Thursday, April 24, 2008

More from Chicago



My daughter is in a tough situation. She and her husband are separated, and she's full time with Beanie. This is because her husband makes choices that are heartbreaking: he would rather watch American Idol than have Beanie overnight. He would rather play golf than have Beanie on his normal weekend time. He would rather drink beer until he's blind drunk than be a father. So my daughter does it all, and frankly, she is wound tighter than a top.

Beanie, meanwhile, is incredibly smart. I mean she's shockingly smart, and hilariously funny, and stubborn, and sweet, and sensitive. Therein lies the rub. She feels the tension. She knows something is rotten in Denmark. But she doesn't quite know what caused it. Daddy yells at her. Daddy then tells my daughter that there is something wrong with Beanie - why? Because at 3, and in a big girl bed, she no longer naps. This is the truth for all parents - put the kid in a big kid bed and kiss nap-time goodbye. But if she doesn't nap, how can he have an afternoon snort?

So I got to town, and my daughter was down with the flu - partly from stress, partly because she had the flu. And she's demanding - and in that place where NOTHING I can do for her is right. Whatever it is, I've done it incorrectly. I'm sleeping on the sofa, and I'm not putting the dishes in the dishwasher the right way. I clean up the kitchen and I'm not paying enough attention to Beanie. I try to play with Beanie on her level, and I'm not reminding her to go potty enough. Yesterday, while I was theoretically working (I am working from my remote desk), I also wound up with Beanie at home because (no surprise here) her Daddy could not be bothered to take her. So Grandpa (my ex) took her to the zoo in the morning, and I had her in the afternoon, and we had a bit of a tantrum, and I told my daughter I lacked the skills any longer and didn't know what to do. My daughter's response? I don't have to come back here again. WTF?

I adore Beanie, but really, it's been 30+ years since I've dealt with little kids on a full time basis. It is NOT like riding a bicycle, you do forget. I adore this child, but I don't remember what 3-year-olds are like. She's work. Real, honest-to-god work. And I keep thinking I'm screwing it all up, and she's got my number. She out-thinks me. I raised one of those (my son) and believe me, there is a difference between a gifted child and a smart one. I've had one of each, and I sense that my daughter has a gifted child. This is not bias, it is some level of experience.

Meanwhile, because my daughter was ill, I wound up taking Beanie to my ex-husband's for both Passover Seders. I have to tell you that at some level, my life is often funnier than the best situation comedies - it was a complete comedy - me, in the house I designed, with my ex, and his wife, and first night my brother and cousins; second night it was my ex's cousins. Just so bizarre, and funny, and messy, and with Beanie as center of attention - oh, my god.

But I am tired, really. Partly because the situation for my daughter just breaks my heart, and partly because Beanie is a bundle of energy. She's at school today, but we've made big plans for the weekend. Gorgeous weather, so far. The expected rain has not materialized, so this is good. Wish me luck.

12 comments:

betmo said...

i have a feeling that your daughter doesn't have anyone else to take out her frustrations on- and you're in the right place at the right time. i doubt it's personal- but i don't know ya'll intimately enough to know for sure. i can only imagine that she is completely overwhelmed and clinging desperately to whatever she needs to keep her structure- and that happens to be the dishwasher. probably has less to do with the dishes- and more to do with tangible stuff she can vent about. you're tired and she's tired and her husband isn't who she thought he was- and she doesn't have time to breathe or grieve with a 3 year old. you can't screw anything up- beanie loves you. you just don't know what it is that your daughter wants- as far as discipline and whatnot- and you don't want to do something that negates her way. just breathe when you can- and do the best you can. your daughter will better be able to roll with the punches when she isn't sick anymore- but that takes alot out of you. hang in there!!!!

robin andrea said...

I completely agree with betmo. She said it perfectly. Your daughter is in a very difficult situation, and you are probably the safest person in the whole world for her to vent on. It's hard to be on the receiving end of it, but that's what love asks of us. I wish you good luck and all the patience in the world.

D.K. Raed said...

I think we've all been in that mental place where nothing is going well and criticizing everything and everyone around you is one way of venting. For some reason this type of venting is much easier to inflict on those you know the best. You would never treat a stranger like that! Diva, I think that is why your daughter is lashing out at you. All you can do is be there for her & try to not let it get to you. I'm sure she will regret the remark about you not coming back & hope she can eventually admit that to you.

And boy-oh-boy, you are right, 30-yrs later and another gifted child, that IS a lot for you to handle! Many yrs past childhood, my mother told me I was one of those problem children, that she had a lot of trouble keeping me occupied. I told her I don't remember ANY of that, I only remember that she was there & we did things together & I knew she loved me. I think that is what Beanie will remember, too. Of course, it's getting from Point A to Point B that is difficult.

