Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keep Wunning!

My favorite event in Ogden is the Ogden Marathon.  It's a time when the whole community comes together and rallies to create a simply spectacular event and vibe that you won't find anywhere else.  It's something that would be impossible to replicate elsewhere and it's one of the many things I love about this town and its people.

The amount of volunteers that turn out to help put this on is staggering.  Upwards of 1,400 men, women and children volunteered this year...this is in addition to the GOAL Foundation staff and board that work so hard to put on this incredible event year after year.  Because of everyone's dedication, little old Ogden boasts one of the top marathons in the country, hosting over 5,000 racers this year alone competed in the marathon, half-marathon and 5K races.  And even though I have a hate-hate relationship with running, I am uber proud of my town for doing this... and doing it so well.

Benny and I have been volunteering or running in the Ogden Marathon in some capacity for the last 10 years.  These days, Benny serves on the Board of the GOAL Foundation so he's busy all day race day, working in the canyon, helping with medical issues and aid stations.  I usually work at the expo the Friday before the race because race day for me is all about the kiddos now.  But, pre-kids, I was able to participate so much more.  Back in 2004, we rode our bikes downtown at 3 a.m. to help load buses... and if you really want to get the vibe of the event and its participants, helping load buses is the way to do it. The trepidation and excitement of the runners at that time of day makes the air crackle with excitement.  They're tired, but they're so excited to finally be at Zero Days Left Till The Ogden Marathon.  All of the training they've put in has led up to this one moment. Getting on that bus is the last step in the lead up to race-day.  It's the last time to back out.  Because once you go up that mountain... the only way back down is by self-propulsion.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  It's you and the road... and a few thousand other runners who had the same idea as you. 

In 2005, we spent the day picking up the discarded clothes along the course while cheering on the runners and making sure the aid stations were stocked appropriately.  In 2006, we got to help with the finish line by giving out water and medals to the finishers... and I WAS HOOKED.  This was absolutely the coolest thing I'd ever been a part of. 

All of these experiences are why I decided to add running a marathon to my bucket list. Seeing the people getting on those buses or crossing that line - some who were fit, some who were not, but all who were completely excited and proud of themselves - inspired me.  So, in 2007, I ran the marathon.  It's a beautiful course and I was so excited to do it that one time.  Because I'm older now.  And wiser.  And I now learn from my mistakes.

Me running a marathon?  Mistake. A mistake that ended with me sitting in a bathtub full of ice and cursing my legs for being.  Me sitting at the finish line, cheering on the runners while eating ice cream?  THAT'S HOW WE DO.

After I had The Bird, I ran the half-marathon in 2010, which was so much better for me and my legs... and one day, I'll do it again because it was a wonderful experience.  There were no tears and no ice was needed.  But, I got pregnant with The Bean like the next day, so I'm just playing the odds right now.  Every year I haven't run the half marathon, I haven't gotten pregnant.  I'd be a fool to ignore that data.

This year, my sister was running the half, so I took the girls down to watch her finish.  It was a geeeeorgeous day in O-Town.  One that made you happy to be alive, even if you were sweating down the back of your shirt while cheering on perfect strangers and wondering where in the world your sister was... before realizing that you had missed her crossing the line 30 minutes before.  Because you're just really good at telling time.

This year was also the first year that we felt confident enough to let both girls run in the KidsK.  This is such an amazing event for young kids to be a part of, that really ties in so well with the fitness priority of Ogden.  The organizers of this particular part of the day were fantastic and it's apparent that they really love the children of this town and the idea of creating a building block of health and wellness for them at an early age.

Both girls and their friend TK did the requisite stretching and warming up before the start of the race.  I had made it clear that The Bird was supposed to stay with TK who I knew was going to want to stretch his legs and win the whole thing....  but I thought I had pounded it into both of their heads that YOU NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND.  So, that was Phase I of The Plan.

Phase II of the plan included TK's mom waiting and catching the kids at the finish line, while Phase III of The Plan had me batting cleanup on the course as I was running with The Bean... in case someone got left behind or pulled a hammy.

