Can't see the mermaids for the foam
M: What are we going to do? You're not listening. How can I get you to pay attention to what we're saying?
L: I'm hungry!
M: What about... we need a phrase, something to let you know that you're drifting off and need to be paying attention.
L: Can I have a plum?!
M: A word, some indicator that your sister is going astray.
K: A tray?
L: I said, I want a plum!!
M: Right. Did you hear me L?
L: A. PLUM!
M: I need to be able to tell you to listen, to pay attention.
K (as though it's obvious): You could tell her.
M: Yeah, that seems to be working out well. (thinking) A phrase, like.... jellybean sandwich.
K: Jellybean sandwich?!? (laughs)
M: Right. When I say 'jellybean sandwich' it means you need to pay attention. OK? Did you get that L?
L (smiling): Can I have a plum.
M (glancing over in my direction): Uh...
a few hours later, when L has grabbed a pear in spite of being told directly that she may not have one, that she's just wasted a banana she did not eat, and the pears are not ripe.
M: Jellybean Sandwich!!
L (starting to bite into the pear): What? What is jellybean sandwich?!
K: What we talked about L!
L: What? Jellybean?!?
K (laughing): That means you're supposed to listen to her. You're not listening to her!
L: I want a jellybean sandwich!!
M (muttering, with a glance in my direction): I'm going to take a bath.
The thing I worry about, besides simply surviving this stage, is what if it isn't just a stage? What if she's simply one of those people who refuses to listen, who pushes against the limitations and insists on forcing the issue while smiling in your face?
And worse, what if we're making the matter worse in some way by doing (or not doing) something that we should (or shouldn't)?!?