There is a great anecdote in the book "Feather's from a Mother's Nest" where Beth Moore describes her older daughter and how sweet and sensitive she was as a little girl. Then there was her younger daughter who, when she was 4 years old, came downstairs one morning and asked, "Are you gonna boss me today?" I am telling you, there is redux in our house for sure. (Though I take great comfort in the fact that her former 4-year-old who didn't want to be bossed recently got her master's in Biblical exegesis from Wheaton and now researches and writes Bible studies. There's hope.)
There are any number of times when Darren and I look at each other and say, "What are we going to do with her?" There are also times when I have said to Elaine, "Someone is definitely going to win in this situation. And I promise--it's not going to be you."
I always tell this story when people ask me what our girls are like. Last year, when Lucy was just 4 and Elaine was 18 months, I got annoyed with Lucy. She was continually goofing around when I was trying to get her ready for bed. I finally said, "Dry off, go in your room, and get your pajamas on. I am NOT happy with you!" When I came in in a few minutes to check on her, she threw her arms around and sobbed, "I'm so sorry I did those bad things, Mom! Please have mercy on me!" The next morning at around 5:30 a.m., I was on my way to work. When I passed Elaine's darkened room where she was (I thought) sleeping peacefully in her crib, I heard her little voice singing this song: "Mommy, Mommy, Mooooommmmy. No way, no way, no way!" That pretty much sums up their personalities.
Flash forward to this week. Both girls love this game they call "Water." It's pretty much what it sounds like--they take whatever containers they can find and fill them with water and play in it and spill it all over. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes I let them have a few extra things lying around because they like to make "soup." The other night they both stood at the counter and put salt, fresh basil, dried oregano, and Darren's hot sauce into water and stirred it. They would play this game all day if I let them though. And clean-up is not really their strong point either.
Yesterday was hectic and busy, and I sure didn't feel like cleaning up extra messes so I decreed, "No one is to play Water today." Every so often they would try to wheedle me into it (and sometimes they play it without getting permission first). Finally I said, "The next person who plays Water will not get any treats or dessert for the rest of the week." Now that is huge, right? (And let me also interject that Elaine had already gotten in trouble in the morning for saying, "Hmph!" in an extremely sassy way to me because I wouldn't let her spend the entire day in the bathroom lifting the toilet seat up and down.)
Anyway, back to Water. I had given them dinner, then a little bowl of ice cream. My back was turned for a minute when I heard Lucy say, "Mom, is it ok if we make soup?" "Absolutely not," I said. "Oh." I turned and I guess that request was after the fact because their ice cream bowls were filled with water from their cups, and they were slopping their spoons around in them, as well as spilling ice cream-tainted water all over the counter. "You" I pointed at Lucy "You in the red chair. And you," pointing at Elaine, "you in the chair in the dining room. No treats the rest of this week." Lucy started crying, and Elaine screamed (that's pretty much the ending line to any situation in our house..."and Elaine screamed.")
Later on Lucy came in and hugged me. "I'm so sorry we disobeyed, Mom. You were right to say we can't have treats." I hugged her and forgave her. Then, still crying a little, she said, "I wish that old snake never went into the garden and that Adam never did what he did. Then we wouldn't get into these problems!"
Then Elaine came in with a big grin and hugged my leg. "I forgive you, Mama. I forgive you for when I scweamed at you." Oh. Well, that's all right then.
That evening we were on the way home after church. Both girls were so excited because a plane flew fairly low overhead. We watched it for awhile then got in the car. Except Elaine did not want to get in the car. She wanted to keep watching the plane, even though it was gone. I tried and tried to get her buckled in, but she made herself stiff as a board. Oh, and screamed. Of course. Finally I said to Darren, "I'm done. That's your daughter, not mine. See if you can get her buckled in." The whole way home, she found things to be mad about. She wailed, "Dat plane flew away, and I wanted to watch it. He not my friend anymore, waaaaahhhhhh!" We all burst out laughing, which just made her madder. Then she segued into, "Dose fireworks at da baseball game; dey stopped and I wanted to keep watching dem, waaaahhhhhh!" (She hasn't been to a baseball game since the end of July.) Darren said it was like listening to an opera singer--she kept coming up with new verses to her song of rage and shrieking a chorus at the end.
Then we noticed what was playing on the radio. I can't even make this stuff up. We've decided it's her theme song.