When I had taken all of the My Little Ponies away, cancelled bath time (yes, I have one of those kids who loooooves bath time) and put the iPad in a closet (after threatening in scary mommy voice that it would stay there for a week), I put the kids to bed and I opened a bottle of wine and got to thinking.
It's not my job to make nice all the time.
I love my kids, but I have never ever felt they should be the center of the universe (even though, let's face it, they usually are).
This morning, I told Eva about Strega Nona, the wonderful 1975 book by Tommie dePaola. She listened with wide eyes and I think, a little bit of fear, as I explained how Strega Nona (which means Grandma Witch) had too much work to do and she needed Anthony to help her watch the pasta while it cooked. She gave him very specific instructions, but he didn't listen and then the whole town ended up covered in spaghetti and Strega Nona had to fix it all with her magic.
I told Eva that the next time she throws food, I'm going to have to make her stir the pasta pot all night. And if she stops, it will start to take over our house and then maybe all of Brooklyn. Then I had to stop, because she really was looking at me like I had just told her Maleficent was about to become her new mother.
This all made me remember when my first grade teacher, Mrs. Gavette, first read Strega Nona to us. I was partly scared ("so let me get this straight - a grandmother who is also a witch makes this guy watch over a pot of pasta, he forgets about it and then the whole town is in grave peril and the grandma who is also a witch is ticked.) and partly amazed by her very clear resolve.
A friend of mine once told me that she struggles being a parent most on the days when she feels like all she does is reprimand her kids. No real praise. No warm fuzzies. Just a lot of, "No, I said not to do that," "I'm taking away the candy," "No more TV if you keep acting like that," and so forth. But then she reminds herself, "It's not my job to be their best friend. It's my job to make them into good people."
So yeah, baby girl Elise, when you want to go running across a busy street near the park and I hoist you over my shoulder and exclaim loudly that, "I'm stronger than you!," you'll know you've just been schooled by Strega Momma!