Guest Post by Erin Woodsmall
“I wanted to do that! Mommy, you’ve made this the worstest day EVER!”
My crime? Rolling out a pie crust for the fresh strawberry pie my five-year-old wanted me to make. Rookie mistake on my part, really. Let me take you back a bit…
Mom and I have taken my three children, Lucy, Caleb, and Silas, ages 5, 3, and 3 months respectively, to go strawberry picking at a farm around an hour’s drive away. We may have gone a little overboard.
Four very full gallon buckets of strawberries later, we are back home and the bounty is sitting on the kitchen table.
“Let’s make pie.” Lucy is picking out the prettiest of the strawberries from her bucket, while her brother Caleb is chowing down indiscriminately out of his, leaving little trails of green stems across the long table.
I glance at the clock. T-minus one hour until bedtime. And the kids still need to eat dinner. The type of pie I know she’s referring to takes three parts: making and baking the pie crust, cooking the glaze made of crushed strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and corn starch, and cutting and arranging whole strawberries in the baked crust before pouring the glaze on top. After that the whole thing has to chill for a while. If this is going to happen before bedtime, I have to move quickly.
While the kids eat their dinner (leftovers for the win), I throw the ingredients for the pastry crust into the food processor, spin them together, and plop the concoction on a rolling mat with handy circles to indicate the size of the pie. After I roll it into the right circle, Lucy notices me. I explain to her that I saved the fun parts for her, and that if we are going to finish making our pie before bed, we need to hurry. Nope. Explanation rejected, worstest day ever.
My husband and I like to call Lucy our parenting trial by fire, because she was and is quite fiery, especially compared to her relatively chill little brothers. She was often an intense, high-needs baby and refused to be put down, ride in a carseat without screaming, or take a bottle or paci, ever. She grew into an intelligent, bright, sharp little toddler with an uncrushable independent streak. She’s the kind of kid that if you help her down a set of steps, she has to go back up to the top and go down again, just to prove that she can do it all on her own. This can be quite handy, but is equally as often frustrating for us as her parents.
(Lucy “reading” to the baby. She has lots of patience for this.)
The cliche is true: parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Each stage has had its challenges and “silver linings.” Years one through five have each been wonderful and difficult in different ways. I really can’t say which is my most or least favorite. At age five we’ve had to really work on her lashing out verbally. “Love your neighbor as yourself” or “treat others the way you would want to be treated” have been frequent discipline themes in our house recently. Also that words can sometimes hurt worse than hitting.
One apology later from the five-year-old, and she was allowed to help with every step of the pie, but bedtime remained set at its normal time. I hope that was the right decision. Parenting her can be quite a challenge in that she can say mean things, truly apologize, and then be as sweet as the strawberry pie that will be for breakfast tomorrow. (It counts as fruit, right?) But parenting her and her brothers has been the absolute best adventure of our lives.
In the comments, share your favorite age or stage of your children, or your favorite age from your own childhood.