I don't exactly believe in karma, but I've seen the old home movies of my childhood and it seems fitting that what went around is coming right back in the form of my eldest daughter, because we are exactly the same (which amuses the hell out of my mother sometimes). She's cheerful, and fun, and interesting (and I am having a hard time writing about her great qualities, not because she doesn't have them but because I just said she's just like me and wow, conceited much)...and stubborn as all get out and has the same elephantine memory her mother has, and when we go toe to toe, it's something.
I try to pick my battles. I think any parent does. And, like any parent, some days are better than others.
Anyway. Some days Mary naps, other times she does not. Today I walked in to find she had been having "quiet time" instead - fine - and had taken a bunch of clothes out of her drawers and changed outfits - not fine. I know it seems like a small thing, but she makes an incredible mess when she does it and also, I think Homegirl thinks she's Britney Spears because if it were up to her she'd undergo several hundred "costume changes" a day, and sorry, I hate laundry enough without having to fish last spring's tutu out from behind the couch so I can wash it alongside the Christmas shirt that wound up disgustingly close to the cat box.
"Mary," I said. She looked up. She knew.
"I wanted to wear this," she said, indicating a thick cotton knit dress with long sleeves - did I mention it's about 70 degrees today? - and glancing around at the other clothes littering the floor.
"You know you're not supposed to go into your drawers like this," I said. "You can maybe wear that tomorrow, but right now I want you to pick up these other clothes and get back into the outfit you had on before naptime."
I'll spare you the details, but she dug her heels in and I wasn't giving up on this one because she knows, darn it, and she wasn't giving up because, well, she's four, darn it, and she announced she was not going to change, she was not going to come out of her room, and that was that. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth commenced - this time not from me. At some point I went in and literally took the knit dress off of her.
"Now," I said. "You can have this dress back tomorrow. But you can't wear it today. Put that skirt and shirt on or when it's time to get Daddy at the train station I will put you in your car in your panties and you can look silly all afternoon."
"NO! I WON'T! THIS OUTFIT IS TOO BORING FOR ME!"
Need I mention the outfit was a lovely pink t-shirt and floral print skirt, and, more to the point, she had picked it out herself not a week prior when we had gone shopping for warm weather clothes?
At some point I wound up on the phone with my mother in law, who was treated to the dulcet tones of my preschooler running screaming through the house demanding her dress back.
"She's really mad," Sue observed.
"Yeah, she's pretty pissed about this one," I agreed. "Mary! Put your clothes on so we can go outside. It's too nice to be in here all day!"
"NO YOU GIVE ME MY DRESS BACK RIGHT NOW! RIGHT! NOW!"
Kid, really? Are you new here?
"Yes, I'm so motivated to do that right now," I said, more to Sue than to Mary. We laughed.
"Let me talk to her," Sue said.
"Mary, Mim wants to talk to you!"
"NO! I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO MIM!"
"Mary, that is rude. You can't be rude to people. Come talk to your grandmother."
"I! AM! BUSY!"
That's funny, because the last time I looked down the hall, Mary was "busy" sitting in her stuffed animal bucket, wearing a Little Mermaid tiara and glaring at me.
"You're busy?" At this point I can barely keep from laughing. It's not that it was cute or funny. It wasn't. Sassy kids piss me off. It was just so flipping absurd I didn't know what else to do. "What, pray tell, are you busy with?"
"HIDING. I AM BUSY HIDING FROM YOU. AND I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO MIM."
At this point Anna, who had been observing the tennis match, glanced over.
"I wanna talk to Mim."
And so she did.
And a few minutes later I went down the hall, ignored my daughter, and cleaned the winter clothes out of her drawers, which was what I had been planning on doing anyway. Mary asked what I was doing, and I told her. Then I told her to put her clothes on.
And so she did.
And I am fearing what this may look like in 10 years.