Loud Issues

When Clara and Ivy are playing unless bodily harm seems imminent we leave them alone to figure out their own differences. For the most part they manage to play together, work together and resolve their troubles without help. There are of course times when one or the other comes to us in tears and we have to step in and moderate.  Since we’ve been having trouble with hitting and pushing lately the moderating has been happening quite a bit more frequently.

We are saving money by having the girls wear the same clothes. We are saving time by making them wear them at the same time to reduce the amount of laundry.

This afternoon I heard the start of their spat at the sandbox from in the house while I was putting Jane down for a nap.  As I bent over to lay Jane in her crib it escalated into screaming, shrieking and crying and Clara flew into the house yelling like she’d been mortally wounded. Since Clara often screams like she’s been mortally wounded but has never actually been in that condition I wasn’t too worried.  But, wounded or not, the screaming had woken Jane up and my attention was needed downstairs. Now, I suspect that spat occurred not over a yellow plastic shovel like they claim but purely because their little sister was almost asleep.  It’s like some sort of eerie siren song.  When I’m putting Jane to sleep as soon as I stand to lay her down in the crib everyone runs to me with their issues.  LOUD issues. Dogs bark, the cat pukes, the phone rings with advice on how I should vote in the upcoming election, John has questions and children who have been playing quietly for hours start beating on each other and run to me crying.

It’s possible that the frantic, one armed, gesticulating to get out while silently yelling “Go away!” that they receive isn’t the friendliest reception, but seriously, can’t anyone see that “I’M TRYING TO PUT THE BABY TO SLEEP?!”

Ahem, anyways….where was I? Oh yes…

Clara comes into the house screaming.

Jane wakes up.

Ivy follows Clara into the house yelling.

I go downstairs and tell the girls to stay put.

I head back upstairs get the baby to sleep.

Finally I go back downstairs to ask what happened.

There they are still sitting in their chairs at the table where I told them to stay happily playing together.  I have to interrupt the new game to ask what all the fighting was about and with frightening nonchalance I hear:

Clara: “I hit Ivy two times and then she pushed me out of the sandbox.”

Ivy: “Clara hit me, I told her to go away and she didn’t leave fast enough so I pushed her out of the sandbox.”

I had just started to make obligatorily parental noises about behavior, and ways to solve arguments when they asked if they could go back outside and keep playing yet.  I looked at my two happy girls, who were barely paying attention to me because they were still trying to secretly play with each other, agreed and they disappeared all giggles out the door.

Rain puddles after a May storm are fun, but chilly, gotta wear a hat!

Which left me standing in the kitchen with a spinning head.

Did what I think happened just happen?

Was this all just because Jane was going to fall asleep and cosmic forces conspired against their happy play forcing them into a noisy fight?

Is there any way of impressing on your children that they should stop beating on each other when after four minutes neither of them care any longer?

Or is it yet another example that I should learn from of the way kids live in the moment and can let bygones be bygones at the drop of a hat.

I thought about it, decided that parenting philosophy, cosmic forces and moral issues were all beyond me this afternoon, grabbed a Diet Coke and sat down in my quite house to enjoy it while it lasted.

Roses and Noses

Clara used to put everything in her mouth, and I mean everything, if you don’t believe me read this: The Second Child

For the most part Clara has stopped attempting to eat inappropriate things, and moved on to new bad habits.

Yesterday it started with a pomegranate seed…

…in her nose.

A quick blow of the nose and out it came. I tried to tell her that it was a bad idea to put things in her nose. But clearly I didn’t make much of an impression because a few hours later she came down with a small plastic rose in her nose. Plastic roses are apparently much less comfy on the nose than pomegranate seeds. This time Clara was willing to believe that putting things in your nose hurts, and agreed not to do it anymore.

Not long after John got home from work  Storm, my camera and I headed outside for a walk.  When I was only a few pictures into my walk and barely beyond the yard I was called back into the house. Less than thrilled about returning so soon I expected bloodshed or some other equally bad catastrophe to have occurred. I walked in to find John looking slightly panicked, Jane screaming, Clara looking like she just got yelled at and Ivy sobbing in the bathroom.  That’s when I learned that I forgot to tell Clara not to put things in other peoples noses either.  A quick blow of  Ivy’s nose and another rose was produced.

John, who had been assembling tweezers and headlamps while I went for Kleenex,  profusely apologized for his panic and lack of common sense.  Feeling benevolent I decided to chalk the loss of his reason up to three crying girls. That sort of noise scrambles my brain on a daily basis and since there wasn’t any bloodshed in the house yet I didn’t think it should start over a missed walk.

