At breakfast, we always have a little run-through of the day: who wants what for lunch, what practices are after school, etc.etc. Today, the princess asked what she and I could do today. I replied excitedly "You have a friend coming over today! It will be super fun!". And I was genuinely excited. It is usually just the two of us home to fend for ourselves in a world of make-believe house and school. So a playmate for the day meant that I might actually get a break from the normal fun of tea parties and "restaurant". She looked at me with a furrowed brow over her bowl of Cheerios. "Well, I am NOT sharing. I mean it. Not anything." Ummmm...ok. I called her bluff. "Whatever. It will be fun. You always have fun when friends come over. We can bake cookies this afternoon too." I pulled out my trump card with that one. She loves baking and I love eating, so that project has been put by the wayside now that swimsuit season is just around the bend.
So we drop the boys at school and she and I head back home to get ready for our guest. I am bursting with excitement (ok, playing it up a little bit so that it may, by osmosis, reach her). The door bell rings. I clap my hands, she rolls her eyes. Yikes. I didn't know she possessed that skill. I thought that came with puberty. I am a rookie still I guess. So I answer the door and I hear my own voice. I must have channeled a preschool teacher strung out on Pixie Stix and Mountain Dew, because I didn't quite recognize the perkiness in my own tone. I must have REALLY been hoping for that osmosis to kick in and if not, maybe the guests wouldn't notice Eeyore sitting on the couch pouting. "Honey, Claire is here!!" to which my own little Miss Manners answers "How long is she staying?". We obviously have not had any formal courses in social grace. I wanted to yell "Perk up Princess. This is a play date, not a prison sentence." But I did the fake mom laugh and the "oh, she woke up on the wrong side of the bed" deal to my friend. When really, I wanted to throw her ungracious little ass back into that bed and deadbolt the door shut. But instead, I exchanged casual conversation with my friend while my sweet angel kindly glared and growled anytime the offending visitor looked in her general direction. Luckily, this did not scare off the other little girl. As I would soon come to realize, the visiting friend accepted it more as a silent challenge. Like she was saying "You don't want me here?? I'm gonna play with everything you own!..."
Now, my little girl was not outright mean to the friend, but I wouldn't necessarily call her demeanor warm and inviting either. At snack time, my daughter took the first glass of juice instead of kindly passing it to her friend and waiting for the next one. Not a big deal, right? I mean, they are preschoolers. BUT, it was a big deal when I put orange slices into a bowl for each of them and my daughter passed the bowl this time to her friend...only to announce with impeccable timing as her friend took her first bite "Remember mom when you put water in THAT bowl for the dog that ran away?" Natural instinct caused an orange to be spit onto the counter. I reassured little Claire that I gave that bowl to the dog's owners when they came to pick him up...this bowl just looks the same. I shot a disapproving glance at the evil blonde I spawned.
At dress-up time, my little one came up wearing pretty much everything in her toy box. She looked like a 62 pound hooker that doesn't quite get the "layered look". Her friend was not-so-happily wearing a Home Depot apron and a fireman's hat. When playing babies, my daughter had 13 babies shoved into two strollers, a stuffed dog on a leash and three diaper bags. Her friend had a webkinz cat strapped into the infant carrier with the loose handle that never seems to stay upright. When playing school, my daughter wanted to be the teacher. The friend happily agreed to be the student...until the "teacher" announced upon starting school that it was naptime. I intervened every now and again trying to think of games, activities and projects that might not call a need for boundary control. But how can a 5 year old color with 8 markers at a time? Well, I didn't think it could be done, until today. Her little body also managed to take up three barstools at lunchtime. I am not sure at what point during the morning or previous evening my cherub was possessed by the devil reincarnate, but it was a stressful, ugly scene. Had I been her friend, I would have gotten in her smug little face and told her off. But like I said before, the friend brought her fire along to this fight and made a subconscious promise to touch everything my kid owned. Needless to say, it was an AWESOME day. And by awesome I clearly mean I should have taped a box of wine to my back with a direct-feed straw into my mouth, and every time I tried to speak, wine would just soothe away any frustration. It would have kept me from having that "Mommy Dearest" moment I had when we forced our smiles through gritted teeth and bid our friend farewell. I calmly shut the door and unleashed my fury. My daughter looked at me as I foamed at the mouth, wildly flailing arm and hand gestures, pointing fingers and popping veins. Thank GOD we live in the country. No one could hear. And if they could have, they would have probably run away crying as well, which was the response I got from my kid. After I let myself calm down a little, I went and found her in her room, taking out the Barbies that she hid under her bed. I wonder why??!! Anyway, I got down on her level (physically and emotionally) for a moment. With my forehead gently pressed to hers, and my arms around her, I calmly said "Honey,I know that it is not fun to share sometimes. But we want others to share with us, and it is important to treat out friends with respect and kindness as we would want to be treated when we go to their houses. Next time you can put aside some of your extra special things that you don't want to play with that day, and that is ok. And I will tell you WAY beforehand when a friend is going to come over, ok? And even though I don't like the things you do sometimes, I will always love you, ok"? She was quiet as I continued to hold her close, noses touching. She was moved with emotion. I can tell. She quietly replies, "Mommy? It looks like you have a one really big eye in the middle of your head."
F-ing awesome. I am glad that my teaching moment stuck. I rock. Parent of the Year? Hell yes. Where is the trophy.
At night, I fell into bed to enjoy my personal pint of Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip that I had been salivating over all day. I earned it, after all. I just about crapped myself when my husband walked into the room with an extra spoon. Yep, I said EXTRA spoon. I wonder what that is for??.....Oh HELL NO! I am NOT sharing. And I mean it.