This one is actually a sports reference.
Beanie is a very deliberate little girl in nearly everything she does. When collecting leaves for a school project, she examines each leaf minutely to ensure that it has characteristics that are pleasing to her; when performing the forbidden “couchy-couch” jump, she carefully surveys the floor where she’ll land if she misses as well as her landing spot, to ensure that no obstacles or siblings might cause her a harder landing than she intends.
This tendency, while wonderful in terms of her work habits (you should see her cleaning the kitchen baseboards, which is one of her chores), can occasionally cause a little friction in other areas. There are six people and two dogs who live at our house, in a total of just under 1400 finished square feet, and we have two bathrooms.
We had a busy afternoon and evening planned yesterday, which meant that, in order to not have a profoundly grouchy tribe halfway through everything, I had to snuggle everyone down for naps by around noon so we could be mobile by about 3:30. Baby Guy and Mr. Man obligingly curled up in their beds and fell asleep as soon as their blankets were tucked in around them, Bugaboo brought a pillow, blanket, and pair of stuffed penguins out to her preferred napping spot on the loveseat, and Beanie . . . well, I reminded Beanie that she needed to go to the potty before she cuddled up to her big Funshine Bear for her nap.
Beanie is also a world-class lollygagger when there’s something she does not want to do on tap. One thing my precious perpetual-motion machine does not like to do is nap.
Five minutes after I sent her into the upstairs bathroom, Bugaboo informed me that she needed to go, too. I sent her downstairs and, since I also needed a rest stop, went in to check on Beanie. A pile of uneven shreds of toilet paper lay on the floor between her dangling feet, and the loose end of the roll was torn into a triangle with a hypotenuse of about 18 inches. I tore that off, handed it to her, and said, “Okay, Beanie, are you done going potty? If you are, it’s time to wipe and get off the potty so other people can use it.”
What seemed a perfectly reasonable request to me was met with an ear-splitting howl of, “I DON’T WANT TO USE THE RIPPED PAPER I WANT TO USE THE STRAIGHT PAPER IT WON’T RIP RIGHT,” tears, and emphatic gesticulations at the pile of toilet paper scraps on the floor. Her problem was threefold: firstly, that she desperately NEEDED a nap, secondly, that she did not WANT to take the needed nap, thirdly, that she couldn’t get the toilet paper to tear neatly along the perforations. Imperfect toilet paper squares are not acceptable at certain times in Beanie-land.
Carefully tearing off a few squares and handing them to her, I soothed, “Okay, Beanie, time to wipe and flush now.”
“I can’t. Another drop of pee got made while I was trying to get the toilet paper to behave, and I want it to come out in the potty so it doesn’t get in my panties.”
At this point, I realized that going downstairs to use the other bathroom, which a flushing sound indicated had just been vacated by Bugaboo, was probably not a good idea, as it would start a new battle between Beanie and the toilet paper. I turned around and started wiping the vanity top while waiting for Beanie to finish. Some moments later, I heard the sweet sound of two little feet hitting the floor and turned around to, I hoped, use the pot myself.
Beanie, upon descending from her throne, had stationed herself at an angle that made it impossible for me to sit on the fixture without sitting on her. I asked her if she was done, and smiled at her chirpy, “Yep!” before asking her to please move just a little bit.
“I need to pull up my pants first so I don’t trip.”
It seemed a little less reasonable five minutes later, when she was still pulling up her underwear . . . one . . . millimeter . . . per . . . elastic . . . gather . . . at . . . a . . . time . . .
“Beanie, HONEY, Mommy really needs to use the potty. Could you shuffle over a step or two for me, please?”
She shuffled right into the doorway — the very doorway I needed to walk through to get to the commode.
“Beanie, do you need some help?”
“NOOOOOOOOOOO! I’m a big girl. I’m being careful ’cause I don’t want wrinkles in my panties.”
Okay, at least that was a new one.
“Sweetie, you’re blocking the doorway. And you really need to pull up your pants and snuggle Funshine in your cozy bed.”
“Funshine would be sad if I was wiggly because my panties have wrinkles. I don’t want Funshine to be sad.”
I remembered to pray before I said, or did, anything else. My thoughts were a little poisonous at that point.
“Honey, Mommy’s going to be sad if she pees in her panties because she can’t get to the potty.”
“Yeah, and then you’d have to get a towel and clean it up, too. That would be yucky.”
Deep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth, really is a highly effective relaxation technique. I did so a couple of times as she meticulously continued to raise her completely unwrinkled panties. I have seen freshly ironed shirts with more wrinkles. Finally, I gently picked her up and moved her just enough to gain access to the toilet.
She turned around and looked at me, and said, “Mommy, we’re supposed to be patient with each other, especially if we’re trying to get something just right.”
“You are correct, Beanie, but we’re also supposed to be considerate of each other, especially when someone has a big need.”
“I have a big need to keep the wrinkles out of my panties.”
Twenty minutes later (no, really), I finally tucked her blankets around her, silently fuming at the insane amount of time it had taken her to use the potty and get into her bed. After snuggling her in and giving her a kiss and a whispered admonition to take a nap, I closed her door and, wearily, walked over to the couch to lay down for a few minutes myself. Bugaboo had taken advantage of the delay to build a village for her penguins on the loveseat, and after requesting that she deconstruct it so she would have enough room to lay down for her own nap, I plopped down on the sofa to rest and think.
I cracked a wide grin as I remembered the many times I had prayed for children, for patience, and for the time of their childhood to slow down so we could savor it. Well, He certainly does answer my prayers, and does so with a great sense of humor.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You have lovingly given me those things I have asked for in faith. Please fill my heart with the same amount of patience with Your blessings that You have shown me, and when I must correct or reprove, keep my voice gentle and my face mild. Make me a teacher to them who instructs gently and joyfully, responding to trials with love and grace.