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Joining My Daughter’s Club

At the beginning of the year Big Girl was obsessed with clubs. She’s come home almost every day telling us about this club or that club that she wanted to start. She’d rush off to school so excited about asking the other kids to join with her, but invariably she’d fail to sign people up. (She did actually succeed in getting people on board with the snack club, which was essentially a pilgrimage to the school’s healthy snack machines. But as always, I digress.) I understood her reasoning. She wanted to belong. She wanted to feel important.

Yesterday her school was closed. My babysitter was off, obviously, and the entire 11 hour day — from 8 until 7 — was going to be all me. In addition, I was on Day 1 of changing the way I react to my daughter. When she whines, I decided, I will calmly tell her that unless she stops she’s going to her room. How would it work out?

We had breakfast. We played Elefun. We played Go Away Monster. (We had to find games that the baby, 19-months-old, could participate in, too.) And then I spotted our Gymboree parachute. I pulled it out and everyone got excited. Little Girl was excited because parachute is one of her favorite things to do in the mommy-and-me classes she takes. Big Girl was thrilled because I lifted it over all of us and made a tent. I was excited because I had an idea.

“Kids, this is so cool. We could make this our clubhouse. We can hold our meetings under this,” I suggested. “We can be the Secret S Girls.” Big Girl’s eyes lit up like the New York skyline. “We can write our rules! I’m going to get supplies,” she said. And in two seconds she was there with paper, two sharpened pencils, and an unsharpened pencil for Little Girl. We spent about an hour discussing the rules, consulting books (many of Big Girl’s books explain exactly how clubs should be run), assigning duties, and writing it all down. We even hammered out whether or not visitors were allowed to join our club. We wrote a list of our favorites. The baby, thrilled to be a part of something so funny — one of the rules was ‘Little Girl cannot fart in the clubhouse’ — was right in there with us.

When Little Girl went down for her nap, Big Girl and I took a long walk in the neighborhood. We talked a little more about the club. Turns out going for a walk is a club directive! We walked down to our marina to see if the bay had frozen over. (It didn’t.) We pretended to be on a Himalayan trek on our way home.

At the end of the day there was very little whining, but when it did happen, Big Girl stopped, apologized, and fixed her tone. There was no yelling. No drama. No tears. (Well, aside from when Little Girl fell off the bed while sitting right next to me — she’s okay, though.) You might say that it wasn’t really a good day to test the no whining plan since, having off from school, there was less of a chance for drama. You might be right. But yesterday reminded me that we all want to be a part of something. I need to make sure my Big Girl knows she is a respected, loved part of our own little club — our family — and one of the most important things in the world to me. I’m not sure she always did before yesterday.

While we were listing our favorites one of the questions was “Favorite thing to do.” We were answering for each other and the baby. Big Girl’s, I knew, was reading books. “Mommy, yours is working.” No wonder my kid whines. She thinks I care more about work more than anything else. I’d whine, too. I grabbed her and hugged her and set her straight.

The kids have off again today. The test of my new resolve, this little set of experiments, will come tomorrow when she’s got to get up at 7:35 for school, and I go back to work. I’ll keep you posted. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

What’s your most memorable snow day? What did you do if you had off yesterday? Stay warm, people. And if you’re already warm I am extremely jealous!

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