Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Priorities

Zuzu is a sweet and empathetic girl. She is quick to comfort her sister when Coco gets hurt. She is willing to apologize when she accidentally hurts someone. She is usually willing to help out if I ask her to do me a favor or assist me with a chore.

On the first day of summer vacation, I painted her toenails. I know there are people who take their five-year-old the salon to get pedicures with them, but I am not that person. Zuzu asks me occasionally to paint her toenails, but I usually put it off. I did it once a few years ago, and she smeared the nail polish on the couch because she couldn't wait for it to dry. Anyway, I need to touch up my own toenails, and it was the first day of summer break so I was trying to be Fun Mom, so I offered to do hers as well while her sister was sleeping. She was very excited and she wanted pink and glitter topcoat.

Of course, Coco woke up before we finished, so I painted her toenails as well. Pink glitter for everyone! We did it out on the front porch and it was really sweet to see how excited they were about they matching sparkly toenails.

Zuzu asked me to paint her fingernails, but I said no and explained that she always puts her hands in her mouth and nail polish contains yucky chemicals that don't belong in our mouths. Zuzu has never sucked her thumb, but she chews her fingernails, puts her hand in her mouth when nervous, and often chews on her fingers (and sometimes toes!) when watching TV or being read to. So a manicure is just not something I was going to mess with.

Anyway, I didnt think much more of it. I put the nail polish up on the little windowsill at the bottom of the stairs where I put things out of little hands' reach that I will take upstairs later.

Fast forward to me going downstairs to switch laundry, to smelling the faint smell of fresh nail polish but assuming it's my own toes, and then seeing Coco shove her hands down between the couch cushions when I walk by. Something clicked (probably the wide-eyed guilty look on Coco's face) and I realized they had been into the nail polish.

Turns out that "out of reach" no longer applies to this windowsill. Zuzu had painted her fingernails and her sister's. And by "fingernails," I also mean most of their fingers from the second knuckle to the tip and also SOME OF MY BEDROOM CARPET.

This sneaky naughtiness is really hard for me not to completely lose my mind over. It's so deliberate. I tell myself frequently, "They are little and still learning" but I get so angry when she is (frequently) deliberately, intentionally defiant.

As a consequence, I removed all the fingernail polish and told Zuzu she has lost the privilege of painted nails, indefinitely.

I salvaged the carpet by actually snipping the drops of polish out of it. You can't tell at all, but I know it was there...

When I was removing the nail polish, crouched in our upstairs bathroom, scrubbing her little fingers with a cotton ball soaked in more nasty chemicals, I said to Zuzu, "You knew you were doing something that you were not supposed to do and something that would upset Mommy. Why would you choose to do that?"

She said, "Well, I just wanted to make myself happy."

As sweet, kind, and compassionate as she can be, girlfriend is also lookin' out for number one. Her priorities are very clear and consistent, actually. And making me kind of insane.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Childcare. It's Like a Full-Time Job.

Our "relaxing" stay at home summer officially started yesterday. My unofficial plan for the day (and most days) is to get out of the house for some activity in the morning, come home for lunch and Coco's nap, read with Zuzu and encourage her to do some quiet activity, then when Coco gets up, we go to the pool or play outside here.


In theory, this is great.


In practice, it's freaking exhausting and I got screamed at so many times yesterday that I was ready to go back to work.


I know it's just an adjustment period and we get used to the new routine, but holy moly. (It doesn't help that Coco asks me hopefully each night, "I go school tomorrlow?"


So anyway. I decided to start the day with a trip to the botanical gardens because the weather was gorgeous and it had been too long since we were there.


In the time it took us to get dressed and out of the house, Zuzu banged her forehead on the hardwood floors of her bedroom trying to hang upside down and flip over her bedframe. Coco fell down the stairs and got rug burn on her face from the stair runner. The sound of heads hitting hardwood is not my favorite.


The gardens were lovely, and the girls were able to run off in front of me and explore a little bit on the secret paths of stepping stones. They helped each other and stuck together and it was very sweet. There was some whining about when we'd go to the playground, but I wanted to walk through other parts of the garden first.


We got the playground and I gave Zuzu explicit instructions to stay where she can see me and I can see her. She promptly disobeyed, so we had the same conversation again, this time with the threat of leaving immediately. After that she was pretty good, except as we were getting ready to go, which was awesome because I could happily follow through with my threat of leaving immediately since that was already my plan.


We got home for lunch. The thing about kids is you have to feed them three meals a day PLUS SNACKS. It's actually really annoying because they are totally ungrateful. I'm emphasizing "courtesy and grace" and having them help with clean up, but of course that sometimes backfires as well when it's just easier to do it myself, particularly when cleaning up the kitchen is the only alone time I have all day.


Anyway, they ate lunch. Coco had a meltdown because they each asked for a blueberry muffin and she was absolutely FURIOUS when I gave her the muffin she'd already nibbled the top off but hadn't finished at breakfast. I mean, HOW DARE I serve her her own leftovers when there were perfectly whole muffins in the tupperware?


I knew she was tired, and she also knew, because after lunch she came back in the kitchen and straight up told me she was ready for a nap (bless her). So she went to bed and then Zuzu had a total meltdown because I wouldn't let her eat another blueberry muffin (she'd already had THREE at breakfast--her two, and Coco's--and one more at lunch, so FIVE muffins seemed excessive).


(Sidenote: Blueberry muffins are now a source of strife. They seem to be the only food that Zuzu gets obsessive about. She begs to make them and when we have them, she asks for one constantly and whines. As far as unhealthy snacks go, they could definitely be worse. But she'd eat the entire dozen at once if we'd let her. They finished off the last three at breakfast when Zuzu ate two and then convinced Coco to give her half of the one she was eating. I'm relieved they are gone. I don't want food to be a "thing" at our house so I pretty much let them eat whatever whenever, but the muffin thing was out of control.)


Anyway, after Coco got up from her nap the girls played happily for a while and then asked to go to the park. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to go, but then Coco insisted on wearing Zuzu's skirt which was too big for her and after we got to the park I realized she also had on a pair of Zuzu's shorts underneath which meant that all of her clothes were literally falling off of her and she couldn't run around or climb and so I said we had to go home.


Cue another huge meltdown from Coco.


Zuzu must have been tired, because she didn't really complain about leaving the park. Also, I bribed them with a popsicle party so when we got home, we had popsicles in their playhouse in the backyard, which was fun.


It was time to make dinner and I was completely exhausted. I felt like a mom cliche, tired and cranky and having to make dinner and busting out a bottle of chilled white wine at 5:00pm.


But we survived the first day of stay-at-home summer!


We have big plans for summer adventures--parks and concerts and libraries and swimming, but some of my favorites is when the girls play together. Zuzu's imagination is so adorable right now, and Coco is right there with her, imitating everything. My favorite is when they pretend to be me. Zuzu will say, "Okay, I'll be Coco and you be Bwooke" and then they act out me helping Coco after she's hurt or leaving for a meeting.


True Confession: I'd still really like to have two uninterrupted hours to myself per day, without having to get up at 5:00am for them. Any thoughts on how to make this happen besides zombie screen time?


While we're strategizing, I'd love to know how to get them to stop whining, "Mommy..." at the start of every flipping sentence.


And if anybody knows how to keep them at almost-five and going-on-three for several more years, I'd greatly appreciate it. As crazy and tired as I was after that first day, they are pretty magical right now, and I'm already trying to savor this summer (and also this glass of chilled white).