The Plan was solid.

The Plan fell apart immediately.

TK was gone before I even crossed the start line with The Bean. I'm pretty sure he won the whole thing.  The Bird was left running with some random kid by herself, but refused to come back and run with me and The Bean.  She didn't look upset and was so excited to be a part of the race, that I just tried to keep an eye on her, while making sure The Bean didn't get run over by the strollers behind us. Luckily, Benny was able to put his race day responsibilities on hold for 15 minutes and showed up just when I lost sight of The Bird. After giving me our requisite: "No matter what happens, you STAY ALIVE!! I will find you!" look, he took off and was able to find her and cross the line with her, which she thought was just the greatest thing since princess dresses.   

The Bean, who has never been a follower in her short life, actually bought into the idea of running with all of the other kids.  I tried to carry her at one point, and she insisted on walking/running on her own... which came as a shock to me.  The entire race was a mixture of her running and then stopping to look around her and then walking... at which time I would remind her to "Keep running!"  Halfway through the race, I figured out that I could walk as fast as she was running, so I started walking next to her.  And then this little girl who has more attitude than should be legally allowed at 3-years-old looked up at me, squinted her eyes and yelled:  "KEEP WUNNING, MAMA!!"

This girl is going to be the death of me.

As we crossed the finish line, I scooped her up and we gave high-fives to all of the volunteers waiting for the kids to cross.  Many of whom were friends and were thrilled to see The Bean crossing that line... while also probably wondering why I was in khaki shorts and Keen's.  BECAUSE I TOTALLY PLAN AHEAD, THAT'S WHY.

This is how you raise kids in Ogden, Utah.  You do it with your community and its people that share your values and philosophy of life.  The ones who know your kids by name and who you know would protect them and corral them at the finish line until you got there.  The ones who want to create a beautiful world for all of our children to grow up in, and they do so by their words and deeds.

I had a friend ask me the other day if I would ever consider moving if it meant making more money and having more influence in my chosen career.  The answer is no.  Which goes against everything I learned reading Lean In.  I know.... I'm a disgrace to working women everywhere.  But, there's more to life than work.  I don't need a lot.  I just need... enough.  Enough time.... enough love... enough energy... enough joy... enough laughter... and enough money to help teach my girls how to take care of our world and our community.  Just... enough.  I can figure it out from there.  Because enough to me includes living in a place where the town rallies to show the world what we're capable of.  Where success is not measured by how much money you make, but how you have helped your community. Where the mayor voluntarily bikes to work every day for an entire year to set an example for the people and the children of his city. 

That's living.     

That's where I want to live and grow my family.

It's where my family will keep wunning.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day dawned yesterday with cah-rappy weather and grumpy kiddos who had gone to bed too late the night before and who were also all sorts of cabin-fevered.  Initially, we had planned on taking them on a bike ride along the Ogden River during a break in the storm, but it was just too damn cold and the one thing I won't tolerate on Mother's Day is being cold.  So, we ended up taking them over for a play date while my girlfriend and I went to get pedicures and left the kiddos with their dads.  Spending time with the kids on Mother's Day? I mean.. who does THAT?

For dinner that night, I threw on some leftover taco soup.  You know... the one the kids loved on Saturday but suddenly loathe on Sunday?  That one.  Don't like leftovers?  Tough.  It's Mother's Day... and I'm not supposed to do anything on Mother's Day.  I think it's a law or something.  So, taco soup it is!  And also, if there's one day in the year that you DON'T  tell our mom that you "don't wike dat!" while pushing away the homemade food she's lovingly put in front of you, IT'S MOTHER'S DAY.  Brat.

After that epic success, we decided that the only way to salvage the day was a trip to get ice cream at Burch Creek Mercantile.  We didn't tell the kiddos where we were going so that we could surprise them.  Think about that for a minute.  On Mother's Day, we go out of our way to surprise our kids.  And it's not just Mother's Day.  Last year for Father's Day, both girls got new bikes.  We're doing this wrong, I know.  But I'm not sure how we get back on track with this nonsense.

