Archives for posts with tag: tears

It’s easy to feel like a good parent on the days when everything goes right, when your toddler naps, when all of the games you play are fun, when dinner and your home improvement projects all turn out just the way you wanted to, the first time around.

This was not one of those days.

I cried, and my tears fell onto my shirt. My daughter, the object of both my love and frustration at that moment, had nearly grated her fingers, carried off the cheese I needed for biscuits, ignored at least three sets of instructions, and then methodically picked the blooms off of a stem of silk lily-of-the-valleys. To add to the mix, there was crying on her part, foot stomping, and general caterwauling. And that was just in a three minute span.

She looked up at me, eyes wide. “Are you sad?”

“Yes,” I said, and she hugged me.

“I’m sorry you’re upset,” she told me. I felt better – unprompted kindness does that – and told her I was going to put some water on my face.

She took two wooden utensils from the dish drain and went into the bathroom with me. Ugh – one more thing to have to wash again, to move, to put away. One more thing on top of one more thing.

She climbed onto her stool, stuck one utensil under the faucet, and turned on the water. Water trickled over the face of the wooden spatula, then she turned the water off, stepped off her stool, and started walking towards me, carefully holding the spatula. The water dripped off onto the floor, leaving both the spatula and the floor a little wet. One more thing to wipe up. “I’ll wet your face,” she said. “Take off your glasses.” (Of course, from her, that statement sounds like this: “Take ozh your gwasses.” Obediently, I did, and she gently ran the damp face of her utensil over mine, the curve of its face matching the curve of mine, and wet my face for me.

Never, I think, has something like a wooden spoon been put to kinder, gentler use. I won’t mind washing those again; I won’t mind washing those again at all.

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When she wears her cheery red robe (see previous post), I feel like she’s auditioning for a Christmas pageant. All she needs is a shepherd’s crook or a small sheep, and she’d be a shoe-in.

Unfortunately, her face is trying to match her robe. When we were in Idaho, I thought it was as dry as it could be; humidity wasn’t high on the panhandle’s list of priorities. It seems that we’ve found somewhere just as drying (it rains a lot more, so I know humidity exists – it’s not the tooth fairy!). Her cheeks have thick vertical stripes of dry skin. With the naps she has skipped in the past week plus (this started last Wednesday, and today is Thursday) and the path her more frequent tears take, it also seems that her skin is a mirror of her sleep state. Tonight, even her eyelids were rosy, making the stripes longer, the look sadder. You know this look: it adorns the faces of college students at the end of exam week or a driver at the end of a too-long road trip. She’s exhausted, but again today, she wouldn’t nap. How long can this last?

I guess her face is trying to prepare for the audition, too. I just hope she’ll nap once try-outs are over.

Cereal + milk = sadness

In a battle of wills, I will always lose. No, I exaggerate. I will lose 99 out of 100 times.

Her Daddy sat on the couch with a bowl of Frosted Flakes. (“Tie!” she would shout to the box, before she ever ate any. “Tony the Tiger,” my husband added. “Toe! Tie!” she now crows.) She came over to him, opening her mouth to him like a baby bird eagerly awaiting a worm. Arms resting on his knees in a pose of that mixed comfort with snuggling, she shared a bowl of cereal with him before he went to work. She should, I thought, have her own bowl so he could finish his cereal.

The flakes tinkled into a small bowl as I poured the box; ¬†organic whole milk, the deep, rich white of Elmer’s glue, splashed over them. “Go to your chair!” I instructed cheerily. She did. I got her seated, clicked in, and bibbed up, and I loaded a spoon with a bite, just like Daddy had.

“Hole!” she demanded, arms outstretched.

“No, you can’t hold this. Mama will hold it,” I said calmly. I offered the bite again. The deep blue bowl was awash in milk which would end up on the table, the carpet, her bib, her pajamas, maybe even the bookcase, if she splashed or pushed the bowl far enough. She didn’t open her mouth. “Here!” I said more firmly. The proffered spoon filled the space between us.

She brushed at the spoon with her hand. “Hole!” she demanded.

“No!”

Suddenly, we were in it, the breakfast battle. I wanted her to eat cereal for me just like she did for her Daddy. I didn’t want to be stuck cleaning up a soggy, drippy mess. She wanted to be in charge of eating. She wanted to be her own food boss. “Hole!”

“No!” I shouted, frustrated. I held out the spoon again. She wouldn’t open her mouth; it was closed tighter than if she’d used Elmer’s – or even Gorilla – glue, and her lips began to quiver. Tears welled up and pooled in her lower eyelids, puddles after a strong rain, and some spilled over, making small sad rivulets.

Was my cereal attack worth her tears?

No.

As a way of making peace, I put some dry flakes on her tray. She dipped her head down extra low to see the cereal. With the tears still filling her eyelids, the tears that I’d brought on, she couldn’t see otherwise. Without any fuss, she overcame her blurry vision and popped a flake in her mouth, then smiled up at me.

Then – and this was the killer thing – she dipped her head down low again, like a cow searching for the clover, and picked up another flake and fed it to me. She did this again and again, until she’d fed me all of the flakes but the first one, the only one which she’d allotted for herself.

My sweet, sweet daughter. I’d yelled at her, and she still fed me her breakfast.

After this, she ate cereal off of the spoon and finished most of the bowl.

Why don’t I learn my lesson? By changing tactics, I’m not teaching her that she always gets what she wants. I am, however, teaching myself that I don’t always have to get my way.

It doesn’t matter so much that I’d lose in a battle of wills; what matters is that I learn not to enter the fray. As the adult, I might be the bigger person, but what my daughter shows me, over and over again, is that she clearly has the bigger heart.