Monthly Archives: May 2009

Ruthie, are you ready for pants?

Nobody can throw a fit like my Ruthie.

I wrote that much while shut up in my bedroom trying not to listen to Ruth scream her lungs out just outside my door. Wow. The fits this girl is throwing these days. Last Tuesday’s lasted 20 minutes straight. Full-on, high-pitched screaming, flinging her body hither and yon, flailing and wailing. Twenty. minutes. straight. Why? you might ask. What had your poor little girl so upset? What are you denying that precious girl?

She needed to get her diaper changed. Wet one off. Dry one on. Same thing she’s been doing a zillion (or so it feels) times a day since the first one was applied right after they cut her cord. (Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know how or when that first one is applied. I never got to really see/hold any of my babies for the first little while after they’re born. Maybe, as Hannah suspects, babies really are born with diapers on . . .) So, suddenly diapers are evil. At first they were just a mild annoyance. And we had the couple of weeks when she was removing her diaper at every chance, particularly right after or right before defacating. Remember that? But, really, once we stopped letting her get a bath just because she had feces all over her, she stopped doing that trick.

For a time. A short time. Now . . . now she has a whole new strategy. She just takes off her clothes and diaper at random times. Often when she’s dancing, as if she thinks one must be naked to dance. Here’s hoping she changes her mind on that one. The problem? When you don’t know how to use a potty, you kinda need something to catch your uncontrolled bodily fluids and solids. Blech.

And now, apparently, the diaper has taken on new powers, evil powers, and Ruth feels obligated to fight their menacing way with all she’s got. Here’s how it went down:

Ruth had been nursing and fell asleep–early for naptime. I thought I could lay her down, but she awakened and wanted more milk. I had to get clothes in the dryer (as in I had to leave home in 45 minutes wearing a pair of pants that are wet in the washer. I had no choice but to get them in the dryer.) Ok, Ruth, I know you want more Mommy milk, first I have to put some clothes in the dryer. SSCREAM WAIL FLAIL NOOOOOO!!! Do you want to help mommy? NOOOOOO or do you want to wait in your bed for me? NOOOOOO! Well I have to do it, I will be right back. The washer/dryer are just outside Ruth’s room. She can likely see parts of me from her crib while she wails.

So I return, OK, get some mommy milk, sit down with her and realize her princess pull-up is wet, as in it made my shirt wet. (someone who had leftovers gave them to us, we’ve put them on sometimes cuz she likes ’em and fights ’em less) “Oh, Ruth, we need to change your diaper first.” WAIL FLAIL Full-on tantrum the likes of which have never been seen in these here parts and Isaac and I are gold-medal-worthy in the Tantrum-Throwing Olympics. Or so I thought. 20 minutes of screaming like you-wouldn’t-believe. I fought the pull-up off her; Ruth pulled it out of the trash. I tied up the trash bag and threw it to the landing; Ruth wailed for her Princess diaper, reaching through the gate toward the landing.

Thing is, we don’t have any more princess diapers. “Here are some lovely (generic) fancy fairies diapers.” NOOOOO! WAIL, FLAIL, KICK, YOU NAME IT. I used the bathroom, locking her out. I tried to hold her and comfort her. I closed all the bedroom doors, leaving her stuck in the hallway while I hid in her room. I offered choices. She was screaming for mommy milk but I insisted on a diaper before milk–I don’t want wet pants. Fight fight fight. Ok, Ruthie you need a diaper, do you want Blue, or this green dog, or Periwinkle? Or this fancy fairie, or this fancy fairie? Scream yell fight, etc. etc. Finally I was able to pin her down in her crib and get the diaper on her and say OK, let’s get Mommy milk, but right about then I’d have preferred to get mommy a margarita.

The trend has continued. When I began this post, Ruth was screaming in the hallway because she didn’t want pants on. So I sat in my room and waited until she was ready to stop screaming her head off. Periodically opening the door and asking, “Ruthie, are you ready for pants?” And for the first (long) while, her answer was a vehement, “NOOOO!!!” Well, OK, then, you let me know when you’re ready. And, eventually, she was ready.

So, what am I learning in all this? Well. First, Ruth has inherited my stubbornness with an extra dose of German tossed in. Second, it’s time to teach the girl to use the potty. Third, I just invested in several new play dresses. Apparently the girl prefers dresses. Fine by me.

Maybe I’m messing it all up. Maybe I’m doing the right thing. All I know is what I’ve known for nearly 7 years now. The same thing my mom has told me repeatedly. All you can do is your best. I’m doing my best. And thanks be to God, my best isn’t all this girl’s got going for her. Thanks be to God that first and foremost, she’s his child. And he can do far more with her than I can. I am simply his servant. Seeking his guidance. Doing my best to care for his child as he turns her into the person he’s called her to be. I’m trying to strike the balance between reigning in her terroristic temper and encouraging her to be herself, keeping her God-given intrinsic character and personality intact. Ever seeking, as I have sought with Isaac, to guide her toward using her powers for good and not for evil. I pray she will never know a day when she’s not thoroughly convinced of God’s love for her, and that she will live out her life in response to that love, living her life to His glory.

Meanwhile. I’m a little tired. And thoroughly amused. And head-over-heels in love.

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My Girl. Mommy-in-Training.

Lovey dovey Hannah Girlie. She adores her baby sister, has from day one. She has yet to stop her obsessive loving on her, despite Ruth’s tendency to rip Hannah’s hair out by the handful and . . . er . . . ruthlessly** destroy anything Hannah tells her she can’t have. “Well. If I can’t have it, no one can!” Still, Hannah loves on her. Grabbing her around the neck to bring her cheek close so she can kiss it. Pulling Ruth over as she embraces her. Still, after two years, sitting right next to me as I nurse Ruth, rubbing her head, kissing her cheek. Swweeet.