So, yea...we wanted to surprise them.  But it's also true that we kept the surprise from them because we've been to this rodeo before and wanted to make sure we had all the facts before we told them to avoid hysterics and a meltdown.  (And then there was the worry that THEY would be upset.)  But mostly it was to surprise them on my special day.

Of course, the Mercantile was closed.  Because, you know... karma.  For those of you not in the know, a spring Sunday in Utah + kids + raining = misery.  To add to the misery and also get our ice cream, we decided to go to McDonald's.  Which is where a little part of me died.

As we sat in the drive-thru, I thought about what I always envisioned Mother's Day being... and how I never thought it would include a trip to McDonald's for ice cream to quell the beasts (she said lovingly in between refereeing their fighting) in the backseat.  I asked Benny to remind the kiddo's why we were getting ice cream because I may have threatened them with no food for the rest of the night if they didn't eat their dinner.  And yea, they didn't eat their dinner... BUT WHO WANTS ICE CREAM?  

Tiger Mom I am not.  But at least I get ice cream.

Because he's a good man, he reminded them without rolling his eyes.  And did so as as he was being handed their ice cream cones through the service window.

"Alright kids. Do you know why we're getting ice cream?  It's Mother's Day!  It's Mommy's special day so we're getting something special!"

I didn't even have the energy to look horrified as the McDonald's worker raiser her eyebrows and smirked.  I imagine she was thinking:  "Yea, you're one special mama to get McDonald's on your special day.  What are you going to get for your birthday?  A root canal?" 

So, I gave her my best:  "HEY!  THIS WHOLE THING WAS MY IDEA!" look.  And then threw the $4 for my Mother's Day treat at her and had Benny peel out.

While the kids were happily slurping their cone and The Bean was eating the paper with the cone, we headed up to Ogden Valley for a nice family drive.  It's beautiful in Ogden this time of year, but particularly so in Ogden Valley, where everything is green and the surrounding mountains stretch into the sky like they're just waking up from a long nap.  Those mountains... they make me jealous with their long naps.

Everything was going great... both girls were happy from their sugar high and Benny and I were able to have a conversation about the Ogden Marathon that is happening next week, and my one experience in running it many moons ago.

"This spot right here... this is where the wheels fell off."
"Mile 18?  That's pretty early in the race for the wheels to fall off, babe. "
"Yea?  Well, you can just go ahead and suck it."

"Oh... this part is brutal... but not as brutal as this part... or this part."
"You've only pointed out the flat parts of the course.  So, what you're saying is it's only brutal when you're not going downhill?"
"Yes. You don't need to sound so smug, by the way. I know my weaknesses.  Anything not downhill is one of them."

And so on.

And then The Bird threw my bike helmet at The Bean in the backseat and EVERYONE'S LIFE WAS RUINED. It's unfortunate because it was really just a slight misunderstanding... Bird-zo thought it would be funny.  The Beaner didn't.  So, her face melted off and we had to do some quick front-seat parenting.  Which basically means we took the helmet away and threatened to cancel Christmas... and order was restored.

Halfway down the canyon, The Bird started complaining (started?  or continued?  jury is still out... because she's got this thing about complaining... in that she's always. complaining. about something.) that her tummy hurt.  Not to be outdone, The Bean also started complaining that her tummy hurt and she was going to "frow up!".  Which caused The Bird to declare that she was going to "frow up first.  And Mommy... my tummy weally, weally hurts!"

And then Mommy, the voice of reason, declared that frowing up was not a competition and there would be no frowing up because that's just weak... and how disgraceful it is if they can't hold their ice cream.

See... we've also been to this particular rodeo and knew that there were two possibilities:  1) they're faking it because it was too quiet and there was a need to fill the silence or 2) crap. motion sickness.  

As a parent, there's no right way to play this as you're driving down a tight, windy canyon... other than just begging your child to hold on till we got out of the canyon and could pull over.  And, as is the norm for this type of situation, the "frow up" occurred right as we came around the last corner of the canyon.

And that was my Mother's Day.  How was yours?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

10 Things My Mom Taught Me

This post was written Wednesday... which is why the beginning of it is totally past tense.  Deal with it. 

