Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's hard being 3

Our house was due for inspection today. In Australia, the rental company inspects the property every 12 weeks, assuring the owner there is no damage (and often checking up on the tenants' housekeeping skills as a side effect). I've been cleaning all morning, and the girls were happily engaged in one of their favorite past-times, dancing. After a while, they asked and I readily agreed to put on the DVD of Ellie's ballet recital so they could dance along. It bought me such good uninterrupted cleaning time that I broke my own rule and put on a second dance DVD afterwards. That didn't work out so well.

On my pass through the living room, I could see they were both sitting and watching rather than dancing. Watching is almost always bad news. Inevitably, they get tired and grumpy and begin to squabble. It wasn't long before Ellie came to tattle on Stephanie for hitting. When I tried to have a talk with her, she bit me...HARD (yes, she broke the skin, through my shorts!). I couldn't believe it. I tossed her into her room for time out, and she spit in my face when it was time to come out. Repeatedly. This is not the Stephanie we know at all.

And then I remembered: she's 3. I've been cleaning and busy all morning, putting her needs (and whims) on the back burner. No, I can't keep doing your costume changes, sweetie. Okay, one last hairstyle change but that's it! Stephanie, I'm cleaning! It was a bit too much. Understandably.

Priority reminder!

The house inspection is important, sure, but these are my children. It was time to decide the house was "clean enough". Let the inspection chips fall where they may. I pulled her into my lap for a long, soft cuddle and felt her little body completely relax. Then, I read her a story and then another. And she wrapped her little arms around my neck, gave me a huge squeeze and apologized from the bottom of her sweet little heart for biting me and spitting. Balance is restored. Everyone is happy and relaxed again.

And you know what? The inspection went just fine.

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