Which I am.
Archer to this day has never talked back. He regularly reminds me not to give him, for example, dessert because "you took away my dessert privileges, tonight, remember?"
Archer is a by the book, rule person. It's clockwork to him. He messes up. We call him on it. He immediately recognizes what he's done and sends himself to his room. He's always been that kid. He's always adhered to the rules, wanting desperately to do right by them.
Fable, on the other hand, is more like me, and Hal, and most human beings. She hates being wrong. She wants it her way.
Welcome to life, my girl. Bienvenidos.
And then we sat down together to discuss without yelling (me) and kicking the wall (her).
"Sometimes my heart feels messy," she said.
So we discussed the best course of action to clean that heart of hers up, or at the very least, try...
Deciding on outfits the day before?
Having some special mommy Fable alone time?
Check, check and check.
Because even though Fable isn't technically a middle child and although she's never acted jealous or resentful of her sisters, it must be tough for her sometimes. Just like it's tough for me and for Hal, it's tough for her. Especially now that her baby sisters are walking and pulling and getting into her stuff. Perhaps her sudden defense has to do with an innate NEED to demand power in a house where quiet voices do not carry. Or maybe this is just what happens now.
Maybe this is her (and our) growing pain. Strong will? She has it. But the stronger will is mine. The stronger will will always be mine. One of the plus sides of being eternally thirteen. I will win the battle. Sorry, kids.
Anyway. We had a kind of breakthrough the other day and even though we aren't out of the woods yet a la "challenging almost fours," I feel kind of relieved to be dealing with the first of what I assume will be MANY conflicts with her now. Like we've gone through the first few years with her on a cloud and BAM, reality. And I felt sideswiped by it, lets be clear. But I feel almost closer to her now than I ever have. Because with every conflict and tantrum and battle of wills... something happens. A new closeness.
I'm not afraid of the teen years and I'm not afraid of now. Some days are hard and that's never going to change. Some days Fable will hate me, say she's sorry, slam her door. Some days I will, too. Some days she'll mean all of those terrible things she's going to say. I said them, too. And I meant every word. In the moment, I meant every word.
...Until I realized I didn't. And then I was sorry.
The other night for the first time Fable called me "stupid" and then she stopped and immediately took it back. She had never said anything like that before and it shocked her. She immediately stopped crying and sat down.
"Okay," she said.
And then, finally: "I'm sorry, Mama."
She knew she was wrong. She knew she was busted. She was sorry.
And all at once, I remembered. I remembered being Fable and my mom being me and how it felt to hate her.
I remembered calling my mother stupid when I was little and a bitch when I was big and how every time the words left my mouth, they stung. They bled. They made me feel like I was going to be sick.
And then my mom would cry and I would cry and in the end we'd both win the fight because every conflict led to some kind of resolve. Or at the very least, a better understanding of why there was a mess and how best to clean it up. An opening to squeeze through or at the very least pick at.
I told Fable it was okay and that I forgave her and then she did this thing she does when she's sorry and she pulls on her lower lip with her hand and looks away, except this time she looked at me and I looked back at her and something changed.
I don't know what, but something.
The next day she cried when I reminded her why she couldn't watch TV. She cried and she screamed and she cried but eventually she gave in, stopped crying.
And then she was fine. She spent the rest of the afternoon drawing and being fine.
In the words of Fable's misquoted Pink lyrics (that we seat-danced to this morning in the car) just because it turns doesn't mean you're in the sky.