My Diva Daughter (2/8/09)
One day my daughter will appreciate her mother’s craft and cunning. Or at least, this is what I console myself with when she whirls on one heel and stomps off to her room, proclaiming in the Best Diva Voice Ever, “Everybody Hates Me!”
We were having a lovely family supper last night at one of our favorite places, a little Japanese hole-in-the-wall that the kids actually love, when Autumn suddenly put down her fork and made a production of putting the pasty face on. “My stomach hurts,” she said, and tried her hardest to look pitiful. My first tendency (as might be obvious from my tone) was to be less than sympathetic. Autumn complains about a mysterious stomach ailment whenever she has to do something that she deems unpleasant. In this case, it was eating food before ice cream. But I took a moment, counted to ten, and allowed Duane to soothe instead of being blunt about my suspicions.
So Autumn visited the bathroom, to no avail, and then moped at the table while we finished our meal. She had eaten all of around three bites. “Now, Autumn,” I finally said, after the standard list of where-does-it-hurt, how-does-it-hurt, did-you-go, do-you-need-to-go questions, “you do understand that if your stomach hurts so badly that you can’t eat your supper, I can’t let you eat ice cream, right?” She looked at me in confusion. I tried to be gentle. “That would just make your stomachache worse.” Duane added his agreement.
Well, she didn’t like it, but she was kind of stuck. She couldn’t back down gracefully from the stomachache issue without admitting that she was fibbing about it, and if it was true, then she honestly didn’t need ice cream and she knew it. She pushed her food around on her plate for a few minutes, and I could see the debate going on inside her head…she lifted her fork, set it down…lifted it again. Finally, she sat back in her chair, arms over her chest. “Fine,” she said.
In the car, we all planned what types of Blizzards we were going to get at Dairy Queen. It was kind of funny how perky she got thinking about it. I didn’t say much when she said she wanted a cotton candy Blizzard…just figured I’d go with the flow and see how far she’d take it.
Five minutes later, I placed the order at the drive-thru window, and went ahead and gamely ordered Autumn’s Blizzard. I drove off, allowing the kids to have theirs in the back seats. We got a minute or two down the road, and they were really getting into the blizzards, describing the flavor of the cotton candy as it related to the real deal, when I let the sneaky bomb drop.
“Oh! Autumn! You can’t have that! I completely forgot about your stomach! It’s hurting and you couldn’t even get your supper down…you can’t be expected to eat ice cream! Here, pass it up to me, and I’ll put it in the freezer when we get home.” A “but” was interjected at every sentence, but I steamrolled right over it. “Maybe if you’re feeling better, you can make some supper when you get home, and eat your blizzard afterwards.”
At this, she burst into tears. I almost felt guilty for the con I had perpetrated, but then I thought about the con I was pretty sure she had perpetrated first, and it was relatively simple to shove the guilt aside. A mom has to have some weapons in her arsenal.
When we got home, it was high drama indeed. Front door slamming, noisy sobs emanating, Daddy (who had driven separately and had no idea what was going on) asking everyone to stop, collaborate and listen. The pivotal moment came when Autumn decided to throw her peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a fit of pique (she really wanted that ice cream) and then confessed in a soap-worthy manner, “Alright, I confess! I LIED! I Did It! My stomach Did Not Hurt! I just didn’t feel like eating! Are you Happy?”
The crazy thing is, as disappointed in her behavior as I was, it was so transparent as to be almost comical, and by this point I just wanted to laugh and cry uncle. Thank God for Duane. I don’t know how some single moms do it. Duane was able to bring her down to a level of reasoning by asking her if she really thought we were so (doh!) stupid we couldn’t see through her lies, told her a wonderful story about how lies multiply, and would not let her have her blizzard at all because she lied. By the time she went to bed that evening, she was her normal happy, smiling self.
I think Autumn would probably prefer it, especially in the next eight years or so, if we were a little on the thick side of things, but maybe one day she’ll be able to look back at herself at laugh a little, too.