Thursday, October 29, 2009
if you give an elie a cracker
I never really got the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. It was in the reading anthology the first year I taught first grade and I found it sort of silly. Cute, but silly. Who was this mouse anyway? Why the hell did have such a litany of needs that had to be met?
And then my daughter turned two. And I realized the book is brilliant.
Bedtime conversation at our house:
Eliana: Mama read one more? Mama read Little Bear, chapter three, Little Bear Goes to the Moon?
Mom: Okay, Eliana. But that's the last one! We have to go to bed. It's late.
Eliana: Okay, Mama!
Mom: The end. Okay Els, it's time for, Rock-A-Bye Elie and your criblet.
Eliana: Eliana need one more. Just one. How about a little I Spy.
Mom: (Choosing her battles, weighing the challenge of a melt down, remembering how short I Spy is). Okay, Elie, but that's it. Really.
Eliana: (Hopping off my lap triumphantly to go to her book basket and find I Spy). Where's Baby? Baby and NightNight wanna hear I Spy.
I roll my eyes and smile at the same time and drag my tired-ass body out of my comfy chair to retrieve the crew.
Mom: I spy a toothbrush bunny just for me! Okay (quick scoop into the arms), rock a bye Elie on the tree top....
Eliana: Elie want a Barney song. Actually, Elie need a little snack. A cracker please. Cats cookies, please?
Mom: Elie, I will get you a cracker, but then it's songs and night night, okay?
Eliana: Okay, Mom.
Mom: Here's your cracker. Be careful. Sit up. Chew....I love you, you love me...
Eliana: Elie needs a little milk. Soy milk. Actually almond milk.
Mom: Eliana, I will get you some milk but then you have to settle down, okay? (The way I relentless use the word 'okay' during all this bugs the hell out of me because it is such an empty word in this situation. Bugs me and makes me chuckle at myself in equal amounts).
Eliana: Almond milk! That's really good. Maybe a little water? Actually, an apple.
Mom: (Who can't deny her child food, ever). Eliana, I will get you a little water and a small piece of apple, but then it's, Night Night I Love You and that's it!
Eliana: Eliana's song. Night Night I Love You. This is Eliana's song.
Mom: Yes, this is Eliana's song.
Eliana: And Baby's and Josameen's and Mary's and Night Night's too.
Mom: Yes, it's everyone's songs.
Eliana: And Eliana's.
Mom: Yes and Eliana's.
Eliana: Apple please, Mom? And a little water?
Mom: (No more dialogue, shuffles defeatedly out of the room wondering how many nights she can let this go on because it has all become so habitual on either end).
Eliana: That apple's juicy, Mom! That's a red one?
Mom: Yes, that's a red one.
Eliana: That's a green one?
Mom: Elie, sit up, chew it up and settle yourself.
Eliana: This fish tank work, Mama? Needs batteries? (She begins to bang the plastic fish tank that's been attached to her crib since she was born against the bars, I wonder again why I don't move the damn thing because perhaps we could shave at least this little bit off of our routine and perhaps cut the whole shebang down by five minutes).
Mom: I love you, Eliana. Settle yourself.
Eliana: Barney song?
Mom: I already did that one, honey.
Eliana: Baby Beluga?
Mom: I did that one too.
Eliana: Let's go fly a kite?
Mom: Eliana, I did all those songs. It's time for Night Night I love you and that's it.
Eliana: Rub my back?
Mom: (head resting in my hands on the crib bars, so tired I'm barely able to sing)
Night night my Elie, night night my love, night night my Eliana Celie Kessler....
Eliana: And baby Josameen and Mary and Baby and Night Night and Anabel and Hippo and Puppy....
Mom: And everyone! Night, night my love. Good night you guys, sleep tight, love you....Night night everyone.
As the door closes softly behind me, I take a deep breath, smile really big because, really, the whole thing is so damn funny. Homegirl can talk like it's nobody's business and how well do I remember using all those same stalling techniques to get my parents to linger longer in my room before bedtime. She's smart. And she thinks she's outsmarting me. And she kinda is because I just let her do it, night after night. I guess that's just the kind of mama I am.