The Spam Jelly Battle by child grower Annita Woz

caeljeansfeetServing canned meat means nothing to my children.  It didn’t mean a thing to me either when I was seven.  

Part of Grandma Isabel’s traditional evening send-off snack for my family, a snack necessary for the 17 minute drive from the farm to our two story rented house in rural Wisconsin, was a small sandwich made with the familiar rectangular mold of the pink meat from a can, sliced, and shared with the last people at the farmhouse after the cows were milked and the last hand of cards had been dealt.

Remember SPAM? It can still be found.  I admit I’ve looked for it.  OK,  I’ve done more than just look.  I confess, I tried to re-create a SPAM moment.

I crack myself up sometimes.

Like opening a bottle of wine, it’s all in the routine and romantic process of the opening.   

Grandma would let us take a time turning  the metal key around the outside edge, two turns for me,  four turns for the needy middle child,  a half a turn for the quiet introspective sister.  Then Grandma Isabel would pull the sharp edges apart, do the shake and squeeze with her strong hands, and out it came, thudding onto the plate, not shy about revealing its exposed and congealed salt and juices. 

I admit to enjoying the loveliness of a can of SPAM simply for the jellied part that was revealed in the opening, even though it typically caused another fight to erupt  between my sister and me.  I have learned to look back on the spat over the jelly, the scowl on her face, the triumph of getting that spoonful of salty mess,  not as a bad memory,  but as proof that I was a child, in a farmhouse, once, without any worries other than this jelly battle.

Grandma would slice it and put it between two pieces of home made bread, giving each a triangle of sandwich, with a bit of miracle whip or was it mayonnaise? Dad would always take the butt of the loaf, insisting it was his favorite part and Grandma would always offer to take out a new loaf just for him. He would wave her away with his hand and mom would give me a quick look that said, ‘enough of saying, butt over and over.’  

Who can argue with my effort to bring back the good stuff when, right there, while eating our recommended daily allowance of SPAM,  we are free from the fear of cholesteralling the entire nation via canned meat?  Grandma served up this delicious treat, in all its glory, the flexible food, good whether served hot or cold.  But we never had it at home.  It was only for late nights at Grandma’s table.

This was a loving routine that showed me the exit from the orderliness of Grandma’s house,  the end of a satisfying day of play with young cousins all growing up together one Saturday at a time.  This subtle SPAM signal,  the one that meant it was time to go home, was a peaceful way to end to an afternoon of competitive sheepshead or schmear, a silence to the sharp rap of the knuckles to play a saved trump card, an end to the whoops of bids met and the lamentations of a trick lost. 

In my present day SPAM experiment, my kids wisely reject it for texture, for color, for the idea itself.  They somehow resist fighting over the jelly I realize.  And it seems to me there is less of it than I remembered coveting as a girl.  The pull top of the newly designed can takes all the risk out of sharing the opening, all the danger and anticipation disappear without the key and it’s curl of metal.  

I’m always learning, always catching myself setting up my children for these memory jogger moments, struggling to accept that no one meal can measure up to memories of grandmothers or the sweet tastes of childhood that I have walking around in the pantry of my mind. 

### by child grower Annita Woz

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Cardboardy Things by ChildGrower Annita Woz

jellystonecousinsfeetI admit I associate good memories with butter. 

I was very small, visiting the farm with my family,  when Grandma Isabel would take from the refrigerator a quarter pound of butter, unwrap it, and each of my sisters and the one brother,  from age two right up to age six,  took turns biting a tiny triangle,  sometimes a tiny tooth-scraped curl of  butter, right off the squared end of the stick.  Grandma would then add the rest to the bowl of salted white potatoes, all peeled and quartered and waiting for the mashing.

Though the FDA was not talking much about the dangers of smoking at that time, it was speaking up about cholesterol and essentially in the 70’s  it was warning about butter and eggs and all the good stuff that home made treats and scratch recipes are made of.  But since my parents were two-pack a-dayers, they likely were not avoiding butter to keep us all healthy, instead I think it was just too darn expensive to keep butter on the grocery list and still feed a family with hungry growing kids.

I grew used to the taste of tubbed crocks of spread and waxy sticks of mazola corn oil  layered across my bread, my toast, my corn on the cob.  I ate too much of it as a girl, and now, I vow that  if I have to watch what I eat,  I’m only eating the very best, most fresh, most flavorful, most real foods that I can.  I have come to accept that I have no room on my plate for anything but real butter.

