Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Home Equity

Jarrah has developed a strong sense of fairness. It goes like this: if I ask her to do something, I have to do the same thing. Exactly.

When we get to music class, I take her shoes off because otherwise she stands on my legs during circle time and pinches them with her sneakers. Well, fine, but after her shoes are off, she points at my feet and says: "Mmm." "I have to take my shoes off?" I ask, needlessly. "Yesh." I am then the only barefoot mom in the class, but we all make concessions.

The teachers have asked the children to wear nametags (which are prepared before our arrival) so they can personalize the songs. All righty. But when I slap Jarrah's nametag to her hoodie, she points to the pile of blank stickers and says--you guessed it--"Mmm." "Mommy has to wear a name tag?" "Uh-huh." I write "SAM" on my sticker (again, the only mom so adorned) and slap it on my hoodie, feeling like a moron.

I am wearing the hoodie, by the way, because when I poked Jarrah's arm through the sleeve of hers before getting in the car this morning, she reached into the passenger seat with the other arm and extracted mine, dangling it from a finger and looking at me meaningfully.

If she sits down to examine a rock or blade of grass or chunk of driftwood (as children are wont to do) she pats the sidewalk next to her. Pat, pat, pat. She'll keep patting, patient as ketchup, until I sit down on the ground next to her, hoping my lower back doesn't seize up on the way down. Then and only then is she free to stare at the item in question for five minutes at a time, ignoring me completely.

The new policy can come in handy. For several weeks, I would say "Time to wash hands!" when we came in from the park and she'd react by stomping her feet and bawling. But one day I just said, "Jarrah, Mommy needs to wash her hands. Wanna come?" She did. "Wow, my hands are getting so clean. Wanna try it?" Up onto the stepstool she went, and punched a little hand under the running water. When you put it that way, Mommy, I guess it's only right.

Usually I don't mind these "requests." After all, there's very little noise involved, and she is easily satisfied. But every now and again I feel resistant. A couple days ago, I took her socks off when we came in the door because she has been sprinting across our hardwood floors and sliding into walls and furniture from lack of traction. Well, okay Mommy, but "Mmm." "I have to take my socks off?" "Yeah." "But my feet are cold." She gave me a look, which seemed to say, "And that is relevant here because...?" "Oh, all right. Here they go. They're off. Happy now?"

She smiles at me. "Yeah." Very happy.

5 comments:

Type (little) a said...

What an adorable little tyrant!

Cheri said...

Patient as ketchup! Love it.

Anonymous said...

"Do as I say.
not as I do,"
ain't gonna work
for you!

:)

Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

Jarrah is so damn cute!

OX,

Mary

Anonymous said...

Sounds adorable... as long she doesn't insist that the two of you wear _matching_ hoodies, at which point you'd be leaving behind the land of so-cute-I-can't-bear-it and crossing the boundary into so-cute-it's-icky! :) Lix