The Forty-Fourth Chart (Spurts)

June 22, 2012

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last couple of weeks, readers!

Last night Five and Three wanted to stay up after their summer bedtime to watch—of all things—the NBA finals.  They watched for a few minutes, but thanks to the less-than-childproof ads in primetime my husband realized at the commercial that bedtime probably was in order.

Of course the protestations reached the roof.  Surprisingly, though, Three complied after the token complaining.  I think she felt she had to contribute to all the noise Five was making, and if there’s something to complain about then it’s probably a good idea to join in.

Five didn’t follow Three up the stairs; instead she crawled behind the oversized chair in our living room and proceeded to hang out there.  I tried to tease her out of her spot, asking whether she would be sleeping there and if she had a pillow to keep her comfortable.  But after a few minutes, her grandfather managed to coax her away from the wall and up to the girls’ bathroom.

Or so I thought.  I know he managed to get her upstairs, but as I washed the dinner dishes I could hear loud screams and crying.  I didn’t stop scrubbing the dinner plates.  The girls, their father, and their grandfather have performed this ritual almost nightly for who-knows-how-long.  I’ve gotten used to the pitch and volume of screaming, and I’ve learned quickly to identify when the screaming means something much more serious.

Soon enough my husband came down to give me a status report, another thing he does almost every night.  He told me Five was sitting in a corner somewhere upstairs and pouting.

“I told her that when she’s ready [to behave] she should go brush her teeth,” he told me.

“Did you use her birthday?  Just tell her if she doesn’t behave, she doesn’t get a birthday,” I said mildly.

He thought about that for a moment, and then (being the big softie that he is when it comes to his daughters) he looked at me and said oh-so-reassuringly, “She’s turning around.”

Am I terrible to suggest revoking my daughter’s birthday in exchange for good behavior?  Maybe.  But I don’t think I’d ever have to exercise my powers of revocation.  In that mysterious way all kids do, Five knows just how long and hard to push our buttons before she retreats and begins behaving again.  And because her birthday will come in a matter of days now, she’s fully aware of what it will mean to lose those birthday privileges.

I guess, though, I have discovered what every parent of young children has discovered.  Nothing—and I mean, nothing—is off limits when it comes to keeping them in line.

***

Earlier in the week as I combed Three’s hair first thing in the morning, we chatted about the stuffed llama she held.  My grandma sent that llama—she actually has one as a pet on a farm in Ohio—and the llama (the stuffed one, not the real one) is soft.  Because Three likes to sleep with stuffed animals and has them on a rotating schedule, all of them get special treatment at one time or another.  This week it has been the llama.

“So, does Llama want breakfast?” I asked.

“No, he doesn’t want anything.  He’s not going to eat anything all day because he only eats dog food.”

No, I did not make that up.

I almost spit out a laugh.  Three loves animals, but I think sometimes she gets her animal types mixed up.  And, come on.  It just sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  A llama eating dog food?

I didn’t want to make her feel like her idea didn’t hold any merit whatsoever, but I also wanted to make sure she had clear in her mind that a llama’s diet was quite different from a dog’s.

“That’s not a dog,” I said, still trying to control my laughter as I stood behind her and continued to comb (combing gave me an excuse not to look her in the eye.)  “That’s a llama.  Only dogs eat dog food.  Llamas eat llama food.”

She processed that for a moment and then declared that, yes, her llama was hungry for llama food.  I told her to take her llama downstairs where both of them could have breakfast together.

I’m just happy she didn’t ask to share the llama’s food.  Or dog’s food.  Or whatever.

***

My kids are weird.  They actually like doing homework.

Owing to the school’s enthusiasm for learning, both girls brought home blank worksheets on their last days of school.  I think this probably had more to do with the fact that the worksheets were probably leftovers from the academic year and the teachers may not have known what else to do with them.

Regardless, the girls brought home these worksheets, and I bought a workbook for each of them from Costco.  Along with the fun things we would be doing this summer, I thought it would be sensible to keep both of them in touch with the concepts they learned in school.  I didn’t to overwhelm them.  I figured I would give each of them four or five sheets a day, surely less than what they do in a single school day but also not such a small amount that they would consider the worksheets a joke.

When I saw the school worksheets I got excited because I anticipated some resistance from the girls when I told them they would have to do some work during their vacation.  The school worksheets would help them transition from something familiar to the workbooks I bought, which included many of the came ideas and lessons but in a different format.

Much to my surprise, though, both Five and Three have actually asked every day to do their “homework.”  I have a folder for each of them—different colors and slightly different shapes—and they’ve come to recognize the folders in my hand.  When I bring the folders downstairs, they know it’s time to work and they cheer.  Yes, they actually cheer.  And when a day goes by, like a weekend or a day when they have their swimming lessons, and I decide to give them a break from doing their worksheets, they complain.  Loudly.

Like I said: my kids are weird.

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