Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Butterfly Effect or Watch Out What You Wish For

Because you might get it.

Its funny. As a parent, I think, you simultaneously grieve their growing up, and are anxious for them to grow up.

It seems to happen too fast and not fast enough, all at once.

Our enigmatic Seven oscillates between wanting to be 13 years old and wanting to be turning 2, like her little brother will soon.

It is not the desires themselves that rubs on BioMom and I. It is just that the desires seem to be in areas that require extra effort or work on our part. For example, when it comes to bathtime (until very recently) she would prefer to be 2: running away and hiding when the bathwater starts, exhibiting an inability to wash herself in any way, once in the tub, refusing to get out of the tub, etc. etc. etc.

She doesn't want to be thirteen when it comes to helping to clear the table after dinner, or perhaps by helping with kitty care by feeding the two cats in the family. (No, we're not asking much on the chore-front.) She wants to be 13 when it comes to staying up too late, to watching pg13 television shows or movies, and wearing makeup (!).

We've given her the "bwa bwa... bwa bwa bwa bwa" Charlie Brown talk about how growing older is accompanied by both increasing freedoms and responsibilities "bwa bwa, bwa bwa bwa bwa." Which, naturally, goes un-listened to, if not unheard altogether. And I regularly try to cajole her into washing herself during the bath routine as Big is enough for a grown adult to handle in the tub (he treats it as his own little aquatic gymnasium).

Me: But FofF takes showers and baths all on her own!?!

She: She's unique!

Me: You know, there will come a time for you to bathe yourself, right?

After a night spent at her cousin's house (filled with older girls ranging from 9 to 15, with one 18 year old just off to college) she returned with an independent streak!

She: Today's the day! I'm going to start taking showers on my own!

This was a great turn of events, thought BioMom and I! She is taking an interest in her own hygiene!!!

Little did we know how one person in a family's actions could force the whole household to evolve.

She has now taken to taking a shower rather than a bath during our normal evening routine as well as taking a shower in the morning prior to going to school. Given our history, we thought "why not?. . . You can't get too clean, right?"

So, last night, after coming in from playing outside after dinner (I write this detail to emphasize the obvious: a bath in-and-of-itself is no fun, but precede this with having to a) stop playing and b) come in from outside, well, you get the idea) Big absolutely freaks when he realizes that his big sister has, for some unknown reason (I suspect he imagines she is getting out of bathtime) has disappeared upstairs. He refuses to take a bath.

"Okay," I think. "He just wants to be with her and take a shower."

I was half right.

He freaked in the shower.

Okay, so once past that hurdle, we negotiated with Seven about the new bathing routine.

Me: Okay, so at night you can get in the tub with him, and just play. No need to wash twice!

She: Sounds good! I was missing playing with him anyway.

First problem: FIXED!

So this morning, at SIX a.m., she comes bounding into our room with some information about the impending school day about which she was ecstatic.

She: Okay, I'm ready to take a shower now!

Us: Harrumph!

She: Mom, (speaking to BioMom), can you come in and keep me company???

BioMom, refusing: I'm waking up slowly, honey. I don't want to come in and sit on the cold toilet at 6 a.m. to keep you company. Lay down here for a little while, I'll do it later.

She: No! Now!!!

And the spiral began. At six a.m.

Moral: the household has a delicate balance. Even though you may wish for improvements in some areas, beware that small changes can have large effects.

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