Not an auspicious start to the pageant. Everyone is all gathered in front of the altar, the congregation is standing while singing a hymn about peace on Earth, and all of the sudden Katya hit Natalia--getting her eye--hard. Shocked, Natalia shouted out, "I hate you, Katya!!," almost screamed, thankfully didn't, and then started to lunge at her sister--teeth and fists clenched in absolute rage. God bless the preteen shepherds who restrained her and tried to calm both girls. Everyone in the few front rows could see, as could the choir and minister...
I wanted to crawl into a hole, after shoving them both into separate ones.
I gave them looks soooooo much crueler than those of Susan Sarandon in "Enchanted." (Thought I'd give the girls a real treat and took them to see that movie last night--they both ended up hating it because they though Sarandon's character was so terrifying. I'm frankly shocked they were afraid--it was tame compared to some stories they've heard and kids' movies they've seen--and I thought they would love it!!!) I must say, it worked pretty well.
Natalia then started to cry, rubbing her eye frantically, and she came to me in the second row to hold her. I determined that her eye seemed fine and made her go assume her place as an angel as the play started. I was on "stage" (at the pulpit) the whole time holding the microphone for all the kids, so I had to go--and they HAD to behave.
We had already had a rocky start upon arriving at church this morning; Natalia didn't want to take off the black velour dress I had let her wear. Since I knew they'd be in costume throughout the service, for once I had let them pick whatever they wanted to wear to church--but I had made it clear that they would change as soon as we arrived. All of the sudden Natalia was going to be a black angel, or not an angel at all. A black angel? In a CHRISTMAS pageant??? NO. My little lawyer insisted that the black angel was a happy, joyful angel because her dress never looked dirty, but I wasn't budging. Letting her back out wasn't an option, either... Three of her classmates from nursery school had joined the pageant because she was in it, and they might have changed their minds if she had. I NEEDED to win this battle, I made her go to women's room with me, and a few minutes later we were back with a relatively happy girl wearing her white.
One mom came up to me in utter admiration; "How did you DO that? Let me know your secret!" A bit ashamed, I told her I'd used the four-part method, adding on each subsequent part as the preceeding one failed to work.
One: One small Christmas present early.
Two: I started to dial Santa's cell phone number (LOVE that trick I picked up from the Desperate Housewives pilot!!!).
Three: Threat of having me pick out her clothing indefinitely. (Even a worse punishment).
Four: Threat of a spanking beyond what she could imagine if she disobeyed me. I don't spank often, and she knows I mean it if I say I will.
I could NOT let her win; if she wins, it's all downhill from there. At least I made that mom feel a little better; no, there wasn't some other mom out there with some amazing techniques that made her pale in comparison... Here she is right after our little costume battle; she knows I won, but you can tell she's plotting something else...
Her friends from school, however, were the sweetest sister angels ever...
The pageant did go very well, though. Next year I'll be involved in directing again, perhaps much more than this year--if I can fit it in, though! It's a lot of work!!! It was very sweet with little angels dancing up and down the aisle to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and shepherds and kings making their way through the congregation. Jesus got dropped on his head, but well, he had a rather young mother and he survived just fine.
My friend Melissa posted last week about "why do you bring screaming kids to church" and I kept thinking of her this morning... As inauspiciously as the pageant started off, it did rub off on the girls and by the time the service was over, they were kind and loving to each other again. We ended up having quite a lovely day together. I was also thankful for those moments apart from them, time to gather the strength to complete the remaining days on my own while Chris is in London on business.
I highly recommend checking out Melissa's blog; she's my best friend from childhood and an excellent writer. Here's what she wrote for her profile: I'm an Episcopal priest who serves primarily as a stay-at-home mom. I am the mother of two children and this blog helps me to find God in the midst of the chaos of raising a toddler and an infant. I got her into blogging and I'd love for her to make some nice friends in the blogosphere :-) (Somehow the layout of her page is a little mixed-up right now, with her sidebars and profile, etc., at the very bottom. Do check it all out, though! You'll be glad you did). Meese--I'll help you fix your page once I have some spare time over vacation!
(In the end, I learned that Katya thought Natalia had said that only she could be friends with the sisters from her school. I have no idea what actually happened, but I do know that Katya was so hurt and she just lashed out in anger. Katya cried when I told her that she could have damaged her sister's vision for the rest of her life; she hadn't meant to hit her eye. The girls talked it out and apologies were given on both sides. They've both lost "choosing your own" clothing privileges for hitting/saying "I hate you" and there were time-outs when we got home. Katya's going through a really hard time recently and it's so hard to watch as her parent... She can make me so very angry, and yet I know she's juggling a lot of emotions and is struggling to learn how to control them... And then she can be the wonderfully kind, sweet person I know she is... Ah, raising children certainly isn't easy.)