July 17, 2015

My Fearsome Foursome

My four daughters have turned out wonderfully--well educated, professionally successful, happily married. One is very well known. They are excellent mothers. Such a happy ending was not predictable during their childhood and teen years. I wonder what diagnosis they would earn now. When they were younger,  I worried that 2 were bipolar like me. One seemed like the spawn of Satan. not spawns of Satan, when they were younger.

Here were some diagnostic indicators. Obviously not all applied to all four daughters.
  • They were chronically late. No one could get off to school in the morning without substantial maternal help, usually involving cars. They never picked up their toys. I have stepped on 20,000 lego pieces in the dark. To this day I cannot walk across a dark room without my toes' going on alert.
  • Emma and a friend decorated their bedroom with a mixture of desitin and baby powder while their grandpa benignly looked on.
  • Emma painted her entire body purple when I was on the phone. To reach the places she did, she most have had help. 
  • Bedtime was a joke. A friend said you could call our house at any time of the night; someone was sure to be awake and delighted to talk to you about anything for as long as you needed.
  • They told their mommy " "I hate you" with not an ounce of guilt or remorse. When I asked Emma why she was acting like a devil child at age five, she explained "Mommy, I used all my goodness up in school." She now uses her goodness working for world peace.
  • Jane, the Writer absolutely refused to do the assigned kindergarten homework, writing sentences using a list of words. "Writers don't use other people's words." The teacher had no Astonishingly, shy Jane convinced the high school art teacher to allow her to skip classes and submit a portfolio. She argued that artists decide what art to make.  "Jane has such integrity," the teacher marveled.
  • They almost never lost power battles with their doormat mommy. Emma should have been born with a printout, "You will win exactly five battles with this child. Choose them carefully." I did win the important battles, but I only learned their importance by losing the rest. By the time her sisters came along I was so demoralized that I didn't fight battles that I could easily have won:)
  • At various ages the Writer melted down because the new washing machine wasn't blue; the pretty blue rental car had vanished; her aunt and uncle didn't have a second child her age; she was not attending a school that closed three years previously; there wasn't enough snow; election day would be a day before her 18th birthday four years from now. She was a lovely, sensitive child, eager to please when she wasn't battling the existential order of things. She is now a human rights lawyer and writer, heroically battling the existential order of things.
  • Michelle, the Scientist, only ran fevers, thereby missing school, on the three school days without the gifted program pullout. I conducted ad hoc home schooling for bored students who could cough convincingly.
  • Emma only pulled the hair and dumped sand over the heads of playmates whose mommies would reliably go round the twist. (She has traveled to over 85 countries, and has lived in Niger, Rwanda Kosovo, and France.) She ended her three-year sand eating on the day our pediatrician looked her in the eye and assured me that her sand-eating must account for her excellent health. For old-times sake, she would occasionally revert to the diet when babysat by a hysteric mommy. The mother of Emma's best friend confessed to me that she thought Emma would be in jail by the time she was 16.
  • At age 2 Michelle magic markered a $2000 painting. To be fthe air, artist was able to fix the picture.
  • At age 2 the same culprit at age two  destroyed another family's audiotapes of their kids when babies and toddlers. Their parents had misplaced the tapes.
  • Notice I omitted my baby Molly,  the CEO. The most mature, disguised as the youngest, was perfectly sane from birth and struggled valiantly to contain, organize, and direct her crazy family. This is a lifetime job. All my difficult communications with her sisters are best filtered through the CEO. Every teacher immediately noticed the difference. When Emma made then 24 year old Molly, her son's guardian, everyone applauded her wisdom. She has my power of attorney and is the executor of my will. She is the only family member authorized to communicate with my therapist and my lawyer.
  • Molly idolized Madonna when she was 3. She memorized all Madonna's songs, danced around with her grandma's rosary beads around her neck, proclaiming she was a material girl. If only You Tube had been around then!
Michelle Obama would be horrified. I questioned my sanity again and again throughout their childhoods. But I am very proud that I could cherish their intelligence, creativity, and individuality and was never tempted to drug their uniqueness, no matter how it disrupted our lives. They insisted they were going to emphasize order more and creativity less with their own kids:) I had anticipated much amusement watching them try. But in the last 8 years when 8 grandkids were born, I haven't seen any but halfhearted attempts.

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