Monday, October 30, 2006

Total Craziness

Wow - I haven't bothered you guys in almost 3 weeks. You must have been hoping I'd gone away. No such luck. I've just been waiting for things to settle down a bit here so I could write and say that everything's all right, Rachel is behaving, Anna loves us, and all that. Unfortunately, I can't write that. Our house is looking a bit bizarre at this point, I must say. Sliding bolts on the outside of all the bathroom and bedroom doors (and the closets); a 4-year-old happily playing at the kitchen table while strapped to her chair with 2 velcro cargo straps; bathrooms stripped bare of any item that could conceivably be flushed down a toilet. Sort of an Addams Family feel, really. We have to lock Rachel into her room at night, as we discovered that she was getting up in the middle of the night and working on her "projects" in the boys' walk-in closet. Mounted stuffed animal heads, pillow-casing Halloween ghosts, you name it. And plugging up the powder room toilet on her way back to bed. Thank God she has never figured out where we keep the matches. Larry strips and searches her bed every night, to make sure there are no scissors, stuffed animal heads, or glue hidden there. Still, she manages to continue. Today she got hold of my hot-glue gun and, well, it wasn't pretty. Apparently, she had figured out how to use it by watching Theo mend some books that she had ripped the covers off of.

It didn't help that we had houseguests last week. We tried to warn them. Auntie Kate really wasn't happy to come back from a day of touring in DC to find her suitcase (the new one, with the lock) slashed open. I think that was the day Rachel got her hands on Theo's Swiss Army knife. Yes, she is a monster. And, yes, we are obviously totally incompetent as parents. If anyone would like to take her off our hands and demonstrate the proper way to raise her, feel free. Take my daughter....please.

Well, I could go on and on; but you get the idea. Tomorrow she starts preschool, and Larry and I can hardly wait. We've discussed warning Rachel's teacher, but what is the use? She'll never believe us. We'll probably just stick with Larry's plan; i.e., we'll drop Rachel off in her classroom, yell, "No backsies!" and run for the car.

Of course, we tried that with Anna at the middle school and she just keeps coming back. Oh, well. She spends her weekends actively loathing us all. At this point, the feeling is becoming mutual.

Happily, Halloween is approaching and I can try to immerse myself in preparations for the still-sane children in the family. Brian and David are both going as bats (see? Rachel is driving us batty), and Susie is going to be a nice fat pumpkin. Rachel unfortunately lost trick-or-treating privileges after the glue-gun incident today. Not that that will make a bit of difference in her behavior. I don't know what Anna is planning, as she isn't really speaking to me right now. Theo, for the first time, has declared himself as too old to trick-or-treat. Can driving be far behind?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Playing With Scissors

Well, Rachel seems to have put her toilet-stuffing phase behind her. Maybe we can just forget all those unhappy episodes, at least after Larry patches up the holes in the livingroom ceiling. The house is still habitable, after all; fortunately, my teenagers know where to find the shut-off valve for the upstairs toilet. I'm just glad we didn't have to call the plumber. It would have been hard to explain to him exactly why there were 3 large towels shoved into the toilet. As a matter of fact, we're having a hard time understanding it ourselves.

Unfortunately, Rachel has instead become obsessed with scissors. And, yes, we've hidden all of them, and, yes, I am watching her constantly. It's getting to the point where Larry dreads coming home from work, as he doesn't want to hear the latest Rachel exploit when what he really needs is a beer and some peace and quiet. I'm living some bad I Love Lucy episode - just picture Larry as Desi Arnaz, waving his alarm clock with the cord snipped in two and saying, "Looocy, you have some 'splainin' to do!" And I'm standing there, wringing my hands, and insisting, "I didn't take my eyes off her for a minute, Ricky!" Lately she's been laying off the electrical stuff in favor of what appears to be her true calling - amateur taxidermist. We've had to stow all the stuffed animals for safekeeping until Rachel stops decapitating them and mounting their heads on the wall as trophies. True, this seems to be a rather sophisticated prank for a 4-year-old; but our by now well-honed interrogation methods have exonerated both Brian and Theo. As for David, he was absolutely prostrate with grief over Froggy and Teddy Bear. He spent all of one evening sewing Teddy's head back on.

