In which Zoë is an evil monster and destroys ballet forever

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Deviant Art

Today, after centuries of existence, Zoë destroyed the art that is ballet. As the gaggle of eager ballerinas gathered around their teacher, Zoë carried out her devious plan. As the girls performed their butterfly stretches, Zoë struck. Her wings spread, wide and menacing, wrapping the room in her darkness. She moved quickly, plundering the joy of the day and replacing it in their hearts with pure horror. The teacher did her best to protect the young ones from this foul beast, shielding them with her own body. But it was no use. No one was any match for this deviant creature who desired nothing but souls and blood and entropy. This machination, this evil intrigue, took us all. And we perished as the light went out and the last feather fell.

Yeah, okay, so this is seriously what happened. Zoë had her first ballet class a few weeks ago. After that, the teacher got sick and cancelled class, and then there was no class because of spring break. So today was Zoë’s second official ballet class. In the first class, she was fighting a cold and hadn’t eaten well. So, naturally, she had a hard time staying on task for the full 45 minutes. The teacher basically asked Mike to take her out for the rest of that session.
Today I explained to Zoë that if she didn’t want to leave class early again, she would need to stay with the class and listen to the teacher. Zoë still remembered having to leave early in the last class and didn’t want that to happen again. Unfortunately, all bets were off within the first few minutes. During stretches, Zoë would flop or roll over during leg stretches. Finally, she just got up and took to running around the room. (By the way, I’ve officially declared mirrored walls to be the natural mortal enemy of 3 year olds.) Because of the way the room and the vestibule outside the room are configured, I didn’t see what happened next, but it was bad enough that the teacher came to get me to deal with Zoë. Through her thick accent and heavily applied perfume, she admonished me to make Zoë listen to her. She bemoaned the fact that Zoë had knocked down the pile of the teacher’s coloring sheets. (They were situated on a floor punching bag. I didn’t see if Zoë purposefully knocked them over, or if it happened on accident while trying to look at them or maybe while she tried to climb on the base of the punching bag.) I apologized, hoping to express my humility and embarrassment, and picked up the sheets. The teacher continued to berate me about Zoë’s behavior and that I needed to talk to her and make her listen to the teacher. At that point I had already apologized and was about to take Zoë aside and talk to her. Annoyed with the level of drama, I pointed out that Zoë is 3. The teacher simply doubled down and snottily told me that all the girls in there were 3.

Don’t get me wrong. The sun, in no way, shines out my child’s butt. I KNOW she can be a handful with her seemingly endless supply of energy. But seriously, what do you expect from a group of 3 year olds? Constant attention and perfection, especially when you’re not really making it fun, isn’t going to happen. Most of the other girls did well, (except for one who had a complete meltdown) but they had also been in structured classes like that before. This was not their first dance class.

So, I did the best I could. I pulled Zoë aside and told her if she didn’t listen to the teacher, we would have to leave and wouldn’t be coming back. I sent her back to the the group with fingers crossed. And, as you would expect, she wasn’t perfect. She made silly faces in the mirror. She tried to climb the mirror with the assistance of the balance bar. When her leg couldn’t physically reach the balance bar, (which all the girls had trouble doing) she flopped down and pouted. But at least she wasn’t disrupting the class. Eh, I guess that’s not totally true. She did disrupt the class for a few seconds when she tried to give her sashay partner a hug. She did try to edge away from the group a few times, but the moment I began to step inside the room she cried No no no! and ran back and paid attention. The rest of the time was fun and she tried. She is definitely not nearly as well-coordinated as the other girls when it comes to skipping, leaping, and tumbling, but she was trying to do what was asked of her.

I guess we’ll try again next week and see what happens. I won’t force something that isn’t a good fit, but I also don’t want to give up right away. She’ll never learn to be in a structured class like that if she isn’t in a structured class like that. If it doesn’t work out, I could always take her to Rachael’s old ballet studio. At least there, the kids learned things while having fun and the teacher knew that ballet for three year olds is really not that serious.

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A house divided

Even though I consider myself an introvert, for awhile, I was the most extroverted person in our home. While I enjoyed my quiet alone time, I didn’t need as much of it as Mike and Rachael. Mike would come home from a day of programming and then immediately get on his computer and ignore me. He needed to decompress. Over time, I got used to it and stopped taking his silence personally. Rachael is daddy’s girl. You know the adage, if your child is really quiet, it means they’re up to no good. Generally, not so with Rachael. We’d go to check on her, and she would be playing quietly in her room. I also got used to her preference to be alone, not feeling slighted when she would tell me that she would rather be alone.

And then, Zoë came along.

