Work with me, please.

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I started typing this post while I lay in bed this morning listening to a conversation between Hubby and Mae. It all began last night when they fell out over the TV.  Mae tried to plead her case, and it didn’t work.  Hubby reclaimed control of the TV, and Mae cried for a while and told him how upset she felt.  (For the record, I warned him that adding a Netflix subscription to the big TV and proceeding to let the kids order cartoons would lead to problems.  The “big TV” in the family room is for adults, and the “little TV” in the play room is for kids.  But, who listens to me?)

When Mae came to our bed this morning, we told her we were still sleeping and she could go downstairs or back to her bed.  She was intent upon snuggling up close to her dad.

I heard Mae say, in a calm and serious voice, “I want to talk to you some more.”  She went on, “I want you to be the daddy I can trust and not the daddy I can’t trust.”

Hubby began to speak, and Mae said, calmly still, “I’m not finished talking.”

“I want you to be nice to me.  I was talking to you about your need to change.”

Then, Mae touched one of Hubby’s ears, and he told her to stop.  She likes the softness of ears, especially his.  She rubs her own often too, and she used to rub Jay’s a lot.  If I catch her touching Jay’s ears, I make her pay him two mickies.  If I see her reach for his ears and stop her self, I give her mickies and praise her self-control.  She rarely touches mine because I’ve been pretty clear and consistent about boundaries.  Sometimes Hubby tells her to stop and sometimes he doesn’t.  So, she has made less progress with him.

Anyway, after a few moments of silence, Mae extended the olive branch.  She asked Hubby if he would go down downstairs and watch TV with her.  She added, “I love you more than anything or anybody in the world.  I just want to spend some time with you.”

Then,

Besides, we’re all one. When I touch your ear, I’m touching mine. So, it doesn’t really matter. We’re all a family; we’re all one.

Hubby responded, “We’ll still be a family. Even in a family, you have to respect personal space.”

Mae said, in an almost cheery voice, “Ok.”

At that moment, Jay emerged from across the hall and joined Mae in trying to get Hubby up and downstairs for breakfast.   And so the day began.

And, a good day it was.  I didn’t leave the house once.  Even though I didn’t relax much, not running errands or attending birthday parties feels like an accomplishment.  Mostly, I stayed in because I had to shampoo and braid Mae’s hair.  That was about three and a half hours of work total.  She is usually a trooper about getting it done.  Today, she gave me a fit during the blow drying because she wanted to be in front of the TV.  I told her the noise would make it difficult for Jay to hear the TV, which wouldn’t be fair.  It takes twenty minutes or less to section and blow dry her hair, and normally she gets through it fine if she reads.  Today, Mae literally stomped my foot because I wouldn’t let her watch TV.  The nerve.  I stayed calm, although I did make her wait 30 minutes before she could watch TV during the braiding phase.  My mother and aunts and a high percentage of the black mothers I know would think me crazy or unfit for not popping her with the comb I had in my hand.  This child has no idea.

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Fortunately, Hubby did laundry and bathroom cleaning while I cooked.  And, I baked, which was a nice break.  I made lemon bars, which is one of the quicker recipes in my limited repertoire.  I’ll take most to work and some to my sister.

All in all, it was a good weekend.  Hubby and I took the kids to swim on Saturday morning.  This is their first time having lessons separately, each with small groups of other children.  Mae did a great job of listening and following instructions.  Jay was more comfortable than I’d expected in getting his face wet.  They clearly enjoy being in the water, though both seem to hesitate when new skills are introduced.  I’m just glad that they are willing to go and try to learn.  So, we’ll keep the lessons going for as long as they are willing.

Yesterday afternoon, I took Jay to a birthday party for one of his classmates and he had a blast.  I met a mom there who was featured on the reality show about women who didn’t know they were pregnant.  Her story is so fascinating that I would have gone to the party just to hear it.  I had been skeptical that a woman, even a woman who had never had kids, could not know she was pregnant.  Now, I’m a believer.  This woman, 43 years old at the time, had stomach pains and pressure in her abdomen and went to the emergency room.  The nurses found a baby in her pants.  Wow.

Mae was sad about not going to the party.  It so happened that I had written a new social story — as she had requested back in December, I think — about party invitations.  I showed her the story on Saturday, and she said that she understood it.  I also explained that this party was for younger kids, and that she and Jay won’t always go to the same parties.  She “got it,” though it was hard still for her to watch him and me go out the door.  Hubby said she cried a little after we left.  I think she handled it like most 7-year olds would have.  And, that’s a good thing.

It’s amazing to me that she can go from having a heart-to-heart talk with a grown-up, almost as if she’s the parent, to the usual 7-year old stuff, and everything in between.  I have no idea what the teenage years will be like.

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