Mother's Day is coming up. I'm reminded of this because the girls have apparently been making something at school for me.  And also practicing screaming HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! at the top of their lungs.  Every. Day.

They continually ask me if today is Mother's Day.  No? Is it tomorrow?  What about yesterday? Was it yesterday?  What about Wednesday? What about Tuesday? No?  WHEN IS IT, MOMMY? 

See, there's only two days of the week that they know.  Tuesday, which is Tumblebus Day at school.  And Wednesday, which is when they have gymnastics.  They don't know what Saturday or Sunday are... except that they know they don't have to go to school for two whole days and it's AMAZING. 

I'm not sure what I'm getting for Mother's Day from them... but with the buildup, we've been experiencing for the past two weeks, I expect it to be nothing short of a diamond tennis bracelet.  Or maybe a couple of rocks and a dandelion.  Which is pretty much the same thing in my world.

Now that I'm out of the baby-phase of parenting and am raising two very independent and opinionated kiddos, I often have chances to step back and look at my experience as a mother. Which leads to the daily question of whether or not I'm doing it right or if I'm just completely screwing my kids up.  I suspect it's the latter because this morning, The Bird tried to tell us that unless we gave her more Cheerios, she was going to keep crying.  It is clear to me that my consequences-based parenting is rubbing off on her the wrong way.

I think every mom goes through this self-doubt.  And those who say they don't are lying liars who lie.

I also think that whether we realize it or not, we are applying the lessons we were taught as children to our children.  The Good.  The Bad.  The Ugly. 

My mom and dad stopped by the house last night and dropped of a beautiful hanging basket for Mother's Day.  I felt bad because... well, yea... I haven't done any shopping for my mom for Mother's Day, yet.  Maybe by Saturday I'll get myself to the nursery and grab something she'd like.  But seriously.. Wednesday?  I don't operate that far in advance unless it's for chocolate.   So, for now, my Mother's Day gift to her is this:

10 Things My Mom Taught Me
1 - "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well."
Work ethic is important to my mom and she has instilled that in her kids.  She preached it while we were picking worms in the alfalfa field waiting for the sun to come up so we could finally go home and get the mud out from under our fingertips.  And she preached it while we were roasting marshmallows over a campfire. In mom's mind, whether it's picking night crawlers to sell to fishermen, cleaning the bathtub, doing your homework or making the perfect s'more... don't waste your time. Do your absolute best and then move on to something bigger and better.  This may well be why when I suffer from writers block or if I'm not up to par on my writing I yell:  THIS IS CRAP! while deleting the file and starting over.  Or why I refuse to make the bed (because I don't think it's worth doing).  But it's also why I graduated from college, excel in a career and make a mean s'more. 

2 - "Stand tall and proud!  Tall is beautiful!"
This was little solace to a 5-8, 98 pound 5th grader who endured such horrific nicknames as Giraffe, Too Tall Paskins, Pencil Legs and Hey! How's The Weather Up There, Dork? But every time my mom saw me slump my shoulders in an effort to conform to the "normal-sized" world I was living in, she affirmed that tall was beautiful and I should never try to disguise it.  "Do you know how much I would give to have your height? All those people are just jealous of your height.  You're going to be able to do great things because of your height.  You're height will never hold you back.  Now, please grab that bowl up on the top shelf for me.  I can't reach."

3 - "We don't flip the bird. And if we do flip the bird, we DON'T flip the bird to the Bishop."
There were a couple of lessons here:  1) Choose your battles wisely. If you're going to flip the bird, do it slyly while pushing up your sunglasses or scratching your nose.  Anything else is just unladylike.  2) If you flip off a church leader - or anyone, really - church doctrine says you're required to clean the toilets for a month.

4 - "When someone says mean things about and to you, it says more about them than it ever will about you."
This little lesson got me through some ROUGH times in school.  This lesson taught me kindness because I remembered how those girls (it's always girls, isn't it?) made me feel with their words and actions.  Years later, I've had conversations with some of those girls and I found out that when those hurtful things were coming out of their mouths, they were going through some pretty rough times in their lives and they were acting out at the easiest target....  the freakishly tall, skinny girl with the big hair and lisp. 

