Over the holidays a number of people told me that Elli did not act at all like the person I portrayed in my blog posts. They saw her as an angel, a perfect little girl who is enthusiastic and cute while my posts often portray her in a negative light. That is true of course because writing about a child who is mostly compliant and basically happy isn't all that interesting; it is the stories of freakouts, midnight wakings, tantrums and difficult discipline choices that make engaging and entertaining reading. Over Christmas Elli was generally very well behaved at our gatherings and parties but we had some epic meltdowns when it was time for the party to end. The trouble is that Elli, like most children I think, acts well in slightly unfamiliar situations where lots of people are happy and eager to play with her. She enjoys attention and playing games with adults and since she is the only child around in both my family and Wendy's family she gets loads of individual attention and plenty of presents at Christmastime. Thus she gets a reputation for being the perfect child.
When it comes time to go to bed after the party her tune changes. She alternates between falling asleep on people's shoulders and insisting that she is not tired. She shouts to the world:
"You don't love me any more!"
"Mommy you have to come to the bathroom with me right now!"
"I didn't get a video today you have to let me watch my video!"
Then she tries tricks like stripping off her pajamas and running around the house naked to find her nightgown, which is soaked with pee from an accident not 15 minutes before. She stalks into our bedroom and says in her best grownup, authoritarian voice, "You have to come to my room for 1 more minute Right Now!" Between slamming doors and throwing objects I am surprised she hasn't yet caused physical damage to anything over this holiday season.
Then of course the next day we have another party and we get more compliments on how we have such a well behaved child. I know that Wendy and I get really stressed out by the end of the holidays as 9 days of company and many big gatherings wears us down. We end up desperately wanting to just go home and sit in solitude for a day, drinking in the silence. (Well, maybe silence + the hum of the computers.) I wonder if Elli feels the same way and just can't articulate it at all. That understanding of what you want and why you want it does not come early or easily to many people and four is not generally known as the age of extensive self knowledge. It would be wonderful to be able to spread the festivities over a larger period, perhaps 1 party a month instead of all at once. Anyone up for a Christmas season that takes place over the months of November through February?