This morning when I woke up, I primed myself for battle, the reason being that today marked the beginning of the spring semester of a Bible study I go to that is specifically geared for moms. Sounds pretty innocuous, doesn't it? Well, for the majority of moms I talked to, that appeared to be the case, and in fact, it seems everyone woke up energized, having anticipated the kick off for weeks.
So what makes my experience starkly different from the rest? Let me tell it to you from the beginning, and the beginning for me started precisely at 7:45 when Marianna rolled out of the bed. You see, Marianna doesn't like going to her class at Bellevue. Wait, that's not quite true, let me rephrase. Marianna does not like walking into her class at Bellevue (she has a perfectly fine time after she's actually in there, and she tells me as much herself each week when I pick her up). She made this decision one day last semester when her friend Maggie happened to be absent one week, and ever since she has drawn a line in the sand which she will not cross. She has determined that she won't under any circumstances willingly enter her classroom. Only physical force on my part, accompanied by mountain lion like shrieks and flailing of all appendages on Marianna's part, will get her inside the room. It's pretty much my most embarrassing moment as a parent, and during a MOMS semester, it happens on a weekly basis.
I made the decision sometime this week that this semester, I'm fighting back. Just like her extreme aversion to going to bed, this to must (and hopefully can) be conquered. So this morning when Marianna appeared in the living room, I was ready, game plan in hand, to attack this day with the fine honed skills of a persuaisionist. I decided to get her warmed up to the idea immediately, so as soon as I handed her a glass of milk, I casually remarked, "this is a great day to go back to MOMS, isn't it?" This was met with no response.
A little while later I started in with phase one, beginning by asking her if Jesus wanted her to be kind. She replies, "yes." I followed this up with a question asking if she was going to be kind to her teachers when she walked in the room. She replies, "NO." An inspirational talk ensues. I tell her about how much Jesus loves us, I encourage her to think about how much Jesus wants us to love others, and I end with explaining that in this situation, she can show that love by walking into her room like a normal human being. Marianna calmly explains that she doesn't care and that she will not go into her class this morning.
I let some time pass before I launch into the second phase of the plan. If appealing to her higher morals won't work, I will move on to positive reinforcement. While Marianna is in the shower, I ask her if she would like to know what really exciting surprise she can earn if she goes into her class room. She pauses a moment to think before giving a decisive shake of her head. No she would not like to know. Okay, a slight wrinkle. I'll have to throw the bait right out in front of her since she's not biting. I ask her if she would like to earn the Horton Hears a Who DVD for being brave and going into her class. "I don't like Horton, Mommy." I wasn't expecting that. "How about Peter Pan?" Marianna looks at me, almost if I am the child, and says, "Mom, there is no room left on my DVD shelf for another movie! It is stacked up and I can't put any more in it! And Mom, I don't like any DVDs besides the ones I already have." The double whammy of logic and contentment. This was tougher than I had anticipated.
More time passes before I come at it from a different angle. As I'm putting on my make up I ask her if she is braver than Adrienne, hoping to lure her into a trap. She sees through me, and immediately responds, no, she is not braver. Just to make sure she's on the same wave length I am, I pursue it further. I say, "Adrienne goes into her class without crying and she has a great time. Are you not as brave as Adrienne?" Again, simple, calm logic. "No mom, I'm not as brave. I don't go into my class without crying."
Time for a last resort. If Jesus doesn't inspire her, maybe the Disney princesses will. I ask, "Marianna, is Aurora kind?" She immediately responds in the affirmative. "Well, then how do you think Aurora would act when she went into her class?" Marianna took immediate offense to my apparent lack of movie detail accuracy. She informed me that Aurora doesn't go to a class in her movie. "Yes, I know that, but what if she did go to a class? Would she be kind to her teachers and say hi, or would she cry?" She responds with conviction, "Aurora is a character! She does not go to class. She is just a princess." What more is there to say?
Finally I give the ultimatum. I tell her she may go in her class, where she will play with friends, go to the playground, make crafts, and listen to stories, or she must sit silently in my grown up class with out any toys. To the last option she cheerfully replies, "Okay, Mommy! That's what I want to do!"
So that is exactly what we did. I dropped off Adrienne, and Marianna skipped happily by my side as we went to the adult session. She was quiet for about 10 minutes before she asked to go to class. I smiled, congratulated her on a good, brave decision, and carried her to her room. We got there, she saw her teacher's face, and in that moment I knew it was all in vain. The mountain lion shrieks, the fingers digging into my arms, the wild eyes...all of it happened anyway, just as it would have if the first two hours had not played out. She could have told me this morning before it all started not to waste my breath. Of course, when I picked her up, her teachers told me she was totally fine after the initial drop off, and Marianna told me she had a wonderful time.
The stubborn streak is rare, but when it shows itself, she makes it count.
I will leave you with this. Proof that the morning took a little more out of her than she would like to admit =).