I don’t know what to do with my child. Really. I don’t know whether I should threaten her or throttle her. Send her to her room or ship her off to boarding school. Or do like my parents did — secretly hope that one day she will have a child just like her.
This week, Omelette has pushed me to the limit. It started with a pair of broken glasses. She admitted that the glasses had been broken, and sure enough, when she opened the case to show me, there they were with a missing earpiece. I asked her what happened, and she vaguely told me that they had fallen off and the missing piece had broken in the fall. When I asked where the piece was, she simply said she couldn’t find it. Not wanting to press the issue at that moment, I reassured her that it was all right and that they could be fixed. Then, we moved on with our afternoon routine.
Later, when her dad came to pick her up, the rest of the story came out. The glasses had fallen off while she was wearing them at recess (which I have told her not to do), and some unnamed individual had stepped on them, breaking off the earpiece and leaving it in a pile of leaves. Now, it’s clear why she omitted certain details from the original version of the story. She knew I would be upset with her for disregarding my instructions.
That’s only the half of it.
The next day, I called the eye clinic to find out about getting the frame replaced. The woman on the other end of the phone told me it would be no problem. She would get it ordered and call me when it was ready. A few hours later, she did call back to inquire where the glasses were broken and whether I had all the pieces. She then informed me that the only way they would be covered under warranty was if we had all the pieces.
We just happened to be at the school when I received this call, so after I hung up, I marched Omelette to the playground and had her look for the missing piece. I even got my pregnant self on my knees so I could search through the grass and leaves. But, alas, the piece was nowhere to be found.
I resisted the urge to unleash my frustration on the child whose carelessness was going to cost me and sent her on her way to violin practice. Afterward, I was still silently seething but remained outwardly composed. (I hope, anyway.)
From there, we continued on our way to a friend’s house for her birthday. What unfolded there makes the episode with the glasses look like mere child’s play.
First, let me set the stage for you.
The friend in question comes from a family that speaks little English. The father speaks some, but the mother speaks none at all. The child is able to communicate in English but with some difficulty. Thus, she does not have very many friends at school. In fact, Omelette is the only one she invited to help her celebrate her birthday.
The family also does not have much in the way of material possessions. They live very simply but were happy to open their home to us so that their daughter could have a nice birthday. They served us pizza and soda and a delicious red velvet cake.
Here is where it starts to get ugly.
Omelette refused the piece of cake offered to her. “I don’t eat sweets,” she declared. This from the girl who is constantly begging me for candy and who had devoured an apple fritter earlier in the day. Embarrassed, I tried to convince Omelette that it was okay to eat the cake, but she still refused. Instead, she sat on the swing in the yard while the rest of us ate cake.
Though she didn’t have to do so, our gracious hostess decided to offer Omelette an alternative. She went into the house and returned with a plate of grapes, which Omelette also refused. Early Bird, who loves grapes, dug right in, though.
After we had finished eating, everyone headed into the house, where the girls had already gone in to play. Everything was going smoothly despite the language barrier until it was time to leave. What happened next didn’t need translation.
I had warned Omelette fifteen minutes prior to our departure that we would be leaving. Yet, when I told her it was time to go, she went into hiding. Yes, you read that right. My seven-year-old hid behind a mattress that was leaning against the living room wall in someone else’s house. I might have expected the two-year-old to behave in this way. Never the seven-year-old.
I told Omelette to come out. That it was time to go. That I had already told her we would have to leave. That she still had homework to finish. It was at this point she emerged from her hiding spot to protest loudly that she had already done her homework. She was yelling at me in another woman’s living room.
Yelling. At me. In another woman’s living room.
It gets worse.
I proceeded to tell Omelette to get her socks and shoes on. She moved from the living room to her friend’s room, where she hid under the pillows and stuffed animals on the bed. By this time, the friend was also telling her that it was time to go. She begged Omelette to do what I said.
“Please? For my birthday?” she urged.
Finally, Omelette came out of hiding, sulkily put on her socks and shoes, and followed me out the door. I thanked our hostess as best I could.
Out on the front porch, Omelette punctuated the whole disastrous affair by asking for a piece of cake.
“No, you made your decision,” I calmly replied.
That she did. And her decision to disobey and disrespect will come back to haunt her the next time she wants a piece of candy or the next time she wants to visit a friend’s house.
I secretly hope it will come back to her when she has a child of her own. I will enjoy that moment with a large serving of red velvet cake.