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Zoë embodies all things extrovert. She rarely stops talking, even if she’s immersed in a show. She makes friends wherever she goes. Just the other day, she initiated a game of peekaboo with a woman in the grocery store parking lot. She has no trouble walking up to someone and introducing herself and whoever is with her. And the attention. She requires so much attention. If she doesn’t have it, it’s the end of the world. The center of attention is her home base. Good luck to you if you want to take a crap in peace. If she can’t be in there with you because you’ve locked the door, she will simply stand outside, knock, and sing Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

This has proved interesting for the rest of us. Poor Rachael has to lock herself in her room just so she can get Zoë out of her face…literally. With our attention so divided, Mike and I are worn out and often can’t muster the energy Zoë’s attention requires. (I wonder if I could make attention horcruxes?) My own depression and fibromyalgia adds even more to the challenge. It creates a vicious cycle of wanting to be left alone because I’m exhausted and/or sore and Zoë demanding attention. The more exhausted I am, the more insanely “attention lady of the evening” Zoë is, which sends me farther into my introverted hole, which makes Zoë try even harder to secure my attention. And around and around we go until I can’t take it anymore and I end up yelling: ENOUGH! WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE? Zoë may sniffle for a second, and then she’s right back to jumping on you like a hyper Golden Retriever.

I don’t have any really good insights or solutions right now. I try to offer attention when I’m able and hope to have the energy to wear her out each day. I’m going to a psychiatrist in a few weeks. My hope is that she’ll be able to adjust my medication so I’ll be able to conjure enough energy and patience to satisfy her attention cravings. Preschool should also help; it will wear her out and give me a break. (Assuming I can get her potty trained.) Until then, I’ll do my best to assume the proper amount of guilt when we have days like this; she’s been kind of quiet and low energy because it seems she has a sore throat like me. And just so we’re clear, this is a low energy day.

;

Today’s parenting horror story

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I’ve chosen this picture of Britney (bitch) because I feel it accurately conveys my level of horrified, nauseated, and double chin-ness right now. Just when you think you’ve seen it all as a parent, today happens.

I was sitting on the couch, taking a break from not accomplishing too much being Super Mom. Zoë was watching Secret of the Wings. Zoë wandered upstairs for a few minutes, which isn’t unusual. I was distracted because I really wanted to find out why summer and spring fairies and winters fairies weren’t allowed to cross worlds. (Okay, seriously, after you’ve had the movie on several times, you can only go for so long ignoring it before you get curious. Stop judging me!) After a few minutes, Zoë came trotting back down with an upset look on her face. I noticed she had something brown near her mouth. I thought maybe she had thrown up because she hadn’t been feeling great the past couple of days. So I wiped her mouth and, after chasing her around Mike’s recliner, led her upstairs to clean up. About halfway up the stairs I noticed she didn’t have her diaper on. I lifted her dress and I saw it. The rest of where the brown had come from.

You guys, I have never been so horrified in my life. My. Daughter. Ate. Poo. POO! I’m not typically all that squeamish. It kind of takes a good deal to shock me. I honestly stood there for a good minute on those stairs because I just couldn’t make words. I finally asked her if she ate her poo. She said yes, opened wide, and pointed to her mouth. Needless to say, there was thorough hand and face washing and vigorous teeth brushing. I asked her where her diaper was, but she wouldn’t tell me. It became a great game to her. She just giggled maniacally as she led me from room to room going, Oh, it not ‘ere. While it appears as though she managed to put her pull-up in the diaper pail, she did leave behind her “how in the fuck do children make such large poos?” poo in the middle of Rachael’s floor.

I guess I should search to see if there’s anything I should do because, you know, she ingested a disease-ridden….substance? Of course, you know who will be the one who actually gets the stomach flu because of this. You know, I think I’ll file this under stories to tell her husband right after they’re married. Because someday, we’re all going to laugh about this. Someday.

Not edited for Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media purveyor of perfection

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Zoë has given up naps. At least, she’s given up napping at an appropriate time when it’s my idea. Lately, she’s taken to falling asleep on the couch around 4 pm, and then good luck waking her up. Yesterday, I gave her zerberts and ran the vacuum and she didn’t stir. I still occasionally try to get her to sleep at her previously regular time. Today was one of those days. Sometimes giving her a cup at night helps her stay in her bed, so I read her a story and laid her down with her cup. Of course, she didn’t stay down for more than a couple of minutes.

Eventually, she wondered into my bathroom where I was…..sitting. Her cup was empty and she wanted more water. I told her I couldn’t get it for her right at the moment, but I would when I was all done. Apparently, in two year old language this translates to, No. But if you start hitting me with your cup, that will make it happen. So please, my dearest little one, incessantly bop me with your cup until I meet your demand. I tried to talk to her and redirect her, but there’s only so much one can do when they are stuck on the potty. Um, why didn’t you just shut and lock the door? you might ask. OF COURSE! I’m an idiot! Why didn’t I think of that? Actually, that would be a lovely option if our door wasn’t messed up and actually would lock.

Anyway, after reasoning with the little dictator with the pink sippy cup for the hundredth time, I finally lost it and screamed at her that I couldn’t fill her cup and to go away. Her bottom lip pooched out and began to quiver. She ran away crying the cry that every parent will recognize: You didn’t do what I wanted and then yelled at me, and now my feelings are so terribly hurt and I’m devasted, oh GOD! I started to feel bad. I’m the grown up. I lost my cool. I hadn’t laid my hands on her, but I probably scared her. Yelling can sometimes be just as bad as a spanking. I started to think I was a terrible parent who had no business raising children.