The scary part is, Rachel just will not stop. Every day, somewhere in the house, Larry or I will stumble upon mute witness to her obsession - nothing big, just a headless bear, say, with its arms sticking out as if to plead, "Help me!" And the head itself will be nowhere in sight. Because she hides them. Yes, that's right - she collects heads, so she can mount them later. Now, I've thumbed through many a child development book in my day; and I just don't recall seeing this sort of thing mentioned in "Your Child at Four" or "The Magic Years" or the like. She hasn't, of course, victimized her own animal, a very attractive white stuffed rabbit. So Larry, obviously feeling desperate, told her a few days ago that he would take Bunny away if he found another headless body. That's right, folks - "Stop it, or the rabbit gets it!" It probably would have been smarter for him to take Bunny hostage then and there; because the next day, there was another headless bear, and Bunny was nowhere to be found. Because Rachel hid it. Remember all the Bugs Bunny episodes where Elmer Fudd throws down his gun and jumps up and down with steam coming out of his ears as he says, "oooh, that wascally wabbit!"? That's what Larry looked like when he realized he'd been outsmarted by a 4-year-old. I must admit, I haven't laughed so hard in years.

We need to physically restrain Rachel, that's all. I would google "shackles (size small)," but I'm betting that the results would be as shocking as they were when I googled "slave costume" for Anna. Better yet, we could ship Rachel off to preschool; but I think the shackles would be cheaper than even one month's tuition. And I can only find half-day programs anyway.

Other children? Oh, yes, them....well, Anna still hates us. We're the worst parents ever. Compliment accepted. And let me point out that her father spent his weekend off painting her room the color she wants it. We should have painted it black. David has turned into a very helpful, competent young man; that is, when he isn't mourning yet another decapitated friend. Brian is 6 1/2 now, which can be an annoying age for little boys; but as anything he does pales in comparison with the deeds of his demonically-possessed 4-year-old sister, we still regard him as a positive addition to our family. Susie is enchanting, toddling around with her fat little legs and cute baby shoes. Of course, Rachel used to be enchanting, also. Theo used to be my right-hand man around here, but now he spends all his time taking pictures of Rachel's latest exploit or else trying to understand his Algebra text. Both our gardens are suffering monstrous neglect.

Well, it's time to get ready to celebrate Larry's birthday. He's 39 today; but, for some reason or other, he's been looking a lot older lately.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bad Craziness

I've lost track of the time, I've been so busy unstuffing toilets and pulling scissors out of Rachel's hands. What a little monster - she sneaked into Anna's room and tore the covers off 3 of her textbooks and hid the innards in Theo's bureau drawer. In case you're wondering why she did that, please think - could there possibly be any reasonable answer to that question? Of course not. And yes, she's been getting plenty of positive attention (in between punishments for her various misdemeanors) and yes, she still loves Susie. So you can all quit your amateur psychoanalyzing and accept the basic chaotic nature of the universe, all right? Sheesh.

Well, the basic chaotic nature of my universe, anyway.

In between all the craziness, I'm expected to start dreaming up Halloween costumes for everyone. The boys have informed me that they don't want to be pirates for the 4th year in a row. So we're going to make scarecrow costumes for them. That will be a piece of cake compared to what Anna wants - she and her best friend want to dress as Turkish harem girls (G-rated version, of course). We were looking for costume patterns and ideas on the web together (this was back when Anna was still talking to me, by the way). A word to the wise - never google "slave costume" while your teenage daughter is sitting at the computer with you.

It doesn't matter now, anyway - Anna has gone back to hating all of us all the time, so she's on her own for Halloween. Basically, we don't let her do what she wants whenever she wants - aren't we mean? I comfort myself with the thought that I have 2 other daughters who may grow up to love me (well, if Rachel isn't sent away to reform school). The oldest girl is just a prototype anyway - the beta model, if you will.

Our next-door neighbors are still trying to sell their house. They seem desperate to get away from us - they've already dropped the price 100,000 dollars. I blame the killer apple tree; Larry seems to think it has something to do with the junk heap of assorted plastic riding toys which populate our front patio. Or the childish screams emanating from the open front door all hours of the day and night. Or maybe Theo's mess of an experimental container garden littering the back deck. All of the above, perhaps? I guess when our neighbors paid almost half-a-million dollars for their place 2 years ago, they didn't expect to be living next-door to the Trailer Park Family from Hell. Real estate is full of surprises, isn't it?

Well, here's to October! I for one am looking forward to some real fall weather finally and the traditional autumn activities that go with it: drinking fresh apple cider, carving ridiculously elaborate jack-o-lanterns (we're going high-tech this year - we've got a CD-Rom of pumpkin patterns), and eating the kids' Halloween candy while they sleep. Especially Rachel's.