As I wrote about previously, my daughter transitioned to a new school this week. On Wednesday, she came down with a fever. (This is not a good combination, p.s.) Although Tylenol was bringing the fever down, she was still feeling crabby from the fever on top of already being out of sorts form the transition.
My husband was scheduled to come home from work in about twenty minutes and I was in the kitchen working on dinner. My daughter was working on making a book. She was making frustrated noises (not subtle) from the other room. Inevitably the cry came. “Mommy!”
I put aside dinner preparations and came in to see what was going on. She was having trouble getting the stapler to work. I asked if she would like help. She said yes. She wanted the paper stapled all the way around. I told her I could do that, but then she wouldn’t be able to open the book. We discussed it, and ultimately determined I would staple along one side, lengthwise, but put a lot of staples in.
I stapled with trepidation. I knew something was brewing. But after scrutinizing my work, she seemed satisfied. Okay. False alarm. Back to the kitchen.
A few minutes later, sobs started coming from the other room. “I need to make another book! I need to make another book!” I’m not sure what changed – or why it took so darn long for the staples to become so offensive to her, but whatever. They had. I called back “That’s fine. Go ahead.” The cries intensified. “I have to make another book! I have to!” “Okay,” I replied again. “That’s fine.” Not assuaged, she tried another angle. “I really need to make another book!”
Oh, I should mention that throughout this, my son is asking me to spell out various words for the book that he was making. (And which I did an awesome job of stapling, by the way.)
Oh, and also, my baby is no longer pleased with the cup on his tray and is banging it ferociously against his highchair.
Oh, and we had been housebound for going on 36 hours with this fever.
Oh, and there are now two burners going on in the kitchen that I need to attend to.
So yeah, it’s getting harder to keep it together as the noise and the demands intensify.
She cries again “I neeeed to make another booook!” (BANG, BANG, BANG!) (“Then what letter, Mommy?”), I snap, and say, in a not so positive parenting tone, “Fine! Go ahead! Just make it! Nobody is stopping you! I don’t understand what the problem is here!”
This leads to, inevitably, “Daaaddddyyy. I want Daaaddddyy.”
“Yeah?” I reply, I want Daddy too.”
My son asks, all sweetness and light, “Why Mommy?”
To which I so lovingly reply – and here’s another one of those moments when the words are coming out in slow motion but you just can’t stop them – “Because I really need to get out of this house, and I can’t until he comes home!”
A beat. Then, my son starts up. “Mooommmy! I don’t want you to leeeaave!” (BANG, BANG, BANG!) And then my daughter, “Daaaaaddddddy!” (BANG, BANG, BANG!)
“All right!” I say to her, sharply. “You want Daddy? Go outside and wait for him.” She is currently wearing underpants and a shirt. And yes, she has a fever. I think better of it. (BANG, BANG, BANG!) “Don’t forget your boots!” I call out to her.
She puts on her boots. She goes outside. She comes back in within a minute. (In fairness, it was like 60 degrees here today.) The moment is diffused. When she comes back in, I give her a hug, and she says she is feeling better. I told her I was sorry for getting upset.
This was not good parenting. This was really, really bad parenting. I have lots of reasons for it – it was the end of the day, I didn’t get to run, I was tired of being stuck in the house, I was getting hungry, it was so, so noisy – but there’s not really any excuse. My daughter forgave me, and I’m going to forgive myself too. Tomorrow is another day.