What a strange and wonderful seder you had! and ps, I have nothing nice to say about your daughter's husband, just that some men were not meant to be fathers.

Coffee Messiah said...

Been there on the opposite side in '85 with my son and the Ex. Luckily, I took him and brought him up. The move to indy-anna helped, since she wasn't seeing him anyway.

What
a
lot
we
are
as
human-beans! (Roald Dahl)

; (

DivaJood said...

Update: Last night, we took Beanie out for her first taste of Indian food. She liked the Vegetable Palau, and she liked the Chicken Tikka Masala. But it did not like her. So this morning, while driving to school, she had a bit of an accident. My daughter took her into the school bathroom to clean her up, and Beanie said, "Oh, man, that's digutsing."

Digusting. Sigh.

Betmo, you're right - it is not personal. Plus it is always safest to lash out at someone like Mom - I'm not going to abandon her. I want to smack her upside her head, but not abandon her.

Robin, patience has never been one of my strong suits. And when she goes to far I wish I could incorporate corporal punishment and spank her. However, she's nearly 35 and stronger than me, so not such a good idea.

DK, really, we wouldn't even treat friends like this. The person to attack is always going to be Mom. Still, in her defence, she really does step up to her extra responsibilities and she is a good mother. Beanie is a full on handful. After dinner last night, she wanted to go into this store - but she had a cup of milk. Store said "no food, no drinks" so she thought a minute before shoving the cup into my hands and marching into the store with her mommy.

Coffee - indeed - a lot we are as human-beans. Indeed.

D.K. Raed said...

diGUTsing ... I like it! out of the mouth of 3-yr olds, huh?

DivaJood said...

Digutsing is the way I would currently describe Hillary Clinton. I'm just saying.

Kimberly said...

You know,....

You need a license to drive a car
You need a license to practice most health care
You need a license to fly a plane..
...........

But they'll just let any sonofabitch be a father.
And he can stay away as long as he wants with no resposibility until he (and the kids) get older, kids=Easier to handle....
Him =No one left in his life to take his crap....
Then he appears out of nowhere one day like he should get some award for showing back up!

Still, thats' no excuse for your daughter to treat you this way. It sounds like you're all she's got. She should cherrish that!

DivaJood said...

Kimberly, thanks for stopping by. She does cherish our relationship, and I am safe. She knows that I will not let her down. She knows this about her father as well. This is a very difficult situation, and at times, she is overwhelmed.

Dusty said...

I think a smack upside the head is what she needs..your daughter, not Beanie.

She can not change Beanies dad..he's a prick and she better get used to it. I know tht sounds harsh but I had to do it..so I know wtf I am talking about. My husband was basically the sperm donor, nothing more. Being a parent was not in his self-absorbed dna.

The quicker she gets used to it and moves on...the better it will be for her and Beanie.

As for picking a fight with you..go for a walk each time she starts that shit. Just a thought Diva..my heart goes out to you, your daughter and Beanie.

enigma4ever said...

Ahhh Diva...I got here kind of late..sorry...About your daugther...she is hurting, probally still greiving loss of a marriage...and I agree with what others above said...she loves you, you trust each other, and sadly yes that means she unloads on you....on another level I think she is trying to Do It All perfect- trying to keep some order in her life, something not broken...it is an impossible balancing act...she is as scared as you- having never raised a 3 yr old alone...but she came out okay ? right - she might just need Someone to say"it's going to be okay- even if it feels like shit right now".....You are wonderful for being there and being at her side and being there for Beanie...she is more lucky than she knows....Beanie is smart, but she also probally feels like Something is Wrong...and yes, Daddy sounds like a total shit...so more time with people that love her and want to be with her the better...

What do 3 year olds like? Everything.....music...finger paints...baking a cake....making sandwichs......fingerpainting with whipped cream ( cool whip and jello)......sand boxes.....cartoons.....puppets and puppet shows...big rolls of Butcher paper and big crayons...popcorn...Playdough...BOOKS..lots and lots of books and a wonderful granma to read to them....

You are a gift in both of their lives right now...you are meant to be there....meant to a part of them....and you are helping,,,,more than you will ever know.....

many hugs....

namaste....

DivaJood said...

Dusty, a smack upside the head would not work, she would merely attack me with tickle fingers. Really, she's struggling, and I am overly tolerant. BUT yesterday, she made an appointment with her old therapist, because she finally recognizes that 1) she needs help and 2) that she is not superwoman and it is okay to GET that help. And that it might involve taking some meds.

Enigma, it has been stressful. But there will be a solution. As for the suggestions about what 3 year olds like, yesterday we picked her up at day care, and she got very involved with magnets - I showed her how magnets work, and that took up a good ten minutes! And bathtime was especially fun.