Brynna and I had a rough weekend. Frankly, I blame myself.
I have not been the best throughout her life at making her do things. Making her follow through on her chores, making her brush her teeth, making her help in the house. I don't know where the line is. When is old enough to take responsibility for something. Is three too young, is four too young, is five?
I've been watching Brynna in Montessori lately. She is in a Spanish immersion afterschool program there. I pick her up a little before most of the parents and when I get there, she is often in the middle of a work. Because I know my little control freak hates to be forced into transition, I usually just stand back and watch while she finishes her work cycle.
I really love watching the Montessori classroom work. It's an amazing thing watching these kids choose a work and do it and do it and do it until they get it right, with no expectations, no frustration.
When I get there, it's the end of a long day for these kids. Brynna is among the oldest and she is five. They go nine hours and while there are plenty of breaks, by the time I get there most of the kids are involved in art work or practical life work. Brynna is often doing a toasting work or a baking work when I arrive. (She's eating.) I'm constantly amazed that she runs screaming from my oven at home, but she is more than willing to don an oven mitt and stick her hand in a 400 degree toaster oven.
After she finishes eating the result of her toasting or baking, she is responsible for making the work ready for the next student. One by one, she carries the dishes and utensils to the sink and washes them with dish soap and water and dries them with a tea towel. She then returns everything to the tray and the tray to its spot beneath the toaster oven. She does this without whining or complaining or feigning ignorance.
When we get home, I ask her to turn on the living room light and she acts like I asked her to write a dissertation.
I have been played, friends and neighbors.
With The Husband working two jobs and life in general upheaval right now, I just can't keep house by myself. I require help. I am not asking her to carry an adult's share of the work. Her daily chores are to pick up her own toys, scrape her plate into the trash when we are done with supper and then put it in the sink, set the table for the family and keep her room picked up.
For each chore completed, she gets a marble in her marble jar. When the jar is full, the Marble Fairy comes and leaves a present in place of the marbles.
The whining about these small, measly chores is ridiculous. You've never heard the like. It's amazing that such a large amount of annoying sound can come from such a small, sweet looking package.
This weekend, we fought a lot. We argued about responsibility and helping and being a big girl. We went head to head and in the end, I was exhausted, miserable and defeated. But, I kinda won. Despite the fact that everything was a misery of power struggle and yelling and that terrible, terrible voice. Despite the fact that I lost my temper more times than I like to admit. Despite the fact that we barely both survived, yesterday, she picked up her room, put away her toys in the living room, scraped her plate, set the table, brushed her own teeth and even admitted to needing a nap when she was cranky.
She's also starting to buy it when I tell her that I can't hear whiny voices and she'll have to speak normally if she wants me to respond. That, my friends, is what we call a Good Lie.
I'm not ready to say that I really won. I kinda feel like Giles in the Buffy musical. "The battle's done and we kinda won." Except the battle's not done. And won't be, I suppose for about 20 years.
Mostly, I dread going home tonight and doing it all again, but I am content with the knowledge that we made it through one weekend successfully. That we might just get all the way to productive member of society without anyone killing anyone else.
Or, I may wake up one day Lizzie Bordoned. Who knows?