At least she doesn’t have to worry about fulfilling the creative need of each and every child. She only has to try and remember their names. With that many kids, individuality takes a back seat to the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter and cable TV.
But with only one little critter around the house — The Diva is pretty much self-contained, unless she suddenly decides not to be, thus becoming mysteriously needy — My Lovely Wife and I seem to be constantly catering to Jellybean’s every fluctuating whim.
Thus, we have entered the “options” phase. There were fewer instructions given to the O.J. Simpson jury than the daily requirements handed down from Mount Jellybean. They cover everything from breakfast to in-the-car jackets (yep, it’s 99 degrees outside and my precious bundle of perpetual motion is wearing her pink Elmo jean jacket to school).
Our life has been reduced to a game of multiple choice.
“What do you want to wear today?”
“You gotta give me options … but it needs to be something twirly and no shorts and not that new dress ’cause I wore that yesterday and I don’t want anything blue because Ramsey said only boys wear blue.”
I parade out a handful of tiny dresses with those weird hangers designed to hold like 14 ensembles but only a specific kind of ensemble, so everything else slips off, making me cuss under my breath, and I lay them all out for her highness to peruse.
I’ll occasionally spice things up by creating my own ensembles, which are often so tacky they would make the chicks from “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” look like dour Amish girls. But rarely do I put together a winner. The losers, meanwhile, are awarded the promise of, “I’ll wear that when I get home.”
She never does. Returning home only starts the process over again.
It doesn’t end with clothes. Jellybean insists on options for shoes, after-school movies, after-school snacks, pajamas and bedtime books.
Reading was a playful chore until we entered this most recent phase. Now My Lovely Wife or I have the Library of Jellybean spilled across our chests while she contemplates between “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” or “Bats at the Beach.”
This isn’t a bedtime stalling tactic. She’s actually considering her options, weighing her mood and trying to discern which book/outfit/flavor of Pop-Tart best defines her individuality, and what that choice in turn says about her place in the universe.
That or she’s just messing with me and likes watching my face turn funny colors as I swallow my mounting frustration while life passes me by.
There’s nothing wrong with allowing a 4-year-old to make decisions for herself, to enjoy that rare opportunity to wield a bit of control over her own life.
Assuming Jellybean doesn’t turn out to be another Lindsay Lohan, choosing from increasingly embarrassing ways to destroy her career.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com