One little episode was when I had sliced some cheese one day and put them in the refrigerator and shown her. I told her that we were out of string cheese, but that she could have the cheese slices for a snack later. Assuming she remembered this the next day when she asked for cheese, I told her yes, to just get it out of the refrigerator. Some time later, I spotted her walking around with an entire "pear" of mozzarella with tiny little bite marks at various intervals. To let you truly understand the visual (and to remind myself later), the mozzarella I buy comes in a pear shaped pound lump. I had grated about a quarter cup's worth off when making pizza or lasagna, but besides that, it was pretty nearly an entire pound of cheese that this child was walking around with, biting into it as if it truly were a pear. Have I mentioned that she loves cheese?
Another day, George found a handful of long, straight, fine, blond hair on the floor in our room. This could only belong to one child in our home. When he asked Elspeth what happened she said, "I didn't cut it. It just fell off."
Another day, I walked into Elspeth's room and it smelled very perfume-y. I couldn't figure out where the smell was coming from. Amabel has some strawberry bubble bath and lotion and things that she got for Christmas. I asked Elspeth if she had gotten into Amabel's stuff. No. Did she have lipstick on? No. What was that smell? She didn't know. Then I got up to her and realized she had smeared about half a bottle of shampoo into her hair. It took ages to wash out, but it was one of those things you just have to laugh at. But see, this is the thing with parenting. I want to be a laid back parent, the kind who laughs at things rather than freaking out. I'm horribly high strung and I hate it. So when I feel the urge to laugh, I usually go with it. A very long and bubbly bath later, all was right, right? Wrong. Because my little performer thought that if Mommy thinks soap in the hair is funny (even if she did also offer a stern-ish warning against doing the same again) then we should do it again! The second time- about two hours later if you were wondering- it was not funny to me. And I think part of my frustration was with myself because I recognized that I did sort of encourage her to do it again- even though I verbally discouraged her from doing it again. But again, it was just soap. And fortunately, it was Suave for kids instead of my shampoo or my Clinique liquid foundation like it was a few months ago.
I'm glad about Elspeth though, for all her stubbornness and naughtiness, she has taught me one invaluable lesson- don't judge other people's parenting by the behavior of their children. I have three children. I have two extremely polite, well behaved, almost perfect children. And then there's Elspeth. Same parent, different children. While I am quick to say that it is not for lack of much effort on my part that Elspeth still won't use the bathroom or that she does crazy things when my back is turned for a minute, I will also be quick to tell you that it isn't my doing that Amabel and August are so kind and good natured. I think you could take this idea to an extreme and say that kids will be kids and do nothing, but of course, I am not saying that. I am just saying that there isn't a formula. And that sweet little darlings don't always mean good parenting, nor do mischievous imps always indicate something the parent is doing wrong or not doing at all. I also think that for those of us parents who are trying, but still have stubborn kids (and I mostly am thinking of Elspeth's disobedience and not funny little episodes like the ones from this post), the Lord is faithful. Remind me of that when she's fifteen and smoking under the bleachers... Just a thought, and a little humor for your Monday.