Pride comes before the (snow)fall

Just so you all know, I wanted to write a delightful story about Habtamu first encounter with a spork, but this came up instead:

Oh, and be sure to read the previous post first so the stage is set appropriately, and bear in mind that I had no idea what kind of day Chris already had when all this went down.

So my morning started with my alarm not going off and Chris kicking at me an hour and a half later than I normally get up. I speed through my morning routine, grab CatX (Working title: Momo,) who is due for a neutering, and get in the car. I drop the cat off at the vet and head to work for what turns out to be a fairly routine day, other than the fact that I'm close to 2 hours later than usual.

It starts snowing in the early afternoon and there's not a thing I can do to get out of work early. 5:30 rolls around (which is like working the 2nd shift in education, where 'after hours' starts at around 3) so I go out and brush nearly 4 inches of snow off my car and get ready for the long haul home. Today the commute took 20 oz of Coke, 2 phone calls, a good mix on my iPod, and an hour and a half of driving 20 to 40 mph. Not the worst, but it still wears on you. Pulling into the driveway I notice that the garbage cans are still out and nothing has been shoveled, fortunately, I was caffeinated and took care of both items.

I enter the house at 7:15 pm. The kids are in pajamas and fidgety. I haven't eaten and am just trying to keep it together.

Dinner gets reheated for me and I eat with two other heads closer to my soup bowl than my own. The invasion of personal space I could deal with. The burping, farting, and giggling I could deal with. The problem is, that they were too close to each other, and so what started out as an amusing game of 'Irritate Daddy and act like we don't know why' quickly decayed into pushing and slapping.

Daddy's had enough and explains, in so many words, that they need to go in opposite directions quickly. Habtamu takes the hint and, although frustrated, removes himself from the situation (kudos to Chris for facilitating the distraction.) Yordi follows H into the other room. I explain that this is unacceptable and that she needs to find something else to do. She holds her ground and gives me the old 'but Daddy I'm just looking' shrug which is one of the ways she says "I'm really tired but I don't know it." So, Chris and I decide for her that it's bedtime. She doesn't move. My last emotional thread is tightening. I'm not asking for her to carve up the moon and give it to me on a plate, I'm just asking for her to comply with something... anything... I've asked for in the whole 15 minutes that I've been home. At the very least figure out that Daddy doesn't think it's a game. "It's time for bed, honey. Come on, let's go," I say with what turns out to be my last truly calm words of the evening. She gives me the shoulder, my thread snaps. "I asked you nicely twice," I say (which I had at that point) and grab her arm to take her to the bedroom knowing exactly where this situation is going: it's going down the same road I went with her brother two days ago, which ironically, he claims started because she was mimicking him during grace at dinner. Always gotta try things out for herself...

After wrestling her into bed, I calm down a bit and say something to the effect of, "You still have a choice at this point. You can go to bed and cry and be grumpy, or you can go to bed and I can check your closet and we can talk for a little while."

"YOU NO TALK! NEVER TALK! NO LOVE! HABTAMU MOMMY DADDY FAMILY, ME NO FAMILY!" blah blah blah she was reading Habtamu's script from the other day line for line. Any rebuttal or reassurance digs them in deeper. So I played my role, letting her have the same experience as her brother.

"Is this your family?"
"Is this your house?"
"Is this your bed?"
"Then get out of it," and I threw her blankets off.
"This is my daughter's bed, are you my daughter?"
"Then get out of my daughter's bed."


"Is this your family?"
"Is this your house?"
"Then you must be in the wrong house."


"NO FAMILY! NO blah blah blah..."

"Do you want to stay?"
"Ok, I'll help you leave," and we walk downstairs to the back door. I open the door and all that's standing between her and the new fallen snow is the stormdoor and her pink socks.

"If you want to go, you can go."
"No, *you* said this is not your house. *You* said this is not your family. Do you want to stay?"
"Your choice." I open the storm door and cold air hits her squarely in the flannel pajamas.
"Come back when you are ready to be part of the family and say you're sorry for not doing what Daddy asked."

