Monday, February 28, 2011

I’m here to make you look good.

So. Saturday started out pretty well. It was Parent Observation Day at the girls’ dance studio. Lisa and I watched Maggie’s class, then Maggie and I watched Lisa’s class. That’s 2 hours of bagpipes, but it was entertaining, none the less.

When it was time to leave at 11:30, I retrieved Maggie’s jacket from the hook in the change room. Apparently, she wanted to get the jacket off the hook, which sent her into pouty, stubborn mode. Putting the jacket back on the hook didn’t help. Coaxing her gently didn’t help. Bribing her didn’t help. She refused to get ready to go. There were other parents in the room, so I was very conscious about being a “good parent”, doing the “right thing”. After 10 minutes of this nonsense, my patience had vanished and I had spiralled down into threatening mode: “If you don’t… then I will…” I was saying this quietly into her ear so no one else could hear. Other parents were giving me sympathetic smiles, some regaling me with tales of stubborn fits by their own children.

When the other parents had finally cleared out, I picked her up and carried her outside, Lisa trailing behind carrying her coat, hat, mittens and boots. Our car was about a block away, parked on a residential street. She was kicking and screaming the whole time.

When we finally got to the car, she wouldn’t get in. She somehow splayed herself across the doorframe and I could not get her in. Finally, Lisa went in the other side and pulled while I pushed with my arms and a leg. We wrestled her into her booster seat, buckled her up and closed the door (with child locks engaged).

Before I could even open my door, she had unbuckled herself and she was sitting in the front seat. I tried to speak to her quietly; tried to calm her down, but she was too far gone. I got her back in her seat and buckled (by pulling her from behind) and told her that I would throw her things into the snow bank if she didn’t stay buckled. She didn’t, and I did.

I threw her things over the car (she was on the driver’s side; the snow bank was on the passenger side). One by one, her coat, boots, stuffies, hat and mitts sailed over the car and into the snow bank. In between each toss, I was pleading with her to get buckled. I then told her that I would retrieve the items, only if she sat back in the seat and re-buckled. She wouldn’t, so I started the car and threatened to drive away, leaving her things behind and letting her take her chances with the police.

Then the homeowner, whose snow bank I had been using for dramatic effect, pulled into his driveway. He could hear the screaming child and he could see the various articles of clothing and toys strewn about his lawn. Perhaps he thought the screaming child threw them? Another sympathetic smile.

I sheepishly picked everything up and threw them in the trunk. I buckled her again and Lisa volunteered to try and keep her from unbuckling. We finally got going and she unbuckled again after not more than 10 seconds. She stayed in the backseat but kicked her leg in the front and kicked the gear shift into neutral. I was seriously prepared to throw her into the snow bank.

I don’t even know what I was threatening her with at this point. I just wanted to get home where I would have the help of another adult.

Once again buckled, we started out. Lisa was able to fight off her unbuckling attempts until we were about a kilometre from home. At that point, Lisa just tackled her and held her down until we pulled into our driveway at about 12:10.

Homer took over and all was well after about 15 minutes. She has been sternly and sufficiently punished. If you ask Maggie what happened, she’ll tell you that Mommy took her coat off the hook and that made her mad. Thank God for Lisa.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Too much storage space = hoarding enabler

I’m kind of the opposite of a hoarder. I don’t hang onto much for ‘sentimental’ reasons, I make almost weekly trips to the donation centre and I don’t buy anything without evaluating where it will be stored (including food – only so many bread products will fit in my breadbox, you know?) Homer was quite amused when I was putting away some Christmas presents - I got new stainless steel measuring cups, so I put those in the place where my measuring cups live and immediately put the old plastic ones in the donation bag. I got a new travel mug and donated an old one (there’s only so much room in the ‘mugs’ cupboard). As soon as I read a book, I give it away. If I buy a new sweater, I’ve already made room for it by donating one or more of the older ones. I don’t like stuffed closets or jam-packed drawers - I like to be able to find my things easily and always have a place to put them away.

Homer does not have the same practicalities. He has bought sets of books that he never intends to read, but wanted for our bookshelf (SETS! Like, 12 volumes). He accumulates video games, gadgets and watches like no one I’ve ever seen. He’ll hold onto a piece of clothing for years, even decades (sometimes items just ‘disappear’ and he doesn’t seem to notice). He’ll drive me nuts by bringing home a case of something (food item, cleaning product, etc.) and plopping it in the middle of the kitchen with a big, satisfied grin. My first thought is a panicky ‘where will I put all this?’ The result is that there’s almost a line drawn down the middle of our room. My side is sparsely adorned and orderly and his has stacks and piles and lots of things that don’t have a permanent home.

Still, I have my issues. I still have a whole stack of cloth diapers taking up space in a spare closet, even though my youngest is 3 years out of diapers. Why? I don’t know, except that I haven’t found anyone to give them to and I’m afraid that they’ll be wasted if I give them to a stranger (I loved cloth diapering). I have a small cupboard that’s stacked with the few pieces of memorabilia I do want to keep for my kids (class pictures, hand-print art projects, etc.), but it’s literally a teetering stack with no rhyme, reason or organization. It’s been on my to-do list for years (YEARS!) and I never even get around to starting the project. Hand-me-downs between the girls (from Lisa to Maggie) are getting a little out of control – I need to go through them and really evaluate what is worth hanging onto and what is better thrifted now (there’s a 5-year age gap, so it has to be something really special to justify taking up space for another 4-5 years).

It helps that these things are behind closed doors, but it’s those closed doors that have allowed me to not deal with them (enablers!) I have this theory that people who have big walk-in closets or massive storage areas, whether or not they are well-organized, are just putting off the purging and rationalizing that ought to be as routine in a home as changing the furnace filters, getting your gardens ready and changing your smoke detector batteries. Maybe I’m just jealous of people with big walk-in closets and massive storage areas. In any case, it’s definitely time for me to deal with my little hoarding issues.