Hadley and I decorated cupcakes yesterday. She was going to bake them with me, but was busy serving a big old T.O. for a fast one she's been pulling on the family for who knows how long. It's to do with keeping oneself clean, but I'm going to give you a little history before I break the day down for you.
Here's the thing: I can't do it all. So in order to help keep the day moving foward, I instruct my kids to do things. I think I read somewhere that giving kids things to do helps them feel like they're a part of the family. Whatever. I want them to CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES. I also expect them to at least try to put their clothes on and wash their hands. These seem like skills one needs to know how to do in order to live in the world. Harper needs a lot of help, but Hadley is perfectly capable of doing these things.
Except she won't do them. The other morning I was cleaning up the dishes from breakfast and I told Hadley to go and get dressed.
"OK, Mama." And off she goes leaving me thinking I'm totally in charge of my life these days. Minutes later, Hadley has rolled herself up in a blanket and is scooting down the hallway towards me.
"Look, Mama! I'm a caterpillar!"
I will give her some credit. She had taken off ALL her clothes.
But the washing the hands task is something Hadley and I have been fighting over for months. Until recently. For quite some time now, I will say, "Hadley, go wash your hands." And she'll say, "OK." She walks happily to the bathroom, turns on the sink, and minutes later walks out. Again, leaving me thinking I can totally control my children.
And that their hands are clean.
All that ended yesterday when Jesse happened to be walking down the hallway while Hadley was in the bathroom. Oh, Hadley turns the sink on all right. She even uses soap. It's just that the soap doesn't go on her hands. She puts a little bit in the sink to make it look as though she's used some. She even gets her hands a little wet so the towel will be damp after she uses it.
I have so many questions. Why go through all that effort and not wash your hands? Where did she come up with this plan? What, in the past 4 and 1/2 years, have I done to show this kind of behavior? Was it the time she caught crouching behind the kitchen cabinets eating a cookie?
Most importantly, how long has this been going on? Like I mentioned, Hadley and I stopped having the wash your hands fight sometime around April.
It's like I'm Bob Ewell.
So Hadley was in timeout because apparentely she hasn't washed her hands for the better part of 4. It was the manipulation that led me to write this post, however. I admit, I took (am taking?) it personally. I think that this somehow reflects on me as a parent.
But we frosted the cupcakes together; and I let her have one later that day. We sat down at the table together and I said, "Hadley, before you eat a cupcake you have to wash your hands."
"And really do it this time."
I thought about sneaking down the hallway to see whether she was going to do it. But what was that going to do? Make me mad? Put her in timeout again? That's not how I wanted to spend the afternoon. So I sat and waited for Hadley to come back so we could have a cupcake together.
I suppose the thing about independence is we have to give life a go every once in awhile. When we break the rules, though, it's nice to know we have the support and love of our family no matter what.
That's probably what makes kids feel as though they're a part of the family.