Friday, July 13, 2007

Question Authority

It may come as a surprise to some of our readers that our kiddo has adopted the above as her motto. It sure took us by storm.

Elise returned from preschool on Tuesday behaving like an absolute monster. I assumed it was because she is
Where a=not eating the food provided at school, b=not napping at school and c=physically wrung out.

Apparently, there was another variable involved, and it finally became clear when I spent a little extra time dropping her off on Thursday.

Elise ran in, and immediately took off her shoes. Her teacher said, "Elise, please put your shoes in your cubby." This is not a new request, Elise knows this rule. My child said, in very polite tones I might add, "No, thank you." And then she went back to playing. We're pretty much a "do what I say the first time" household, so this outright refusal left me exasperated.

Shoes still very much in the middle of the floor, Elise sat down at the writing center and sweetly said, "Teacher Clara, I would like to make a picture." Who wants to argue with that? She was so cute! So affable! Of course you may color, sweetie, says the teacher. My jaw dropped, because I have fallen for that one about a dozen times myself. "Elise," I said, "You need to put your shoes in your cubby before you may color." One arched eyebrow later, her shoes (and stuffed animals) were in her cubby and she was sitting sweetly at the table.

In the next two minutes, I had a revelation. Elise accidentally dropped a marker cap on the floor and turned to her teacher. "Please pick up the lid for me," she said in this slightly panicky, tense but also adorably imploring voice. It was like watching Obi-Wan Kenobi. "These are not the droids you are looking for." Seriously. Only instead of deadly calm, Elise gives the impression that an otherwise sweet person is now pushed to the limit but is trying so hard to keep it all together and won't you please help and spare us all the heartbreaking torment of a marker cap on the floor because wouldn't that make all of our lives just that much easier. And she gets the tone right, too. Not too panicky, just that "I'm trying not to lose it" edge. Very effective. I hadn't realized that before I watched Clara, a veteran teacher, immediately jump to get the marker cap from the floor.

Following that little episode, the teacher and I had a chat about giving inches and ending up hiking the next 12 miles up a steep incline carrying both one's own pack and another mysteriously filled with library books and Legos. I also mentioned the disaster of last summer, which may or may not have been helpful. (Michele, I am still thanking my lucky for yor rescue after that experience.) When Andy and I picked Elise up from school that afternoon, she had tried some of lunch, taken a nap, and actually followed directions. Clara clearly knows how to do "firm."

(Yes, Andy and I both picked Elise up. He took the day off work and we went to see the new Harry Potter movie. It was fun. And weird. We couldn't remember the last time we just took off in the middle of the day to have fun on our own. I think it was for X-mas shopping about 2 years ago.)

Every time I start feeling like I could be on top of this whole parenting thing, I realize I'm woefully behind, and likely not quite smart enough to keep up with our girl. I love her sense of humor, the way she walks up to random men on the street and strikes up conversations, the way she snuggles on my lap, the way she giggles at our pets when they do silly things. There is also a sneaking part of me that takes immense joy in finding out when Elise has got one over on me. She's beautiful and clever!

We are in so much trouble.

1 comment:

Peter said...

For better or for worse, I think questioning authority is a standard genetic feature.

Glad you were able to take off for some fun time alone for just the two of you! I suppose I'll probably have to start reading the Harry Potter books at some point. I pretty much try to avoid anything that smells vaguely like a fad, but I should probably just put that behind me and check it out...