Every once in a while the sound of my husband getting ready for work early in the morning will wake our daughter up. Usually, she’ll ask him for a drink, or to quiet down and then she’ll crawl back into bed and fall back asleep.
This morning, she woke up at 4:30 am and never went back to sleep.
I knew that this meant REALLY bad news later that afternoon when she came home from school. A Tired My Daughter is a GRUMPY My Daughter.
After I finished picking up all 3 kids from 3 different schools (hate! driving! so! much!) I decided to make a quick trip to Trader Joe’s to get a few things for dinner (and also- pumpkin butter.) This wasn’t very smart parenting. I knew my daughter had been up since 4:30 in the morning. I should have went straight home and put her down for a nap. But, I also knew that if I didn’t go to buy groceries, we’d end up ordering a pizza or some other unhealthy food for dinner. So… to Trader Joe’s we went.
By the time we got home, my daughter was physically and mentally exhausted.
My husband was home from work, so I asked him to take care of her so I could get back to work.
“Please, put her down for a short nap.” I asked.
15 minutes later I hear crying from the kitchen.
“But, daddy! I want to make strawberry juice!”
“No, sweetie. You can’t smash the strawberries to make strawberry juice. Mommy bought strawberry lemonade. Why don’t you drink that?”
“BUT I WANT TO MAKE STRAWBERRY JUUUUUUUICE” she cried, as she ran down the hall towards my bedroom.
She walked up to me and started crying. “daddy won’t let me smash the strawberries to make strawberry juuuuice.”
I was annoyed.
Annoyed that my husband had not put her down for a nap. Annoyed that my daughter was whining over SMASHING STRAWBERRIES. Annoyed that no one seemed to care that I was working.
I took her by the hand (ANNOYED!) walked her over to my husband (ANNOYED!) and asked him to kindly PUT HER DOWN FOR A NAP BECAUSE SHE IS SO TIRED AND I HAVE TO WORK AND PLEASE DO IT NOW. (ANNOYED!)
Oh, The Drama!
She started crying and saying mean things like “I don’t like your face, Daddy!” Completely out of character, for her. She adores her daddy and never talks to him like that.
“You don’t talk to your father that way!” He snapped back at her.
“But I don’t like you with your glasses! They’re ugly!” She cried.
I knew that the things she was saying were completely out of line and unacceptable, he had every right to be upset.
I also knew how exhausted she was.
I got up to intervene.
I pulled my husband aside.
“Be gentle with her.” I said. “She’s very tired.”
He seemed confused. Did I not just hear the way she was talking to him? Did I not think it was inappropriate?
“I know what she was saying wasn’t okay. But I also know she woke up at 4:30 this morning and is a complete mess emotionally. She’s exhausted.”
He couldn’t wrap his mind around what I was saying. In his mind, her behavior was unacceptable and he had every right to scold her.
He picked her up, put her in her bed and walked out.
A few minutes later, I heard angrily flipping around in her bed.
I didn’t like what I heard. She WAS being bratty. What she was doing wasn’t okay. I could have been upset with her. I knew I needed to go into her room and deal with her. But I wasn’t quite sure how I would handle the situation.
I took a deep breath.
I walked into her bedroom.
I laid next to her on her bed. Instead of scolding her, I wrapped my arms tightly around her tired little body. She fought it at first. But then, she melted into my arms and broke down.
“I know, sweetie. You’re so tired. You don’t feel good. It’s okay, mama. Just close your eyes.”
She wept softly into my chest as I ran my fingers through her shiny, long hair.
Within 5 minutes, she was asleep.
I could have went into her room when I heard her flipping about angrily in her bed and shouted at her to “STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!” But I chose to go with a loving embrace instead. Because, as unhappy as I was with the way she was acting, I knew that was what she needed.
Today I learned that sometimes when our children push us away the hardest is when they need our gentle, loving arms to hold them close to us the most.
“You know what, Mom?” She asked. “I just love you very much. You’re the best Mom in the world.”
I wanted to hug her so hard. But I was in a hotel room in another state. So, instead, I cried.
“I love you right back.” I replied. “And you’re the best daughter in the world.”
“I can not wait to see you tonight.” I added.
“Me too, Mommy! I’m so excited!”
Later that evening, I stood outside the ever busy LAX, watching out for our minivan.
I wanted to catch her reaction the moment she saw me open the van door, so I took my camera out of my camera bag and put it around my neck.
I saw the van pulling up.
I saw my husband pointing while saying something to her. I imagine he was saying “There she is. There’s your Mama!”
He pulled up to the curb, I walked around to pop open the back hatch. I held the camera up to my eye with one hand and opened up the door with my other.
I heard her scream. It was a happy scream.
I snapped a shot.
“My daughter! My sweet daughter!”
I climbed into the backseat and wrapped my arms around her. She squeezed me tightly. We both had happy tears in our eyes.
Only gone for 4 days, but it felt like 100.
“Mommy? Will you play a game with me when we get home?”
“I’m so tired, but I promise you, first thing in the morning, we will play whatever game you want.”
And first thing in the morning, she informed me she would like to play “make over with mommy’s makeup.”
