Three Kid Circus : How would YOU feel?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

How would YOU feel?

I find myself awake before the sun again this morning.  Hopefully, sleep has washed away some of the angst that has been swirling around my house.  Yesterday was a rough day for all of us.

I have ordered some ridiculously expensive sleeping bags for the kids, to be presented to Their Royal Highnesses on my son's birthday in September.  One is a Unicorn, the other a Dinosaur.  I hope someone will remind them how truly spoiled I tried to make them, when they complain as teenagers that I will not buy them a BMW. 

The day got off to a rip-roaring start when our Mail Carrier pulled up in front of the house.  We usually don't see her until the afternoon, but we had a package today.  Oh, no.  Virtually all packages are met with glee by my oldest.  She assumes that 1) it's for her and  2) now is as good a time as ever to open it. 

Since she was an infant, I have bought almost everything online and had it shipped.  I greet packages with glee, too.  It feels like Christmas morning.  I can't fault her for being excited...but I have to figure out a way to get gifts for the kids past her.

Since the adoption of our dog, Donna, we've kept a padlock on the latch when she's out in the yard, so that she doesn't take herself for a walk if the gate is opened by a delivery person or girl scout.  We installed a loud bell on the gate, so if the gate doesn't budge, they can ring the bell and we'll corral the dog.

This has been working great, since the kids can't escape (yet), the dog is secure and solicitors are generally not bold enough to ring the bell.  Even better, the delivery people know that they can leave the package outside the fence and give us a quick 'clang.'  I can easily retrieve it when the kids are otherwise occupied, and avoid the "Oooh, mommy!  A present for MEEEEEE."

Yesterday, we all heard the bell.  The mail-lady didn't want to just leave the box, because mail is frequently stolen in our area.  I was hissing through the fence "Just leave it just leave it" as my oldest rounded the corner of the yard.  The mail-lady didn't take the hint, and sang out "You've got a PACK-age!"  With that, my 5 year old accelerated to my side and began bouncing up and down.  "A pack-age, a pack-age!"

Urg.  So I shoo her away, collar the dog, retrieve the package, thank the mail-lady and push the gate closed.   The dog took off down the fence line to woof at some kids, while my daughter snatched at the box with outstretched arms.  "What's in there, mommy?  Is it for me?  Let's open it!" 

I move at light speed through the front door and jettison the package onto my bed.  I try to make it out of my room and shut the door, but the kids have caught up.  "Mommy, I wanna see in the box.  What's in there, Mommy?  Mommy.  Mommy, open it."  

I try a stall tactic.  "It's nothing, really.  Just some silly stuff Daddy wanted.  You know, golf stuff. Nothing fun for kids."

She tries again: "Let's see it, Mommy.  Let's wrap it for Daddy so he'll be surprised!"
Okay, this isn't going well.  "Honey, it's too lumpy to wrap."

Now she's getting agitated.  "I can DO it Mommy.  Let's open it up.  I wanna see it.  I WANNA SEE IT."  The baby and my son lose interest, but the 5 year old has locked onto the target.
Quick!  Bait and switch!  "Honey, do you want to see your Halloween costume?"

"Nooooooo!  I want the box open.  Please, Mommy."  At this point, I make a miscalculation.  I decide to level with her.  "Sweetheart, that box has birthday surprises in it.  Not for Daddy, for you kids.  I don't want to ruin the surprise, so I can't show it to you.  You'll see it on your brother's birthday."  This only served to rachet up the excitement factor by 1000 and restart the pleading in earnest.

After 20 minutes of whining, pleading and arguments worthy of a trial attorney, I marched the entire box out into the garage and shoved it high on a shelf, and locked the garage door.

The floodgates opened.  "Waaaaaaaaah!  Mommy!  How would YOU feel if I had a present for YOU and I wouldn't give it to you?  How would YOU feel if I told you it was for Daddy's birthday?  Mommy!  Waaaaaaaah!  I'm going to stay in my room forEVER and I'm NOT coming out.  Waaaaaaah!"

Having her confined to her room didn't sound like a negative, but I tried to be calm and fair.  "Honey, what about Christmas?  We like Christmas surprises..." 

"Waaaaaaaah!  No!  I HATE surprises!  Christmas STINKS!"

Great.  Okay.  Deep, cleansing breath.  I wade back in.  "I understand how you feel, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise."  She put her hands on her hips, and turned her blotchy face towards mine.  She blinked hard a few times, got a few crocodile tears running and said, "Mommy, you just show me NOW, and I'll ACT surprised later."  Nice try, but no.

And so began the soundtrack of my day.  "Waaaaaaah!  How would YOU feel?"  This lasted 5 hours, with intermittent breaks (like the mudpie fest) and left me hanging onto the tattered shreds of my sanity.  Just when we seemed to be over it, she would wind up like an air raid siren and we would begin again.  That girl of mine is persistent.

Knock wood, today, because we haven't had any mention of it.   And I'm celebrating because I managed to get through it without screaming back.  The kicker is only half of the order arrived in that box, and the other will arrive at some unknown time in the future.  I'm going to make a sign for the fence that says "Ring the bell and run like hell.  Surprise-hating 5 year old on premise."