And then I thought: She was smacking me with a cup while I was trying to take a shit.

And she couldn’t have been too damaged. She was back two minutes later, her quest to fill the pink holy grail renewed.

I wish I were a toddler, then I could lash out irrationally

My daughter is an asshole.

Believe me, I love Zoë to pieces, but in the middle of the night when she’s incoherently screaming bloody murder and nothing will satisfy her, she’s kind of an asshole. If you’re sitting there, shocked that I would say such a thing about my own child, clearly you’ve neither had a child with sleep issues, nor a single bad thought about your own child because you’re a saintly parent. And if you’ve never had a single bad thought about your child, you’re either a liar or not a parent.

Zoë was a fantastic sleeper when she was tiny. She slept through the night her first week home. Then, right around 6 months, a switch flipped on and it we’ve never been able to switch it back off. What began as the normal 6 month sleep regression morphed into night terrors. Between 90 minutes to 2 hours after laying her down, like clockwork, Zoë would wake up screaming like a banshee. She would stand in her crib, eyes glazed and fixed on a distant point not in the room, and run from us if we tried to pick her up or comfort her. After a few minutes, she would calm enough that we could pick her up and rock her back to sleep. The number of hours and tries it would take to get her back down to sleep would depend on the direction of the wind and alignment of the stars. As she grew older, we tried to get her to soothe in her crib when it was a normal crying fit, but she would have none of it. Her pissed off screaming could be heard from the street. I was pretty sure our neighbors were going to call social services any day because it sounded like we were murdering her. Nothing we tried helped. From attachment parenting to cry it out and Ferberizing, the little sleep dictator demanded things her way. More nights than I can count, I spent sleeping in our glider because whenever I moved to put Zoë back to bed, she woke up crying. (Also, to the smug assholes who laughed in my face at Babies R Us when I recommended our glider and ottoman to them can suck it. Clearly, this thing was an investment. I hope you had sleepless nights in the cheap ass, uncomfortable rocker you ended up with. It’s call karma!) Mike would take turns with me so it didn’t all fall on me, but Zoë is a mama’s girl, so many times I ended up having to deal with her anyway. Everyone knew of our plight, especially from the Facebook statuses I would post at 3 am. So those people would ask how Zoë was sleeping. It got to the point where we refused to tell them, because after any time we’d say it was getting better, we’d have the night from hell that night. You don’t talk about Fight Club.

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Often times when she would be inconsolable, especially if Mike was losing his cool with her, my body would start burning. My arms and legs would sear off better than a roast. Once I had the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I understood than the stress of the situation was amplifying my pain. The lack of rest was not allowing my muscles to release at night, which led to more aching. I felt like I was living with post traumatic stress. I almost held my breath every time we laid her down for the night. Whenever she started crying, I would essentially panic, knowing the pain and the stress of the night had arrived to torture me.

Each new change brought a new sleeping challenge: coming back from a trip; learning to fall asleep in her crib; staying in her big girl bed and falling asleep. Lately, she has been sleeping in her bed….once we got her to sleep. But last night was the night from hell. She came into our room around 3ish and slept with us for awhile. Once Mike tried to put her back in her bed, it was on. She was up for the next couple of hours, her screaminess dotted with brief periods of calm. Both Mike and I lost our tempers with her, exhausted and wholly impotent, unable to figure out what she needed or wanted. Eventually Mike took her downstairs so I could rest, (I woke the screaming beast because I had the nerve to try and lay her down so I could relieve my spasming bladder.) I woke up this morning with him back in bed and Zoë in her bed, so I know he eventually succeeded.

Often, the next morning after that kind of night, we greet Zoë with a, Hello, Zoë, a la “Hello, Newman.” The next morning, it’s like it never happened. Our exhaustion is the only thing that remains of the hellish night before. After all, how can we stay mad at someone so cute?
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I has the cute so my parents don’t eat me

Breakfast

Zoë is whining that she just wants strawberries for breakfast. I am insisting that she eat a waffle with her strawberries. I feel bad though. I feel like I’m all, No, you have to eat the fucking carbs!

ETA: Now I’m all worried about the grammatical implications of where I placed “fucking” in the post. They’re not copulating carbs. They’re just regular old carbs.

…..although, if carbs did fuck and then procreate, that would totally explain my ass. And my thighs…..and my stomach.

2nd ETA: Conversation I had with Mike to write the last edit.

Me: I have a weird question. I can’t think of the word you use when you find out an ex has had children. You know, Oh dear God, they’ve……?

Mike: I don’t know. Spawned?

Me: Hmm, not spawned, but like it.

Mike: Are you trying to describe the act or the child?

Me: I’m trying to describe the result of the act.

Mike: Not spawned. Procreate?

Me: THAT’S IT! Thank you!

Yes, I called him at work for this. Stop judging me!