A friend of mine was reading a book about the importance of eating together, as a family, at the family dinner table – not in front of a tv, and not in a van ride to practice and not every night- but eating together regularly, and the need to teach families to associate eating with good conversation, to associate good food with slowing down, to connect with our kids over the dinner table, with the idea that good food makes for happy families. 

And this is why I find myself trying to recreate childhood food connections when I’m planning meals for my family.  Along the way I’ve learned that this is a bad approach at least in my house.  It sounds really good on paper but the flavor doesn’t really take hold like I had hoped.   

The furniture does not make the menu better.  Yes, I purchased a bench like the one that sat behind our yellow table, like the one that held the little bottoms of my siblings all in a row, but mine seems incapable of making the same peaceful scenes I remember.   Rather than pulling mine up to the dinner table,  with little legs dangling and kicking each other and sometimes, whoopsie, the dog, too,   my bench is put to use more often by pulling it next to the counter top and letting my toddlers stand on it so they can see and help me cook, so they can stir a little, so they can dip their finger into the batter, even if it has raw eggs and butter, just so they can make a mess with me. 

It’s the spirit of the moment that counts, right? The bench was supposed to get us to sit down together, to connect in conversation not in high volume shouting about germs, salmonella, and double dipping.

Serving the same menu as the holiday meal cannot make it feel like Christmas every day.  Yes, I’ve copied Grandma’s Sunday meals.  I admit that  I’ve made roast beef a time or two but will tell you that I have always been secretly disappointed when no one asks for the ketchup like Grandpa Lawrence used to do immediately following  the blessing. In good sport,  Grandma would say, every single time as she got up to pull it out of the fridge,  “Why do you insist on ruining a good roast beef with ketchup?” And he would look across the table and wink at me as he said, “What is wrong with ketchup? I just like it that way.”  And she would ignore him completely.

Unfortunately, in a house with three kids, no matter how hard I try and recreate the good vibes around the table by cooking the Grandma style  meals, I cannot ignore that mine just don’t want the roast beef at all.  There’s no winking or joking involved.   They squinch up their faces and tell it like it is.   No one likes gravy here, and I don’t even bother to make it.  There is no talk of making a crater in the volcano of  mashed potatoes. There’s no inspiration to add the corn on top and then spoon the gravy last.  Instead, I frequently hear rumblings like, these are “too mashed” and they “taste too much like potatoes” and I guess the cost of the well marbled cut is a waste as it  makes my oldest screw up her face and then make those gagging noises.

Kids aren’t impressed no matter how old the recipe is or how good the story associated with it.  I might as well stop trying to impress the modern kid palate.  Theirs is a palate accustomed to fast food, unable to recognize chicken as a meat,  and unwilling to eat much that doesn’t have a cartoon label on the back of the package to distract them while they spoon it in.

I have to accept that this family is accustomed to more cardboardy things, like, oh, say, a frozen pizza.   The cheaper the better, too.  If I invest in a stuffed pizza with cheese oozing from the inside and the top, stuffed with tiny peppers, spicy sausage and an awesome butter and garlic crust, they snarl and point at the green things and the cheese that has yellow in it, not just white.  They want the bargain cardboard flavor,  the simplicity of plain white cheese on a plain white crust.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Making old recipes only brings back good memories to me.  I admit, I make the good stuff I was served as girl,  and I keep hoping the time will come when my kids see the recipes like I do, will see Grandma’s silver wedding bad on her finger as she stirs the cocoa and the butter together, maybe they can picture in their mind like I do,  the apron she wore with the embroidered flowers or feel the heat from the black stove and the cast iron pot,  maybe they can see the dishtowel flung over her shoulder as she spoons out the hot chocolate pudding into shallow bowls,  and then sprinkles the white sugar into the center, and then pours the fresh creme pulled from the bulk tank that morning, slowly, gently, over the skin.

Or maybe they can’t.  

I was nearly persuaded to stop testing them with real food, real butter,  just the other day when someone said, after eating a bowl of chicken corn chowder that sat simmering on my stove,  “Wow, you are an amazing cook. I just love this.  It tastes so good. ” They stopped short of telling me it took them right back to their childhood,  I waited to learn if the taste made him think of his mother, or if he had eaten this while sitting on a bench in his boyhood kitchen.

I paused and laughed at myself, and firmly closed the lid on the recycling bin, hiding the three blue-labeled aluminum soup cans with their curled up pull-back lids shoved underneath and managed a smile and my standby response to cooking compliments, “I’m so glad you like it.”   In my head, I was six,  and I knew this was not the way my grandmother would have made it, but then she really liked to use only real butter in her recipes,  sometimes just a little less than a quarter of a stick.  

I caught myself and added,  “Would you care for another bowl?”

### by child grower Annita Woz

Covergirls Bookclub picks July 2009-Feb 2010 by Annita Woz

We met at the Barnes and Noble on June 18, 2009 for the Covergirls book pick.

Happy Birthday early to Nancy and to Julie! Happy travels to Carol and Karen and the scout’s salute to Joanne. Julie gets first book pick and first pick on hosting dates next time around since she had to work while we were all sitting around enjoying our biscotti and fru-fru beverages at Barnes and Noble.  Out of respect for Julie we looked at nothing shinyy or prettyyyy during the book pick.

We may have a new book clubber, a friend of Carol’s who attended the book signing for Michael Perry’s newest book COOP at B&N on Weds night.  Perry spoke to a large crowd and stayed to autograph books and chat with readers until 11:30pm.   Meeting this Wisconsin author was real treat as he was hilarious. My cheeks actually hurt from laughing so much.

A discussion about a potential legal thriller for the month of September naturally led our group to revisit some unresolved topics. We successfully set precedent that can be referred to at later Covergirls book pick nights such as if someone has seen the movie, it doesn’t count as having read the book; therefore, said book may remain on the table for approval.

And in a live demonstration right in the Barnes and Noble Cafe area, we learned that if we can’t agree between two equally interesting books, someone should threaten to sit on the books and randomly pull out one from under her derriere. This process yields quick results whereby the person who originally suggested the books will truthfully declare her personal preference without worry about offending anyone.

We Did Not Have to Invoke the Hand Signal indicating Overuse of Capital Letters to Reject Any Books.

We also relied on our tried and true method of finding a book based purely on the cover illustration. We expanded The Power of The Cover to determine whether a book makes it on the official reading list.

We found peace in knowing that even though we were calling to tell people we were on the way, when already 40 minutes late,  that we weren’t the first or the last mom-member to experience severe calendar conflicts on the night of book club. We agreed that our kids sometimes take over our schedules and that is just how it is.

Finally, we all agreed that even if life is crazy, even if you have to get dressed in the car or even if you have to come in your PJs, make time to come to the Covergirls book club: just don’t come naked.

We confirmed that we meet the third Thursday of the month at 7:30pm with discussion to begin no later than 8pm, with location anywhere the host wishes to gather.  Hosts should please route out reminder email on the date and the location and clubbers should kindly RSVP.

Drummmmmroll please:

  • July 16 at Mya’s Standing up to the Madness by Amy Goodman & David Goodman.
  • Aug 27 at Mya’s Chef School, Lynne’s Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
  • Sept 17 at Nancy’s The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
  • Oct 15 at Theresa’s All We Ever Wanted was Everything by Janelle Brown
  • Nov 19 at Annita’s In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  • Dec 17 at Joanne’s The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
  • Jan 14 at Carol’s COOP by Michael Perry

Feb 18th is avail for Karen’s Julie and Julia by Julie Powell if she agrees.  Julie gets first pick on the next book and the first choice on hosting date next time around.

Carol will route the name, info and email address for Elizabeth and we hope to meet a new member at the July gathering.

### For The Covergirls by ChildGrower Annita Woz, June 17, 2009.

Like Elvis on the Altar by child grower Annita Woz

godchildconnorfeetinwater“No wonder the hills and the groves were God’s first temples, and the more they were cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord.” -John Muir Nature’s Temple

My children are in vacation bible school this week in a small program that requires the dedicated time of parent volunteers and church members to show these kids a great time for very small fee. I set aside my grown up notions that this is brainwashing at it earliest age and remember that it is not about me anymore, but about giving my kids the exposure to what they need to know so they can make their own choices about churches and where God lives inside of them.

For some families this is a reconnection to their church life, a little opportunity in the summer, a little time available to come back to the church routine, a time when they make time for inspiration. 

 For some families, VBS  is glorified childcare, really it is in the best sense of the word,  and to some it is a reprieve from the fears they have after thinking about what to do with their children for what they are quickly seeing is the beginning of a very long summer, a time when mortal parents are struggling for a reconnection to their children from the harsh schedules of a school year, work demands and all the extra curriculars.

For mine, VBS  is another opportunity catch up with friends, to make new friends, to see what the inside of these holy buildings has to offer.  

After just one day, just one, mine came home singing the songs of the guitar playing pastor who clearly has fashioned his love of music into a way to inspire worship. He dances, strums, struts and sings wildly and the kids do the same.  Not all VBS programs are like this, but this one is very musical, very rock and roll.

My youngest gets it. 

He wants to take his electronic guitar that plays introductions to Led Zeppelin songs to bible school today.  I imagine him on the altar, in an Elvis-like pose, one foot forward, his hand on the neck of the guitar and his other ready to strike the strings.  I can just see his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth, his concentration on keeping up to the moment that gives him the power to jam between the candlesticks placed on either end.

This pastor takes the verses of the bible literally where they apply the best. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, ” and “Sing a new song unto the Lord” are being put to the reality test this week.   The liberty he takes with these passages is impressive, the volume of the music as close as he’ll get to Metallica and his audience of lambs follow his lead and his beat – and they like it. 

Like any concert audience, they are let down for a bit when the music is over, when the microphones are dismantled, when the mommies stream in to collect each little listener.   Their feet want to feel the beat a little longer,  their hands come together in a deflated clap and then fall silent to their sides, the toes of their tennis shoes connect with the floor, but the sound is just a muffled tap on the carpeted chapel floor.

Then through the ride home, snippets of the songs escape their little faces, they cannot recreate the show alone, but they create their own small congregation inside the moving vehicle.  Ones sings part of a line, and another, recognizing the search for the right words supplies the missing ending and for a minute the car load of friends add the chorus and the brother throws in the “Thank you tri-state area!” a passage from cartoon where a band called Love Handle reunites for a concert. 

They are living the music, it isn’t confined to the hymmnal, it isn’t quieted when they walk out of the stained glass concert hall, created for worship, reflection, rocking out.   The energy of the moment leaves in song and is spread throughout the whole day.

The kids teach their neighbor friends the little ditties. For  a moment, the nextdoor children hear these “God songs” out of context and wonder for a moment whether mine know what they are singing about, wonder if they are being preached at, perhaps called to be witnesses to the work of fort building and water fights that will come later.  

But no one can help themselves.  They burst into song at any time, whenever moved by a line or a rhythm that is stuck in their heads, it comes out of their mouths like new butterflies stretching in the summer sun, slowly unfolds, soaks up the summer air, cautiously bends and stretches, and then launches itself into the wind, and leaves a whisper of a message of simplicity behind.

### June 15, 2009, by child grower Annita Woz.

Only as Good as Childhood Memories by child grower Annita Woz

jumpingfeetonbeachtaylorI love to cook and love to try new ingredients, new combinations of flavors, new twists on old favorites.

I love to use up what is left in the refrigerator.

I love to test people and see if they ask for seconds– then I know the food is good.

I love to cook for men as they eat most of those leftovers before they are left. 

With six siblings in my family, we almost always had fried chicken for Sunday dinner and creamed carrots.  I recall making syrup sandwiches for a snack – yes! – and plenty of times I put miracle whip on toast, too.   I remember cutting Velveeta in perfect slices using a long piece of dental floss to cut across the block and when I read a recent article on NPR that said,  “A grilled cheese sandwich tastes only as good as the childhood memories associated with it…” I believe it rings true. 

At ten, I  took those dental floss thin slices of Velveeta to make toasted cheese sandwiches for our family. I am mom’s helper.  The three youngest in the family sit lined up on the bench, the long side of the table pushed close to their necks so that they couldn’t drip tomato soup on their laps.  The triangles of crusty bread and gooey cheese, the dipping of the pointy corner into the bowl, the quick lift to avoid the splash .  This meal is the taste of many dinners and suppers and  these moments swirl in my head again.

The laughing and talking about our day with Dad, who sits opposite me on the end of our yellow table, is noisy and competitive, each of us out-shouting the other until we get the stern look that simply says, “Enough. Eat. ” Mom pours the milk for everyone and my sister interrupts to ask to go to the bathroom, again.  The beagle, staring at the dinner plates, paces the linoleum and we make ourselves a piece of jelly bread for dessert if we are still hungry. 

Sitting near the window, my traditional spot, I smell the putty that Dad uses to seal the windows with his flat bladed knife, his fall ritual, the dipping in the small can that had been opened by the screwdriver, the same carried slowly round the back of the house, visiting each crank out window, waving hello with the rubber goo, saying goodbye to the leaky sills, saving heat in the winter, giving one more cheap fix on a long list of projects that keep us on budget. 

