Yesterday, the formerly angelic Fiona was practicing all day the fine art of being three years old. If you have ever had the pleasure of parenting a three year old, I need not explain any further. If you have not yet had this pleasure, suffice it to say that three year olds are absolutely determined to get exactly what they want, except that they do not know what they want, and it greatly infuriates them when you can't get them what they aren't sure they want. For Fiona this simply results in a great deal of whining.
At bathtime, I asked her where her smile had gone to. I told her I missed her beautiful, smiling face. She looked at me with her big, blue eyes and cheeks red from time out in the cold air and her fat, red lips and golden curls, looking like an angel, naked and adorable, and she whined some more. I bathed her quietly and put her to bed. Today she woke up and she was amazing all day. This is what it is to be three.
But to take her place, Maeve, who is to her credit recovering from being sick, moaned and cried all day. If she had gotten her way she would have been strapped to the teat all day. She wanted to nurse all day long. I am a liberal, cooperative, Pioneer Valley mother who is fine with my toddler nursing but my patience wanes in these situations. My patience waned, and petered out, and left me. I told her I wanted to sell her to the gypsies. Is that politically correct?
At dinner time there was food flung and more well executed whining. The big kids were giggling under their breath with me and rolling their eyes. I told them, I have to say it, sometimes it's just plain difficult to raise little kids. Sometimes it's just hard, hard work. But look around! Difficult little kids turn into easy, lovely big kids. And I took them in my arms, not even having to bend over to wrap my arms around them and feel their warm heads against my face, and we laughed together. Because that's all you can do when babies turn bad: you have to laugh.
We tucked the girls into bed, the sweet-faced Fiona and disastrously overtired Maeve (who was actually chipper and cute post-bath, as if she knew her end was near) into bed at 6:00 and launched into our own version of a SuperBowl party with the big kids. We made nacho chips with melted cheese and black bean dip and gave the kids juice and we cracked open ice-cold beers and our little family watched football until the late hour of 8:15 PM. It was a civilized dream.