5 - "Life isn't fair."
Sister got the last bean burrito?  So?  Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.  Horse buck you off and Dad made you get right back on that piece of crap?  Stop crying and deal.  You friend has prettier dresses than you do?  Maybe you should pick more worms so you can afford to buy a nice dress this year.
7 - "If a bird poops on your head, let it dry... then you can flick it off with less mess."
And yes... this was her advice to me on a family trip to Mexico 25 years ago when that happened outside a fast-food joint. And she was only 10% kidding. The point is, life can be messy.  Don't stress about it.  The poop will dry.  Life will go on.

8 - "You should have listened to me."
When I was about 4, I decided to walk down to the barn and play with the baby peacocks that had hatched a few weeks earlier.  Mom told me not to... and then watched as I disobeyed her and skipped down to the barn completely oblivious to the protective pea-hen that proceeded to swoop down from the rafters beat the living crap out of me with her wings, while scratching me with her talons.  I'm not sure how long the beat down lasted.  In my 4-year-old mind it was about at 30 minute brawl, but it was likely just a minute before I turned around and ran, sobbing, to the house... bleeding and covered in welts.  My mom merely glanced up from her Dr. Pepper she'd been sipping as she watched the battle unfold and said:  "Well... I told you so." and went back to her drink.  My mom... the antithesis of the helicopter parent.

When my girls freak out about something trivial, I think back to that day.  I GOT BEAT UP BY A FREAKIN' PEACOCK, GIRLS.  YOU CAN DEAL WITH YOUR PIGGY-TAILS NOT BEING PERFECTLY ALIGNED TODAY.

9 - "Stand up for yourself."
I was taught from a young age that I should be treated just like everyone else. No better.  No worse.   Just because I was a girl, didn't mean I couldn't do the same things boys did.  So... I ended up playing on a Jr. Jazz team full of boys, because there were no girls teams. BTW... feminism was not super popular in rural southeast Idaho in the 80's, which meant that the boys LOVED having me on their team.  Like most people, I endured a stupid amount of bullying all through grade school.  Big bangs and a lisp will do that to you.  But, as I gained confidence due to my abilities on the court, I learned how to stand up for myself. It's what I teach my daughters every day.  To be proud of who they are and not to let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. 

10 - "Hi, Bored!  I'm Mommy!  Go outside and play!"
Bored?  Go outside and play!  Hungry?  You just ate two minutes ago.  Go outside and play!  Tired?  Go outside and play! For the love of Pete!  Go. Out. Side. And. Play.  Very little of my childhood was spent indoors.  We had exactly three channels when I was growing up, but we had about a gazillion animals... domesticated (even the cow that we kept as a pet when its mother rejected it) and those that maybe mom knocked out of tree or captured on the hill and decided to raise as pets. Iggy, Ziggy and Twiggy the magpies (yes, we had magpies and they were awesome.) and Rocky, our lice-covered yellow-bellied marmot.  Among several others.  The point is, we experienced life.  Barefoot and muddy for the most part.  And man, do we have some awesome memories of growing up.  I want the same for my girls... and with maybe the exception of early morning Saturday wake-ups and throwing on some Sesame Street so Mommy and Daddy can sleep in until a more appropriate hour, we don't let the girls watch too much TV.  We're truly pushing the No Child Left Inside philosophy... and it's one that I learned from my mom.  She was either fishing or golfing or gardening or knocking baby magpies out of their nests... not watching TV.  With the exception of Days of Our Lives.

Happy Mother's Day, mom!  Thanks for imparting your wisdom and -isms over the years.

