Lest anyone make the mistake of thinking all is happiness in our household, I offer this embarrassing example of "reality." Time to please take off your emerald colored specs....
The scene: daddy is responsible for the girls. All afternoon/evening long.
The backstory: M has been working long, late hours because of an upcoming event, and that means I've been on my own with the girls a bit more than I'm used to. And than they're used to. Not a big deal, right? Unless I get short-tempered. Which I do. I did. I have. I will.
The girls have already watched their 2 Saddle Club shows for the afternoon and we need something for them to do while I finish making dinner.
To K's credit, and to balance out the rest of this story, when I said I wanted to watch an episode with her and that there was one I'd never seen (it's the "Getting background on Red O'Malley" story -- oh, soooo complicated! Probably worth a multi-part posting by itself! stay tuned....), she said that she wanted to watch that one, which means when it was her turn to choose, that's the one she picked. Knowing that it was the one I wanted to watch. As opposed to the others we've seen, say, 15 or 20 times.
So, Saddle Club over, they're now... looking for something to do.
me: Why don't you ride your horses.
(note: horses are still upstairs in our bedroom where they were pastured during the excitement and crowds of Easter weekend)
They ask for containers and oats (oatmeal).
me: Oatmeal? Why? No.
K: Please daddy?
L: Pea daddy?
I cave in and give them each a small plastic bowl of oats, which they'll take up to our bedroom. I anticipate oats scattered on the rug, but don't go back up there until it's time for jammies and brushing teeth. I'm busy w/ dinner.
A few short minutes later, they're back, thundering downstairs and wound up. I'm oiling kale and not paying much attention when K grabs onto my leg, when suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my inner thigh. A sharp pain. Where she's pinched me.
me (loudly): Ow! Why did you do that?
K (smiling and backing away): I don't know.
me: That really hurt!
K (still smiling, but only because she doesn't know what else to do): Oh.
me: That's not acceptable. I want you to apologize.
K (softly, still smiling): I apologize.
me (fuming): That just isn't acceptable. I don't know what's gotten into you lately. You're not acting nice.
K (smile still there but fading): I said apologize.
me: But you shouldn't be doing that at all. We don't hurt each other.
K (very softly): Ok.
L: Daddy, you being mean.
me: No, I'm not being mean. I'm upset. I'm disappointed. K, I'm really disappointed in your behavior! I don't understand why you're behaving like this.
me: No, it isn't ok K.
L (bouncing on her toes): Daddy, you dithappointed?
I turn away and get the kale in the oven, my injury not withstanding. Time passes. Slowly. K & L play and at some point L picks up the plastic "Easter basket grass" that K has been using as "hay" and has been littering the house like a barn since Easter.
K (jabbing her sister in the stomach with a yellow marker - at least the top was on!): Hey! That mine!
L (immediately crying): But I using it.
me: K, stop that. What has gotten into you? I feel like maybe you're hanging out with the wrong kind of kids. You're learning things you shouldn't be doing.
K: I not hanging out with the wrong kids. (note: insert name of kid with whom she got into trouble a few weeks ago) not at school today.
me (um, what am I thinking?): I just don't know. I'm disappointed. I have to talk with your mom about this. I may need to move you to another school.
(note: her school is a montessori school and she's doing well there and it's highly unlikely that she's learned bad behavior from anyone there. I had a similar talk with her two days earlier after she'd done something equally childish, during which I suggested the same thing. Entirely inappropriately.)
K (leaning on the stool, head down, face to the ground): I not learning bad things. (she doesn't know what else to say, doesn't understand exactly what's happened and how it got to this point, clearly realizes that whatever has happened, things aren't good right now...)
Sad to say, I don't understand very well myself. I'm just figuring this out as I go. Poor K is busy learning to be 4 (birthday in 2 weeks, so she'd better get on it) and I'm struggling to learn to be a dad of a 4yo. Which means she has to suffer my inexperience. I apologize, K.
She was relatively contrite for the rest of the afternoon/evening and I was careful not to mention again how disappointed I was, but it took some time to warm back up to her. My daughter that I love as much as anything in the world and more than most.
The simple truth is that I'm tired. Work is stressful at the moment, and life feels a bit overwhelming, and the girls are acting...well, 2 and 4. Not particularly odd, given that they're 2 and 4. I needed to take a deep breath and exhale. But I couldn't do that until after they'd not eaten their dinner and we struggled through bath time and I'd read to them (K leaning up against me, exhausted from her long day and still uncertain what had happened to turn things so wrong) and put them to bed. K was quickly asleep, but not before I made sure to tell her I love her. L was up and demanding "Someone put the coverth on L!" and "Ith anybody they-a?" I probably went back upstairs 5 or 6 times before she was quiet.
One more picture, mostly for me, to take the sting out: