Friday, August 24, 2012

And now I'm gonna crush a box.

Mornings are not Hannah's thing.  Typically there is a 20 minute period of whining and unarticulated mewling that prompts me to sing "Who Let the Goat In?" until Hannah either laughs or gets mad enough that I leave the room before she says something that might get her into trouble. 
Fair is fair: annoying songs are bad enough without entrapment for disrespectful behavior.

Today she awakened on her own around 6:45, and was dressed and ready to go before 7:15.  Incidentally, this falls on the far side of Unicorns in the Backyard on the Probability Scale.  My husband had gone to work early this morning, so he called to say good morning at 7:45.  The side of the conversation I could hear went something like this:

I'm dressed already...
Do you remember the pink dress with the flower?  That's what I'm wearing.
It is Friday...
(Mom, could you pull up the school lunch menu please?) If it's still Pizza-Friday, then that's what I'm having...
Well, since we don't have gifted today, I get to go to art class.
And now I'm gonna crush a box.

Hannah had been kicking around a cardboard box all morning that I told her she could break down, but not while eating breakfast.  She'd waited as long as she could, and just had to get back to work on that thing.  She did not put down the phone, or even ask her Dad to hold on. She assumed that the box crushing would become part of the conversation, just as it would have if Dave had been sitting there with her. Not surprisingly, Dave seemed to be asking for commentary on her progress.  She described the progression from box-shaped to flat-as-a-pancake, pausing only in her exertion to tackle a particularly resilient corner.

I've been feeling not awesome lately.  And when I feel not-awesome, I tend to ratchet up the level of acceptability on my Control Freak meter and do things like iron the sheets and insist that Hannah clean her room before she goes to bed.  Dave can sense the disturbance in the Force, and just helps Hannah clean stuff up so I don't have to get all frantic and Mommy-Dearest on the world.  I will tell you that I had to suppress the urge this morning to tell Hannah to just stop kicking that box around, please, despite the absolutely stress-free morning we were having.  I also don't mind telling you that my suppression behavior was reinforced by the unbearable cuteness of that box-crushing commentary.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doin' it wrong with discipline and home remedies

My daughter has some unidentified seasonal allergies, and I've been trying to treat her without industrial quantities of Triaminic and Benadryl.  So I went with nasal irrigation.  For about a week we had a twice daily ritual of torturing Hannah with a squirt of commercially-produced saline solution in both nostrils and copious nose blowing.  Done.  Oh, except for the whining, occasional shouting, and half-hearted wrestling on her part.

It's worked pretty well.  She breathes easier at night and has much less sneezing and general congestion during the day.  So, naturally, I've slacked off.  Just one treatment at bedtime now, and sometimes I forget about it altogether.

Turns out that was her plan all along.  More about her evil-ness later.

This morning I got up and was so stuffy and dried out, I wanted the saline spray for myself.  I looked in the place where I left it out for convenience: nope. I looked in the place it belongs for storage: nope.  I looked in the bathroom drawer where sometimes everything gets shoved when I'm cleaning: not there.  I looked in the cabinet where everything gets shoved when the drawer is too stuffed with stuff that doesn't belong there: also not there.  I looked on the floor behind the wastebasket, behind the pedestal sink base and in the little hidey-hole in the step stool: no dice.  So I gave up and just suffered a little.

When Hannah got up later I asked her whether she knew where the nose spray is.
Eyes well up.  She looks around a little frantically, touches her nose, sniffs and says, "Why?  I don't need it."

Me: But I do.  Where is it.
Hannah: *deer-in-headlights look*
Me: Hannah?
Hannah: *opens hidey-hole in step stool and removes a rubber cleaning glove, under which is hidden the nose spray*
Me: *Hysterical laughter*
Hannah: *out right weeping*
Me: Why are you crying?
Hannah: Every day I hide it in a different place, but you keep finding it.  So yesterday I  hid it in the stool. (still crying)
Me: *still laughing*  Why are you crying?
Hannah: Well, usually when people yell at me or have a yelling voice, tears just come into my eyes.
Me: But I'm not yelling; I'm laughing.  I don't understand.
Hannah: It's not funny,
Me: But it is clever. You had a problem, and you solved it.  Not the way I might have wanted, but you solved it.  I think maybe you know it was a little naughty, and you feel guilty.  Could that be it?
Hannah: *blank stare*
Me: Never mind. *still laughing*

Partly, it was so funny because I'd looked in that hiding place, just not well enough.  I thought the little bottle had gotten knocked over somewhere and just carelessly lost.  I hadn't anticipated it having been conscientiously squirrelled away under multiple obstacles.  I'm still chuckling about it.

Maybe not my best parenting response, but the most genuine, I think.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Doin' it wrong with operant conditioning and pest control

Today I'm putting my curtains back up. I took them down at the beginning of June when my husband pointed out that they were serving as a nursery for tick larvae.  We spent a frantic and disgusted weekend washing curtains and bedding, vacuuming every milimeter of carpet and upholstery in the house, and spraying every crevice and surface with a combination of purportedly environmentally-neutral pesticides bought at a do-it-yourself joint. 

Yeah, yeah.  Chemicals shmemicals. 

Those of you who know me outside of Bloggerland know how I feel about bugs. I never liked them, and I really screwed myself up several years ago in a behavioral psychology workshop during a demonstration of virtual operant conditioning or some such thing.  The group was instructed to imagine a thing we fear, in the most vivid manner we could, while touching together the thumb and index finger of our left hands.  Then we were instructed to imagine, in an equally vivid manner, a peaceful and comfortable setting, while touching together the thumb and index finger of our right hands.  Being me, I screwed it up.  I got stuck on Thing-I-Fear, and did the whole Right Hand thing wrong.  This only exacerbated my fear of bugs.  Observe:

I once thought I saw a large bug scoot across the carpet in the doorway of my office, and began thinking immediately of the possibility of climbing out the window, and whether the screen popped out easily, or if I'd have to tear through it.  Turns out it was a pen cap that my client had been fiddling with, and shot across the room accidentally.  It was all very amusing for him, but I'm not kidding about thinking of climbing out that window.

Another time, I was out shopping with my friend Amee.  I discovered a palmetto bug crawling around on the floorboard of my car when we returned to the parking lot.  I got out, closed the door, and loudly declared I needed a new car.  I don't remember how we got home.  I'm sure Amee had to chase the bug out of the car.

When I saw a German cockroach in my office one day last year, I told my boss I might have to resign. He had the pest control guy in the same day. I'm not kidding. I really hate bugs.

So when, this spring, I began to fear I'd permanently lost the war with the creepy little parasites, I was considering how I might burn down my house, and get the two 75+ year old live oaks in the back yard to go up with it.  I had even silently and regretfully thought that I might have to give up my dog.  You remember my dog, right?

He's so sweet.  He didn't even murder me for this cone-head incident. He totally could have; I'm a very sound sleeper.

The weekend of the ferocious scouring I took the dog to the vet for a bath and tick treatment.  The vet called me to find out what wildernss I'd abandoned my dog in that caused him to be so virulently infested.  "My backyard," was my only reply.  After about 30 minutes' lecture, the vet suggested a new super-tick-and-flea-control product.  Seeing how my next idea was Napalm and the SPCA, I was game.  She only had one dose, but I happily bought it.  The dog was a sleepy lump for three days, but that could have been due to the overwhleming trauma of having been left at the vet for 8 hours.  He hates that place.

The good part of this story is that the magic product worked!  For a few weeks I found only dead ticks in the house, and, although I fear to say it aloud, I haven't seen any in 2 weeks.  Shh.  Don't repeat that.  I know those little bastards are still in the yard, and I don't want to jinx myself.  Those stupid curtains have been hanging in the laundry room for 2 months, and I'd like my pants hangers back now.