Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Stormy Weather

After six months of struggling to get Bee enrolled in pre-school, it appears that she is now mastering the fine art of playing hooky.

On her first day last Tuesday everything went smoothly, She dashed right into the classroom, so dazzled by the vast array of toys that she did not even notice when my mom slipped out the door. Although she was getting over a bad cold, and stubbornly insisted on wearing large rubber rain boots which caused her to repeatedly trip over her own feet, the staff reported that she did well and remained in good spirits throughout the day.

Things have gone downhill since then. On Thursday she spent the morning tearfully clinging to my mom for dear life. She was fascinated by the goings-on, watching with saucer eyes as the other children played, painted and sang songs. Finally she joined in at recess, riding the tire swing and slipping down the slide with glee. Mom took this opportunity to drop off some paperwork in another part of the building, and when she returned Bee was crumpled on the floor crying inconsolably. She wouldn't let any of the teachers near her. "I'm going to take her home for now," my mom informed me via cell phone. "We'll try again next week."

Determined that today would be more successful, I made sure she had a good nap and a hearty dinner last night, and put her to bed extra early. I quickly got dressed this morning so I would have more time to snuggle with her and give her a good start to her day. It didn't work. She howled as I tried to remove her pajamas, refused to put her arms into her shirtsleeves, and pulled off her diaper as soon as I put it on. I rocked her, soothed her, talked to her softly, gave her a hug and kiss, and handed her off to my mom, at which point she began shrieking so loudly that I could hear her OUTSIDE IN MY CAR.

An hour later my mom called. "I don't think we are going to make it to nursery school today." Apparently Bee continued to storm and rage after I left. At the height of her tantrum she shut herself in the garage, where she proceeded to rip off all of her clothing, including her diaper - my mom found her standing stark naked next to the water heater, screaming her head off. It was a battle just to get her pants and shirt back on, and never mind attempting shoes and a jacket - Bee wasn't having any of it.

I know some kids are naturally high-maintenance, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that I have done something terribly wrong in raising her. I was so confident at first, so secure in my conviction that Attachment Parenting was the proper way to produce happy, trusting, self-assured, independent children. After all it worked for Bug, didn't it? I held him constantly, let him nurse whenever he wished, carried him around in a sling and kept him in our bed until he was weaned. As a result he transferred as seamlessly to his own bed as he did to a sippy cup, and started pre-school at age one without shedding a single tear.

Bee is a different story. She just turned two and would still nurse as much as a ravenous newborn if I let her. I have finally succeeded in minimizing our nursing time to just before bed, but that doesn't stop her from constantly trying to lift up my shirt, yanking on my bra, and throwing herself down across my lap expectantly - despite the fact that we may be in synagogue, at the mall, or in the middle of a dinner party. And there seems to be no end in sight to the co-sleeping - she simply CAN'T settle down unless she is laying next to me, one hand entangled in my hair and the other arm wrapped around my neck. I seem to have missed the window of opportunity where I could have "sleep trained" her or Ferberized her or whatever you are supposed to do to get kids to sleep by themselves. Maybe I should have just done the old-fashioned thing and let her cry it out, but with Bee I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have worked - not before the neighbors started to complain or call the police, anyway. The girl can SHRIEK. For HOURS. At one point I bought a book that I thought might help, "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" but I was too tired to read it - so here I am, waking up each morning with my head on the nightstand because Bee has commandeered my pillow.

I hate to sound like I am being bossed around by a two year old, but I guess I am. If she doesn't want to do something - you just can't get her to do it, no way. Take strollers, for example. She hates 'em. Never in her life has she consented to sit in a stroller for any length of time. I spent a good deal of my maternity leave pushing an empty Graco LiteRider up and down the Iron Horse trail with one hand while holding Bee with the other arm. This tendency of hers to STEADFASTLY RESIST SITTING DOWN WHATSOEVER has really cramped our style. Other parents can plan wonderful treks to, say, the zoo or Disneyland - for us it is just out of the question unless I want to lug her around in my arms for hours and hours. I can't take her grocery shopping because she won't sit in the cart. I can't even go on the long, leisurely bike rides that I used to enjoy, back when Bug would nap contentedly on the back seat - I tried it with Bee a few times and she was screaming before I even left the driveway. And she doesn't just cry - she thrashes and flails and whips her head around with enough force to flip her stroller over like a Suzuki Samurai, so I can't force the issue even if I wanted.

Oh, how I cherish my little spitfire - I am so overwhelmed each day with love for her funny, bossy little personality. I could just die when she yanks Bug off the couch and makes him dance with her to the Higglytown Heroes theme, when she tenderly rocks and feeds and burps her new baby doll, when she "helps" me set the dinner table while humming the ABC song softly under her breath. And I must admit that, much as I'd love for her to fall alseep on her own, the feel of her sweet, sleepy face on my shoulder, with her soft chubby arms around my neck, is one of the great pleasures of my life.

The funny thing is, I have always been a very timid, non-confrontational person, so afraid to seem too demanding or opinionated. I have often wondered what I might have achieved if I were bolder, more of a go-getter. So in a strange way I am actually quite surprised and pleased to have produced such a determined, headstrong hellcat of a daughter. No shrinking violet, Bee will always be the type of person who knows what she wants and has the personality to get it - and god help anyone who stands her her way!

On the other hand, once she turns thirteen . . . god help me!


Blogger Lisa said...

She sounds like a challenge and a joy. By the way, my youngest, who is 6, is consistently sleeping through the night in his own bed--as of just a few months ago. It took a lot of discussions, but he has finally gotten the picture. (Once a week or so he still comes in during the night, claiming he had a bad dream.)

4:27 AM  
Blogger justjook said...

Whenever I complain about Babygirl being too headstrong or stubborn, my sister always reminds me that I want her to be like that as an adult. We just have to survive our daughters getting to adulthood.
You did nothing wrong with Bee. She's a great little girl who will be a great teenager.

3:30 PM  
Blogger moosie said...

If it makes you feel any better, I was supposedly a really clingy baby myself, being very selective on who could even TOUCH MY ARM. So - I've outgrown that (thank goodness considering I'm in my 20s haha). But anyways - I would say enjoy it while you can. And Bee is a wonderful, clever, beautiful little girl!

11:51 AM  
Blogger exute said...

Your own nursery school (is that term archaic?) teacher thought that you were unable to speak because you were so shy. These problems disappear, new ones come to take their place.

She'll do fine.

7:19 AM  

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