Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Tale of the Six Pretzel Fish

The Crime Scene
This morning, Princess Tenley was woken early, taken to fetch visiting Grandma Barbara, and by 11 was back at home running amok while Daddy got ready to go to work and Mommy got ready to take Ten & Grandma Barbara to Village Venture in Claremont.

It was during this, that with her usual lack of spatial awareness, she tripped on her blue snack bowl and spilled 6 pretzel fish. No biggie- but if you don’t pick them up they’ll end up being ground into the carpet, and the 1 survivor will get kicked under the couch where 2 weeks from now it will be “found food” for Tenley to shove in her mouth and cause her dad and I to pry her jaws open to make sure it isn’t money, a rubber band, etc. So in an effort to teach our toddler to be responsible for her actions and to clean up her messes, Daddy called after her and said “Ten, you spilled your fish. Come here and pick them up.” Tenley’s response was to continue what she was doing and to shake her little head as she casually said “no.” He tried again. “Ten, your fish are on the floor- you need to put them back in the bowl.” This time she actually stopped what she was doing to look at him and say “no.” Daddy is the pushover, so Mommy the Evil Authoritarian decided to wade in. “Tenley?” She ignores me. “Tenley! Daddy asked you to pick up your fish. Go put them in the bowl- NOW.” Tenley looked me in the eye, stomped her little foot, and said “NO” and went back to what she was doing. Big mistake.

In a blinding flash of light Mommy the Evil Authoritarian morphed into her stubborn- beyond- reason pale skinned, flame haired Irish ancestors, leapt the kitchen gate, grabbed her by her little arm and said “You do NOT speak to Mommy that way. When Mommy and Daddy ask you to do something, you need to do it!”, then I dragged her to the bowl and said “Now pick up your fish and put them back in the bowl like you were told! We are not going to do anything else until you pick up your fish.”

With that, the lower lip jutted out, the back arched and the 30 minute laying on the floor- kicking- screaming- fist pounding tantrum began.

First there was angry crying and screaming.

Then she decided to try to get Daddy and Grandma to save her. I was proud of them both for telling her “no, I’m not going to cuddle you & save you. You need to pick up your fish.” That produced more tears, fist pounding, and angry roaring.

Her next tactic was distraction. “Wiggles??” “Buzz Lightyear?” “Style?” “Shoes?” “George??” Each of these was asked hopefully, as though we might just want to put in a Wiggles DVD and forget the whole fish thing. But no, each time she was reminded that we were not going to do anything else until she picked up those fish. Cue more wailing and rolling around on the floor in anger.

Sensing that she had done something wrong (although apparently she couldn’t fathom why we were being so mean) she decided to try to use her tears and pitiful state to her advantage. “S-s-sorrrry D-d-daddyyyy” as she crawled over the fish and into his lap. “S-s-s-sorry” Her contrition was spoiled by the fact that as she was hugging Daddy she was trying to get the Lovey out of his back pocket. Daddy hugged her and said, “It’s nice that you’re sorry, but you still need to pick up your fish.” Ack! Foiled again! More angry wailing.

In between bouts of wailing we had tried to play on her sympathies and tell her that the fish were lonely and wanted to be back in the bowl with their friends. We had worked her knowledge of boo-boos by pointing out that they could get stepped on. We pointed out that if left unattended Beeps would eat them. I sang the “Clean it Up” song. George offered to help. Finally we decided to compromise: we would help her put the fish back in the bowl.

The 3 adults sat down on the floor with her, and each picked up one of the 6 wayward fish as we told Tenley we would help her put them away. We told her to pick one up so she could put one in the bowl too. She sat there staring at us. Finally Jeff said, “Ok you can have mine” and he handed her the fish. Which she stuffed into her mouth. We’re all trying desperately not to laugh. Barbara says “Do you want mine?” as Tenley reaches out and snatches the fish and stuffs that in her mouth too. My fish was next. She grabbed 2 more off the floor and stuffed them in. She was determined not to give in- she was NOT going to put those fish back in the bowl like she was told- she would eat them before she put them away!

Unfortunately for Tenley, 5 pretzel fish was her little mouth’s limit. Faced with the inevitable, she finally picked up the 1 remaining fish and dropped it in the bowl. Mommy, Daddy and Grandma cheered like she had just found the cure for cancer. Tenley smiled and laughed sending a spray of salt and crumbs over the former scene of such drama.

The fish finally removed from the floor, we gave her a style and her shoes and got on with our day.

The Drama Queen

1 comment:

Donna said...

I'm cracking up here! Geesh, that sounds like every single day in this household!

Oh the joys of power struggles. We pick our battles but, sometimes, we just have to score ONE for the parents!

Thanks for the fun story. Tenley will get a kick out of that one later when she's older!


Double Happiness!