The Tyrant won’t clean her room. It’s infuriating, and baffling. When I’m afraid it’s infested with something, I clean it for her, and organize everything properly, and explain to her how straightening her room for 10 minutes a day is all she needs to do.
“Okay, Mom!” she’ll say happily, because she likes when her room is clean. And then, I swear, like two hours later, she’s lounging around in a crack den. Last week, under the detritus covering her floor, I found Dorito bags, bandaids, two bowls, every sock she owns, the brush she swore her brother stole, math homework, and half her Halloween candy. I don’t know how she does it. She’s like a little tornado, luring every goddamn thing from its place and casting it into the abyss of her little 9 x 9 space.
She honestly believes she hates cleaning her room much, much more than other people hating cleaning their rooms, like it’s some kind of genetic malformation rather than just a
character flaw bad habit.
Last Saturday, we had an argument about it. She had spent a very long time playing on her new iPhone, which she received for her 10th birthday because we are bad, bad parents. I told her she needed to either clean her room or come outside and help me in my garden. Cue moaning, whining and histrionics usually associated with extreme pain or death. I ignored her, so she threw some things at me, and I casually mentioned how mad she would be when I took away her phone, and she told me to stop being SO MEAN. To keep from calling her names I went back to working in my garden.
After a few minutes, she meandered outside, I gave her a rake, and we loved each other again. A nice fall breeze, some sweet-smelling dirt, the sun – it’s as therapeutic as my Cymbalta sometimes. As she raked, she pointed to little plant with bright red tiny fruit. “What’s that?” she asked. “It’s a pepper plant,” I told her, some exotic type of pepper I had purchased at the farmer’s market. I had tasted the adorable little peppers when I bought the plant, and they were delicious. “Taste it,” I told her. “Isn’t it cool you can pick something right out of the garden and eat it?” She plucked one off and popped it into her mouth, her little face adorable with anticipation.
Well. How am I supposed to know peppers change flavors with time? As she chewed, her expression went from interested to confused to very, very afraid. “IT’S HOT! IT’S HOT!” she screamed. She began running around in circles fanning her mouth and spitting. She ran inside to the freezer and started shoving ice cubes in her mouth.
When I understood what was happening, I quickly poured her a glass of cold milk, which she chugged down, then another, then a cup full of ice water into which she stuck her tongue while continuing to heave with sobs.
“Oh my goodness, darling, I am so sorry,” I told her as I held her in my lap, although once I could see she would be okay I was #SorryNotSorry because remember? She threw things at me? Still, I fawned over her for a while until she stopped crying, and she whimpered, “The only way I’ll feel better is if you eat a pepper, too.” I am raising a
total conniving bi- very good negotiator!
“Fine.” I picked a pepper, popped it into my mouth, and pretended to chew, then spit it out and put on an excellent dramatic performance of agony and misery, which made her happy, which made me feel less guilty about letting her eat a hot pepper. Karma’s a bitch. And so is someone else in this house.
But lest I feel too smug about how it all worked out, the next day the Pterodactyl concocted some homemade slime, an unrelated activity that ended with me accidentally chugging a glass of water mixed with Borax and temporarily thinking I was dying. Borax tastes like bleach. I stood in the kitchen screaming, certain my innards were disintegrating. Hot Firefighter Husband ran in to assess me, and pronounced me “fine,” even though this stuff is used in pesticides, laundry detergent, and enamel, and online experts suggest people SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY if they ingest Borax. Sigh. Sometimes I wish he didn’t think of me as SuperGirl.
I am fine after all (BUT BARELY). Both strange incidents left me thinking how weirdly entertaining this parenting thing can be. I’m glad we’re all surviving it. Except the pepper plant. It died.