So. You can think you know someone, but everyone -- everyone -- is full of secrets.
Two nights ago, Little A. had a very rough night. She's stormy these days; whether it's her age or household stresses or fatigue or illness (oh constant germiness of winter, you are tiresome and please fuck off) or likely a combination of all plus a dash of mommy's lack of patience, who knows. Stormy, she is. On this particular night, the storm gathered around a typically contentious subject: the washing of the hairs. This kid HATES to get her hair washed. HATES. As if it were pouring acid, or red-hot meteorites, onto her head. Most days, I just let it go. But this night, I got a bee in my bonnet. Her hair was already mostly wet from "swimming" in the tub. One quick cup of water over the head, some shampoo, and another quick mermaid dunk, and we'd have clean hair for the week! No problem! Let's do it!
NO ACID FIRE HAIL HATE YOU NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOO.
And instead of caving in, I just went ahead and washed her hair. I tried to be gentle and cajoling but at a certain point the shampoo just had to be rinsed out and water got on the face and Oh. The rage. The screaming. The tears. The splashing and kicking and rage. It was completely out of proportion, yes. The howling and hitting would have been more in line with someone, I dunno, running over your family pet, or stealing your beloved.
The tantrum lasted all the way through Skype'd good-nights to Daddy, pajamas on, tooth-brushing. Finally, as it always does, the Incredible Hulk left the room and in its place a tired little girl needed a hug from Mama. I was happy to oblige. Suddenly, the tears started up again, but with a softer, sadder quality. I asked what was the matter. And this kid. This kid who has been nothing but shockingly amazingly wonderful (because she was incredibly attached to me prior to baby's arrival) to her little sister for the 14 months she's been on our planet, reluctantly, painfully said I wish it could be just you and me, Mama, no Baby G. I miss you so much Mama. And she started crying again, probably thinking I would be horrified at this admission, and that she would get in trouble. Guilty sobs.
OHFUCK PARENTING MOMENT. I thought. These are happening more frequently as the girl gets older and more articulate and oh god I need to read more books about kids because I am surely going to mess her up for life. But also, I could just answer honestly and from my heart and maybe that will work?
So that's what I did. I told her that I missed those days, sometimes, too. That it was so nice to have a Baby G in our family and to love but that we sure could use more "just us" times too. That I appreciated her honesty and that I love her so much -- even more when I see what an awesome big sister she is and that my heart grows 10 sizes every day because I am so proud of her. And we had more tears and a big hug and I tucked her into my bed for a special JUST US Mama-and-Little-A sleepover and we all slept like champions and the next morning was the smoothest we've had in weeks.
|After the storm.|
Oh. Ha ha. Um. Yeah. That kinda reminds me of somebody: me. Quick, someone write a book about how to successfully parent me. Here's your working title.
Hey Girl, You Sure Seem OK, but There Really is Something Wrong, Right?:
How to Crack that New-English Veneer and Get to the Healing Truth.
And in the meantime, pass the Pinot. There's a whole lotta winter left to go up in this piece.