Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

This beauty to the right is our dear daughter Julia when she was about 4 or 5 years old. Julia is definitely our family princess. She is also almost 10 years old now and she is on the verge of becoming a very kind hearted and amazing young lady. At the same time she is showing signs of the coming change and the Jekyll and Hyde moments are cropping up with some frequency. So far it's nothing too bad but we can see that some interesting times are ahead.

Yesterday was a half day for the kids and Julia and Beren came home at 12:30. Things started off going quite well and I was very proud of how mature Julia was being in helping keep Beren entertained and also helping him out with some computer activities. This continued for over 2 hours. I was lulled into believing it would last until Logan and Bryan made it home after 6 P.M.

Oh, my friends, I was so naive. I was also not prepared for the meltdown that would begin with an ear piercing scream from one child and hysterical crying from the other. I was in an adjacent room and for a split second I was utterly confused. How could something that sounded so horrible be happening to them when just moments before they were exclaiming their joy over rediscovering the Crazy Frog videos they had bookmarked months ago? What was the problem in there? Julia, being the family princess AND the family tattler, ran in to sing the perceived misdeeds of her younger brother. Bear remained crying in the other room so Julia was obviously the screamer. Seems like that would have been obvious but the unnaturally high tones they reached at the moment of insanity was near the decibel level that only dogs can hear.

The problem? At first Julia's ramblings weren't connecting with me because of the crying. Checking on Bear became mission #1. I came around the corner and he's still hollering and he's red in the face but he otherwise looks okay and he's sitting in the chair in front of the computer. A look back at Julia gives her the opening to throw her bro under the bus. In the end the battle and explosion was caused by them not being able to share the chair any longer. WTF? The intense emotion they let out over this slight after being able to share said chair for the previous two hours had me completely befuddled. I still don't get it.

Solution? I can now think of several things that would have done the trick. Separate them. Make them get off the computer and do something else. Tell them to go outside and play. Time out could have been called. Did I do any of these things? Nope. What DID I do? If you know me, as many of you do, you will guess right away what my initial reaction was. Well, initial reaction is always to make sure no one is bleeding or maimed so I'm getting at my 2nd reaction here I guess.

I laughed.

I let out the kind of guffaw that expelled most of the air in my lungs and caused me to snort painfully as I tried to draw a breath. This, the one thing that infuriates my dear loving daughter (and also her father if I must tell the truth) and makes her give me the evil eye before storming off to pout and work on her voodoo doll of me. What was I thinking? Here's the deal -- I wasn't thinking. I could NOT help myself and could not have stopped the laughter from erupting. I laugh at stuff my kids do all the time. I laugh at appropriate times but I am more well known for laughing at the kids when they will find it terribly inappropriate. Julia often accuses me of being mean when I laugh and she feels it is at her expense. That does suck but I really can't control it sometimes.

Hmm, I'm totally leading this in a completely different direction than I had planned. If you've come this far then I applaud you and I make no promises that the end will connect with the beginning in any way, shape or form. I also do not guarantee you a cookie if you finish it all. Will you accept a hand full of old Halloween candy instead? Come on, work with me here.

Laughing is one of my primary defense mechanisms. I was the kid with the nervous giggle in the doctors office. As a kid I suffered through some intense ear infections and at the doctors visits I would cackle as the doc looked in my ears. Want to confuse a waiting room full of people at the dentist or OB/GYN office? Laugh your ass off during your exam. Laugh like your sanity depended on it. They will move out of your way as you come out to leave, nurses behind you pointing you out as the culprit. Now, I don't want to give the complete wrong picture of myself. I may have only freaked out a waiting room 2% of time and I have never laughed in the company of anyone in a medical situation that was not my own. Still, my moments of mirth have been memorable.

Making my child or my spouse or anyone uncomfortable in any way, especially with laughing, is never my intent. Bryan gets this and he can let it slide. 99% of the time my laughter is not misplaced or oddly timed so there is not a big deal made and everyone joins in. Julia is the one I offend most often. She takes it personally and to the heart and until you go chase her to her pouting spot and explain your case she is a sad girl. Yesterday I made a deal with her that I hope we can both follow. I promised to hold my laughter in check with her until I get situational details and she promised to remember that I mean her no harm and that emotional scaring is not what I am after. This was a good talk. I don't know how long our deal will hold out considering her changing hormone levels and my inability to take life to damn seriously. Fingers are crossed on both sides though.

Next we need to get Julia enrolled into some sarcasm lessons. With laughter and sarcasm as your weapons how can you not excel at life?

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