I expend a great deal of each day’s breaths reminding Hannah, “Hannah, you are not Ruth’s mommy. That is not your job. It’s mommy’s job to take care of Ruth like that. It’s your job to enjoy her and play with her and have fun with her.” (Yes, it is on some level her job to take care of her sister; she is her sister’s keeper. But that’s not what needs to be emphasized right now.) Still, Hannah tries to redirect Ruth, tries to “help” her up or down the steps, tries to keep her out of trouble. And my “You are not the Mommy” reminders continue to go unheeded.

But the other day I heard Hannah mothering Ruth in a way that I found beautiful; in a way gave me a glimpse of Hannah as a mother.  It was lunch time and I was working at a feverish pace to make sandwiches for Ruth and Hannah.  I was trying to make them simultaneously so that they’d be finished at the same time and could be presented together so no one was left waiting for hers.  Meanwhile, Ruth is behind me whining and crying and yelling and trying to grab the plate off the counter.  “Dat mine?  Ee want turkey cheese!  Ee ‘ant turkey cheese!!!  Ee hung’y!  Eat!  Turkey cheese!  Turkey cheese!  Dat mine turkey cheese?!”

Holy smokes!  I’m starving to death my own self, blood sugar non-existent, coffee running on empty making me tremble with edginess.  “Ruth! I’m getting it!  Yes, it’s yours, but Mommy has to make it for you! Yes, Ruth! I know you’re hungry!”

Finally, the voice of reason and calm pops up behind me in the form of a sweet four-year-old girl voice:  “Roofie, I know it’s hard to wait.  It’s hard to be patient.  When I was a little girl I had to be patient when I waited and it was hard.  But it’s rude to yell, so you need to be patient and wait.  Mommy will get your sandwich for you.  It’s hard to wait.”

I just stood there smiling.  There’s my girl, reflecting her sister’s big feelings.  It’s hard to wait.  Mommy is making you wait and it’s hard.  Sure Ruth doesn’t necessarily need the lecture on rudeness at the moment, but the mommy-in-training is, after all, only four.  She was just so calm and quiet and still for Ruth.  Both identifying and validating Ruth’s struggle, offering words of encouragement.  Ruth zeroed in on Hannah’s calmness and she herself calmed down and waited a little more patiently.  And patience doesn’t come easily to Ruth.

Sweet sweet Hannah Girlie.  Trying out her grace-filled mommy skills on her sister.  Someday she’s going to be a great mom to her fifteen kids.

**I might petition the greater English speaking community to change the word to “ruthful“. . . .

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Filed under Family Life, Hannah, Ruth, sisters

My Boy. Husband-in-training.

I don’t know how much I’ve thought about this before, but we had an incident here this morning that got me thinking about how my son’s life with two little sisters will affect him long-term.  And I like what I’m thinking.

Lately I’ve been very excited to see how well Hannah and Isaac have been getting along.  For the most part, they really have found a rhythm where they enjoy one another’s company.  Hannah is happy to see Isaac home at the end of the day; Isaac is wondering where Hannah is if she’s not right there.  Off they go, playing their imaginary roles–the latest come from 3-2-1 Penguins and I generally have no idea what they’re talking about.  So engrossed with one another do they become that I am often driven to madness (you decide which kind) trying to break into whatever little game/story they’ve got going on in order to tell them it’s time to do something else–like get ready for bed or have dinner.  The other day at the grocery store I was ready to leave them there at the dairy case to live happily-ever-after as I had hit the wall from their giggling their way through the store with pushing and shoving as they were playing out some sort of story that involved captures and the defeat of enemies.

I’m half elated and half enraged at their new-found fun.  Mostly I’m elated.  Only sometimes do I wish they would never speak to one another again.  I know a great deal of this development in their relationship stems from Hannah’s recent jump in maturity, but I still hold their room-sharing to be a vital part of the revolution.  Whatever the reason, I truly, truly am thrilled to see it.

This morning I started contemplating a different facet to this relationship.  What prompted my new musings?  Overhearing this:

Thud! Thud! Thud!  (someone with inner rage coming down from the attic/bedroom Isaac and Hannah share)

Thudthudthudthudthud!  (someone coming quickly after the enraged)

“Hannah?  What did I do wrong?  I don’t understand!  What did I do?  I didn’t do anything!!!”

More and various thud-thud-thudding down to the first floor.

I have no idea what happened.  I’m as clueless as Isaac, apparently.  But I know I’ve had this conversation before.  Well, there was no real conversation, simply befuddlement prompted and responded by furious thudding.  The girl is mad.  The boy has no idea why or what he did or what he could do to change it.  Maybe it’s just me, but this scenario sounds ever-so familiar to me.  And I’m not talking about a couple of kids here.

While I was completely, utterly amused, I also found myself grateful.  Grateful that my boy can encounter such perplexity while he’s young, in the safety of his own home, where the stakes are low and his expectations are lower.  That way when he grows up and he encounters the same bafflement:  “What did I do wrong?  I don’t understand.  I didn’t do anything!” followed by thud thud thud, he will have learned it’s not the end of the world, that there may not actually be an answer to the question, and to wait for it if there is.  He will have learned to work through the thudding, knowing that it’s worth wading through in order to continue playing your fun game.

My boy, big brother to two little sisters, is learning the ways of women before he even knows it.  I think he’ll be blessed because of it.  Moreso, I think his wife will.

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Filed under Family Life, Isaac