“I don’t like this.” Said She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Fed.
“Marlena, that is very rude, please try the chicken burger and sweet potato fries and thank Jon for cooking for us.” I said, with a tooth-clenched smile plastered on my face.
“Thank you for cooking Jon.” Said She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Fed, in the same voice she would use if I had asked her to thank me for throwing all her worldly goods in the garbage. Then she picked up her chicken burger, took a miniscule nibble, and proceeded to behave as though it was the worst thing she had ever tasted in her life.
“Marlena…” I say in a warning tone.
“I don’t like it together!” She yells at me, having jumped from calm to yelling right off the bat, and proceeds to strip the chicken burger into it’s component parts. I cut up her chicken, after asking her not to yell at me, and then watch as she takes a bite.
“It’s dry.” Says She-Who-Is-Hell-Bent-On-Rudeness.
“That’s is, time out.” Says I, as I grab her hand and begin to help her out of her chair.
“No!!” She yells, yanking her hand out of mine.
“Now Marlena, Time Out.” Once again taking her hand.
“No!!” She whine/yells, while pulling hard against my grip.
“Marlena, you will go to Time Out now or there will be no dress up for a week.”
“FINE!” She yells, leaping out of her chair and stomping into the other room.
Deep breath… breathe, breathe… in with Ghandi, out with Hitler. Breathe….
I follow her into the room, and tell her not to yell at me any more. In mid-sentence, she turns around and claps her hands over her ears.
“Fine. That’s it. You can stay in here.” I turn to leave, only to be roughly grabbed by the now frantic young girl screaming “No! I will listen” while sobbing. I calmly turn to her. “Marlena, stop and look at how you are acting. Do you really think this behavior is going to get you what you want?” She calms down, apologizes, and sits in Time Out.
She finishes her Time Out, we have a talk about rudeness, she comes out, apologizes, and sits down to drown her chicken in ketchup and consume it. All is well for about 5 minutes until I hear “Mom, can I have five more bites and be done?” I look at the plate, which is full of chicken and sweet potato fries. “This is all you get to eat tonight” I say,”so you better make sure you are full.”
“Oh I am.” She says, of course, until dessert is mentioned, at which point we have the drama of bringing back out the plate of untouched chicken and ketchup. I section off the amount she has to eat to get ice cream and tell her I want to hear nothing more about her eating. She will either eat and get dessert, or not eat and not get dessert.
“Mom, I am eating.”
I ignore her.
“Mom, look how many bites I have left.”
Ignoring her, trying to talk with other adults.
“Mom! I am eating!”
“Sigh. What did I tell you Marlena?”
“Not to tell you anything more about my dinner.” She says sullenly, obviously upset that I am attempting to pay attention to anything other than the slow and painful progress of her dinner consumption.
“Right. So don’t tell me anymore.” I say.
Five minutes pass. During this time I actually get a sip or two of wine, a nibble of dessert, and a short conversation with Mar.
“Mom, have I eaten enough for dessert?”
“Did you finish what I told you to eat?”
Small whiny sounds and a great deal of sighing.
“I don’t think I want dessert.” She says, with the face of a martyr.
“Okay, then put your dish in the kitchen.”
“No, No Mom, I want to eat!” She yells. (Notice how at this point, she has cleverly played both her role, and mine, so the fight and drama can continue, as I have removed myself from the fight by refusing to discuss or negotiate further dinner options.)
“Marlena, if you yell at me, argue with me, or bring up your dinner one more time tonight you will be grounded!” I say, having lost my robot mom voice and progressed straight to Mad Mom voice.
“Sorry” she whines, “Sorry Mom.”
“Just eat.” I say, going back to the couch to deal with the now cranky and overly tired baby.
Finally food is eaten, dessert is tried and rejected (Cheesecake, another something new), and she is seated at the table with my mother playing a puzzle game. The first puzzle is pretty hard, so she asks me for help. I give it, show her how to solve the puzzle, and pick another puzzle for her. Of course, this one requires help too, so I assist a little here and there, until she begins to yell at me about using the wrong pieces while simultaneously whining to me about needing help. Finally I tell her I am done, she can figure it out by herself, and I go sit down.
Where oh where has my little lamb gone? Oh where oh where can she be? Has she been replaced with a demon spawn? Oh where or where can she be!?
Six is hard, she argues over everything. When we were getting into the car on the way to dinner I asked her to get into her seat, when I looked up, she was still outside the car, futzing with something on the ground. I asked her to get in the car, and she yelled “I AM!” then threw herself into the car and proclaimed “You DON’T have to ask me so much!”. I calmly informed her that I asked her because she was not in the car, and to not yell at me.
I miss the girl who only yelled when she thought things were grossly unfair, and who actually meant it when she said “I’m sorry.” I know this phase is important for her growth, but I just feel beat up by it. Oh yeah, and I really understand Homer’s desire to strangle his son. If we were cartoons, I would be so tempted to follow in his stead.