Whenever Mabel is talking to her dolls, she admonishes them with Sweetie. Thus: “Sweetie, how many times do I have to tell you? No more snacks. Eat your dinner.”
I’m sure I don’t use “Sweetie” like that. I’m sure she did that all on her own.
You know I like to pseudo-psychoanalyse my children to find out why they’re doing what theyr’e doing and thus exonerate myself from blame in the bad-parenting deparment, right? So that’s what I’m doing at the moment with Dash’s intermittent bouts of rage, which seem today to be directed solely at me. (Of course, I was the only authority figure around at the time. But I still think he’s taking things out on me that he wouldn’t on other people.)
We went to a playground after school, and Dash bumped his head. He briefly allowed me to hug him, agreed we should go home, and then ran off for one more go on the monkey bars. Then he had a shitfit all the way home because I wouldn’t give him a piggyback. Excuse me, but I’m trying to push your sister on her bike because there’s a very infinitessimal uphill gradient in this direction and she’s wailing because she’s thirsty and I didn’t bring a drink for her and you will have a canary if I let her drink yours and we have bags and you’re SIX AND A HALF AND I’M NOT GIVING YOU A DAMN PIGGYBACK.
So he dragged my scarf all the way home trying to lasso branches with it instead. When we got back he said his head still hurt. Which might have been why he was so pissy but I didn’t know that seeing as how he had run off to do the monkey bars two minutes after the bump. Gah.
An hour later it was dinnertime. He told me he still had some sandwich left from lunch in his backpack and he wanted to finish that first. I said Fine. He said “So go and get it.” I said, “You get it.” It was on the other side of the room and I was pretty sure I didn’t need to be ordered around in such a manner when I was making his dinner (another sandwich, of course). He screamed at me for the next half hour, and the stalemate was only resolved when his father came home and got the lunchbox for us.
I mean, I wasn’t being petty. I just felt he could get it himself, and once he started screaming at me and ordering me to get it, then the moment had passed and I couldn’t even think of giving in to such demands. I don’t know how single parents manage when they come to an impasse like that without a third party to intervene.
So maybe this is directed at me. It’s a new feeling, because before, I was the favoured one. I’m not saying he was all Yes’M, No’M to me, but in general I was the one who would swoop in longsufferingly and present a few words of reason when he was at loggerheads with his father (say) and come to some sort of agreement. The tables have turned. I am inestimably grateful to his father for providing levity with the children when I’m wrung out, and good-natured races to get them where they should be when I’m run down, and wine in my glass when I’m at my wits’ end. He saves my sanity daily.
Perhaps Dash is entering a new period of separating from family – maybe he’s getting more involved with school and friends and his life outside the home, and as the main symbol of his life inside the home, I’m the one he manifests the push-me pull-you effects with most strongly. Maybe he’s yearning for boundaries and hard-and-fast rules and he needs to test his limits with me, Keeper of the Rules (hah) most of all. Maybe he’s just in one of those turd-phases. All I know is he’s picking fights with me like a boyfriend who wants to break up but doesn’t have the nerve to do it.
I’m not going to break up with him. So he’s just going to have to deal. I hope there’s enough wine in the world while I wait.