Now, I'll be honest... I expected her to turn around and come in after about 5 seconds, but I waited on the stairs and got my shoes on just in case.

She didn't come in.

I see her standing right outside the door crying so I motion to her to come in.

She won't.

I think she was outside for 3 or 4 minutes in 20 degree weather before Chris intervened. "Either she's going to freeze or someone's going to call the cops," she said, and somewhere under all my anger, I know she's right. I keep thinking my kids understand cold, but they really don't. I also keep thinking my kids understand how much we love them, and that the point of letting them 'leave' is so they get the happy 'coming back' experience, but they really don't understand that either. And on top of it, their stubbornness must be fueled by hellfire because I don't know what else in this world would make you think that not apologizing would be worth losing a couple fingers. Habtamu had to be dragged back in the other day too but at least he picked a 40 degree day to have a meltdown. So I go out there, hoist my daughter's wailing body over my shoulder and say, "You are making such a bad choice that I need to stop you. Daddies protect their children. We are going inside to get warm before you get hurt." She's kicking and screaming the whole time, wrenching her cold fingers out of my warm hands, fighting me while I try to take her wet socks off.


Sigh... Yeah. You're welcome. It is so bed time.

Before anyone decides that my daughter would be treated better at Gitmo, and starts making phone calls about my 'snow-boarding' technique, know that she's fine. 10 fingers, 10 toes, and was only quivering with rage when I brought her in. Also, she was determined to walk back to Ethiopia until the moment she fell asleep, so apparently the self-imposed deep freeze treatment didn't even flicker the fire of her spirit. One word: Hellfire.

If anything good came out of this, it's that Habtamu seems to understand that she picks up these 'I'm too stubborn to admit I should have put on my shoes first' ideas from him. We've been trying to explain that he can't really stop her from copying him, and though it's hard, he needs to remember that she's always watching how he deals with situations. He asked if he sounded like that when he Umbie-Umbies. "Yeah, exactly," Chris replied, "And you do it longer."

We'll find out next time if any of that sunk in.


Lisa said...

Okay, I know I keep saying you are doing great...but you are, and the kids will realize you have been doing the best you can in oh, about 20 years. So, keep it up! :)

jur said...

There's something evil in the air. I mean, I know your kids are still in the "figuring it out" stage -- and it's not Christmas because they haven't had one in your family yet -- but my kids were demons today, and I would say a good half of my blog friends and MOPS friends are all going crazy today...
You'd think it was a full moon. But it's not.

Anonymous said...

We hear many of the same things - especially from our older girl (10). Thankfully, we don't hear them as often as we used to. Whenever they were in trouble and being disciplined, it was, "You mommy NO! Want India mommy. Family NO! Go back India!" Not fun to hear when we (with our American brain) assume they will be grateful that we adopted them and brought them to such a wonderful place and a wonderful family who loves them no matter what. They don't think that way. Much to our frustration! :-)

Hang in there. Know that your consistent love and guidance will make a difference and get through to them eventually.

Sue L. said...

Yea, this whole parenting thing--it is definitely REALLY hard at times. You just have to hang in there, do your best, and trust that you and your kids really will live through this. (ALERT: childhood story to follow!) When I was little, my mom suffered from terrible PMS, back when no one knew what PMS was. She says she feels like she 'lost it' a lot, and yelled at us all the time, and has felt very guilty about that. Well, as I have reassured her, I truly do NOT remember my mom 'losing it' and yelling all the time. What I remember about my childhood is that my mom has always loved me, and has ALWAYS been there for me. I take comfort in that, because I have, on very rare(?) occasions yelled at my girls. But I trust that what they will remember about me is the important stuff, like I LOVE THEM. Not that I 'lost it' and yelled.
Hang in there. God is with you. Sending prayers,
Sue ~ the Bag Lady