We’re big fans of Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go here. Katie usually sits silent in front of the tv instead of interacting with the characters when they urge the kids to do things (“Move your hands like this and say, “Abra!”). Her level of comprehension of what’s going on on the tv amazes me (and makes me a little embarassed to watch my soaps in front of her).
Yesterday, Katie lined up her little red chairs and purple armchair into her train formation. She wanted Zuzu to sit in the red chairs. I told her that Zuzu couldn’t sit in those chairs because she’d fall out but that we could find a better chair for Zuzu to sit in. I asked Katie what chair Zuzu could sit in, thinking of the bouncer. She one-upped me, saying Zuzu could sit in her yellow chair (which is the bumbo seat). I told her that was a great idea and to go find it.
This is where all our Dora watching kicks in. Katie put her hands in the air and asked, “Where’s the yellow chair? I can’t see it.” She walked around the living room, saying, “Find the yellow chair. When you see the yellow chair, say, Chair!”
On Thursday morning, I had an appointment with the endocrinologist. Unlike the past, this time I had two kids sitting on my lap. When we went upstairs to get my bloodwork, Zuzu was in one arm and Katie was standing right next to me in the cramped little phlebotomy booth. When the lady started to stick my arm, Katie shuddered, her eyes wide (this woman was actually really good and it didn’t hurt). So I had to laugh and make jokes with her to keep her from freaking out because she was saying, “Oh Mommy!” like she worried I was hurting.
Beyond that, I think my bad attitude has been rubbing off on Katie. For whatever reason, I turned into the impatient, yelling Mom with Katie the past few weeks. She’s certainly willful but I feel like she’s dug her heels in lately. Since she was born, throughout the stress of deadlines, coursework, teaching, comps, moving and all that we’ve been through the past three years, I made a conscious decision to never take my stress out on my kids. I don’t always succeed, but I try. She’s never been the reason I’ve been stressed out and I do not want to displace my anxiety and stress onto her or to blame her for being a little kid by getting upset when she behaves her age. I have had to remind myself of this, for instance, when it’s the middle of the night and Zuzu won’t go back to sleep but I desperately want to crawl back into bed.
This parenting philosophy can be summarized as stressed parents equal stressed babies. In all my self-pity for my impending joblessness, I’ve lost sight of what has been my central parenting tactic. And it showed. I’ve been shrill lately, and so has Katie. No joke. I remember as I got closer and closer to my comps and increasingly uptight, Katie was clingier and more emotional. Maybe it’s just Katie and me, but I can also remember moments where I’ve been getting onto Katie and she becomes more defiant as I become more emphatic. When I realized what was happening, I lowered my voice and just repeated over and over what I needed her to do. It works, pretty much without fail.
I’ve tried to re-group and calm down. With my dissertation deposited and 100 percent completed, I feel much better knowing I won’t have to pay $900 in tuition (which is silly because $900 is a drop in the bucket in relation to my student loans). Plus, now I can truly just be a mom and do mom things…like clean house…and know that I’m not procrastinating. It has been, dare I say, relaxing being completely, utterly done with school.
And this is what brings me to President Obama. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. Listen, I understand the outrage over what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico but what exactly would be solved if our president freaked the hell out about it? We’ve seen that as a country and now we have two wars. As a parent, it’s my job to stay calm when my kids are freaked out and hurting. They don’t feel better when I’m up in arms with them. As the president, it’s Obama’s job to keep a cool head and make good decisions. We don’t need photo-ops and another guy who will stand in rubble with a bullhorn, spewing catch-phrases. As much as conservatives and critics of the president just don’t get what he means when he says he values empathy, they’ve got a lot of nerve to get onto him now. We don’t need “The Decider” again, we need someone who will look out for his constituency.
That’s where this president may be amiss. If we’re going to get pissed at President Obama about the BP disaster, we shouldn’t be up in arms that he isn’t wailing with the fishermen in the Gulf, but rather that the president continues to protect and shelter multinationals like BP. If we want change, this is where change must come.