and jabbering to get her to talk and giggle, and I can't. I was angry. And I lost my patience. So then I got angry at myself. I put her into bed, hoping that even though it was late in the day, she'd at least get a snooze in and I could protect her from further Mommy Wrath. In taking her upstairs and getting frustrated for getting so frustrated, I...left the soup pot on high and the thing boiled over. That was when I started crying. And I hadn't even started chopping the onions yet.

Time got away from me in order to have dinner somewhat ready or almost ready by the time Ted came home from studying all day in the library, so to cut time, I uncovered the pot and let everything boil longer instead of allowing it to simmer an hour and a half or so. I'd been crying so hard over everything that all holes in my head were clogged and I didn't smell the damage until it was too late. Note: split peas are denser than water and therefore sink. When high heat is applied, there's no water there to buffer the temperature rising, so those peas are gonna burn, gonna burn. And...they did. Allll on the bottom of the pot. My beautiful hunk of pork product! Ruined!

Ted had made it home by then and had been sympathetic to my tears, had asked if I needed anything, but I was too flustered and upset to first, think of any way he could help me, and second, explain why I was crying in the first place except to say "ALL THE WHINING!" I couldn't put into words that I'd just reached my first day of yelling at my innocent child, and then going a step further and wondering what the heck I was going to do if #2 does this every day. That made the tears flow even more, then somehow I smelled the soup, and I almost lost control of my bladder I was so upset. I mean, honestly... Who burns soup??

So that is most of the story. I'm reserving the rest of the story for my journal's eyes only. (Piqued your interest, didn't I? Too bad.) Let's just say it's a good thing Wendy's is so close, because a Jr Bacon Cheeseburger can cure just about any ill.

And just so I don't end this on too sour a note, I've included pictures of the very small projects I finagled while she destroyed three rooms and I was still in my oh-Tessa-you-little-rascal stage.

I bought the purple shorts at the dollar store a couple days ago. Just attached the ruffly trim (which I got from a scrap store) to dress them up a bit. Much cuter.

And I finally summoned up enough courage to try making a felt hairclip after spending an hour on the phone last week with Laura, who has mastered the art. She gave me some tips, then told me to just go for it, even if I make a mistake (you'd think I was auditioning for Broadway or something). It's the experience that teaches you. So, it's not perfect, but it was at least fulfilling and I learned how to do it better next time.

These photos were taken between sessions of whining.

Don't play so innocent, little girl.... I heard you tonight, even when you had fries in front of you!


clauss house said...

Whew, get it off your chest, girl! I'm glad you're feeling better (hopefully even better today, you better have gone to bed earlier last night)! Don't forget, our offer always stands, we'll take Tessa if you need a breather. We, unfortunately, are used to whining:(

Megan said...

*raises hand* I've burnt soup. Recently. Darn high heat with fresh vegetables that sink...

Your experience reminds me of our apartment dwelling in Tucson--pot and all.

If I were more awake I'd give you a little CHEESE to go with your WHINE, but alas you'll have to find a reason to giggle on your own.

Here's to better days! And children who do grow up and know that the wrath of mommy is upon them if they whine...

Kathleen said...

All I can say is...AMen! Amen...To the part about crying the first time you lose your temper at you child, and to the part about having the worst day for a seemingly small reason, and to the part about struggling between the choice of just throwing in the towel vs. attempting to salvage the day, and definitely to the part about burning a perfect dinner in the making, and ESPECIALLY to the part about Jr. Bacon Cheese Burgers. Peter knows if I am crying too hard to safely use a knife by the time he gets home...then Wendy is making dinner :) Good luck, and hang in there.

Emily S said...

I write this blog post in my head a couple of times a week, then never get a chance to write it - but it's cool you did. It's good for you to get it out, good to hear sympathy (sorry, girl!), and good for her when she's a mom. Husbands and Wendy's do make it all better. Except in my mom's case when she burnt some chili once and she got some home-canned venison chili from a friend for us to eat instead. That just got her made fun of. Glad you chose Wendy's.

Syphus Circus said...

Allison I wish I could give you a big huge hug! You are amazing and you are an incredible Mother! Don't fret about burnt soup...I can't cook cambells tomato without it boiling over, which is ridiculous, but it only means that life is busy and chaotic. You are so totally awesome and I'll take Tessa anytime you need a break, Even if she's in whine mode. Now we just need to solve the distance factor...

Miss you! Love you! Hang in there, it WILL and DOES get better.

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...