Friday, December 11, 2009

Separate cells please! And make mine padded.

I'm angry with my daughters today.

Last night I went out to a party. With Mr. Sandyshoes hobnobbing with his fellow wizards on the other side of the continent, I hired a babysitter for a few hours so that I could attend. The girls were fed, teeth and hair brushed, in their pajamas and ready for bed when Christine arrived. They had 45 minutes to subject the poor girl to Uno or Sorry or Chinese Checkers, then they were to head upstairs for a story and then lights out.

After leaving my number and destination on the message board, a quick orientation to the TV controls for Christine and kisses and good-nights for the girls, I was out the door.

Party party. Lovely! However, I discovered that hiring a babysitter makes for internal meter-ticking and ka-CHING! sounds that drown out festive chit-chat, and that no $5 martini can subdue. I was also reluctant to get a teenage sitter in trouble by keeping her out late on a school night. So I skipped my usual routine of closing the bar and herding the party along to one that stays open later, and left after just a couple hours.

Home again, I asked the typical parent-to-babysitter question: How did it go?

"Well..." Christine began, "they were tired."


The long and short of it is that they were snippy and fighting all evening. They fought over the game, and were threatened with earlier bedtime. They fought over whose room in which to read the story, and ended up using my room, to which I had deliberately left the door closed. You know, to signify Do Not Go In Here. My room was a pre-party change of clothes MESS and I really, really did not want it in play.

Story completed, Christine was led to believe that the Bean is allowed to read with a flashlight for half an hour after bedtime. This sounds plausible and I can't fault Christine for going for it. The best lies have some truth to them, and Bean does sometimes get to do this. However, she knows absolutely damn well it doesn't happen on a school night. Wily little sneak.

Also, at some point the Bean told Christine she wishes she were an only child. I'm actually partly glad she did, because when I respond in the way that mothers do when one of their lovely offspring tells them this, I'm sure it falls on deaf ears. Such gentle words of wisdom about why not having a sister isn't as good as having one might have more influence coming from the intriguing, young and lovely Christine. (Admittedly, my own words of wisdom have become somewhat less gentle in the months since this complaint was first made, though I do manage to say "if you're feeling cranky, play by yourself" instead of "Really? Too fucking bad.") So it's good that the Bean got some feedback on that line of thought from a source other than her mother. But it still pisses me off that she pulls that peevish brat crap.

I don't know precisely what role the Peanut played in all this drama, but I know it takes two to fight, and that Peanut knows just what buttons to push to bring out the worst in her sister. I'm angry with both of them. I'm taking away the game they were fighting over, and they won't be allowed to play with each other at all today.

They'll be sad, they'll say they're sorry and that they won't do it again. But it won't work. As anyone with a sibling or more than one child knows, this bickering isn't going away. At what point am I perpetuating my anger to no purpose? One of the wonderful things about children is how quickly they let go. We plodding adults are always being encouraged to Live In The Moment, blah blah blah. Kids don't need reminding.

I don't want to be angry with them anymore. I don't want to take away their games or keep them apart. I do want them to stay the hell out of my room when the door's closed and not to behave like sneaky whining brats when a babysitter comes. Sigh.

(As usual, The Onion hits the nail on the head. Hee!)


  1. Ouch! Not trying to be sexist or anything but I think I like the thought better of when my two little boys fought. They went all out for a few minutes till a bloody nose ended it one way or the other. Then seemed to forget about it or stick together and defend each other when I raised holy hell about trying to kill each other. Then they grew up. :}

  2. Is it too late to have the 3rd and pit the 2 of them against #3. Being one of nine, I must say that we were not permitted to fight amongst ourselves--The house is too small for rancor , my mother would say. To which my father would reply--Which one of you kids is Rancor? Everyone would laugh and the point was made. Start laughing more and pointing out the folly of some of this stuff. BTW, a kid reading by flashlight under the blankets is a gift from God, praise be.

  3. Which one of you kids is Rancor -- I like it. I like it a lot.

    Yes, I love that she reads with her flashlight (especially since she has one of the flashlights you have to crank!). I look the other way on that one most of the time.