This morning an eight year-old told me that I am the worst person in the world who makes her breakfast. Considering that I am the only person who makes her breakfast, this is a strange, abbreviated list. Sitting in the dimmed light (“Too bright! I can’t eat when it’s too bright!”), half perched between her chair and the dining room table (despite my repeated requests for sitting flat on her bum, so she won’t fall off, which she has done before, several times), complaining about the blackness of the grapes (“I don’t like black grapes! Stop buying black grapes!”), wearing a sweater that I had told her not to wear to bed, she was merely being consistent with her behaviour over the long weekend—a constant kind of commentary/half-arguing about everything. If I asked her to, say, tidy up the floor of her bedroom and pick up a few things, then she would immediately ask how many things, and argue that she was playing with that, and anyway first she has to go get something from the basement. Right now. It could be as simple as me stating that it was cold out, and that she needed to wear a hat, which would immediately set off a string like, All my hats are dirty or Mom said I could wear a beret or My coat already has a hood and so on.
The day before, while working together at her craft table, painting some art books (hers was about Harry Potter, mine was about some unloved monster named Paul), we listened to a podcast about space, and at one point someone referenced Star Wars.
“We should watch that sometime,” I said.
“No, we shouldn’t,” she said. “I hate Star Wars.”
“You have no idea what it’s about. Anyway, I think you’d really like it.”
“No, I wouldn’t.”
I did an informal poll about the Easter long weekend, and the people who like it tend to be people with older kids. For them, it’s a true holiday, with their teenagers sleeping ’til noon and then slumping off to a friend’s for the rest of the day. Whereas for little kids it’s just four more days of the world pouring sugar into the blazing inferno of their egos.
“There are many times in life when you do not want to argue or even comment,” I try to say.
“No, there isn’t,” my eight year-old replies. “Like when?”
“Like when you’re trying to cross the border,” I suggest. “That’s a good example. You can’t argue with a border guard. If you even get smart with them, then you’ll find yourself sitting in a little room for five hours while they take your car apart. And then they’ll still make you turn around.”
“They can’t do that! That’s not fair!”
“Who said anything about fair?” I ask.
This morning, as she finished her breakfast (including the hateful grapes), I asked her to clear her place. When she started to try to do so by carrying the plate with the outer edge of her palms only, I told her to put it down and carry it like a normal person.
“I can’t,” she said. “My hands are too sticky.”
“Wipe them on the napkin I gave you.”
“It’s too dirty”, she said. “It’s all used up! I don’t like dirty napkins!”
“No, it’s only half used.”
“No! I can’t do it!”
Which ended with her sitting in a chair facing the corner. This is the only effective response that I’ve found, because kids these days hate being without stimuli more than anything else. In fact, she held out for about ninety seconds before admitting that she could, in fact, carry the plate into the kitchen with sticky hands.
Later, on the drive to school, she asked me if it was possible to divide 3 into 14.
“Yes,” I said. “Any two numbers can be divided into each other.”
“No, they can’t. There’s two left over.”
“It’s called decimals and fractions, and you don’t know anything about that yet, but that doesn’t make it not true.”
“Blah blah blah blah blah…” she started to say.
Which ended with us sitting for five minutes of silence once we got to school. She was missing five minutes of before-school care, five minutes of snacks, five minutes of friends, and fun, and having to sit there was worse then Tamerlane and the Black Death combined.
“Are we done with the blah-blah-blah’s?” I asked, at the end of the five minutes.
In fact, we were.
I only got to the studio once this long weekend (another strike against it), so I have only one new work to share.
At least the rest of the week is short,
Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.