(Also, I did in fact get a dandelion from The Bird for Mother's Day, and some rocks from The Bean.  It was a great morning.) 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Parenting A Princess

Those of you who read the blog regularly, know that I have daily battles with both girls about what they're going to wear.  I want to be clear that these battles have nothing to do with me needing to exert control over them at the micro-level.  I don't care if what they put on matches.  I mean... when they come out with a pink shirt, lime green leggings and an orange skirt, I don't bat an eye. The other day, The Bean came out with her swimsuit on top of her jeans and shirt and I was just:  "Okay!  Ready to go?" Because otherwise, I'd never leave the house.  And I get it... there's so few things that they have control over, why can't they dress themselves?  Fine.  I'll roll with the punches as long as the punches are appropriate and don't hurt anyone.

Which is why I haven't brushed The Bean's hair in about a week. 

The problem arises because The Bird insists on wearing dresses every. damn. day.  It doesn't matter if it's raining or snowing or her face is on fire.  She wants to wear a dress.   I've accommodated her obsession by setting up ground rules that if it's raining, snowing or is cold outside, she has to wear leggings and a long sleeved shirt under the dress.  She's been somewhat okay with this agreement, but every once in a while, the wheels would fall off and we have a knock-down, drag-out fight.  This is usually because the leggings she wants to wear are nowhere to be found and those are clearly the ONLY leggings that she will allow to be worn with that dress.  And no... she doesn't want to wear another dress.  She wants to wear THIS dress and only THIS dress.  When I innocently ask if I should just get rid of the other dresses if she's not going to wear them, her face does, in fact, go up in flames. And at this point, I'll acknowledge it's really my fault that our morning veered so far off the track.  Because I am a stupid, stupid woman who is just stupid with the stupid questions. 

To further ruin our mornings, I've also put stipulations about what types of dresses she can wear to school each day.  Meaning that the super, fancy dress used for school performances is not an every day school type of dress.  Which drives her nuts.  She wants to dress up to the nines all. the. live. long. day... week... month... year.

There is no stopping this obsession.  It's like me with chocolate.  Only more maddening because chocolate is amazing and her dresses are the bane of my existence.

But here's the real problem.  It's not that she's wearing dresses.  I can live with the wearing of the dresses.  One of the reasons I loved summer when the kiddos were younger was the ease in which I could throw them into a dress and just be on our way.  No muss, no fuss.  And yes, the argument could be made that I've brought this on myself. And that argument will end with my punching you in your solar plexus because I. KNOW!

So, no... it's not that she's wearing dresses.  It's her behavior when she's wearing the dresses that makes me want to  put my finger through my eye, into my brain and swirl it around.  I'm not a fan. I've noticed that when she gets to wear her fancy dresses, or really any of her dresses, she doesn't want to play outside.  She'll stay in her room and change into 15 different dresses TWICE until she finds one she likes and then come out for 30 seconds before going back in and changing.  She hardly ever goes outside to enjoy nature and... what the hell is that yellow thing in the sky?  The sun???  And if she does go outside, she doesn't play like a kid is supposed to play.  She sits there demurely and watches other kids play.  She has princessized herself to the point that she isn't being a kid.  She's being a lump on a log, looking down at the other kids playing while she sits on her throne and blows on her nails while demanding I go grab her a sippy cup because she's parched. This is how I imagine Paris Hilton was as a child.  And so help me, God... I am not raising a Paris Hilton.  Death first!

The attitude that comes out when she is in princess mode is absolutely unbearable.  Holy mother of a headless goat, is she out of control. Even when she's not actually in the dress, she still has this insolent, spoiled princess attitude and makes demands the likes of which I, the 37-year-old with a college degree and a career, cannot and WILL NOT abide by.  Anymore. Mostly because she didn't say please.  But also because contrary to her belief, I'm not her servant and she can go get the damn sippy cup herself.

It is fair to say that I have not handled this phase of her beautiful childhood well.  In fact, last month I caught myself asking her if her legs were broken and if that's why she couldn't go get the blanket on the other side of the room?  You know... where she put it 30 seconds ago.  Because that's the adult way to handle something with your 4-year-old:  Sarcasm.

I also refuse to do things for her that I know she can do.  Like brush her teeth, chew her food and swallow her water for her.  Over the last few months, I have threatened her with taking away her dresses in order for her to understand that the behavior is just not acceptable.  I always give her a "last warning" and then forget that I've given her a last warning before giving her another "last warning".  And another.  And another.  Until my child has figured out that I apparently don't have the balls to take away her dresses because I don't want to deal with the ensuing nuclear fall out.