This putty is a smell that I recognize anywhere, that makes me close my eyes, and breathe in, expecting to pull back from the past the rest of the any summer, many summers.  This memory of a July day,  locked in and only released when I am cooking toasted cheese for my own family,  when I see myself at the counter,  barely tall enough to see the sandwiches, melting, the cheese peeking out of the bread,  on the back row of the black griddle. 

As the slices of cheese are arranged on the buttered bread, the buttered tops gently pressed over the cheese, this memory of eating toasted cheese in our little house finds me now, in my grown up world, and makes me rest my spatula on the countertop, and pause for a moment in my toasting and stirring.   Around my head spins the half truths and the mixed up stories that I believe are true because I’ve revisited and revised them so many times that they are solid facts.  We were a happy family.  We had enough to eat. We ate good food while sitting around a table, together at all mealtimes.

This story of a simple summer supper is told and retold to my own children, parts of it shared when we sit together to eat in our kitchen, whenever I see my children’s feet dangling from the stools on the counter, see their little toes curl up on the bar between the legs of the stool to keep their balance as they dip their toasted cheeses into their tiny bowls of tomato soup.

Yesterday I was a girl, sitting around the table in a three bedroom ranch, with the orange counter tops and  bright yellow and red shag carpeting in the living room-  thinking of nothing more than who had the chore that day of doing the dishes and who had to clear the table, and how fast I could be, and how fast I could go running outside to play Red Light Green Light or Statue in the space between the neighbor’s house and our own. 

I am ten, eating a Velveeta sandwich, and it tastes like it should, warm, like my childhood, and then the last beautiful bite is gone.

### by child grower Annita Woz June 2009.

I Will Not Watch an Octomom Documentary by child grower Annita Woz.

balancebeamfeet

 

 

Octomom signs a book deal, a documentary deal and finalizes plans for a line of diapers while seeking to trademark the word “Octomom”. (imagine TM here if this trademark is obtained…)

Sounds like she’s got it covered, right?

‘Cept Not!

I have no interest in Ms. Suleman. I don’t even want to click on articles written about her lest the web record my click and count it as proof that the world really does want to know what Ms. Suleman’s life is like.

What can it be like?

Why is it any different than any other mom who is repeating the colic, the diapering, the crazy hours of cuddling in the wee hours, the spit up, the diapering, (again!?) and the endless laundry, dirty dishes and dreaded circles around our eyes? We are all walking, blabbering, mental health cases when our children are under the age of one.

I don’t want to read about the challenges of mothering x 8.  She might even have it easier, getting all of the hard work of the first 5 years over with without stretching it out over 18 or 20.  Heck, I might be a little bit jealous.  She’s got Grandma and Grandpa and endorsements and fame and fortune…right?

Seriously, what kind of person is going to watch Nadya Suleman reality show about raising her children? We’ve got that in John and Kate plus 8 all rolled into the dating drama, body guard, dance club entertainment piece.  They just moved into a large house, that voyeurs must have paid for and we’ve never even heard what John does for a living. Nadya Suleman’s got a new house and she didn’t even add two puppies who poop on the carpet. What’s she got?

Documentaries have already been done in the last year about the two families who had so many children that they knew just what to do.  Remember 17 and Counting? They now have 18.  The family hand-built a new home while the girls were all dressed in jean skirts and looking just like mom.   Boys and girls, hammers in hand, went to work and installed a commercial kitchen, laundry and generally built a bed and breakfast just for their family.  They same year, tv crews filmed a show of them shopping at the local grocery for enough food to feed a small army. When they got home the kids willingly helped unload the groceries, stacked the pantry shelves neatly and no one even pushed or shoved!  Either some careful editing was done or there is something rare and admirable going on in that family. Competitive mothers everywhere are startled to even ponder how this family managed this feat.

Who is watching the 18 going on yawn?  No one. Not enough drama. Mom and Dad are too nice and have it too together.  Isn’t that strange that good parenting IS NOT INTERESTING! That’s a shame.

Suleman? What  is her life going to offer? Oh yeah, a glimpse into the real mental health lapses that all parents have?  The media, the viewers, the click counters on my favorite news and or celebrity websites don’t want to see Nadya Suleman calmly rounding up her children or happily making home made meatballs for them.  They don’t want to see her succeed.  They want to see collapse, remorse, confessions, failure.  They are hoping to see her try to hold on to her sanity, and moms out there, we know how hard it is to do that in the privacy of our own play rooms. 

Try. And fail.