I put make up on her sweet little face. We talked about the things she did while I was gone. I told her about my trip. She told me she missed me every night. I told her I missed her every minute of every day. She asked if she could wear my special necklace. “Of course you can, darling.”
I love traveling to spend time with women I admire. The experiences that I have on those trips almost always help me to grow as a person, to become a better mother. I love a little alone time away from the realities of life. But make no mistake about it. I love coming home to my family 1000 times more.
“But Mom! I need more paper than that!” She says.
“G, girl. This is mommy’s printing paper. 10 sheets is more than enough.”
“Mommy! I want to make something very special. Please, can I have more?”
I sigh heavily, as I reach for a handful more. “This is all, G. I don’t want you wasting all of my printing paper.”
She takes her stack of paper and runs to her room. She closes the door just a bit. I can hear the sound of the crayon box hitting the floor.
I go about my work.
A few minutes later, I get up to grab a glass of water. As I walk past her room, I see her laying on the floor. She has the papers stacked just so. She carefully puts a line of glue down the left edge of one paper.
I watch her as she does this over and over again.
I finally make my presence known.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“I’m making a book, Mommy.”
“Oh, how wonderful!” I say.
I leave her to finish her book.
An hour or so later, she walks into my room and hands me the book she just made. “this is for you, mama.” She says as she walks away.
“Come back! I want you to be here while I read this.”
“But Mom!” She replies. “I need to make another one!”
I let her go on her way. I open the first page. I see my toyz.
I turn the page.
I like my iskreem
Next page. I wot to go to the prk.
Last page. I like you.
I get up out of my chair to go tell her how much I love the book she wrote for me. I find her on her floor, gluing more pages together.
“I loved your book, G. It was so great!”
She stopped gluing, looked up at me and said “You liked it?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Oh, good! I want to write books when I am an adult. I hope everyone likes them.”
I instantly felt guilty. “I don’t want you wasting my paper.” I had told her.
I had accused of wasting my precious printer paper. I was annoyed that the construction paper she had in her room wasn’t good enough. She just HAD to use (waste!) my precious printing paper.
Except she wasn’t wasting at all.
She was creating.
My girl is a writer. She writes books. She can have as much paper as she wants, any time she wants it.
Yesterday when I picked up my daughter from school, she was quieter than usual. I could tell something was bothering her.
“How was school?” I asked.
“I can’t remember.” She responded.
Not the answer I wanted to hear. In the pit of my stomach, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t want to push the issue, so I thought I’d allow her to unwind from her day before I asked any more questions.
Later that afternoon, I was in my room finishing up some things for work. She started to scream at her brother and had a bit of a meltdown. I had no choice but to put her on time out for her behavior. After she had served her time (ha) I asked her to sit down next to me so we could discuss her behavior towards her brother. I couldn’t help but think that her behavior was related to whatever it was that may have happened at school. Before I could get a word out of my mouth, She threw herself into my lap and started to cry.
I asked her what was wrong.
“B and I were being mean to me at school.”
“What did they do?” I asked.
“They kept pushing me in the chest and making me sit in the wood chips.”
I could feel the anger sweep over my entire body. I asked some more questions, she gave me more details. She said she ran away but they followed her.
“Did you tell the teacher? The proctor?”
“No. I was too embarrassed and scared.” She replied.
I had to take a few deep breaths.
“Tomorrow, you need to tell the proctor and you need to tell your teacher. And if they put their hands on you again, you need to tell them TO GET THEIR HANDS OFF OF YOU.”
She started to cry again.
“But I don’t want to go to school tomorrow. I’m afraid they’ll hurt me again, Mommy.”
I’ve always tried to let my children figure things out first. I don’t want to jump into help solve their problems, I want them to learn to handle things on their own. I want them to be able to fight their own battles, so to speak. However, there are times where I have to step in. There are situations that require for me to step in and do something. I feel like this is one of those times. I feel like this is a situation that can and most likely will escalate if I don’t intervene now. Maybe it was a one time thing, but then, maybe not. Either way, I feel like I need to speak up RIGHT NOW so that things are handled right away.
Today, I will walk my daughter to class. I will tell her to go play while I talk to the proctor, keeping my eye on her all the while. I will tell the proctor what happened. Then, I will make my way to the classroom to tell the teacher what happened. Then, I was stand back and watch my daughter play from a distance to make sure no one puts their hands on her. And if they do? That’s where I’m going to need the Lord God Almighty to sweep me up with his strong, loving arms and hold me back. Because, you know, RAGE.
If you’ve had a child who has suffered at the hand of Little Bullies, I would love to hear how you handled the situation. Any advice you have to offer would be appreciated.
About 2 weeks ago my daughter asked me to teach her The America Song, (aka The Star-Spangled Banner.)
When your kid wants to learn The America Song, you freaking teach them The America Song.
So, for 2 weeks straight, I have been singing it to her. Every morning. Every evening. Every car ride to school. Every car ride from school.
She finally started to get the hang out of and asked me to “please not sing it with her anymore!” because “SHE KNOWS IT NOW SO STOP SINGING IT, MOM.”