But last week... last week I'd had enough. Full disclosure, I was not at the top of my game last week.  I had been traveling. I was tired. I was irritable.  So, my handling of the situation was less than desirable. I admit this. And I'm sharing it with you anyway. Because that's what bravery looks like in 2014.  

To set the scene, let me explain that The Bird has rather sensitive skin and from time to time, we have to put lotion on the back of her hands to prevent some pretty painful dry skin issues.  As I was putting her to bed, I broke out the lotion that we use and was taken aback when she flipped out.  Her Highness was having NONE of it.  I asked, begged, pleaded and cajoled her until the little timer in my brain - the one labeled 'I've Had Enough of This Shit' - went off.

And cue the excellent parenting in 3-2-1:

"Alright!  We can either put on the lotion and you keep your dresses...  Or, I take away the dresses and THEN I STILL PUT ON THE LOTION. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO?  EITHER WAY... YOU'RE GETTING LOTION!!!!"  

Sounds super Silence of the Lambs, doesn't it?

Given my previous history, it's no wonder she decided to take the risk that I wouldn't follow through.  Except... yea, I did.  I may have been overly dramatic as I grabbed her dresses out of the closet, tripping on her dolly stroller on the way out of her room and throwing them into my room.  I may have scared her as I picked up the dresses that fell out of the first load and threw them in my room with the rest of them.  But that was it.  I was done.  D-O-N-E. Done.

Of course, the consequence for my consequence was miserable for everyone.  She was heartbroken. I was a huffing, puffing monster angry over lotion.  LOTION. Yea, I was mad... but seeing my little girl so heartbroken?  Not my favorite memory.  I was Mother Gothel, Ursula the Sea Witch and Malificent all rolled into one.

It isn't my best look.

Once we had both calmed down, we had a heart-to-heart.  I explained to her that her behavior was no longer going to be tolerated.  I had to explain behavior and tolerated to her, so that took an additional LIFETIME, but we got there.  I then explained that she would get her dresses back.  Some day.  But she would have to earn those dresses. Meaning she needed to be on her best behavior.  She needed to do what I asked. She needed to be kind to her sister and be happy.  No more crying over what she wanted to wear in the morning. And then... well, then we'd see.

The next morning, she woke up and asked if she could have her dresses back.  Because she missed them.  Cue the clarification that being on your best behavior while you slept didn't count and she'd get her dresses back after she proved that she deserved her dresses.

That was a week ago.  And in that week... OMG has this child been the best kid ever. And not just because she's trying to get her dresses back.  She was playing like kids are supposed to do.  Climbing trees, riding her bike, getting dirty, picking up garter snakes, playing with the dog and her sister... all without worrying about getting her dress dirty or tearing the fabric when it got caught on a branch.  She even started wearing her sneakers again... without complaining. 

Is it bad that I like my kid better when she doesn't have dresses?  My mornings were amazing for an entire week (minus the meltdowns over the placement of her piggy-tails... but cutting her hair seems like it would be too traumatizing for both of us so we'll just have to figure something else out).  

I won't lie... I have considered NEVER giving her dresses back.  Again... not because I'm anti-dress.  I'm just anti-princess-attitude and I'm pro-mud-pies, pro-snake-wrangling, pro-scrape-your-knees, pro-run-through-the-sprinklers-fully-clothed, pro-climb-a-tree, pro-bike-riding and pro-Get-Out-And-Live.  All things that the princess wasn't doing.  Until last week.

Yesterday I got my Mother's Day gift from The Bird.  She made it at school and drew the pictures all by herself.  She was very proud of it.

As I read the story about why she loves me out loud, I almost choked on the third point.  I was further taken down a notch when she corrected what her lovely teacher had so clearly edited for my benefit:

"No mommy!  You take away my dresses and MAKE me go to sleep.  MAKE!"


The Bird got her dresses back today.

Because I think we have all learned our lesson.