Monday, November 9, 2009

Bean-girl's 5th birthday, mother-in-law visit

This morning I still found helium balloons in strange places. One balloon hung limply from a window shade. Another was tied to the vacuum cleaner in the corner of our kitchen, the balloon's long blue ribbon wound around and around the vacuum's handle. Balloon in various states of deflation bobbed and sank in the living room. Yesterday afternoon I peeked at Legume during her nap. "Awwww," I said to my husband when I came downstairs. "Legume fell asleep cuddled with balloons!"

"What!" said Husband. "I took them away from her!"

Bean-girl smiled. "I put them on Legume!" she said.

"Why on earth did you do that?" we asked.

"I put them on her to make her look cute!"

"You sneaked into the room and put balloons on top of Legume to make her look cute?"

Bean-girl nodded.

That's the kind of thing that happens around here....


The balloons are left over from Bean-girl's fifth birthday party. Her actual birthday was a week ago, but her children's party was this past weekend. Seven children (five kindergartener/preschoolers and two toddlers) took over the craft studio of our favorite independent artsy flaming-liberal (for this corner of the Midwest)toystore. They decorated a birthday banner, made hats, paraded about the store, then made pizza and frosted cupcakes in the adjoining cafe. Bean-girl's best friend had a little meltdown at the sight of kids that she didn't know, but eventually cheered up (pink frosting has that effect). Bean-girl beamed nearly the entire time.

"Amah"--the children's paternal grandmother--was there for the party. She was here for ten days, and it was, ahem, rather trying at times. Let us just say there are gulfs of generational and cultural opinion. And although my own mother shares some of "Amah's" ethnicity, the two are really polar opposites in almost all ways... except for in those really really annoying ways in which they AREN'T.

"So, Bean-girl," Husband said after he'd dropped his mother off at the airport. "Did you like having Amah around?"

Bean-girl gave us a dazzling smile. "Raise your hand if you don't like Amah!" she said, and raised her own hand high.

Husband and I burst out laughing. He is well aware of how difficult his mother can be--he has, after all, known her his entire life. She made Bean-girl cry while she was here (scolding and trying to shame her) and she said that Legume had the face of a Chinese peasant (not a compliment).

Husband immediately got on the phone to his sister to relate Bean-girl's remark. His sister's children are themselves petrified of their grandmother. Instead of laughing at Bean-girl's comment, Husband's sister responded with a worried "Oh, I knew she'd been there a while. I was wondering how you were getting on."

"Oh, it's fine," Husband laughed. "She [Amah] gets everyone else all riled up, but I'm fine."

Yeah, my husband is, seriously, a very model of equanimity. I suppose he had his training early, and although the results are admirable that perfect even-keeledness can also be freaking annoying.


Bean-girl still has rough moments at school. She's clearly well-liked by her classmates--she has so many friends. She comes home chattering about a new game or song learned at school, and shows off her awesome art projects. But she still cries many days at drop-off. She almost NEVER cried at drop-off at her old daycare. She says kindergarten is not as much fun as daycare because you have to "sit and listen" instead of having free play. She says that she feels she "has to be perfect" in kindergarten. She doesn't seem to have trouble with the school's Kindercare (the daycare program run in the mornings before p.m. kindergarten). She loves the school's daycare. It's KINDERGARTEN that stresses the Bean-girl out. And I am still at a loss on how to help her through this.


ScientistMother said...

Husbands have a way of not getting annoyed with their moms. I understand the frustration. Bean-girl is a very intelligent girl that likes to please people, except possibly her Amah :)). I have no insight into how to deal with the Kindergarten issue.

EcoGeoFemme said...

The face of a Chinese peasant?!?! Good God! This woman sounds awful! You're a saint for having her for 10 days.

EGM's parents and my parents are very similar. Interestingly, his parents dont' annoy me, even though they sometimes drive him bonkers, and he gets along great with mine, even when I'm at my wit's end with them.

chall said...

it's easier for the husbands no t to get annoyed with their mothers since their mothers LOVE them. It's the rest of us who need scolding/telling..... ^^ a bit over the top generalising I know, but my experience anyway...

and then I haven't even mentioned when your parents love your spouse more than they like you ;)

The bean-mom said...

Oh, my MIL has said some crazy things to my husband, too. He just ignores it. That's just their family. (And to be fair, my own Asian family is also pretty crazy, too! But I take it better coming from them!)

Oh, and Chall--my parents LOVE my husband. Seriously, if we ever got in a real fight, my parents would totally take his side. I can just see them siding with him in a (hypothetical) divorce court.

ScienceGirl said...

5 years old! She is growing so fast! Sounds like you orchestrated quite a birthday for her!

mouse said...

I was once a worrier-child (heck...who am I kidding, I'm still a worrier!) and my mom made me a "worry book" to try to help me out. (I would wake up in the middle of the night and go and wake my parents up because I was worried about whether or not I had gotten a form signed for school. But sometimes I was just disoriented and worried, as were my parents after being awakened in the middle of the night!)

My mom's thought was that if I wrote down whatever I was worried about, that would help me identify my worries (I tend to worry non-specifically) and also help *her* to identify my worries so she could talk to me about them.

Honestly, I don't remember if I ever used the book or not. But when I was older, thinking through the things I was worried about and identifying how I was going to take care of everything or talking myself down in my head helped me a lot. Like: I'm worried about my spelling test tomorrow, but I will study for it and I will be okay. I'm worried that I will get in trouble with this teacher that intimidates me, but if that happens I will be okay because of X. There was a lot of just reassuring myself repeatedly that I would be okay. And then, you know, I *was* always okay, and I could remember "I was worried about X last time, but it was okay that time and it will be okay this time too!"

That at least helped me to not get overwhelmingly stressed out and to worry more productively. Gradually she and you will identify the coping strategies that work for her, and even though getting stressed may always happen, she will be able to handle it--and have the confidence that comes from knowing you are able to handle something, even when it's difficult for you :)

P.S. I loved the balloon story ;) Although I don't think Legume needs any help looking cute!

Anonymous said...

I came to your blog via your great comment on Bon's site--the post about academia. (Being an academic myself who never got a desired tenure track job, I concur with all your points). I love your writing, and your sense of humor. Wonderful post and blog.

The bean-mom said...

Update: Bean-girl has gone a whole week without crying at kindergarten!!!

Mouse--yup, my Bean-girl is a general worrier, just as you described yourself. She gets it from me, unfortunately =( Thanks for sharing how you and your parents coped with it when you were a child. I may try that trick, too! (We've been doing role-playing recently, and that seems to help here).

Anonymous--Thanks and welcome to the blog!

Ar said...

I just realized something. Your girl is the same age as my boy but he will start Kindergarten next year as he missed the cut-off date for Kindergarten. Interesting.