I wake early this morning to prepare for a 7am video conference. I generally try and avoid scheduling calls during Stormy’s waking hours (so before 7am and after 9pm) however this morning it is unavoidable. I manage to start the call without waking her. But about 15 minutes in, Stormy wakes and comes out to sit on my lap. She’s very well behaved and greets all the other participants on the call. It lightens what is otherwise a very serious meeting.
Stormy gets ready quickly this morning and, after the call, we sit an play Lego for about 5 minutes. She tells a story of a queen and her kingdom who goes to sleep, except for the guards who stay awake to protect her in case bad guys come. It’s very serious. Soon after, we wander down to the bus stop. She plays hide and seek with her bus-mates until it’s time to leave.
On the way home I stop past the travel agent to buy tickets back to Australia for the Easter break. Stormy is less excited than I expected. She wants her mother to come here. I tell her that it’s too late for that. She’s disappointed.
She asks to have dinner by the pool again today. This time, I know what to expect but I agree anyway. I kinda like the hyper. It’s what childhood should be. She spends more time in the pool than she does eating. I also get my exercise for the day in the pool. She climbs on my back and asks me to swim with her. I don’t get very far each time. Then she decides to have a race. “Let’s play a winning game. Whoever wins is the winner”. There’s a brief pause while she considers what she just said. “You be slow and I’ll be fast”. She should know by now that I don’t let her win. If she wants to win, she has to earn it.
We emerge from the pool and, in the end, she eats enough to earn desert. There will come a point when she realises that apples or yoghurt are not actually desert. That these are foods she can have at any time because they are good for her. On that I day I will lose the trust of my daughter. But that day is not today. Because today she decides, against all expectations, to have chili rice chips for desert. I buy some from the vending machine and we head upstairs.
She happily strips down and hops into the bath. And that’s when it all goes to hell. She refuses to wash her hair. I’m adamant that she must, especially after swimming. It starts with a gentle disagreement and evolves into full-blown tantrum. I explain that, while I can’t force her to wash her hair, if she doesn’t she can’t have her chili chips — they’re only for good girls. I also explain that if she doesn’t wash her hair for a week I’ll shave her head. I’m not bluffing. She’s more upset about the chili chips. She tries to call my bluff and gets out of the bath. Yet I refuse to succumb. Firmly, holding the chili chips in my hand I sit on the floor and get down to her level — eye to eye. I calmly repeat the same thing over and over again. It takes about 5 minutes of screaming and ranting before she starts to settle.
Then she starts to compromise. “I’ll have a shower, but no shampoo”. I know I’ve won at this point. I stand firm and barely a minute later she’s in my arms and I’m carrying her to the bath again.
One shower later and I break out the chili chips. She gives me the first one from the packet. “Because I love you”. We settle down with her chips, milky Milo and a story.
Victory is mine tonight.