“Lily, for the hundredth time, go brush your teeth. . . right now!” I said, exasperated. Ever so slowly, she put one foot in front of the other, humming lazily, staring at the ceiling of the upstairs hallway. “Now!” I said, as calmly as I could manage. Lily swung her head to look at me, growled like a tiger, and then pounced toward the door.
We were running late, as usual. As she brushed her teeth, I walked down the hall to her bedroom, which was a disaster area. Normally, I would have gotten her to clean it up on her own, using special tricks to make it positive and fun. But this morning we were already late, and I had already used up all of my patience. I didn’t have any time for special tricks–or fun. I quickly folded the pile of blankets that had been used as “nests” for stuffed animals, tucked a dozen “beanie boos” away in the closet, and cleared all the dirty laundry off the floor. Here and there I came across scraps of paper, notes, and post-its. I glanced at each note briefly and quickly decided if they were keepers or recyclables.
By now Lily was finished with brushing her teeth and was making loud honking noises, pretending to be a goose, while studying her own goofy faces in the mirror. “C’mon. I’ll race you to the kitchen,” I started to say. But she was already bouncing down the hallway.
Distracted by the messy bathroom countertop, I didn’t notice right away that Lily hadn’t gone downstairs to the kitchen. Instead, she was back in her bedroom, complaining loudly about the way I had cleaned her room and pulling beanie boos back out of the closet. “Mommmm! I was still using these!” she shrieked.
I pretended not to hear as I scooped up hair ties, and put away bath toys, hoping this too would pass. There was a moment of quiet. I imagined her surveying her bedroom, studying it for anything else I might have cleaned up, moved around, or put away.
I didn’t have to wait long for a reaction. “MY POST-IT!!!!!!!” Lily came careening out of her bedroom. “Where did you put my post-it? Did you throw it away? Did you? I was still using it!” I stood in place, partly bewildered by her anger, partly amused, and partly guilty because I, in fact, had thrown out all the post-its.
Lily raced to the bathroom trash can and thrust her hand in before I could stop her. She held a crumpled purple post-it high in the air, fiercely angry, furious even. “Aargh! How could you! This was my calendar post-it! I’ve been check-marking each day so I know when Casey’s birthday party will be.”
I couldn’t help smiling. Her calendar post-it. Adorable.
“Lily, I’m sorry,” I said. “I got so busy cleaning that I didn’t even notice it was your calendar post-it. I’m glad you found it though. Now you can make a check-mark for today.”
This seemed to take the edge off her anger enough to get her downstairs, and on with the rest of the day.