Then I turned to a still sobbing Ivy to ask the question. Why? Why would you let your little sister shove a small rose up your nose?

I am ashamed to say that I couldn’t ask my poor crying daughter this without a massive fit of the giggles, and so tried to be content with the completely unsatisfactory answer of “I didn’t know what she was doing.”

Really? She got it that far in and you didn’t figure it out? Really?

Deciding that laughing while continuing to question Ivy wasn’t helping and that she had learned her lesson about allowing Clara near her nose without any further intervention on my part  I took the screaming baby into the other room.

Soon everyone had stopped crying and life was back to normal. I was left with the impression that while it’s good to be needed I’d like to be needed a little less and get out a little more.

We’ll be working on that.

I’m thinking maybe earplugs for John so that his brain can continue to function no matter the circumstances and nose plugs for Ivy – just in case.

Clara Donuts

For awhile now I’ve been meaning to write about Clara and her food issues but it’s not that fun of a story.

It involves too many bad bodily functions and lots of crying.

Lots of crying.

In summary I shall say this:

Clara has a pile of food sensitivities,  she has had them her entire life and we are still working on figuring things out.

Perhaps we can get into the gory details of how we  found all of that out later but I’m not up to that post tonight.

Since Clara has always had issues with food, she’s always had to avoid foods and eat differently from others.  While it’s been difficult, Clara has known for a very long time that she can’t have anything with dairy in it and now accepts that some foods will hurt her belly. When faced with such a food she doesn’t cry or scream or pout.  She just asks, “Me smell?” and so long as you let her smell the forbidden food,  she’s happy.

It’s completely heartbreaking.

It’s also caused us to re-name many things to make it easier for her to tell what she can and can not have.

We have butter and we have “Clara butter.”

We have cheese and “Clara cheese.”

We have raisins and “Clara raisins”

We have sugar and “Clara sugar.”

We have oatmeal and “Clara oatmeal.”

Creative aren’t we?

Most of our diet has changed to comply with what Clara can and can not tolerate, and because of it we’ve been eating very healthy. Lean meat, veggies, whole grains – we’ve got them.   Of course we are only human, so Ivy, John and I gleefully scarf down Clara unfriendly food whenever we get a chance.

And it bothers me.

It bothers me that I have to tell Clara that she can’t eat foods. It bothers me that the rest of us sneak food when she isn’t paying attention. It bothers me that we sometimes eat different food at dinner than she does. It bothers me that she misses out on the snack at story time. It bothers me that I should be grateful that she (and we) are eating so healthy but that I’m just resentful of the restrictions on my cooking. It bothers me that we have to skip doing things with people so we can be home for meals. It bothers me that I can’t magic her problem away. It bothers me when we mess up reading ingredients and she pays for it.  And it bothers me every time she says “Me smell?” and insists that I eat the food instead.

The benefits have outweighed all of the problems in planning our meals and life around her current restrictions.  Even my own emotions, that seem to have firmly attached themselves to the issue, are nothing compared to the improvement we’ve seen in Clara. She is a different girl than she used to be – a much happier one, and so we carry on with the crazy diet.

But it’s still not easy.

This week  Ivy was leaving to play at a friends house. (You know, one of those things that could be called a “play date” but I refuse to call it such because the term irritates me all to pieces… but that’s a different story).  Clara was very sad that Ivy was leaving and so I promised her that we could make a treat once Ivy  was gone. Without hesitation I was informed that she wanted “Clara donuts.”

A little recipe sleuthing and I discovered that donuts have nothing in them Clara can have, but we went to the kitchen and started substituting.

Clara flour, Clara sugar, Clara butter, Clara eggs… I think the only thing I didn’t substitute out was the baking powder and the nutmeg.

I had dumped the dough out and was dubiously staring at the brownish mass I was supposedly making into donuts when Clara looked up from her beater licking and said:

“OOOO! That good!”

She was right. We had successfully made a treat for Clara that I didn’t have to worry about her eating and that she was loving.  It was better than good.  It was great. And the donuts weren’t bad either!

Please Send Earplugs

Last May Clara spent most of the month looking like this:

We eventually discovered that she had a dairy allergy, changed her diet and she stopped looking quite so sad and pathetic.

A whole year later there have been so many changes – she walks, she talks,  steals toys from her sister,  helps feed the dogs, cooks with me, throws objects in the toilet, identifies poop in any location and no longer has that sad and pathetic look about her.

Nope, now when we have days of extended screaming for mysterious reasons she just looks mad.

What a difference a year makes!