And while I am very proud that my 5 year old (sort of. Almost. Kind of) knows The Star-Spangled Banner, I am maybe going to lose my mind if she doesn’t stop singing it EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY THAT SHE IS AWAKE.
She’s supposed to be taking a nap right now, but guess what’s she’s doing?
As annoying as it can be after hearing it for the 800th time in a single day, it really is the most precious thing in my life right now and I am very proud of her.
Here she is, singing it 5 minutes after she woke up this morning. Enjoy.
I love to braid hair.
I can’t tell you how many other peoples children whose hair I’ve braided for dance recitals or school photos.
“You need to have a girl of your own!” The moms would say.
When I thought that I was finished having children after my sons were born, I would wonder what it would be like to have a daughter, if only to braid her beautiful, long hair.
As The Rhythm Method would have it, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant 7 years after having what I deemed “My Last Child!”
And as nervous as I was about mothering a daughter (due to the complicated relationship I have with my own mother) I was THRILLED that I would be able to braid hair EVERY SINGLE DAY if I wanted to.
Of COURSE, MY daughter didn’t like for me to braid her hair.
“I WANT TO WEAR IT STRAIGHT DOWN!” she has said in dramatic fashion on more than one hair brushing session.
I thought about cutting her hair into a cute little bob because what’s the fun of having a daughter with long hair if I can’t braid it? My husband had to talk me out of chopping it all off on more than one occasion.
Eventually, she grew out of the “NO BRAIDS!” phase. Almost every morning, I put her hair into a braid of some kind. Sometimes a fancy braid. Sometimes a regular ol’ french braid.
It’s time consuming, for sure. Even if she wears it down, it takes what feels like FOREVER to blow dry. And every night I have to put it in a braid so it doesn’t wrap around her neck or get tangled while she sleeps.
Not to mention the fights we’ve had over her hair. Remember The Great Bangs Drama of 2008? OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, I DO.
I’ve thought about cutting it. She would look adorable with a bob!
But here’s the thing.
I have become attached to her long hair. It’s beautiful, with it’s soft, shiny, golden, highlights. I love the way that it smells after I dry it in the evenings. I love running my fingers through it when she’s reading her kindergarten books to me at night. I love watching her “style it” when she’s playing dress up.
I know the day will come when she’ll tell me she wants short hair. And I will agree and we’ll cut it off. Because “It’s only hair!” right? But I’ve come to realize why it means so much to me. That long, beautiful hair of hers reminds me every day of something that I never thought I’d have in my life. A daughter.
“I’m sorry you’re so sick.” I say, as I hold her close to my chest.
“I’m sorry I’m sick too.” She says, as she runs her little finger up and down my arm.
“I just want you to get better so I can kiss you and tickle you and play hide and seek with you again.”
“You can kiss me on my head. Just not on my mouth. Because you’ll get sick like me.”
So, I place my lips on her head and kiss her over and over again. Her hair smells like strawberries.
She begins to cough and is unable to stop. She buries her face into my chest and she starts to cry.
“It hurts right here when I cough, Mommy.” She says through the tears.
I can feel the lump forming in my throat, the tears welling in my eyes. I begin to cry with her. “I know and I wish I could make it stop hurting. I’m sorry, Chunky Head. I’m so sorry.”
Last night things took a turn for the worse. A fever of 104.7, pain in her chest, her tummy, her head. It was awful to watch, knowing there was very little I could do to make it better. A trip to urgent care was made. “It’s a cold.” the doctor said. “Give her these medications and bring her back if she gets worse.”
Out the door we went.
I did my best to help her.
Tylenol. Water. Baths. Chicken noodle soup. Foot rubs.
And while those things helped ease the pain temporarily, they couldn’t relieve her entirely from her suffering.
I don’t want to see her suffering anymore. I don’t want to hear her weep because the coughing hurts. I don’t want her to wake up in the middle of the night sobbing because “she’s burning hot.”
I just want to hear her laugh and sing and be bossy with her brothers again. I just want her to be healthy and whole again.
Hopefully, she will be. And hopefully it will be very soon.
My daughter has started questioning the fact that men can just walk around with their shirts off.
She’s not a big fan of The Naked Man Chest. Every time she sees a man jogging without a shirt, she’ll say something like “Mom, that man needs to put his shirt back on! It’s so gross!”
Tonight, while out for an evening walk, she saw a man running without a shirt. I must admit, this man’s chest was MADE for running without a shirt. Because HELLO CHISELED ABS. Whoa, got a little distracted there. What was I talking about? Oh, yes, my daughter and her disgust of shirtless men.
“Mom! Do you see that man running?”
Trying to pretend like I hadn’t noticed him before she pointed him out, I was all “Man? What man? Oh! now I see him!”
“He doesn’t have a shirt on!” She said.
Seeing an opportunity to tease G a bit, my husband jumped in on the conversation before I had a chance to reply.
“I think I’ll take MY shirt off, just like that man.”
“Dad.” She replied, all desperate like. “PLEASE! Don’t take your shirt off! Your chest needs more energy before you can let people see it.”
We both fell down dead from laughter right there.
She said “More Energy” you guys.
She’s the best.