It was a solo parenting night at the Casa de Reich-Brandão but I had managed to get both kids ready for bed without ever losing my patience. Miguel was tucked into bed reading and Zeca had received approximately 263 "last" hugs and had told me "one more thing" until she could think of nothing else to say. My work was done and I went downstairs to practice my Couch Relaxation Techniques, pleased with the way I had breezed through bedtime. I hadn't been downstairs but 10 minutes, however, when Zeca yelled down to me, "I need a glass of water!" I yelled back, "Okay sweetie. Go in the bathroom and get yourself one!" She has her own glass in the bathroom and is capable of getting herself a glass of water. There was a brief moment of silence and she yelled down again, "I want you to get it for me!" I yelled back, "No, honey. You can get it yourself!" She yelled back, "NO! I WANT YOU TO GET ME A GLASS OF WATER RIGHT NOW!"
Right then, I made the decision that I was not going to get her the glass of water. I'm not saying it was the right decision or the best decision. It was simply a decision.
I explained in the kindest of ways that I was busy and that I would not get her a glass of water when she could get it for herself. She obviously decided that kindness was for chumps and began to scream and cry and shout unintellegible things at me for the next 10 minutes. Then, though the tirade continued, I heard the pitter patter of little footsteps and water running in the bathroom sink. I thought, "Finally!" but then heard Miguel's voice saying, "Just a minute Zeca..." I ran upstairs just in time to catch Miguel coming out of the bathroom with a glass of water in his hand. I was like, "Noooooooooo! You do that and all will be lost!" He said, "But mom...it's so sad." I wasn't feeling terribly sad but I agreed with him about the sadness and explained that Zeca was simply trying to bend me to her will and that I was too far in to get her the glass of water and if he got her the glass of water, she would realize that she would get what she wanted if she put on a performance that was grand enough and then? Then- she would rule the world.
Yes, I had The Crazy Eyes - I know this because of the way my son looked at me and backed towards the sink.
He dumped out the water and said, "You better do something because she is loud and I want to go to sleep". I smiled and said, "Trust me. I've got it all under control". He shook his head and wandered back to his room.
By this time, Zeca knew that I was upstairs and was demanding my presence. So, I went into her room, knelt down beside her bed where she was sobbing and said, "Yes Zeca?" Her tears immediately stopped and she said in deadpan, "Since you are here, would you get me that glass of water now?" It took every ounce of energy I had left in my dwindling reserves to keep myself from yelling, "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!" I took a deep breath, told her that she could get herself a glass of water and I went back downstairs while she busied herself with the screaming.
There are no words to describe the pitch and volume of the screaming. No words, my friends. I sat down on the couch and put my head in my hands and tried to figure out my next move. Then, the screams got closer and closer and I knew...she was coming for me. It was like a bad horror movie, except that I was fully clothed and had enough sense not to run towards the beast. I made myself as small as possible and sank deeper into the couch and she got within inches of my face and screamed, "GET ME A GLASS OF WATER! NOW!" and, with her demand, singed off my eyebrows.
I then posed what I considered to be a most thought-provoking question, "You passed by the bathroom and came all the way downstairs to demand that I get you a glass of water that you could have gotten for yourself 15 minutes ago?" Her answer? "YES!" And this is when I walked out the front door, got into my car and went to a hotel. I kid...I kid. That wasn't an option. So, in a loving and hushed tone, I suggested that she get herself a glass of water on her way back to bed. Needless to say, she thought my idea was a poor one and chose not to act on it. She chose instead to return to her bed and continue screaming about my cruelty until she fell into a deep sleep.
Now, this next part of the story might be hard to believe but I assure you it is the truth. When I woke Zeca up the following morning, we smiled the most loving smiles at each other and she said, "Mama? Would you get me a glass of water now?"