What I’d like to see is Super Nanny swoop in on the media contractors and television viewers.   A good ol’ dose of SuperNanny where she rounds up unsuspecting viewers and camera men and sits their behinds down in the naughty chair for making this woman a spectacle and then capitalizing on her brood and her moods.  Imagine Super Nanny swooping into their homes and turning the camera on them! Now that I would watch!

Mom of one, mom of eight. Babies are a handful and mothering is a J-O-B.  If mothering really paid out what it is worth to all the regular moms out there who do their best every day and who get not even as much as a line on a resume to show the investment of time and wisdom that it takes to be a good mom to a child, then we’d have a documentary to make.

Good Luck Nadya. May your service to your children be loving, kind and rewarding. May your audience be forgiving.  May your load be lightened. May you look back upon this roller coaster and learn from it and grow stronger from it if you can.

I will not watch your documentary. I will not buy your book. But I will root for you and for your extended family and I will honor your work by letting it go  unseen and measure your success by the smile on your face when they report that your children are grown and pursuing the dreams they have for themselves.

Only then will I care enough to catch up with you and share a cup of coffee over discussion about what it means to want and to raise children, the fragile balance between motherhood and insanity and the gratitude for making it through the parenting messes we make while we struggle to just do our best.

### by child grower Annita Woz June 1, 2009.

A revised and shortened version of this article runs on www.EmpoweringParents.com Check out my parent blog post on EP and weigh in on your issues with parenting in the unreal Reality TV world…

Get Here Please, Summertime by child grower Annita Woz

hulahoopfeetThe great homework battle comes and goes in our house. Sometimes, my daughter will sit down and dutifully pull out the workbooks and sharpened pencil and get it done.

 Sometimes, she wants me sitting at her elbow and does silly things to keep me engaged in her homework routine.   For example, she’ll tell me that she has to read out loud the last chapter of reading, even though this has not been the requirement since first grade.

Sometimes, I think homework is a time for her to make me pay attention to her.   She knows homework is a priority in the house and that if she is doing it without me,  her hard work goes unnoticed.

This daughter is very social. She loves to play with someone and is very motivated by time with friends.  She loves time on the phone, time in the yard, time planning the next play date.  She loves to play with someone so much that she’ll even play with mean kids!

She also knows that in our house,  homework is first, then sports or play time. 

This past week she had some cursive practice to catch up on in her workbook. Now cursive writing, is just writing. It doesn’t require creativity, it doesn’t require much thinking…she has to trace some letters, she has to write some words a few times, she has to copy some sentences. 

She hates cursive.

And worse, she hates it when her friend calls and she knows that she has to do the work first.   The phone call comes in, the neighbor wants to play, the homework is waiting for her.

Does she buckle down and just get it done so she can play? No. She panics.

She throws herself on the floor wailing that she will never get all of the homework done and that she will never get to play and that I am such a mean mom that I make her do this homework every day.  Coincidentally, she states that she just remembered now she has to do eleven pages of cursive instead of the regular two,  and that her teacher gives them too much work to do and that she hates her school and that she will never ever get it done.  

Does it stop there? No.

She adds the running commentary of school is so stupid.  And for good measure, she gets off the floor and throws her pencil across the room and it hits the cupboard at eye level, right next to her Dad’s head.

Silence in the room. 

Dad picks up the pencil and sends her to her room. Okay, sending doesn’t quite work, he has to carry her there because by this time she knows she’s crossed the line and she refuses to go to the quiet place for calming down, and she is so past the point of rational thought, that she is now flinging her arms out, and kicking the wall and giving us that really angry face.

You know, the one that we must give her when we really want her to calm down and we are thinking summer cannot come fast enough. I’m so done with the homework battle. 

When she is up in her room –  calming down by not stepping one foot out of the doorway or she will lose her soccer practice – she continues to yell, screaming at the top of her lungs, punctuating each word with a kick on the door, while crying out, the words that she thinks we want to hear, “Help me calm down. I’ll do my homework now. I just want to come out. I just want to try again so I can have my play date. I’m sorry.” The noise is deafening, the pitiful wail changes to an angry snarling sound when she realizes she is not making progress.

The dog comes to the front door and scratches to get in.

My daughter is wailing upstairs and her voice echoes thru the hallway down to the entry.  I open the door and say in my happiest welcoming voice, “Well Hello there! I didn’t know YOU were at the door! Come on in! How nice of you to stop by.” 

Instantaneous silence from the upstairs region.

She thinks we have a visitor, maybe even her play date.

She remains silent.

This one should go into acting, certainly drama is her calling.

### Parenting blog written for EmpoweringParents by Annita Woz, June 1, 2009.

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