Okay, maybe it's hourly.
She must have been listening back in April when my mother came to visit. During a dinner table discussion of appropriate manners, my mother shared a bit of her family history with my brood. "When I was a child, my mother told us that my Grandmother's Grandmother was a Lady-in-Waiting for Queen Victoria."
I heard the Lady-in-Waiting story often when I was growing up. My daughter did not ask her Nana what exactly a Lady-in-Waiting was. But apparently she liked the sound of it so much that now waiting is all I ever seem to do. After all, there is a family tradition to uphold, right?
Sadly, my patience is not as boundless as it might be.
Here is a partial list of the tasks that cannot possibly be done in less than 30 minutes and without an elaborate cajoling ritual...
- Choosing clothes/Getting dressed for the day: First we must have a "favorite colors" guessing game or a "guess what shirt I'm thinking of...?" game. Then comes the "I need you/I don't need you" tug-of-war.
- Putting shoes on: Oh, and they're slip-ons, by the way. God help us when it's time for tie shoes. And we can't forget the issue of matching shoes to one's outfit. (Gah!)
- Brushing teeth: She must brush, then I must brush. "First, count to 19," she will say before handing the brush to me as I slowly pull out my rapidly greying hair.
- Getting into the car: Not getting to the car... just into it. She has to do a super-jump and climb into her car seat, smoothing the back of her shirt just so. Otherwise, she will spend the entire ride complaining that it "frickles."
- Getting out of the car: Frickling is not a problem getting out. We are usually searching for a lost item before getting out -- a marble, barrette, or toy. Today it was a bit of plastic from a juice box straw wrapper. She's meticulous... I'll give her that.
- Putting on a jacket: Here we fall victim to "I'll do it myself" syndrome. Even the zipper. It takes For-Ev-Er.
- Choosing a book: I love to read to her, but often 20 minutes of looking will have her settling (finally) on a book with 6 pages.
- Any meal: She just wants to talk to whomever is at the table. She's a social girl... that is, until dessert is served. Then she's full (except that she has room for dessert.)
- Bedtime: Tonight I was kissed by no less than three dogs, two bears and a blankie. I then had to fight for a kiss from my daughter playing "you can't find me" under her bedsheet.
And then I think, What Is Wrong With Me??
She's three. And playing your way through the day is what age three is all about. It's also about asserting your independence (which has issues of its own -- trust me.) But mostly, it's about operating on your own "schedule" and doing things in your own time.
Since the boys are so independent, I guess I had forgotten that.
And then something happened yesterday while I was planting my garden that made my parental hypocrisy meter top out. I was planting a bed of Basil when my daughter came up and asked me to play soccer. "After I'm done with these Basil plants," I told her. She waited. She made conversation. She made up a game to make the waiting go faster, which I played with her as I planted. Finally, she left for a few moments and returned.
"Are you ready to play now, Mommy?"
It hit me that I was "playing" in my garden while she patiently waited for me, doing whatever she could to spend time with me. (And also, I am an idiot for making her wait like that.)
So I stopped planting, and we had one heck of a backyard soccer game. Of course, she had to blow a whistle and say, "Argh, he's in the stretch, there's the pitch!" and pantomime a swing for the fences before every kickoff. (Apparently, she's a pirate baseball-playing soccer player??) We also had to establish before kickoff exactly who would be allowed to score the goal. And afterward, she would shout, "SCORE!" and do that breathy crowd noise thing. And despite my sham sorrow at losing yet another point to the masterful mistress of soccer, I did my best to hide my tears, extend my hand, and say, "good game." And then we'd start all over again.
We played for a long time, but it was fun, so that makes it time well spent. In the end it was my own little Lady-in-Waiting who taught me a lesson about patience and being considerate. And about making time to play.
I wonder what my daughter's Grandmother's Grandmother's Grandmother would think of that.
- Midwest Mom